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'Backstage' delivers little of the truth it promises

Wednesday, September 06, 2000

By Ed Masley, Post-Gazette Pop Music Critic

Every so often, the makers of "Backstage" let a scene slip through the cracks that inadvertently sneaks up on something you'd find in an actual documentary.


Rating: R for strong language, nudity and drug content.

Appearances by: Jay-Z, DMX, Method Man, Redman, etc.

Director: Chris Fiore.

Critic's call: 1 star


At one point, a rapper, complaining about the difficulty hip-hop artists sometimes face when scheduling a tour, points out that promoters are perfectly willing to deal with the fact that fans will need an ambulance on hand to rush them to the hospital at mosh-intensive rock shows. And they're fine with that. But any hint of trouble at a rap show and forget about it. No more rap in that town.

An interesting angle?


But rather than explore the hint of racism fueling conservative finger-wagging in the face of a blatantly sociopathic music, "Backstage" cuts instead to more redundant scenes of high rappers on the bus or backstage getting stoned and sometimes frolicking with groupies -- who, when naked, have their faces blocked by things like smiley faces. What, they couldn't get the kind of girl who takes her clothes off for celebrities to sign a release to be in a movie? Or were they all too high to think of that?

It's ridiculous.

And don't let all this talk of groupie nudity fool you into thinking there's anything even remotely provocative going on here.

The film is relentlessly boring.

And they cut away from concert footage even faster than they cut away from any threat that someone might say something interesting.

If all you want is one more souvenir of Jay-Z's Hard Knock Life tour, I suppose it's cheaper than a T-shirt. And unlike the fans who got backstage while this was being filmed, you get to keep your dignity.

But don't be fooled by ads that promise "Behind the applause. Behind the lyrics. There is the truth."

The truth is out there somewhere. But you're not about to find it here.

I'd take a "Backstage" pass if I were you.

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