In 1979 East St. Louis, Illinois AM radio station WESL (1490 AM) took a chance and played "Rapper's Delight" by the Sugarhill Gang for the first time. To this day, its producers still credit the station for "breaking" hip-hop's inaugural hit. More than 30 years later, contemporary hip-hop barely resembles this expletive-free tune --- unless Chingy was inspired by its Holiday Inn references. In his 2006 documentary, Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes, director Byron Hurt charts the history of hip-hop and the emergence of sexism, violence and homophobia that now permeate those genres. The film features interviews with some of rap's biggest names, including Mos Def, Chuck D, Busta Rhymes and Talib Kweli, as well as the iconic Russell Simmons. This award-winning film will screen for free on Wednesday, March 21, at 7 p.m. at the Lee Auditorium inside the Missouri History Museum (5700 Lindell Boulevard and DeBaliviere Avenue; 314-746-4599 or www.mohistory.org); a Q&A with Hurt follows.
Wed., March 21, 2012