Music History

Watch this Essential Hip Hop Documentary Narrated by Liev Schreiber

This 1995 PBS documentary is a comprehensive history of rap's origins, including interviews with Run DMC, the Beastie Boys, Rick Rubin, and more

run dmc interview

In 1995, PBS aired a superb 10-part documentary miniseries called ‘Rock & Roll.’ The series chronicled much of the twentieth century’s popular music, including episodes devoted to the birth of hip hop and punk. I recorded these episodes on VHS as a teenager; watching them changed my life by expanding my interest in music history and journalism.

The hip hop episode is called ‘The Perfect Beat’ (watch below). It is absolutely essential viewing for any fan of the genre; the comprehensive history covers hip hop’s origins in Jamaica and the Bronx, the birth of Def Jam, the genesis of gangsta rap, and more. It includes interviews with Run DMC, Grandmaster Flash, the Beastie Boys, and Rick Rubin. The icing on the cake is the mellifluous narration by Spotlight star Liev Schreiber. I wish this man would narrate my whole life with his reassuring voice.

“Rappers and DJs armed only with turntables and microphones were creating a powerful new music,” he says in Part 1. Watch ‘The Perfect Beat’ here:

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