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Beneath The Radar: Life and Lyrics

Former So Solid Crew member Ashley Walters proves himself to be one of Britain's most exciting young actors, with an assured star turn in this terrifically entertaining hip-hop drama. DJ Danny Lewis (...

Former So Solid Crew member Ashley Walters proves himself to be one of Britain's most exciting young actors, with an assured star turn in this terrifically entertaining hip-hop drama.

DJ Danny Lewis (Walters) is the leader of a group of South London rappers who are desperate to triumph in the upcoming Mic Masters competition. Matters are complicated when he falls for Carmen (Louise Rose), who is related to a member of a rival posse. His relationship with Carmen sets off a chain of events that will, ultimately, decide the fate of both crews.

Recent history would suggest that using hip-hop or rappers as the basis for a film can be a very hit or miss affair. Life and Lyrics falls in to the former category thanks to some innovative script-work and a standout performance from rising star Walters. This is an urban re-telling of Romeo and Juliet with hip-hop serving as a narrative device, rather than being the only focus of the story.

Ironically, Walters recently appeared in one of the more lamentable examples of the genre, 50 Cent vehicle Get Rich or Die Tryin’, in which he managed to out-perform ‘Fitty’ with a limited amount of screen time. He’s perfectly at home with the material and surroundings here, delivering his best performance to date.

First-time director Richard Laxton lends an authenticity to proceedings, presenting the estates and clubs as gritty but not oppressively depressing. Life and Lyrics manages to never take itself too seriously, helping make it superior to many of its US counterparts.

Life and Lyrics is showing on 25 and 26 August at Cameo.

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