The Industry is a pleasant change, thanks to a very focused subject; instead of just being about the sprawling enterprise that is "hip-hop," The Industry is about the manager, the man or woman behind the artists that does everything from deal with the record label to set up release parties.
Narrated by MC Lyte, The Industry shows the viewer what it's like to be in charge of Outkast, like Blue Williams is, when a genre-changing album is released and what it's like to be in charge of Chingy, like Chaka Zulu is, when Chingy is up for an award. It goes inside the boardroom as well, meeting label A&R Tina Davis.
When focused on Williams and Zulu, the documentary is a great look at what these guys go through in order to keep their artists on track and making money. Williams is seen in several time zones and two countries working on behalf of the Atlanta hip-hop duo. Even as just 25 minutes or so of the feature, we see him do everything from arrange parking at a party to yell at the label about a production snafu on the album's release week.
Where the documentary loses some momentum is in the segments revolving around Davis and rapper Kanye West. Davis' minutes of fame end up being nothing more than clichés about the music industry, while West's segment is all about kissing up to the new power player in the industry.
The feature would have been much more coherent if it strictly focused on the managers. The two that are featured are working with big name artists, but what about the managers working with new talent? How about managers trying to get artists signed? That would be another interesting take on the same topic, and segments on those managers would have fit into the rest of the 62 minutes better than West idolatry.
Likely shot in digital video, The Industry exhibits some digital noise depending on the lighting conditions. But the faults certainly appear to be in the source material, not the disc transfer.
A surprisingly dynamic 2.0 track delivers enough bass for a hip-hop fan without overwhelming Lyte's narration or any of the interviews.
There still has not been a definitive hip-hop documentary, and this disc is not trying to capture the entire movement. Instead, it is very effective, when focused, on one role – that of the group manager. At 60 minutes and with no extras, it's tough to recommend it for purchase, but anyone interested in the inside of the music industry should definitely rent The Industry.