"Where you from?" It's like a hip-hop challenge, a suggestion that without the right background, you're not fit to spit rhymes, because what could you know about the hard knock life if you aren't from South Central or Eight Mile?
Where You From throws three young, rural white rappers into the maw of that phrase and suggests geography has nothing to do with it. A Montana kid, in and out of prison, another with a mentally ill dad...oh and this middle-class boy from Humboldt County, Calif., who competes in rap battles in San Francisco -- are profiled in Ocala-native Sabrina Lee's documentary about the universal music of disaffected youth.
You can tell from that description the structural problems of the film. Franco, the kid from Humboldt, may be a gifted rhymer. But one look at his sheltered home life and the film loses some of that cred. Sure, all three of these guys -- the ex-con Tommy 2 Tone, Chris, the guy with a backing band (and a smooth sound) and Franco -- can claim victimhood with the best of them. But Franco's a competitive rapper with a shot at winning "Scribble Jam," a big national battle. The other two guys are rapping in the Livingston pool hall or practicing in the farm equipment lots of Bozeman. Hearing Montanans reference their lives in the same exaggerated hardships of a Tupac is a lot more interesting than a lad dropping into San Fran to show off.
Screening at: 7 p.m. Monday, March 30, Regal; 9:30 p.m. Thursday, April 2, Enzian.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times