Shot over a four-year period, P-Star Rising offers a brief
glance at the rise of nine-year-old rapper Priscilla Diaz.
The PBS documentary provides at a look at the struggle of
former 80's rapper Jesse "Jess" Diaz, and his daughter's
efforts to make a name for herself in the Hip Hop world.
P-Star, the precocious daughter of a Puerto Rican Harlemite
and a conspicuously absent Cubana, lives a life of home
schooling and late nights at the studio. The camera
follows the diminutive MC as she navigates a life of studio
sessions and live performances.
What makes this film stand
out is its star. Priscilla is gifted with charisma,
stage presence, a talented flow, and the wisdom of a woman
three times her age over. Intelligent and confident,
P-Star is surprisingly profound when it counts, which makes
for an interesting on-screen chemistry with her father.
Given this is a PBS film,
audiences shouldn't expect something as gritty as Rhyme &
Reason or similar urban documentaries. Despite its PG
format, the film still offers a surprisingly real take on the
world of child entertainers and their parents.
Jesse Diaz, who often
reminisces on his own success as an MC during the 80's, seems
to live vicariously through his talented daughter.
Throughout the documentary, Jesse is portrayed as both
protective father, and something of an opportunist. His
relationship with P-Star's older sister becomes noticeably
strained as his attention becomes focused on Priscilla's
growing career. As static builds between Jesse and
P-Star's label owner over his daughter's image and contract,
ideas of what are best for Priscilla become blurred.
What I also enjoyed about
this documentary was that it shines a light on the problem
with rappers and consumerism. When the father-daughter
duo get Priscilla's signing bonus, their first move isn't to
pay the bills, but rather to cop iced-out jewelry. It's
something we're reminded of during a Remy Ma cameo, in which
the former Terror Squad associate records with P-Star while
rocking a piece that could cover four years of the younger
MC's college expenses.
P-Star Rising ultimately
concludes on a positive note. There's the emotional
payout when the family resolves a question that hangs over the
two sisters, plus the satisfaction of their father's embrace
of focus and humility. The film ends with an interesting
shift in P-Star's life, and the expectation that there's much
more to come. Although I've never been much of a fan of
child rappers, this is definitely a film that Hip Hop heads