A white graduate student at Berkeley, working on a master’s thesis about the linguistic innovations of hip-hop, gets sucked into California’s underground battle-rap scene, reinventing himself as competitive performer. This lively satire has a good deal on its mind, touching on contemporary American race relations, campus culture, the persistence of ethnic stereotypes, and, yes, the linguistic innovations of hip-hop. Screenwriter Alex Larsen packs in so many ideas that the film is as intellectually dense as anything by Jean-Luc Godard, though director Joseph Kahn maintains a fluid style throughout; the various concepts emerge naturally from the settings and go down smoothly. If anything, Kahn’s approach is a little too careful—the story proceeds slowly at times, as if the director were making sure viewers have enough time to process every idea—but his insistence on thinking things through is commendable. Also, the battle-rap sequences are generally thrilling.