Film Review: On the Record

You’ve probably never heard of Drew Dixon. She was an A&R Executive at Def Jam Recordings and Vice President at Arista Records during the 1990s, working with the likes of Lauryn Hill, Method Man, Pharrell Williams and Aretha Franklin. Her lack of recognition is because she had no choice but to curtail her career after becoming the victim of rape, sexual harassment and unwanted attention from Russell Simmons and L.A. Reid, the head honchoes of both labels.

Documentary film makers Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering have previously tackled sexual assault in The Invisible War (military) and The Hunting Ground (college campuses). In On The Record, using Dixon’s account as the central pivot, they build up a history of abuse perpetrated by powerful men within a circle of silence. Interspersed are the testimonies of other victims, including Sil Lai Abrams, Alexia Norton Jones, Jenny Lumet and Sheri She.

On the Record is an important film which exposes the systematic misogyny and sexism which is still rampant within the music industry. Dick and Ziering build up a picture of abuse through the survivor’s stories but it’s Dixon’s experiences which ultimately highlights the impact this behaviour has on a person’s life. She has been robbed of her dream job through no fault of her own. Race also plays a factor here, as does the toxic masculinity which was prevalent within hip-hop at the time. On the Record is a damning indictment of an intolerable culture.

On the Record is released on Digital by Dogwoof on 26 June.

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