Give a man an outlet for expression and you feed his inspiration for a day. Teach a man to express himself and you feed his inspiration for a lifetime.

In the powerful and, if we're lucky, influential documentary Word.Life, a young man named Chris Rolle, aka Kazi, mentors a group of teens in a program called The Hip Hop Project (HHP), a division of New York organization Art Start. Initially attracted by the promise of recording an album they think will be immediately produced, the young hip hop hopefuls end up in the program four years, during which time they learn to develop their lyrics through personal experience and identification. A girl named Princess writes about the abortion she had when she was younger. Cannon, who watches his mother die of multiple sclerosis during the making of the film, turns his heartache into song.