Kidult: P Star Rising – Review: Tweenie Minaj

P STAR RISING, BBC Four, Wednesday 23rd March 10pm

Filmed over four years, this engrossing documentary follows the quest for fame of Priscilla Diaz – aka P Star – and her family, sister Solsky and failed rapper dad Jesse.

Whether Priscilla is exploited for money by her father – a man who, until the end of the film, refuses to get his own job, instead insisting he’s “self employed” as P Star’s manager – is an issue never in question. The question is always whether the three of them can cobble together a family existence and escape their troubling past.

Priscilla is a nine year old ‘feminist phenomenon’, the youngest female rapper ever. She plays to Hip Hop clubs full of fans in hockey jerseys and bandanas in her home town of Harlem, New York, posturing and pulling faces like any fully grown rapper.  Her dad, whose own music career was once promising but cut short by a prison sentance, coaches her, practising with her in their two-room temporary shelter apartment. Sister Solsky is fourteen, and in school, somewhat left out of the P Star arrangement.

Missing from the equation is the girls’  mother – Doris – absent, with no custody or contact, because of her drug habit. Jesse seems glad to be rid of her, but the kids, Solsky particularly, ask about her frequently, struggling to accept she has chosen heroin over them. There’s also the suggestion that Doris may have AIDS. Later, Solsky reveals she suffers from learning difficulties as a result of her mother’s abuse of alcohol and drugs while pregnant with her, which she is trying to forgive.

Jesse is a complex conundrum; a father who failed at his ‘dreams’ but wants them for his daughter, whilst protecting both of his children from, what he sees, as a corrosive mother. His ambitions for Priscilla and his love for his family are sometimes at odds when he forgets to call Solsky for a few days, leaving her in tears, or directs a music industry rant at his exasperated daughter. But he loves his family, and a surprise reunion with their mother gives the girls reason to try and break her mould.