Anyway, take a look at this review from The American Prospect by Noy Thrupkaew. I've seen a lot of reviewers make this mistake, but this one makes it loudly: this film is not about music. Thrupkaew compares 8 Mile to Saturday Night Fever, Flashdance, Dirty Dancing, and Glitter. That's wrong. Forget the music, focus on the competition. This film is The Karate Kid with freestyle rap. That's the comparison you need to make in order to work through the themes. Of course, it's a much more mature movie than that old Ralph Macchio vehicle, but it has some themes in common. It's about finding acceptance by beating your enemies at their own game. It's about taking the pain around you and using it to your advantage, both offensively and defensively. Music is a beautiful subject for a movie (though I would suggest Shine rather than Glitter), but not this movie. Music is merely the arena, the particular sport through which the social and personal tensions of the antagonists will do battle.
And freestyle rap is a fantastic vehicle for this kind of movie, much better than karate. Karate comes down to brute, physical force. I don't care what kind of spirituality Mr. Miyagi brings to it, at the end of the day, you're trying to batter the living shit out of your opponent. Rap is no less brutal, but it's entirely non-physical. It allows for a direct battle not between people's bodies (fists and muscles struggling against one another), but between people themselves. Rabbit is totally exposed as he stands on stage in the beginning of the film, and utterly vulnerable, and he fails. By the end of the film, when he (obviously) vanquishes his foe, he is the acknowledged champion. What happened in the meantime? Did he practice? A little, but not much. Instead, he went on an emotional rollercoaster for two weeks, torn between his friends, his family, his job, his girl. He was emotionally battered day after day in a variety of ways froma variety of sources, and he stood on the edge between going for his dreams and giving up forever.
When he steps onto the stage again at the end of film to do battle once again, he is a different person. This film is almost like a condensed coming-of-age story. In two weeks Rabbit goes from young and fucked up to mature and in control of his own life. Will Rabbit go on to achieve rap super-stardom? I don't know. He may decide he doesn't even want to. Because this movie, and this character, are not about rap. Rap is just an entertaining and interesting framework for presenting a very ancient, human, personal story of challenge, failure, growth, and redemption.