Chris "Kazi" Rolle, The Hip Hop Project

By Matt Prigge
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 2 | Posted May. 16, 2007

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Deserves props for: Heading up the film, album and nonprofit program aspects of the Hip Hop Project, which teaches inner-city teens to channel their energy and time into rap music.

Did you always intend to release a film alongside the album?

"No, originally it was just about the CD. But along the way we realized there was a story here. When I was in high school I saw a movie called Hoop Dreams, and I was really impacted by that film--it brought me to tears. The idea became to create something like Hoop Dreams that was compelling, entertaining and captured and inspired people."

Apart from a walk-on from Russell Simmons, the hip-hop community is mostly represented by names in the credits, like Queen Latifah and Q-Tip.

"They were there; they just didn't fit into the story. We had Jay-Z; Ludacris has given time and money; a ton of other hip-hop luminaries have been involved. They'll be on the DVD, along with storylines we had to cut for the final product."

What has reaction been within the hip-hop community so far?

"Well, it's only beginning, but I think the No. 1 thing I've been hearing is this is so neat, it's so necessary, it's so timely. I think the world wants something like this."

Do you feel the negativity often associated with hip-hop--and not just from someone like Bill O'Reilly--is fair?

"It's all about perspective. You can look at a rapper like 50 Cent and think he's promoting negativity. Or you can look at him and think, 'I want to be everything he isn't.'"

Was the project all about trying to get them to express the positive aspects of rap?

"I don't break it down into positive or negative. I'm just trying to make them be honest. A lot of artists tailor their music to what they think people want to hear or what record labels are going to sign and sell, so they become inauthentic. They put on this facade, and you feel it in the music. I try to inspire young artists to be completely honest and confident in being different."

You used to live a life of crime on the street. What do you say to people who are living your previous life?

"I said this in the movie: A criminal mind is a creative mind. To break a law, you've got to know a law and everything around it. That takes creativity. I tell them you should channel your aspirations and dreams into people who believe in you and an environment that empowers you. I tell them sometimes you have to go through negativity to come out the other side. And I tell them to just express themselves. Find after-school programs and get involved. Do something."

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1. John said... on Apr 30, 2008 at 07:53AM

“Saw this man last night in D.C. I like the emphasis on changing the way young people and especially young men view the future and the contributions they must make. Whatever gets the attention of these kids and then gets them to think of what works and what does not can only lead to positive efforts to be true to the best they can be.”

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2. DJ Stephanie said... on Sep 28, 2009 at 03:26PM

“hey wht is up you too its me dj stephanie i miss you guys so much and tec have you requested me as a friend yet on myspace or yahoo or myyearbook or meebo or facebook yet cause i really want to chat with you i miss you so much i am bored without you please come back and visit me my address is 51 walnut st.Apt.2 my number is 603-477-8971 or if i don't have mintues on my phone you can call my moms number its 603-477-7154 ok just ask for stephanie mcglyn ok.From.Stephanie mcglyn”

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