Saturday, May 05, 2007

Let The Healing Begin: The Hip Hop Project

It's 5 o'clock in the morning. My body is at rest but my mind is busy reflecting on what I experienced a matter of hours ago. As I mentally replay the events of The Hip Hop Project film screening at Fox studios, a crazy thought keeps recurring to me. What if there was a Jesus from Nassau not Nazareth? Born of natural birth to a Bahamian woman that left him to raise himself; he grows up without her comforting embrace and learns to accept the cold shoulder of the streets. His earthly father is not part of the picture so an orphanage and foster care supplies his parenting. His mother comes to America and several years later he follows but the reunion leaves him living the Negro spiritual "Sometimes I feel Like a Motherless Child". So, once again he is forced out of her life, but this time the rough streets of New York welcome him. Angry, rejected, lonely, scared…how does he deal with all the emotions churning inside? Music. And how does he learn to survive on the streets? Crime.

Then one day, like Paul on the road to Damascus, he receives a change of mind and heart. The snatch and grab lifestyle comes to an end and his conversion is complete with a new spirit and outlook on life. His name is Kazi and he has been Divinely called to save young people through music, a Hip Hop Project to be exact. And through his music and his mission he has been given the power to heal. To assist him with his calling he chooses talented and passionate disciples. Like him, they loose themselves in music to escape and express their pain and concerns. And by his example and love they too are also converted. No more boasts of material and sexual conquests. Gone are the tales of gang violence, dope hustling, and exaggerated thug life. These soldiers spit fire about their family issues, daily struggles, and personal insights, lyrically baring their souls for the world to see. And by sharing their stripes they hope to heal themselves and anyone listening going through similar things. Undoubtedly, it's soul music in its purest form. Led by Kazi, together these aspiring artists create a movement, a revolution that will not be televised because good news is rarely news. But what exactly is the good news according to The Hip Hop Project? The good news is that real Hip Hop is not dead, but very much alive, and it's coming back to its roots. The good news is that artists can express their true-selves, not a false image and still have a career in music. Thus, MC's don't have to extol material wealth and spiritual depravity to be real. In this film, with this movement, respect is given to those who spit truth about the darkness but walk toward the light. Ain't that good news?

But will the masses accept this message or crucify it? Only we can save ourselves; the responsibility does not lie solely with Kazi, the Hip Hop Project, nor its disciples. They've given us the tools, now we must use them. The power to change the negativity we see and hear daily in Hip Hop and R&B is with those who consume it, says Kazi. It's a simple lesson of supply and demand. Consumer actions speak louder than words and faith without works is dead. Not only must we hear this word, but be doers also. Personally, I'm fully converted and willing to share the good news. Anybody else down for the cause? Then watch the trailer below and convince others to see The Hip Hop Project, May 11th. The soundtrack is available in stores and also on iTunes.

Executive Produced by Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah and directed by Matt Ruskin of The Glen of the Downs, this documentary is more than a movie it's a testimony of spirit, love, and strength. 100% of the net profits go to organizations working with youth.

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