Hip Hop CDs
Hip Hop Project Soundtrack
Straight Outta Compton (Priority, 1988)
Music: The Blueprint Of Hip Hop (Jive, 1989) /
Get Rich Or Die Tryin’
– Soundtrack (2005)
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50 Cent CDs
Get Rich Or Die Tryin'
The Massacre /
Guess Who's Back /
Power of the Dollar
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Books on Rap &
New H.N.I.C.: The Death of Civil Rights and the Reign of Hip Hop
Sharif Responds to Todd
Hop Really Dead?
It's Not About a Salary... Rap, Race and Resistance in Los
Angeles: Rap, Race, and Resistance in Los Angeles (1993)
Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America
Russell A. Porter, Spectacular
Vernaculars: Hip-Hop and the Politics of Postmodernism
The Hip Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the
Crisis in African American Culture
Prophets of the Hood: Politics and Poetics in Hip Hop (2004)
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Hip Hop Project Sountrack
Executive Producers Bruce Willis and
Date: May 11, 2007)
Chris "Kazi" Rolle, Diana "Princess"
Lemon, Christopher "Cannon" Mapp, Russell Simmons, Bruce
Willis, Sway, Doug E. Fresh
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The Hip Hop Project Interview & Review
Chris ‘Kazi’ Rolle with Kam Williams
Chris “Kazi” Rolle was born in Nassau, Bahamas and
abandoned by his mother as a young child. He grew up in
foster care and orphanages before coming to New York at
the age of fourteen to reconnect with his biological
mother. A turbulent reunion led to his living homeless
on the streets of Brooklyn where he began hustling at
night to survive though he did continue to stay in
1996, after graduating from PSRC Performing Arts High
School, Kazi began writing, directing and acting with an
urban theatre company called Tomorrow’s Future, fusing
hip-hop and drama to relate tales of everyday
experiences in the inner city. Three years later, he
created Art Start’s Hip-Hop Project, an outreach program
which connects troubled teens to music industry
professionals with the goal of producing their own rap
album reflecting real-life issues.
He’s also the architect of Momentum, a hip-hop music
label that puts the emphasis on the education and
empowerment of its artists. Plus, he’s a co-founder of
A.P.E.X., a non-profit organization that hosts monthly
college preparation workshops and offers a tour of
Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
Kazi has been featured by Oprah Winfrey on a show with
the theme “People Who Are Using Their Lives,” as he now
travels around the country as both a motivational
speaker and a performer. Presently, he’s working on his
highly anticipated debut album, “Many Faces.”
Here, he talks about The Hip Hop Project, an uplifting
bio-pic which chronicles his overcoming the odds of an
orphan surviving on the streets and his then going on to
serve as a mentor to other unfortunate kids who find
themselves in equally-challenging predicaments.
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What’d you think of the The Hip Hop Project?
I love the film. I love it!
Do you think it gives the audience an accurate idea of
what your program is trying to accomplish?
Hey, you grew up in the Bahamas until you were about 14.
How come you don’t have a West Indian accent?
You know what I think it was? It was the fact that I’ve
always dreamed about coming to America, and I used to
rap as a little kid, mimicking all the rappers from
America. And there was no Bahamian community in the
Bahamas that I was aware of or connected to. I think
constantly being around Americans, I just wanted to talk
like them, I guess, and maybe lose the accent quicker.
And I didn’t go home for a very long time.
Speaking of home, probably, the most poignant scene in
the movie is your reunion with your mom after many years
of being estranged. You obviously were eager to bond
with her, but she still seemed somewhat distant. How is
your relationship with her today?
It’s good, it’s evolving. I can walk into the house, if
I’m ever around on a holiday, and get a nice hug. We
talk once in a while, though I’m very busy, and so is
she. The relationship has evolved a whole lot since that
point, and it continues to evolve.
At the end of the movie we learn that you’re no longer
running the day-to-day operations of the Hip Hop
Project. That must be a big loss, because you were its
I’m still on the board. We’re working towards having the
program be its own independent organization, aside from
So, what are you up to, then?
I just finished my album, “Many Faces,” and I’m working
on getting it out there.
Who is your album with, an independent label?
I’m talking to a few different distributors. But my main
focus right now is trying to get people to see the
movie. After that, I’ll make some decisions.
In the film, you stress the idea of writing lyrics which
honestly reflect what’s going on in your life. This
ought to be excellent timing given the recent backlash
against gangsta rap in the wake of the Don Imus
Yeah, I guess it might be divine intervention, but I
also think things just go out of style. Some of those
rappers will continue to sell, but people are more open
and are looking for more from hip-hop right now, and
we’re ready to feed that appetite. I couldn’t have
planned it any better.
In the film, we see you fall in love with Kheperah. When
are you two lovebirds going to tie the knot?
Well, it’s been so crazy, we’ve got to get past this
tsunami of attention and just really spend some time
with each other, before we can, like we say, jump the
Is your fiancee still working in the music industry?
Nah, right now she’s working on a book and on an album
and she’s seeking some opportunities as a motivational
speaker. And she’s working with me to promote this film.
The film focuses on couple of your protégés, including
Princess, who was pregnant. How’s she doing, and what’d
she have, a boy or a girl?
She had a girl. Her name is Dream. Princess is doing
great. She’s running the program, and she actually just
finished a book, Me, Myself and I which is about
lessons that she learned being a young mother. She
continues to run the program and she’s also been out on
the road promoting the film and our new CD which just
dropped yesterday. It’s the
soundtrack to the film.
How many different performers from the program are there
Kazi: Ten. We’re
getting ready to do a performance tour this summer. So,
we’re looking forward to that. We’re forming a Wu-Tang
Clan type of collective to continue to spread this
message of hope and healing through hip-hop.
KW: And how is Cannon, the other kid prominently
featured in the documentary, doing? He was very broken
up when his mother, who had Multiple Sclerosis, passed
away while you were making the movie.
Kazi: He’s doing
better now. He’s actually does a lot of the production
on my album, and he continues to produce for the group,
and for other artists in the music industry. He’s also
an editor over at AOL Music, and he does a lot in the
community to raise awareness and funds for such sickness
as AIDS and MS. I’m very, very proud of him.
KW: What was it like being homeless at such a young
age, and how did you survive on the streets?
Kazi: I give
thanks for the attention of the movie, but there’s so
many people going through the same process. It was
definitely hard living out there on the streets, but I
always had angels and people trying to help me out. For
a long time, anywhere I laid my hat was my home. Though
the streets were pulling me in one direction, the angels
were pulling me the other way. And I think the angels
just pulled harder. Now, I’ve got my own place, and I’m
KW: Are you still in Brooklyn?
Kazi: Yes, sir, Crown Heights!
KW: Do you know where Medgar Evers College is?
That’s my old stomping grounds. Nostrand Avenue…
Kazi: Yeah, I’m
right up the block. I’m on Sterling. I do college
preparation workshops which culminate in a one week-long
college tour. Medgar Evers is the only
historically-black college in New York City, so we
usually do our workshops there. Did you attend that
KW: Yeah, but I went there when it was a high
school. What advice do you have for anyone who wants to
follow in your footsteps?
Kazi: For folks
living in tough situations, like foster care, or the
homeless, I’d say, “Try to surround yourself with people
who care.” There ARE people out there. Sometimes, it
won’t be blood relatives, but you’ve got to surround
yourselves with people who tell you that you can be
somebody, and that, whatever you need, they will support
you. And for folks who want to break into the music
industry, I’d say, “Just be honest in your music.” Write
music that comes from your heart… that represents you.
Don’t let the radio dictate to you who you should be.
Use the internet as a way to find your fan base. Use
places like MySpace and FaceBook to promote your stuff
right there online. That’s the future of music.
KW: As I’m
speaking to you on the phone, you’re constantly getting
interrupted by fans. Are people already noticing you
from the movie?
Kazi: Yes, sir!
Man, when I walk down the street, I get hugged, and
people are asking for autographs. It’s beautiful, but
the most important thing is that people become inspired
to give back.
KW: What’s it like to have Bruce Willis, Queen
Latifah and Russell Simmons behind your project?
Kazi: Honestly, I
feel honored and very blessed. I appreciate the
opportunity. And it validates my stepping out and doing
something different from a lot of my peers in the music
game, because I didn’t know whether people would like it
or understand. But along the way, people said, “Wow!
This is a great thing you’re doing, and anything you
need, I want to help you.”
KW: Is there any question you always wished a
reporter would ask you, but nobody ever asks.
Kazi: Yeah, if you had the whole world listening,
what would you have to say?
KW: Okay, if you had the whole world listening, what
would you have to say?
Kazi: I’d say be inspired to take time out to give
back to another human being, because you’ll be surprised
what you get back in return. I’d also say go and see
this movie, because you can make a difference when you
buy a ticket, since 100% of the profits for this film
will go to organizations working with young people.
KW: Won’t you feel bad when the picture makes a lot
of money and you don’t get a big cut?
Kazi: No, I’m a
resilient person I’m always going to make a way. Because
we’re only on this planet for a limited time, it’s more
important to me that my idea live on past me. If I can
create a self-sustaining program, then I’m good, my
legacy’s here. Having people like Bruce Willis
supporting what I’m doing is greater than money. Money
can only last for a little while, but the respect and
admiration and love that I get from people will last for
KW: That’s a beautiful sentiment. Thanks for the
time and good luck in all of your endeavors.
Kazi: Thank you, man.
* * * *
Review by Kam Williams
Chris ‘Kazi’ Rolle was
born in the Bahamas where he was abandoned soon after
birth by his mother who decided to start over on her own
and set out for America. Understandably, Kazi grew up
with a hole in his soul, and headed for New York City at
the age of 14 to track her down.
But their reunion was to
be short-lived and, at 15, the unwanted orphan was
kicked out of the house and ended up having to survive
by his wits on the hard streets of the Crown Heights
section of Brooklyn. He temporarily joined a gang and
turned to a life of crime until he hooked up with a
program called Art Start.
This self-help group
enables troubled teens to channel their frustrations
positively by giving them a chance to express their
emotions through the rhymes associated rap. The
organization even has a recording studio in order to
attract aspiring hip-hop artists, though with the goal
of getting them to write about the real issues affecting
their souls, not ghetto fabulous gangsta fantasies about
guns, bling and black-on-black crime.
The upshot is that, with
the help of Art Start, Kazi was not only able to heal
himself and become a productive member of society, but
he then started serving as a mentor to at-risk kids in
need of help. This spiritual transformation is the
subject of The Hip Hop Project, a warts-and-all
documentary which pulls no punches about the prospects
of those stuck in poverty while simultaneously making a
powerful statement about human potential.
The camera is kind to the
now 24 year-old Kazi in the winning way that it captures
his infectious enthusiasm as he influences two of his
protégés, Princess and Cannon. Pregnant Princess, whose
father was recently arrested for drug possession, is
writing a song about whether or not to have the child.
Cannon, who we learn has been rapping on the subways
since 1999, is despondent because his mother has just
succumbed to multiple sclerosis without his having a
chance to say goodbye to her.
considerable disadvantages, the triumphant participants
in the four-year operation prove that, as Kazi claims,
“The criminal mind is a creative mind.” For they manage
to channel their negative experiences constructively by
collaborating on a meaningful CD containing insightful
personal narratives which touch on a variety of
As the closing credits
roll, postscripts updating the current status of all the
folks we’ve gotten to know leave you with a sense of
satisfaction. Look for cameo appearances by producer
Bruce Willis and Def Jam CEO Russell Simmons extolling
the virtues of the organization. With 100% of the
profits going to non-profit charities devoted to youth,
The Hip Hop Project might be the first totally
Excellent (4 stars)
15 May 2007
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Mockingbirds at Jerusalem
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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a
collection of fourteen essays by scholars and
creative writers from Africa and the Americas.
Called one of two significant critical works on
Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late
1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of
Carter G. Woodson and
Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as
well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations
were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early
essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish
medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an
historical context for understanding 20th-century
creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone
writers, such as Cuban
Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist,
Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the
significance of Negritude in Latin America. This
collaborative text set the tone for later
conferences in which writers and scholars worked
together to promote, disseminate, and critique the
literature of Spanish-speaking people of African
descent. . . .
Cited by a
literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the
field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which
most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."
Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered
the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It
By H. W. Brands
In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign. The Economy
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The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
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Ancient African Nations
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If you like this page consider making a donation
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Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
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update 15 December 2011