The Hip Hop Project (DVD) (Special Review)

The Hip-Hop Project | DVD


To successfully graduate from a four-year college is an accomplishment in itself.  Now imagine spending four years in a very unorthodox, but progressive institution of hard knocks.  This school is known as The Hip-Hop Project, the brainchild of Christopher ‘Kazi’ Rolle, who was orphaned during his childhood in the Bahamas.  Kazi, who moved to New York to find his mother who abandoned him while he was a toddler, could have folded up the tent and continued venting his anger in a negative fashion.  Yet his vision of encouraging a group of promising hip-hop artists to channel their anger into positive results reveals a musical pot of gold, which is the DVD entitled The Hip-Hop Project. 


Besides Kazi’s dedication to the students, there were other major players in making this educational experience possible, including executive producer Bruce Willis and music executive Russell Simmons who donated a recording studio for HHP; and the film’s co-producer/directors Scott Rosenberg & Matt Ruskin.  Rosenberg, the founder of Art Start, was a big factor in getting Kazi’s future off the ground and off the streets of New York.  Kazi initiated HHP, an umbrella under Art Start, by pounding the streets he once roamed in advertising for his future recording venture.  The ultimate twist was finding the right talent who could fore go the gangster rap mentality that is more attractive with the mainstream audience and turn their life stories into life lessons to share with their fellow youth.  Once the students were picked, the transformation of Princess, Cannon & Verse from diamonds in the rough to top-notch hip-hop storytellers begins.  


Within this eighty-five minute DVD first released in 2007 and re-released January 5th, these aspiring students’ journeys are balanced with Kazi’s growth as a mentor and sorting out feelings as he tries to reconcile with his mother.  The audience also gets to witness their various tribulations which inspired their raps and the irrapport with Kazi through developmental meetings and working in the studio.  Watching how these rappers develop their craft and confidence are the defining moments on HHP.   Even though Kazi is certainly a key figure that makes HHP tick, there is a bit too much emphasis on his personal life, especially towards the end as he announces his solo career.  And occasionally a few of the scenes are drawn out which affect the film’s sharp pacing.  Otherwise, The Hip-Hop Project spins a wonderful tale of hope and how the power of hip-hop can be used as a creative teaching tool.


Peggy Oliver

The Urban Music Scene