USA | 88 MINUTES | English |
WORD.LIFE (AKA THE HIP HOP PROJECT)
From executive producer Bruce Willis, Word.Life is the dynamic and inspirational story about at-risk New York City teenagers who set out to make an album as part of the Hip Hop Project, the brainchild of Bahamian-born Chris “Kharma Kazi” Rolles. After getting through a difficult childhood and attempting to become a hip hop star, Rolles decided it was time to give back—through the Art Start organization that all but saved him when he himself was a teen on the streets of Crown Heights. Rolles initiated the Hip Hop Project not just as a way to pull kids in off the streets but
to help them develop the confidence and self-respect to get on the right path by taking them through the recording process. But when it came time to actually cut the album the songs needed to be more than a hot sound with a good beat. They needed to have lyrics about what was happening in the kids’ lives—not the standard fantasies of “money, bling, and the ladies.” The result was more than just great music. This collaborative and creative outlet produced a sense of empowerment for the students, and it may have even saved some lives by channeling anger into artistic expression. Even though the film focuses on the kids, its heart and soul is Rolles, who relishes the process as much as his youthful collaborators. Codirectors Matt Ruskin and Scott Rosenberg (who founded Art Start) have skillfully photographed and edited a story of hope, healing, and the realization of dreams.