The Hip Hop Project
Chris Rolle was born into poverty in the Bahamas and found himself forced to fend for himself as a child when he was abandoned by his mother. Rolle came to America in his teens but soon found himself homeless on the mean streets of Brooklyn, NY. Rolle had a natural talent as a rapper, and had the good fortune of meeting Scott K. Rosenberg, who was the founder of Art Start, an organization that brings arts education to New York City's underprivileged. Encouraged by his contacts at Art Start, Rolle began developing a potent reputation as rapper Kharma Kazi, and soon he came to realize he wanted to give back to the community that helped lift him out of poverty. With the help of Art Start, Rolle helped found The Hip Hop Project, a workshop for aspiring hip-hop artists. Instead of simply teaching aspiring rappers about rhyming techniques or microphone handling, Rolle and his crew urged them to use rap as a way to speak out about the issues they face in their daily lives rather than rhyming about violence, sex, bling, and the gangsta lifestyle. In time, hip-hop powerhouse Russell Simmons partnered up with movie star Bruce Willis to donate a recording studio to the group, thus enabling the musicians to record and release their own record, HHP Vol. 1: Are You Feelin' Me?, issued in May 2007. The Hip Hop Project is a documentary about Rolle and The Hip Hop Project crew that offers a behind-the-scenes look at their work and their impact on a group of young people eager to hone their musical skills. The film received its world premiere at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival.