Audio Streaming Audio Exclusive - Chris "Kazi" Rolle of The Hip Hop Project
By The Bahamas Weekly News Team
May 7, 2008 - 9:56:06 PM
Streaming Audio Interview with Kazi Rolle
The Bahamas Weekly brings you an amazing audio interview, via phone from Brooklyn, New York, with Bahamian born, Chris "Kazi" Rolle, who is the focus behind the documentary film, "The Hip Hop Project", produced by Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah. The Hip Hop Project features hip hop mogul Russell Simmons.
The cast is Bahamian Chris "Kazi" Rolle, Diana "Princess" Lemon, Christopher "Cannon" Mapp, Russell Simmons, Bruce Willis, Sway, and Doug E. Fresh.
In this interview Kazi explains about his memories of life in The Bahamas, growing up in orphanages and foster homes, and speaks highly of Catherine Brown, his foster mom. Although he is a Rolle, he has heard he may be related to the Poitier family, but is not sure.
Chris “Kazi” Rolle was born in Nassau, Bahamas. (The following is from Kazi's website) Abandoned as a baby, he has endured foster homes and institutions, and then somehow made it to New York at the age of fourteen with help from a Fox Hill prison councellor. He arrived in New York on his mother's birthday. The reunion was not fruitful. In New York he survived alone on the streets with no home or family to support him. Falling victim to the intense pressures of his surroundings, Kazi dropped out of high school and began hustling and selling drugs in the streets to survive. After a few short visits to numerous NYC penal institutions, Chris became determined to focus his energy in other areas.
In 1991, Chris discovered the Tomorrow’s Future Theatre Company and began directing, writing and acting for/in urban theatrical productions that fused Hip Hop and drama to tell tales of everyday life in the inner city. His play, A Brooklyn Story, earned him the 1994 New York Governor's Citation and Martin Luther King Jr. Award. In 1995, Chris received the CBS Fulfilling the Dream Award for both his play and for his work in schools and homeless shelters advocating education and drug abuse prevention.
Chris graduated from the New York City Public Repertory Company (an alternative arts high school) in 1996 having won the Playwrights Competition. Chris had been a student of the Media Works Project since 1994, and in 1997 he taught the project's curriculum to teenagers coming our of Rikers Island prison.
In 1998 Chris led Art Start's anti-racism PSA project, which was featured in the Bravo documentary Fire, Risk and Rhythm.
In 1999, Chris created Art Start’s Hip-Hop Project, an award winning after-school program that connects NYC teens to music industry professionals to write, produce and market their own compilation album on youth issues. The program has attracted the likes of music industry mogul Russell Simmons and mega movie star Bruce Willis, who donated heavily to the success of the program.
In 2000, Chris was featured in "People Who Are Using Their Lives," The Oprah Winfrey Show; In 1999, Chris received the Catalog for Giving’s Urban Hero Award, and the WCBS Hometown Hero Award for his work with the kids of the Hip-Hop Project.
Chris’ inspiring life story and ground-breaking program is also the focus of a feature-length documentary film entitled The Hip Hop Project, which is slated for theatrical release in spring 2007.
Chris is founded Momentum, a hip-hop music label that prides it self in development, education and empowerment of its artists. Chris is co-founder of A.P.EX., a non-profit organization that hosts monthly college preparation workshops which assist inner city High School students in preparing for all aspects of college life, including financial aid & scholarships, admissions, and personal development, culminating in a week-long tour of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Chris also travels nationally to serve as an expert panelist on Foster Care, Male Holistic Development, Relationship Issues, Entrepreneurship and Hip Hop Community Activism and Education. Chris is currently a New York City resident.
At Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) 2006 standing in between, the Past Prime Minister of The Bahamas, Perry Christie and the Past Minister of Bahamas Tourism, Obie Wilchcombe. The Hip Hop Project was featured at BIFF 2006 and was released in theatres in 2007. The film is set to come out on DVD in 2009. Photo: Craig Woods, Bahamas Film Commission