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The Art of Rhyme – Kevin Fitzgerald Interview

15 April 2005 No Comment

FREESTYLE explores the art form’s history, rules, legendary emcee battles, taboos, social impact, and the previously unexamined dimensions of improvisational rapping as a spiritual and community-based art form. Kevin Fitzgerald was down in South Africa recently and Rush got to speak to him…

Tell us a bit about yourself…

In the film we tell the story of underground hip-hop in the US in the 90’s. I started filming this at the Good Life open mic in South Central LA in 93. It was dope back then you had all the dope MC’s and DJ that are big now, but back then they where just the homies. Like Jurassic 5, Fellowship, the Nonce, Yo Yo, Vol. 10, and Skeelo. All came thought the good life and Project Blowed. I was in college / film school at the time and a DJ friend of Wolf of the Breakestra told me he was DJing there. And so I just stated going a filming and first writing a script on these guys. It was super dope, all the characters and battles and chippers all the time. I love it the energy was super tight. And then it just snowballed into this film like 10 years later. I also had a radio show and promoted this club called the breaks later on where the breakestra was formed.

So now we know Kevin Fitzgerald and Dj Organic is the same person we chatted a bit about your passion for the Decks how did it evolve from just being a record collector up to the point where u decided u going to name yourself Dj Organic?

I worked at health food store sin Hollywood growing up and always was into natural herbs and health ect. And so also like shit raw and natural in terms of music so that is where the name came from it was like I was always helping the guys in the hood who where sick to with some advice. Also the Good Life was a healthy café in the hood so it was just perfect. Sometimes Look at hip-hop has being tribal music and I saw the ciphers has being like community are the was alive and made be have better lives. So it all linked together.

Each one has their own interpretation what the art of rhyme is I would like to find out from you what you saw in the art of rhyme?

Creation, love, building, it is being able to express your self with no boundaries. I think it is fully American and yet universal too. I love it. I don’t do it well but for those that can it is super dope.

Ok you not that young yet you not that old as well, what’s been the biggest transition hip-hop culture has taken since you first set ears on her?

The money. Back in the day we did jams for fun. Now niggas got families and the have to feed there seeds. That is the main difference also people are getting there business side together, and the hustle is more refined. I like that but I also hate the business side because people still have ghetto mentally and are coming with wack energy cause the been burnt before or no body trusts each other. But back in the day we was all hungry but did not want to get taken advantage of. That is how I see it has changed and also in terms of the music it was evolved a lot but that is another interview.

Lets get into this film man how long have this been in the making and what was some of the biggest challenges you faced crafting this film?

Started officially in 1993 and been doing it since 2005. So a long time! Editing is hard when you have 500_ hours of footage. Editing is where a doc story get told very hard work props goes out to Paul Devlin our best editor ever.

The film has won a Sundance award if I’m correct u have raked up all sorts of acclaim with this film the accolades is just too much to mention what would you say is your biggest gain from doing this film?

All the awards and acclaim are cool cuss in a way hip-hop need to be recognized by the establishment has being worthy of status in the larger world. We have a valuable culture and just because some black and Latino kids from the ghetto made this music it is still worth something in the scream of the history of world much and culture. Infect it’s impact is huge but I don’t think the establishment has given it’s props at all.

Who will be distributing the film and how can we get the film distributed in Africa?

Pal Pictures in the US and UK. But for Africa we don’t have a distributor but you can still go to www.organicfilms.com to order a DVD.

If I may ask you why hip hop why didn’t u just set out and do one of those Hollywood films that would have raked you millions of dollars?

I am a DJ I grew up in hip-hop; I love it, the story needed to be told. Beside there is enough Hollywood out there these days.

You have done some extensive travelling with this release I been calling you and you always seem to be on the road tell me more about what you have seen in other countries as far as the infiltration of hip hop culture in other countries out side of America?

Oh man they are killing the shit in Germany, Australia, Japan, France forget about it it’s all over. Man the US has some serious competition in terms of DJ’s, Breakers, and Graf, but in terms of MC’s I still think the US is way out in front.

Kev I got to mention this part when we spoke about you filming the whole documentary with friends cameras, got any sponsorship coming through from Sony?

No I wish but will keep you posted.

Tell me about South Africa what was strange, what was unique, basically after you set foot in America what did you tell people about our scene and do you think there is any potential to do a feature out here?

Yeah I am working with some people in Senegal doing a film on the African hip-hop scene.

Kevin have you realised this film will be put alongside such classics like Beat Street, Wildstyle many years from now when u passed kids will still talk about this film, what would your next project be or are you going into early retirement?

Not sure if our film is that dope but will see. Next film is a DJ love story set in an Asian country.

It’s been nice connecting with you on a personal level hopefully we can hang together soon again whether it be in LA or in South Africa would u like to give a shout to the people in Africa?

Yes we will and much love to you all thank you for reading this.

Peace out


Interview by rush@africasgateway.com

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