“Coming Home: Haiti” explores Haitian hip-hop

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A post by Peter Jordens.

Laurie Charles reports for the Miami New Times on Coming Home: Haiti, the most recent installment of a documentary series that explores hip-hop outside the USA.

“Hip-hop is the number-one exported culture in the United States,” [Cuban-American] DJ EFN claims. “It can connect us and bring down any barriers in between.” As a vet of the 305 rap scene who, along with fellow local rapper Garcia and the Crazy Hood Film Academy, has documented the underground hip-hop scene in Cuba, Peru, and most recently Haiti through his award-winning series, Coming Home — which landed him and his crew a sweet deal with Revolt TV — EFN knows a thing or two about the genre. “When we do films, we tend to go into shady areas,” he explains. “I’m trying to prove hip-hop is a common language and we’re like a light that brings people together.” […]

Although EFN wandered through the “shady” areas of Cuba and Peru, his familiarity with the language made it easier to navigate through those countries. In Haiti, though, the language barrier — which EFN says was “the biggest difference for [him and his crew] as filmmakers” — was real. But the greatest struggle wasn’t communicating — it was finding a way to get into Cité Soleil, Haiti’s most dangerous city, which EFN says is completely self-governed.

“When we got [to Haiti], people were telling us not to go, that it wouldn’t be safe,” he recalls. “But we just had to do certain things differently. We had to meet the neighborhood gangster, and we had to promise that we would only film the artists and not venture into anything else. The first day or two [of the filming process] are really slow,” he explains. “People are hesitant because they’re used to people filming them and exploiting them, but we’re not going in as filmmakers. I’m a DJ. Garcia is a rapper. We’re going as artists.”

Though EFN admits his guard was up when he arrived in Haiti, he’s learned to just “submit to the moment.” “Let’s just be genuine with these people,” EFN says is his mentality, “so that they see we’re here just to interact with them and have a cultural exchange.” And in doing so, EFN and the Crazy Hood crew have been able to see firsthand the impact hip-hop has had worldwide.

“One thing I found in Haiti is that they really are trying to carve an identity for themselves,” he says. “They’re infusing their culture and talking about their stuff and want people to be proud of Kreyol rap. That’s what I found fascinating: They’re not just taking on American hip-hop — they’re taking it and making it their own.” And, sure, hip-hop was born in the United States, but in many ways, Haiti’s use of the genre is more authentic than our own, according to EFN. “[Haitians are] using hip-hop a lot for what hip-hop was used for in the ’80s and ’90s here,” EFN compares. “They’re not doing it for the money, so they really are using it as a way to express themselves. They told us we in the US lost the essence of hip-hop. We no longer live the hip-hop culture. It’s just a business now. For them, it’s just art and a creative platform, and they’re looking at us like, ‘You guys lost it.’”

Coming Home: Haiti airs November 13 at 4:30 and 8:30 pm on Revolt TV. Check revolt.tv for additional listings. The complete Coming Home series can be purchased at crazyhood.bigcartel.com.

For the complete original article, go to http://www.miaminewtimes.com/music/coming-home-haiti-explores-haitian-hip-hop-they-re-not-doing-it-for-the-money-8038681

Watch the teaser at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4Z-CI0v08k

Also see http://www.crazyhood.com/crazy-hood-travels-haiti-coming-home-documentary-series for behind-the-scenes pictures of the filming of the documentary.

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