Rap Dreams chronicles the lives of three up-and-coming rappers as they journey through the world of Bay Area hip-hop and follow their dreams of becoming rap superstars. The film captures their passion in pursuing these dreams, the obstacles they overcome to rise above poverty, and the contrast between their so-called “rap dreams” and reality.
Director Kevin Epps began documenting three rappers, Mistah FAB, Kev Kelley, and Hectic, 17 years ago in 1999. Epps (a community activist in San Francisco as well as a filmmaker) won Best Documentary Award at the 2003 Pan African Film Festival and a San Francisco Bay Guardian Goldie Award for his acclaimed documentary Straight Outta Hunters Point. (Another documentary by Epps, The Black Rock, detailing the untold stories of African American prisoners on Alcatraz, has also been recognized formally by the City of San Francisco.)
Rap Dreams features cameos by Shock G (Digital Underground), Adisa “The Bishop of Hip Hop” Banjoko, JT The Bigga Figga, Herm Lewis, Beeda Weeda, T-Kash (The Coup), Balance, and more. But fast forward to 2016, and only ONE of the three young men the film focuses on has actually gone on to become a successful music artist (Mistah FAB just released his 6th studio album, Son of a Pimp Part 2, which features an array of star-studded guests including Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg and Lupe Fiasco, among others).
Even though the film is focused on the Bay Area hip-hop scene, the context of the film resonates with anyone aspiring to achieve their dreams while facing the reality of what they are up against. Hip-hop history repeats itself, and this film is almost more relevant today than it was at the time of its release.
Looking back at the industry after 10 years, has the “rap dreams” mentality changed? What impact has it had on the youth psyche, especially young African American men? If hip-hop is life, are we living correctly? Can hip-hop help solve our problems? Who are the new voices of rap? What are the important messages of this generation of music-makers? Does what we see depicted in film accurately reflect our surroundings? And are people motivated to move forward in artistic pursuits for reasons other than financial gratification?
To answer these questions and more, SBVRSL and Reel Black Films are presenting a special 10 year anniversary screening of Rap Dreams, hosted by director Kevin Epps and rapper Mistah FAB, at The New Parkway Theater in Oakland, California on August 16th. There will be a post film discussion with Epps and FAB, plus many special guests. (Tickets are available here.) It’s time to take a deeper look at the rap dreams of the past…and what they can teach us about our dreams of today.
Screening Date: Tuesday, Aug 16, 2016
Screening Time: 7:00 pm
Screening Location: The New Parkway Theater, 474 24th Street, Oakland CA 94612
Admission Price: $10