Ernie Paniccioli has been documenting the birth, growth, and evolution of hip hop culture through the art of photography for many years, and his contributions to the industry are tremendous. It is my sincere honor to hand my blog over to Ernie for the day. He is truly dedicated to showcasing the positivity that runs rampant in hip hop. Do yourselves a favor and check out Mr. Paniccioli’s various works, such as his book entitled “Who Shot Ya? ". I assure you, as fans of hip hop, you won’t be disappointed. (including 9 new books at www.lulu.com)
Here it is, late 2007, we’ve survived the arrival of Christianity, the Europeans, the land grabs, cultural destruction, decimation of the tribes, slavery, a civil war, an emancipation proclamation, reconstruction, the so called Indian wars, the Spanish American War, two world wars, a major depression, segregation, a so called Civil Rights act, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, and more. And how do we celebrate? Every four years we revive a national ritual called, solemnly, "The Presidential Election". And how do we celebrate? We round up a pack of fetid, rabid, racist, clueless millionaires, give them state of the art makeovers, hire armies of public relations manipulators of the public will, ignore public opinion, and meld fantasy, fear, patriotism, hokum and mindless rhetoric only to go through a banal, tasteless, scripted orgy of hype, smoke and mirrors, and blarney that would make P.T. Barnum green with envy.
In the midst of this madness and mind rot I decided to release a simple, quiet, inspirational movie. No, it is not a Disney film, nor a high minded morality tale, but rather the true story of my life. From the slums of Brooklyn, to homelessness through the Vietnam War, to a magic encounter with Hip Hop, to becoming a legend in Hip Hop Photography and the author of a 30 year look at Hip Hop Photography by one raw, tough, creative, Native American called "Who Shot Ya?".
Did I get your attention?
The film is called "The Other Side of Hip Hop" and it just won Best Documentary in The Big Apple FiIm Festival and features Afrika Bambaataa (the founder of The Universal Zulu Nation), Chuck D of Public Enemy fame, and many other Hip Hop icons. A Martial Arts trained, Native American Hip Hop Photography legend who studied Zen Buddhism and who has lectured at both Harvard and The Nation of Islam and who did a book with Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, and Michael Jordan (“Lift Every Voice and Sing”), and was chosen to be the spokesman for The Temple of Hip Hop at the United Nations and has photographed both the Dalai Lama and Frank Sinatra as well as Jimmy Carter.
If it sounds like a unique man who marches to the beat of a distant drum, you ain’t heard nothing yet.
In my studio I’ve shot an 18 year old Queen Latifah, a young Big Daddy Kane, Wu Tang, Biggy, Puffy, LL Cool J, Tribe Called Quest, Ice Cube, Bone Thugs, L’il Kim, Master P, The Marley Brothers, Ice T, Foxy Brown, Big Pun, Tupac, KRS1, Gangstarr, Goodie Mob, Public Enemy, Richie Havens, Nas, and Mos Def, to name just a few.
Even though the film may be the first award winning Hip Hop movie and the first award for a Native American, the response from the media has been one of cold silence. Perhaps because the movie was made outside of the monied, structured, colonized confines of Hollywood and because it not only does not embrace, but rather discards all of the clichéd myths normally associated with Hip Hop - including nudity, glorification of thuggish behavior, drug use, macho behavior, general dumbness and arrested development. The movie is an exploration of survival, art, photography, TRUE Hip Hop culture; Hip Hop as a tool of communication, empowerment, self identity, and how to use the basic laws of the Universe to thrive and grow in a dying nation.
The website with a trailer available at http://www.ourgang62.com/ . For this film to succeed, we need all bloggers, web-site owners, internet dwellers, and those who love life, art, beauty, and Hip Hop, to scream loud and long: "This is the movie we’ve been waiting for. Here is the raw, naked, ugly, beautiful, unvarnished, truth. And like it or not, it is here."