South American Style

Twenty years after the rise of gangsta rap, its rebellious legacy is hollow, at least in the U.S. Once the voice of youthful defiance, American hip-hop now espouses a slickly marketed bling-bling message. The original agitators, if not dead, are now soft and fat, spouting songs about hot booty, pricey champagne, and fast cars.

Hip-hop, the youth movement, has moved far beyond its American roots. Today young rebels around the world, who can barely afford a decent pair of shoes, are testifying to a street beat. Documentary filmmaker Vanessa Gocksch's movie, Testimonios, Hip-Hop Colombiano Año 2000, explores the world of Colombian raperos and subversive DJs in the poorest sections of Cali, Medellin, Bogota, and Buena Ventura. Resistencia by Tom Feiling also centers on Colombia's young and desperate raperos. Their experience steeped in anarchy, the musical poets have plenty to rant about. Surviving in a country that has endured a 40-year war with regular spates of kidnappings, bombings, and massacres carried out by leftist guerrillas, paramilitary troops, and drug lords leaves its mark. For some of these young Colombianos, life in South Central Los Angeles, comparatively, would be a picnic.

Both documentaries will screen this Friday at FIU. Accompanying them will be live performances by Colombian hip-hop artists, and hometown celebrity spin-meister DJ Le Spam will throw down cool Colombian beats. Following the presentation, the filmmakers will lead a discussion.


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