Miami's DJ EFN, Garcia, and the Crazy Hood Film Academy are blazing a trail of hip-hop statesmanship across the world.
Their first film, Coming Home: Cuba, won awards at several film festivals and locked in a TV deal with Diddy's broadcast network, Revolt.
Now the guys are prepping a new flick, Coming Home: Peru, in which they take their young homie Boris back to his country of origin, meeting a slew of battle rappers, breakdancers, graff artists, and rappers along the way.
Here's what EFN had to say about finding home, having weapons drawn on him, and partying with Incas.
See also: Miami's Top Ten Hip-Hop DJs of All Time
Crossfade: What is Coming Home: Peru about?
DJ EFN: For those that don't know, in 2012, we went to Cuba, myself and Garcia, and decided to film the experience of linking with the hip-hop heads out there. We did it very amateur and guerrilla style, thinking it was just for ourselves and we were amazed at all the great feedback, getting picked up and winning film festivals, and making a deal with Revolt TV in which they will show the movie several times through 2015. I thought that only Cubans and people from Miami would give a fuck about our little movie. But I got all this feedback from people in different cities and states of various cultural backgrounds about wanting to go back to their homeland or country of origin, and that inspired me to want to travel to other countries and explore them through hip-hop. Wherever we find hip-hop, we find home.
What's the plot?
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There's two storylines in our films. The first being me and my crew on a trip and our antics, eating shit, going around, hanging out. And the second storyline is us exploring hip-hop and learning about these countries through their hip-hop scenes. In each film, we will have friends and artists giving their thoughts on our travels. For Coming Home: Cuba, we had M1 of Dead Prez, Thirstin Howl III, and N.O.R.E., and for this film, we had Immortal Technique, who's one of the few American hip-hop artists from Peru, and Murs, who just did an album with !Mayday!
How's the music in Peru?
It was dope. Definitely back to basics and heavily influenced by Golden Era, '90s-style hip-hop. They don't have radio stations playing it or video shows on TV or even regular clubs. They'll do like a hip-hop party once a month. The main scene out there is the battle rap scene. People don't have studios or equipment at their house, they're not putting out a lot of music, there's no radio to play it if they do. So the freestyle and battle scene makes sense for people who are like, "Yo, I feel like fuckin' rappin' right now." The first night we were there, this guy took us to a street jam with a big-ass cypher and they were battling it out. It was cool. That was the big thing. They also have a great b-boy scene and the graffiti was pretty dope as well.
See also: Ten Best Miami Rap Anthems Ever
Who are some of the artists?
The first group I found in my research was 2 female MC's called Las Damas. We recorded them, they were really dope. We met a young cat that lives here but goes back and forth. His name is Ciarci. We met a lot of pioneers from over there. And we met some Christian rappers. Overall it was cool and I got to go to Macchu Picchu.
What was going on in that little stone room in the trailer for the movie?
We were in the Sacred Valley which is the town closest to Machu Picchu where people stay the night before going to Macchu Picchu and the population is mainly indigenous. I told Garcia to go out into the streets, talk to random people, and ask them about hip hop. Somebody took him to an underground bar where the locals hang out and drink an indigenous alcohol called Chicha, and he's trying to explain what hip hop is and getting ready to demonstrate it and get them to clap a beat, but they weren't having it. Then he said something about drunk or being drunk and one of the guys in there got mad and Garcia and the cameraman got kicked out.
What cities/neighborhoods were you in?
We went to all parts of Lima to film and one of the places, which was their hood, their Compton, was this place called Callao. That's like their most dangerous hood in the Lima area. Before we went people were questioning whether we should do it, saying we were gonna get jacked. But one point the movie is trying to make is that if you go there and connect on a hip hop level, you get a hood pass. I'm a DJ, Garcia is a rapper, and we're willing to go out on a limb to go to these dangerous hoods to prove that point. I will say that when we got out the van, before we had the cameras set up, a group of guys pulled out their guns and rifles just to show us, hey, this shit is real.
What kind of characters did you meet?
We linked up with a dude out there who has a tattoo parlor. He was from Kendall and had gotten deported. His shop was all UM and Dade County themed. I thought we were back in Miami!
Anything catch you by surprise?
Sometimes when people start saying the names of U.S. artists they like, you'll wonder how they got that music. One guy said he liked Lords Of Brooklyn which is like this underground 90's group of Italian guys from Brooklyn. It's always surprising the variety of U.S. artist that end up resonating with people in other countries.
What are people's opinions of current American hip hop?
In Cuba, Peru, and our most recent trip Haiti they always ask us or tell us that we've lost our way. Like, 'You guys fucked up.' That we sold out. They say that we sold out for the money and we let go of the culture. In Peru someone said, "I always wanted to ask an American when did you lose the essence of hip hop?" In Haiti someone told us, "In America there's no hip hop, only business."
And what is your opinion of hip hop in the places you've travelled?
It's really coming from a pure place and the music and culture reminds me of how it got hold of me when I was growing up and first introduced to it.
Do you have a soundtrack?
We're always trying to record with the artists we meet. We take a beat with us or make a beat there and record the studio sessions and that's the main song for each film
Will it be on Netflix?
Like I mentioned before 'Coming Home: Cuba' is currently airing on Revolt Tv and also on Itunes and other platforms. We hope to be up on all platforms soon and we are in talks with Revolt TV about 'Coming Home: Peru' and 'Coming Home: Haiti' which is currently in post production. We just did our first screening of 'Coming Home: Peru' at O Cinema and plan on doing several more in the weeks and months to come.
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My business partner Garcia is a filmmaker but I don't consider myself a filmmaker, but I feel if you have a clear vision of what you wanna do, anything is possible. You just gotta have a clear vision and execute as best you can.
What else you got coming up?
I am working on my album which will pay homage to my mixtape background. The album is called 'Another Time' and is due out in March 2015. It's all original music with different artists that you don't usually hear together like I got a track with Juvenile, Dead Prez, and Trick Daddy on it. And I got another one with Wrekonize, Talib Kweli, and Redman. On the film side look out for 'Avaricious' which is a short film written and directed by Garcia. We just won 'Best Florida Short' and the Key West Film Festival. We will be doing more with that as well as working on other film and video projects. I also co-manage ¡Mayday! so I'm looking forward to working on their new album, as well as new solo projects from Wrekonize, Bernz, and Gianni Ca$h. We will also put out new music from Garcia, Heckler and production from Boris aka BeatsNdaHood. We also take a lot of pride on some of our exclusive content on Crazyhood.com and check out our new cyber baby 90shiphop.com so you can say we are happily busy over here!