Hip-hop has had a steady presence in mainstream media. Successful Hip-Hop movies like "Boyz In The Hood" and more recently "Straight Outta Compton" validate the appeal the genre has on different audiences. Lately, Hip-Hop has gravitated to the playhouse. The meteoric success of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s "Hamilton" is a testament that Hip-Hop may have a place in the theater.
"The Last Jimmy," created by five-time Grammy-nominated rapper Karl “Dice Raw” Jenkins, is one the latest Hip-Hop musicals being performed around the country. The musical purposes to explore the harmful effects of mass incarcerations in the inner-cities and the ills of the criminal justice system in America.
Jenkins plays the main character, Jimmy, who’s the last African-American man to be free and is on trial for past, present and future crimes.
The musical uses Hip-Hop and dance to address the crisis many black males experience throughout the country, with the intent to transform the perception of young African-Americans in the inner cities.
The show was inspired by Dr. Michelle Alexander’s book "The New Jim Crow" and by Jenkins’ 2013 album, "Jimmy Is Back." Both the book and the album cautiously explore the themes of choice, past history, anger, mass incarcerations, peer pressure and the disconnect between black fathers and black sons that are prevalent in the musical.
The musical was written by Phillip S. Brown, while Jenkins curated the music and the lyrics of the show.
Remembering A Community
The Miami Jewish Film Festival is officially underway. The festival features more than 60 independent films, with some of them being world premieres. The festival is one of the fastest growing film festivals in the country
Executive director Igor Shteyrenberg took over the festival in 2013 and is responsible for the rapid growth the festival has experienced. “We revitalized the brand,” Shteyrenberg said “and we were able to find a niche within our community.”
Through the acquisition of new and different partnerships, the festival was able to reach new audiences. The festival is committed to programming excellence, which means taking calculated risks in offering films that other Jewish film festivals overlooked. “We want to take those risks,” Shteyrenberg said.
This year a film that will receive its world premiere is "The Last Resort" by directors Dennis Scholl and Kareem Tabsch. Both directors have strong ties to the Miami art scene.
Scholl is the CEO of Art Center-South Florida and the former vice president for arts of the Knight Foundation. Tabsch helped launch the successful O Cinema.
"The Last Resort" is a look at the Miami Beach of the 1960’s and 70’s. It was the preferred city of retirees and snowbirds who wanted to escape the brutal days of winter. Quickly, Miami Beach became home to a large and predominantly Jewish community of citizens over 70.
"The Last Resort" transports viewers to the Miami Beach of years past through the iconic work of photographers Andy Sweet and Gary Monroe.
The photographers embarked on a 10-year journey of documenting the aging Jewish community of Miami Beach of the 70’s into the wild and colorful "Miami Vice" days of the 80’s.
Scholl and Tabsch desired to work together and almost simultaneously decided to tell the story of Sweet and Monroe’s photographic work. The film is an ode to the almost forgotten Jewish community of Miami Beach.
The Miami Jewish Film festival will run through Jan. 25 with events happening in Miami Beach, Miami Shores, Aventura, Kendall and Coral Gables.