by The People’s Minister of Information JR
Kevin Epps is a legendary Bay Area filmmaker from Hunters Point, who is one of the few godfathers of the hood self-made dvd revolution. This year 2016 marks the 10th anniversary of the completion of his film “Rap Dreams” which highlighted the careers of Hectic, Kev Kelly and Mistah F.A.B.
Out of the trio, Mistah F.A.B. has become a household name in Bay Area Hip Hop circles, and will be accompanying filmmaker Kevin Epps at the screening of Rap Dreams, on next Tuesday, Aug. 16, 7 p.m., at the New Parkway, 474 24th St., Oakland. I caught up with Kev so that he could let the Bay View newspaper world know what is about to go down.
M.O.I. JR: How did you get started in making films? Did you join a program?
Kevin Epps: I turned on my camera and jumped into the fray of capturing the energy, excitement and passion of the rappers and the underground music culture in the SF Bay Area.
M.O.I. JR: How did you get over the fear of doing something new?
Kevin Epps: It wasn’t fear; it was about telling stories and journey and passion of artists, and as an artist I was motivated by their drive.
M.O.I. JR: How do you pick the subjects of your films?
Kevin Epps: I was around these rappers in the community and seen the talent, determination and commitment they showcased every day on their journey.
M.O.I. JR: As one of the godfathers of the hood self-made dvd revolution, what do you think about cellphone cameras being the main weapon that the Black community has been using to expose police terrorism?
Kevin Epps: It important to capture stories regardless the weapon of choice. We said in the beginning, the revolution will be televised and camera phones have manifested that reality.
M.O.I. JR: Last year Blacks boycotted the Oscars. As an independent filmmaker, what do you think about that? Should we fight for inclusion and/or should we use that energy to create our own situations?
Kevin Epps: Inclusion is an illusion as it relates to wanting to be accepted and acknowledged by a system that don’t honor or respect our culture, art or otherwise.
M.O.I. JR: Ten years ago you released the “Rap Dreams” documentary with Mistah F.A.B. as one of the up and coming stars of the film. Today he has truly made a name for himself in West Coast Hip Hop. How does that feel for you as a filmmaker who foresaw that happening?
Kevin Epps: Mistah F.A.B. was always a talented, hungry, driven artist and all-around great person. His talent and love for community, music and creativity was awe-inspiring, fresh and he was original. I saw greatness and potential and was immediately drawn to him.
M.O.I. JR: What will next Tuesday’s “Rap Dreams” showing at the New Parkway Theater in Oakland be like?
Kevin Epps: It will be an amazing experience at the New Parkway to come full circle and reflect on the journey from where we came from to where we are now.
M.O.I. JR: What else are you working on?
Kevin Epps: I have a film production company working on various projects. I am excited about “DEEPROOTED,” the story about James Beasley, an ‘80s crack cocaine drug kingpin from Hunters Point and the devastating impact drugs have on Black communities.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is the author of several books including the upcoming “Halfway to a Hundred: Dispatches from the Black Panther Party.” Tune to BlockReportRadio.com and reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.