by The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey
Revolutionary, Bronx based, political Latino rap group Rebel Diaz strikes again: This time it’s not a dose of reality Hip Hop that they’re serving, but a new political and cultural education tool better known as Ñ Don’t Stop, a webisode that regularly appears on the Venezuelan media website TeleSur English that will also soon be hitting television screens worldwide.
The televised magazine documents the group’s many international excursions and profiles some of their artistic friends and political comrades in the struggle across the nation and overseas. I caught up with Rod Starz right before they hit the road for Chile to record some new episodes as well as lay tracks for the new Rebel Diaz album. Stay tuned.
M.O.I. JR: Can you talk a little bit about how your television show started?
Rod Starz: TeleSur English reached out to us and asked if we were interested in submitting a pilot episode for their new channel, and we decided to do it. We reached out to our bro Sense Hernandez, who does our visuals, and he was with it. Even though he had just moved to Los Angeles, he was still down to come to NYC. Our first episode was the pilot. It was about the Mothers’ Cry for Justice and Mothers’ Day March against Police Brutality.
What’s the name of it? The name of the show is: Ñ Don’t Stop. It’s a bilingual play with words, to sound like “And Ya Don’t Stop.”
When did it start? We started a year ago; our first episode came out last July.
What is it about? The show covers the work of Rebel Diaz, our travels, and political and cultural activism. We cover culture, music and politics.
M.O.I. JR: How did you hook up with a channel in Venezuela?
Rod Starz: We have had a strong relationship with The Bolivarian Revolution ever since Comandante Hugo Chavez came to our block in Hunts Point in 2005. Since then we have been building Bronx to Venezuela bridges.
Hugo Chavez started TeleSur as an alternative to the CNNs and Fox News of Latin America. TeleSur English launched a year ago as an attempt to also bring balance to the coverage of Latin America and the rest of the world.
Do a lot of people watch the show? Right now we are mainly on the web and are waiting to go to TV here in the USA, and we are always working on getting more viewers. However, our show is one of the most watched on TeleSur English and we are proud of that.
M.O.I. JR: What are some of the topics that you have covered in the past?
Rod Starz: We have covered many topics. One of the most memorable, we were one of the first crews out in Ferguson, in which we ended up making a six-part mini documentary called #TheMikeBrownRebellion about our experiences out there and letting the people on the front lines tell their story.
We have footage that nobody else has, ‘cause we were able to build trust with the hood and get interviews that no other media crew got. We have also covered immigration, police brutality, education, housing, healthcare etc. etc. We have done stories on Detroit, Chicago, NYC, Oakland, LA, Baltimore, Venezuela, Brazil etc.
Because we travel as musicians, the show gets to travel also. We have also had many live performances on our show as part of the #RooftopLive segment, including with our Bay Area fam: Los Rakas, Mass Bass and Deuce Eclipse.
M.O.I. JR: Who does the crew consist of, and what is their relation to you?
Rod Starz: The crew right now is Rodrigo Starz and G1 of Rebel Diaz, Claudia De La Cruz with baby Roque Starz and Sense Hernandez. Me and G are brothers, Claudia and I are married, Roque is our baby, and Sense is our Peruvian cousin. Lol.
M.O.I. JR: What do you hope people get out of your TV show?
Rod Starz: We hope to keep people informed about current issues and to highlight a bunch of our amazing friends and peers who are doing powerful work through culture and activism, as well as highlighting artists through live performance shoots. We hope that we can provide an alternative view and analysis to the mainstream and liberal media.
M.O.I. JR: Besides television what other projects are you working on?
Rod Starz: We are currently on our way to Chile to work on our first all-Spanish-language album, which is exciting as we have never focused directly on South America, but we feel now is the moment to do so. We will also be doing some new episodes while we are out there.
I am also finishing up a solo project that will be coming out soon. We are also hosting a radio show on WBAI every Wednesday from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. Of course we are also continuing our work here in The South Bronx thru the #RDACBX, our community arts collective that seeks to build community through the arts.
M.O.I. JR: How can people keep up with you online?
Rod Starz: Follow us on social media @rebeldiaz for Twitter and InstaGram, https://www.facebook.com/officialrebeldiaz for Facebook, and for the show, follow our FB, https://www.facebook.com/NDontStop and our YouTube Channel, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnF4iFP2xao-Nb17yAvoPag.
The People’s Minister of Information JR Valrey is associate editor of the Bay View, author of “Block Reportin’” and “Unfinished Business: Block Reportin’ 2” and filmmaker of “Operation Small Axe” and “Block Reportin’ 101,” available, along with many more interviews, at www.blockreportradio.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.