Since the late 80s, Miami, Florida has been looked at as America’s answer to the French Riviera with its scantily-clad models, chiseled movie stars and bottle-popping celebrities. Pastel colors and speed boats paint our imagination whenever this locale comes to mind. However, as is often the case with most major cities in the United States, there is another side to the bustling metropolis. A side that the city’s poor and struggling underclass knows all too well. Recently, The Shadow League spoke with World Star Hip Hop creator Q about his most recent project, The Field-a documentary series that cuts to the heart of circumstances that people who live on the other side of the proverbial tracks from the gleaming downtown spires of some of the most famous cities in the world. The first offering cast a lens on Chicago’s gangland environment being a breeding ground for hip hop artists who don’t need to keep it real. They actually live it on a day to day basis. With The Field: Miami, director Mandon Lovett and executive producer Lee "Q" O'Denat take their cameras to the streets of one of the most overlooked areas of Miami-Dade County and features commentary from rappers Trick Daddy and Gunplay among many others.
“What visitors overlook when they come to Miami is that there are two sides in Miami,” said Q. “I felt like it was our job to highlight the cities that have been crying for help for so long. As well as the disparity. I just felt like it was our job as leaders of the Internet space to provide a microphone and a camera for their voices to be heard.”
Though The Field is the overall title for the project, it will ultimately include several cities when the series is complete. He told The Shadow League of how he and his team always seek to capture the subtle nuances of each locale.
“The director is Mandon Lovett, and the producer is Marquis Daisy, he’s done a lot of things for ESPN’s ‘30 for 30’,” he explained. “In our first documentary in Chicago we were very understaffed but we know how impactful it was to show the gang violence and the murder with these local artists and those living in Chicago. We felt like we should go ahead and put a voice out in a lot more inner cities in America. In Miami, we noticed people die over money. In Chicago, it’s usually over gang violence. My job was to put it together budget wise, make the right hires to do the job, and make sure everything moves forward and we get the best help possible to get the path into the inner cities to get to talk to these kids.”
Since World Star Hip Hop went online its content has been highly criticized as capturing the very worst behavior of African and Hispanic Americans and broadcasting it to the world. I asked Q how he would respond to individuals who would inevitably claim his documentary series is tantamount to poverty porn, displaying the desperate acts of desperate people for profit.
“As minorities, we should help each other more. It’s not always about just pouring money out somewhere. We all know there’s poverty. We all know there’s homelessness. We all know these things, but are we trying to make a difference? That’s the question I would like to ask these people. Not making these people’s voices heard isn’t going to solve it. I’ve always said that if I can save one or two people then my money’s well spent. I’m not looking to just cash out on poverty porn. These people are clearly in need of help. These people are picking up guns and killing each other. That’s something I’m not going to turn my back on. Especially me, being the hip-hop head that I am and I come from those streets, I wish I had somebody that could have done that for us. The only way the masses are going to pay attention is when we let our voices be heard like with the Civil Rights Movement, the Rodney King riots, Trayvon Martin protests and now Mike Brown. I feel like we need these types of voices and with today’s technology we can slam our foot down even harder now.”
The first Field expose was about Chicago being a breeding ground for up and coming rappers. Miami has a different set of issues with people dying over money every day. It sheds light on a side of Miami that’s rarely viewed. Miami is more than just South Beach and Ocean Drive. I felt that with the documentary The Field it’s great to go ahead and show there’s two sides to every city. I think that we have the power to do that. People can see the touristy side and they can also see a broad view of what’s really happening right here in their backyards.
Q has expanded the World Star Hip Hop brand name to documentaries and also informed us of some upcoming projects to help take WSHH to the next level.
“We’re definitely growing. I felt like as leader of World Star Hip-Hop that it was definitely time to branch out. We’re killing the Internet space but we also need to be more powerful. To do that, we need to do things outside of the Internet. We just signed a deal with Paramount to produce a comedy film so we can bring that feel from the early 80s were films had stories about loyalty and friendship. We’re trying to bring that back for the youth instead of doing the typical stories that are in movies out today. We’re trying to do a movie so that people can get a different shade of what life is. Paramount understood that vision. It took a while but we finally locked that down. Russell Simmons is on board. He read the script, he loved it and sees the vision as well. We should begin filming late this year. Things will be unfolding very shortly. “