Producer and director Joslyn Rose Lyons' documentary Soundz of Spirit (released on DVD by Jog9 Productions in February) isn't the first to discuss the philosophy and spirituality of hip-hop culture. But it certainly has a credible cast of characters to entertain the topic, featuring Cee-Lo, Dilated Peoples, Blackalicious, Zion I, Planet Asia, Goapele, Mystic, Chali 2na and DJ Nu-Mark of Jurassic 5, Shock-G from Digital Underground, KRS-One, Andre 3000 of Outkast, DJ QBert, Talib Kweli, Common, Saul Williams, Nappy Roots, Living Legends, Martin Luther and Del the Funky Homosapien. Hip-hop dancers Mis. Little, Crazy Legs and Bionic Man also make appearances.
The theme of the documentary centers on positivity, creativity and the spirituality of hip-hop culture. Also revealed is the finer point that the hip-hop community has the power to influence government policy makers. “CNN inspires me,” KRS-One says in the film. “C-SPAN inspires me. I watch C-SPAN; rhymes start coming to my head, like, ‘Ahhhh! You're lying! I know he's lying! Let me write this down.’” Meanwhile, Kweli expresses that although hip-hop is important, it's not something to be idolized. “It's a mistake to elevate hip-hop to a level that's more than life,” he says. “Sometimes, people love it to the point where they're not taking care of themselves because they spend so much time loving hip-hop. It can't be that because, then, it becomes something that's dangerous.”
Although the DVD — which is accompanied by a 14-song soundtrack with songs by Cee-Lo, Dilated Peoples, Blackalicious, Goapele and others — shows the various facets of the hip-hop culture (including DJs, MCs, b-boys and graffiti art), it also reveals a broader scope and spirituality. “Rap is something we do; hip-hop is something we live,” KRS-One says. “I believe that rap music is the product I create. But hip-hop is who I am, so I could never sell hip-hop.” For more, visit www.soundzofspirit.com.