Recently I saw that someone had posted a preview of a documentary project on hip-hop in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on a friend’s Facebook wall. After researching the project a bit, we sent an email to one of the film’s three creators, Diane Ghogomu, who welcomed the idea of participating in the LIFESTYLE Artist Feature series. Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Diane has been living in Buenos Aires for some time, where she has worked along with Segundo Bercetche and Sebastian Muñoz to produce Buenos Aires Rap.
Diane discusses the Reflective and Responsive nature of hip-hop in the film, which follows the lives of various artists involved in this art form in the Argentine capital. Diane and her co-directors will be screening their project at the Buenos Aires Film Festival this year, and are currently fundraising in order to put finishing touches on the project and begin distribution. Check out the interview, trailer, and stills from the film below!
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
DG: I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania! Steeltown, represent! Right now I am living in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
DG: Reflection and Response is the process of acting authentically to each situation that is presented to you. I always think of the Lion King. Simba had to follow his guide Rafiki to the water to see himself. Simba had to look in the water and reflect on his situation, speak with the ancestors, see his own image in the shore before he knew how he had to continue. His response was more powerful because it wasn’t reactionary, but to a powerful impulse backed by his spirits! That’s how he knocked evil’s block off!
How does your project Buenos Aires Rap fit in with that definition?
DG: Buenos Aires Rap embodies Reflection and Response in various ways. First off, this project follows an incredible amount of artists whose music is a response to how they reflect on their own identities, their own existences, their own ways of life.
Those artists who truly respect and understand the history of hip-hop and rap see themselves reflected in that history and the present hip-hop culture. Many of the Bolivian immigrants who live here in Buenos Aires spoke about being able to relate with African Americans living in ghettos during Reaganism. One of my favorite quotes comes from a character named Anton who says, “Through hip-hop I’ve been able to comprehend a lot. I’ve thought a lot. I’ve learned a lot. Here people who have been here for less than 200 years are going to tell you that you are an immigrant when your ancestors have been here since Before Christ? That’s not right. Nationality is only a lack of identity!”
That is a beautiful thing to me. These characters are able to reflect, transform, and respond through hip-hop and rap.
Secondly, the job of the documentarian is to do just that: reflect and respond. Anyone who tells you that documentaries are objective are lying to you. Our job is to reflect on a social phenomenon, and respond by placing a camera where and how we see fit. In this project we tried to reflect an image of Buenos Aires that is oft-ignored. Even people who live in Buenos Aires will have a hard time naming all of the urban landscapes that pass by on their screen. We hope that the impact of our project will be a process of reflection and response. Buenos Aires is often painted as a white and European society, without leaving space for her true colors. We hope people can reflect on the truths of the black, the brown,the ghetto-dwellers, the hardworking, the crazy, and those that are just looking to have a little fun, and realize that all of these narratives make Buenos Aires what she is. The response should be an integration of these personalities into the imagery of Argentina. Buenos Aires, reflect! THIS IS YOU!! As one of the characters Rasek raps, “We know you won’t understand it if we rap it, so we’ll breathe it into you.”
What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?
DG: Well, all of us have other jobs, lives, and alternative superhero personalities. Sebas is generally observing anything and everything and writing astute sociological articles as he starts his new masters degree. Siro can usually be heard composing incredible musical fusions with splashes of darkly ironic ridiculousness. His latest project is called Lujo Asiatico. He is also working on two other documentaries; one about dub step crew Nairobi, and one about an epic ride across Argentina in horseback.
I am actually an English teacher at an awesome school that lets me do yoga and anything else productive with the kids. I sing jazz, blues, and r&b on the side, and I am currently working on getting out my own tunes this year.
Who or what inspires you?
DG: Honestly, for the last month I’ve been living in a one room apartment with a 13 year old girl and her mother. Lately, they have been my biggest inspiration to enjoy absolutely every part of this process, to be thankful for the days, even when I don’t get to sleep through the nights. To give thanks for work, for opportunities, for a breeze, for music, for art. They keep my roots planted and watered when I start getting my leaves all ruffled up with deadlines and stress.
I don’t see myself as a documentary filmmaker, I see myself as a person who enjoys creating with others. Enthusiasm is contagious. Creativity is contagious. Absolute love for something and anything is impossible to ignore, to block off from seeping down into the tickly parts of your soul.
For example, 07scovar, one of the characters in the documentary used to work two jobs, sleep on the bus, and then go to record his music on his only half-day off. That shit is inspiring.
Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?
DG: We want the world to see this truth. to listen to these voices. to live this Buenos Aires that is unknown to most, in all of her ghetto-cosmopolitanism. Hip-hop is ALIVE and WELL.
Shout out to…?
DG: All of the artists who make this project what it is. The younger cats who meet up in the parks to freestyle after school. The older cats who have been able to build their own home studios. Those who are teaching and continually reflecting on the origin of the culture, respecting that, yet transforming it to represent their current experiences. Shout out to all of those who have already supported us by sharing, tweeting, loving, or donating to Buenos Aires Rap. Shout out to those investigators and artists in the ancestry.
Reflection and Response.