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  • Writer's pictureTaylor Armstead

Culture Spotlight Featuring Edwin Freeman

Born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in nearby Queens, New York during the height of the 80s, 90s crack epidemic, Edwin Freeman saw himself faced with the traps of

growing up in the inner city. Edwin chose acting as a medium of escaping the adversities that he witnessed several of his close friends, and family members succumb to when he was introduced to film producer, Mark Skeete by a mutual acquaintance.

Shortly after this introduction, he would go on to star in the (2001) Skeete produced underground cult classic “DA MISSION”, which was based on two friends from Queens, New York who were trying to break into the music industry. Following the success of “DA MISSION”, Edwin would go on to portray the character of legendary hip-hop deejay Mister Cee in the (2009) blockbuster film “NOTORIOUS”, which chronicles the life and death of rap icon, Notorious B.I.G., followed up by his role as Young Pop in the (2016) hit Netflix/Marvel Television series “LUKE CAGE”. Edwin also serves as executive producer and director of the popular documentary “MODERN DAY SLAVERY.”

Tell us about your experience at the Hip Hop Film Festival. Despite being held online due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, this year’s Harlem Hip Hop Festival was great! It gave myself, as well as my fellow filmmakers an opportunity to showcase our films, while seeing the many other wonderful stories being told by other people from the hip hop culture. I salute the organizers for doing such a wonderful job of putting it together!

Why are stories from the culture important? Stories from the hip hop culture are important because it speaks to a specific global community who all experience similar issues. We are the underclass, we are the oppressed, we are the ostracized but through our stories and works, we’re changing that narrative.

What projects are you working on now? I’m currently working on a documentary entitled “Weaponized”, which investigates the major corporate takeover and exploitation of rap music, and how what started as a positive, expressive art form was co-opted and used as a tool to keep blacks, Latinos and poor whites in a perpetual state of devastation.

Why do you think the Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival are important? The Harlem Film House and Hip Hop Film Festival are extremely important because they provide an opportunity and platform for filmmakers who normally wouldn’t have a chance to display their works, and spread their message to their viewing audiences. I’m very grateful for being able to show my documentary “Modern Day Slavery: From Plantations to Prisons”, and the great work that they continue to do.

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