Recently, legendary rapper, television personality and actor Alvin “Xzibit” Joiner made his directorial debut in the release of his latest digital music series “Broken Ground” at the 27th Annual Pan African Film & Arts Festival (PAFF). Held in the heart of Crenshaw at the Cinemark BHC Theater, Hip-Hop lovers and supporters gathered to watch the series screening featuring Xzibit, lead actor James Savage, and cast members Sticky Fingaz, Anna Hutchinson, Slink Johnson and Anthony Michael Hall, among others. Comedian, Alex Thomas, PAFF co-founder and executive director Ayuko Babu and radio industry mogul and panel moderator for the evening Big Boy were also in attendance.
In a unique display of storytelling, Xzibit, along with Open Bar Entertainment created a new visual format using documentary, traditional and music video style imagery to tell the real life stories of new and seasoned music artists. The first season of “Broken Ground” details the life of rapper James Savage and his rise, fall and return to the music industry. Throughout the series, viewers get the opportunity to experience Savage’s entire full-length album and see his story played out through his music.
Xzibit says the idea simply started out as music project with Savage and soon turned in to something massive. “When I finished the album I was like nobody’s going to listen to it, so we’ve got to figure out a way for people to engage in the current times,” Xzibit said. After pitching and getting feedback from Netflix and other digital network contenders, Xzibit decided to break the music down into visual episodes fueled with cinematic imagery.
“The music itself is the backdrop. You see the story happening, but the music acts as a narrative as well, so it’s really dope, it’s dope how it came together,” Xzibit stated. Xzibit says making his directorial debut along with writing and producing was a natural progression. “I’ve been on both sides of the camera. I know they’re looking for as far as the directors that I’ve worked with and I’ve been pushed really hard in order to do the things that I’ve been able to accomplish in film. I’ve taken what I’ve learned and tried to apply it because that’s what I’ve always done,” he stated.
“Now we’re in a place where season one is James Savage and now we can expand it to other artists. Everybody has a story to tell and we were able to do that with filmmaking and part of their reality and documentary if that footage exists, so that’s how we came up with it,” Xzibit continued.
For Savage, his return to the music industry has been a long time coming after being black balled and experiencing jail time for the life he once lived. Both personally and creatively, Savage wanted to depart from his former life and moniker as Jayo Felony, the persona that previously had him bound him to a life of crime.
“We were trying to get away from my rap name Jayo Felony and we were trying to think of something creative. I told X and Dre and them my name, I was like my name is James Savage and he was like your real name, like your last name is Savage? So that’s where it started,” Savage said also crediting his interview with Street Motivation for the concept.
The once revered underground rapper says it was the late Jam Master Jay who believed in him and opened doors for him as a young man in the industry. “He was a good friend and that’s who put me in the game,” he said. Savage says that it made him emotional to see documentary footage of himself and Jam Master Jay and reminded him of his purpose all together.
“I’ve been through a whole lot, but only the strong survive. I’m just trying to put that work in and I learned that from guys like Dr. Dre and Xzibit. I seen that no matter what they have materialistically they start hard at their craft, they stay working. I’ve learned that from them and I’m ready to apply that to myself,” Savage declared.
“When asked what message he would give to his future self and young men provided what he’s been through, Savage said it’s really a matter of continuing to create and live in purpose. “I was feeding in to that image a whole lot, as far as the negative side of it. I do want to show the young cats that you can be successful and put all that behind you and move forward. Even throughout the past and whatever happened, I believed in myself, put God first and that’s what was important to me,” Savage said.
For more information on “Broken Ground” including exclusive interviews with the cast, please be sure to visit www.lasentinel.net.