Rapper K. Gates looks beyond the black and gold to the violence that plagues New Orleans in his new documentary, Murda Capitol.
Last year, rapper K. Gates' appearance in the documentary New Orleans Exposed got enough attention that he decided to make his own documentary, Murda Capitol, which debuted last week at Zeitgeist Multi-Disciplinary Arts Center.
"I got a lot of feedback in the 'hood," Gates says. "That inspired me to do one to try to represent all factions of the problem going on in the city."
His take on the cause of the violence and particularly the killing in the African-American community isn't new. "It's a whole combination of things," he says - poverty, drugs, limited education, and a lack of opportunity. Why does crime so often end in death? Gates speculates, "If you rob somebody, you don't want them to kill you. Then it's just a cycle. Generations before you were killing and killing's all you know."
A big part of the problem as he sees it is New Orleans' tourist-based economy, which offers limited options. "You're performing in the French Quarter for tourists or you're working in restaurants or hotels doing the lower-level jobs," Gates says. Education is ultimately key, but in a more diverse economy, there are more paths to a meaningful income than there are in a tourist economy.
"We have to show that they do have options," he says of young African Americans. "Let them know that there's more than drugs and working in the French Quarter. Let them know there's other ways out but to get rich. You don't have to rob anybody."
Murda Capitol is due out on DVD and online starting in early August. It'll be available on iTunes, at Amazon, Netflix, Best Buy and through hip-hop corner stores. The soundtrack, Walking on Hellfire, is available now for download from Gates' website. Because he's also best known for 2009's "Black & Gold (Who Dat!!)," he has also recorded his response to the bounty scandal, "Ball So Hard," which is also available now.
"Education is key," he says about the way to stop the violence. "You're either smart enough to work for yourself or you can get a job that people will pay you a decent amount of money."