This week, I came across a social media post about an upcoming documentary on Hip Hop Journalism. Right away I felt the idea was brilliant and I had to support this endeavor. After watching the trailer, I reached out to the creator Syreeta Gates for an interview. To my surprise, she not only accepted my invitation right away but I also found out that she is from Queens! Within less than 24 hours we set up the interview to discuss the documentary.
Write On! The Legend of Hip-Hop’s Ink Slingers is a documentary about the writers that have shaped hip-hop as we know it. The documentary tells the stories of overlooked commentators—brilliant narrators that set the bar for what is now popular culture.
Her motivation to preserve the history of Hip Hop and weighed by the question of “who tells the storytellers’ story?” inspired her to create and develop this documentary. The film compiles a series of interviews with the journalists as Gates says ” who dared to give a voice to a culture most thought wouldn’t last”.
On February 9, she launched a Kickstarter campaign to support the documentary and in this interview, she shares with us the importance of the documentary, what we should know about the campaign. and how we can support.
WA: Tell us about yourself, where were you born and what do you do?
SG: My name is Syreeta Gates I am a Hip-Hop Archivist from Southside Jamaica Queens! Founder of The Gates Preserve a multimedia experience company committed to archiving and preserve a hip-hop in such a way that it lasts forever.
What ignited the spark for you to create Write On! The Documentary?
SG: In my Editor’s Letter is the journey of how it came to be
WA: Why is it important to you personally to do this?
SG: These journalists and hip-hop journalism as a whole needs to be preserved. It’s vital to the legacy of the culture.
WA: Why a Hip Hop documentary? // Why is this documentary important for the culture?
SG: In hip-hop history, there has yet to be a standalone documentary or docu-series about the journalists that have played a major role in hip-hop culture. If it weren’t for these journalists, what we think and know about hip-hop music and its legends would probably not exist. Imagine what entertainment would be like if, during the 80s and 90s, when people didn’t think hip-hop was going to last and there was no internet, these people didn’t stop to use their own pens and pads to document history. Many of the artists we know and love got record deals because of reviews these wordsmiths penned in the pages of magazines. And these storytellers and cultural historians are the reasons classic albums and artists were crowned in the first place. It’s about damn time we pay homage and acknowledge their hard work and role in shaping the culture.
WA: Why was now the time to do the Kickstarter campaign?
SG: I’m clear that Teamwork Makes the DreamWork. If you look at hip-hop culture most major moments were amplified because of a team. Remember when Kanye West got his Rocafella chain? When Master P came out with No Limit? I’m clear that I couldn’t do this project alone so I wanted to create a team that will help get the vision out. I wanted to create a tribe of people who are about preserving and bringing back the innovation to the culture as much if not more than I am. And there’s only so much you can do by yourself. We’ve done 33 interviews now it’s time to enroll the squad!
WA: What should people know about the Kickstarter Campaign for Write On?
SG: Remember, with Kickstarter, your debit/credit card won’t be charged until the campaign ends on #BiggieDay (March 9th). Also, remember that Kickstarter is ALL OR NOTHING – if I don’t raise ALL of the money, I don’t get ANY of the money.
WA: How can we help you spread the word?
SG: Please contribute to the Kickstarter campaign bit.ly/WriteOnTheDoc
WA: When will be the official launch?
SG: Feb 9 – March 9th (BIG’s death day) is the dates for the campaign
WA: Where do you see Hip Hop 10 year from now?
SG: Still on top! “I thought I told you that we won’t stop”
WA: Name one favorite item a hip-hop head must have in their lifetime.
SG: Jamel Shabazz’s book A Time Before Crack
WA: Your favorite Hip Hop artist of all time
SG: This is a loaded question I think it depends on what specifically I’m thinking about. So my top 5 would change based on lyrics and it would be a little different if I’m just talking about performance etc.
WA: Your top 5 Hip Hop songs of all time
- All About The Benjamins – Puff Daddy & The Fam
- Feelin It – Jay Z
- U Don’t Know – Jay Z
- International Players Anthem – UGK
- Ladies Night – Kim, Left Eye, Missy, Da Brat
WA: Your favorite Hip Hop interview of all times and why?
SG: That’s sooooooo hard! I mean Bobbito’s Sound Check’s in VIBE magazine were classic, the whole YN era at XXL, Kierna Mayo writing about ATCQ in The Source, dream Hampton’s article Ice, Ice Baby! Sheena Lester’s A Great Day In Harlem 1998 XXL cover MY LAWD! I can go on forever
WA: Which writers have influenced your work?
SG: I would say all of them in one way or another. Most of these writers have been able to leverage the skill of writing to write books, movies, award shows, TV shows, just create content and media as a whole.
WA: What’s next for Syreeta Gates?
SG: More work coming out of #TheGatesPreserve
To date, the campaign has raised almost $8,902 towards its $30,000 goal. Help preserve the history of hip-hop by donating to the campaign which will close March 9. Hurry up! click here. In return, you have a variety of exclusive rewards according to your donation.