Director: Jasmine Allen Tillman
Writer: Jasmine Allen Tillman
Style: Music Documentary
Time: About 20 minutes, 7 episodes
Review by Mike Szymanski
From Baltimore to Nigeria, Manhattan to Virginia, documentary filmmaker Jasmine Allen Tillman found the most diverse and colorful critically-acclaimed indie musicians who are filmed in Chicago.
She had them come up to a rooftop studio and play their music and talk about themselves.
There couldn’t be a more eclectic crowd among the musicians she picked: from a flamenco pop singer to a hip hop artist, to a Grammy-nominated songwriter and a Native American sings folk music in his native tongue.
Director Jasmine is a new parent who was in her third trimester with her second child while filming this documentary.
She says, “I witnessed the power music had to comfort my son and bring him joy and that’s what I wanted to share.”
Inspired by documentaries such as “Hype” and “Gimme Shelter” and most notably the Beatles rooftop performance, Jasmine said, “I sought a rebellious tone and wanted to create a natural intimate and authentic experience. I wanted it to feel raw and evoke a sense of freedom and limitless possibility.”
She has created a group of artists that exude social consciousness, feminism, diversity and environmental awareness.
Here are the breakdowns of the episodes:
Hues is part of a group called Aim for the Heart and they do an emotional literacy exercise where they choose a word, then go home and come back the next week with a song, poem or essay about the word.
That forced way of continuous writing helped her become the critically-acclaimed musician she is today. Her songs are “Breakfast,” “Pieces,” “Wild Horses,” “Fall in Line,” and “Icarus.”
She also helps out at prisons to work on songs, essays and acting.
“I want the music to be cinematic, the music must be its own story,” she says.
A rapper since the age of 12, 18-year-old King Juan from Baltimore with tight braids says he listens for the beat and then puts some words on it, you feel it?
Struggles from his youth are part of his powerful lyrics and soulful expressions. He credits his self-actualization and empowerment as an artist for creating his uplifting music.
Fany de la Chica
She comes from the south of Spain and the land of Flamenco, and that’s where Fany de la Chica gets her inspiration for her vibrant and spirited music.
A passionate flamenco pop singer with a unique style, and a flowery costume, she talks a great deal about machismo and racism, and some of that finds its way into her work. She has a lyrical chant-like quality to her voice.
Working for the charity Aim for the Heart, this Nigerian-American rapper, producer, and teacher helps prisoners at San Quentin learn how to express their artistic nature in what he calls “art literacy.”
Louis holds workshops with the prisoners and says he gets a lot of inspiration there for his own work. He is on a mission to empower people through his music.
Land is Rising
A dynamic performer who jumps and whoops while singing, Land is Rising is a Native American who also has some Hawaiian in him. With a folk singing style, he talks about modern issues too, and the superficiality he found when he went to Los Angeles.
Connecting his music to nature, he remains passionate about the little children who feel like they are dying and others who have anxiety and tough times.
With a surprisingly high and breathy voice, BabyXSosa is a hip-hop artist from Virginia who is getting quite a bit of notoriety. The African-American woman with her long blonde braids says that her songs “have a lot of duality. They are honest and true, raw, and they capture good and bad.”
Her hit songs include “Money Bags in the Trunk,” “Facetime,” “Range Rover,” “Drama Baby,” “Angel” and “Everywhereigo.”
She played the oboe and reads classical music. It is not what has inspired her, as far as her own unique sound, but she does like to listen to a lot of classical music.
Her lyrics include: “Everywhere I go, they all know my name, they are asking me to hang…” No doubt, that’s true.
Grammy-nominated songwriter Will Jordan shares his journey through music. He offers an intimate inside look at how he writes songs, his collaborations with other artists, and the stories behind his work. His performance includes “You Say,” “Deep Sleep,” “In My Feelings,” and “The Love.”
He has a lyrical sound and his music comes out as ballads. He does say that he wants to empower people. The stories behind his music are almost as powerful as the songs themselves.
This is a delightful way to discover your new favorite artist, and I’m sure there will be some sounds in this diverse batch that you can relate to no matter how eclectic you are. Explore this unique show on the Indie Rooftop.
The release of the movie is expected in the summer of 2023 on streaming platforms everywhere.