We Rock Long Distance weaves together the sounds and stories of three Twin Cities hip-hop artists – M.anifest, Maria Isa, and Tou SaiKo Lee – as they journey home to Ghana, Puerto Rico, and Thailand to create unique and unexpected connections across generation and geography.
Starting in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, one of the best-known sites for underground hip-hop, the film follows M.anifest to his home in Accra, Ghana, where he connects with hip-life artists from across the country, performs in front of his family for the first time and explores connections with his world-renowned grandfather, the composer, poet, and scholar J. H. Kwabena Nketia. The film joins "Sota Rican" Maria Isa as she explores the links between hip-hop, reggaeton, and the folkloric arts of Puerto Rico she grew up performing, bomba and plena. Follow her as she traces her musical and familial genealogy from San Juan and Loiza to the campos of Vega Baja. In Thailand, We Rock Long Distance follows Tou SaiKo Lee's ongoing work using hip-hop and poetry to create new and stronger bonds between Hmong Americans and Hmong in Southeast Asia, as well as between youth and elders - some of whom have never heard of hip-hop. Tou SaiKo Lee also learns more about kwv txhiaj, a Hmong practice of oral poetry, in an attempt to build a bridge to this centuries-old practice through hip-hop.
In addition to overturning dominant stereotypes and creating unexpected cross-generational connections, each of these artists are well-known for strengthening their local and global communities through their words, music, and actions. We Rock Long Distance amplifies their stories, offering an intimate look at the process of creation while engaging artists and audiences in conversations about music, home, tradition, and family that resonate long after the recording sessions have ended and planes have left.
This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota State Arts Board through the arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the Legacy Amendment vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.