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Fab 5 Freddy's 4/20 Netflix Doc Traces The Racial And Cultural History Of Marijuana From Mass Incarceration To Modern Commercialization

2019 A Breakthrough Year For This Legend With Documentaries, Exhibits, More

What becomes a legend most? A breakthrough year, and that’s what 2019 is shaping up to be for Fab 5 Freddy (Fred Brathwaite). And the year’s about to get even better for this visual artist, filmmaker, and hip-hop pioneer. In addition to his documentary film ‘Grass Is Greener’ debuting on Netflix on April 20 with a world premiere at the San Francisco International Film Festival the same day, Freddy serves as creative director for an exhibit on hip hop's photographic culture at LA’s Annenberg Space for Photography and will host a BBC documentary.

Freddy makes his directorial debut with the feature-length ‘Grass Is Greener,’ which traces the history of cannabis in America and its relationship to people of color. The film takes an unparalleled look at the history of cannabis usage in America through the lens of popular forms of music — jazz, reggae, and hip hop — while also examining the racial disparities and injustices within that world.

“My hope, as I light one up on 4/20, is that this film will entertain, educate, and enlighten people across the country and around the world about the rise of marijuana, the racially motivated reasons behind its initial criminalization, and the economic ramifications that continue to affect entire races of people,” Freddy says.

Snoop Dogg, Cypress Hill’s B-Real, and Damian Marley join a range of celebrities and experts who discuss the plant’s influence on music and popular culture, as well as the devastating impact its criminalization has had on Black and Latino communities. As more and more states join the push to legalize marijuana, ‘Grass Is Greener’ dives deep into the glaring racial disparities in the growing cannabis market.

Produced by Vikram Gandhi and Freddy, the 97-minute film also features interviews with Cypress Hill’s Sen Dog, DMC, Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D, Killer Mike, and more.

In the early 1980s, Fab 5 Freddy served as the bridge between New York’s uptown world of street art and hip hop and the downtown art and punk and new-wave scenes. 2019 finds him connecting cultural worlds on an international scale.

Freddy serves as creative director for ‘CONTACT HIGH: A Visual History of Hip Hop,’ a photographic exhibit opening at Los Angeles’ Annenberg Space for Photography on April 24. The exhibit celebrates the photographers who have played a critical role in bringing hip hop’s visual culture to the global stage. Based on the book of the same name by Vikki Tobak, who curates the exhibit, ‘CONTACT HIGH’ takes an inside look at the work of 60 hip-hop photographers through their most intimate diaries: their unedited contact sheets.

Later this summer, Freddy hosts the BBC’s upcoming documentary ‘A Fresh Guide to Florence,’ which focuses on black representation in masterworks of painting and sculpture. In the revelatory documentary, Freddy brings his contemporary art lover’s perspective to the 15th- and 16th-century Italian Renaissance, discovering groundbreaking images of a multi-racial and multi-ethnic society that have slipped through the cracks of art history.

Freddy also appears with fellow New York icon Jerry Seinfeld in Vampire Weekend’s new “Sunflower” video, directed by Jonah Hill.

Born Fred Brathwaite in Brooklyn’s Bed Stuy section, Fab 5 Freddy was immortalized in mainstream pop culture when Debbie Harry name-checked him in Blondie’s 1980 hit “Rapture.” The original host of ‘Yo! MTV Raps,’ Freddy also directed music videos for Snoop Dogg, Nas, Queen Latifah, and others. Today Freddy is focused on making visual art, exhibiting his work, and developing projects for film and television.