While The Hip Hop Project’s objective is the creation of a collaborative album by its participants, it most certainly isn’t about creating an album that is commercially viable; rather, it's about challenging the participants, all youth going through extremely difficult times, to say something different than what we tend to hear on the radio. Instead of rapping about the usual materialism and misogyny, we are told, the participants are encouraged to go to the core of what is wrong in their lives and to rap about that, both as a form of self-healing through self-expression but also as a way to inspire others going through the same thing but who don’t have the voice or the talent to express it like these youths do.
The result is a collection of songs that are filled with anguish, infused with soul, and that will grab the listener's attention. The songs are thought-provoking, a reflection of real struggles lived by the artists who have the courage to share personal and sometimes very intimate narratives, and include insightful social commentaries that are a result of this self-discovery. The participants not only rose to meet Kazi’s challenge — "If you had the ability to make everyone stop, bow their head and listen to what you say, meaning the whole world stops, and listens to you, what would you have to say?" — they surpassed it, in more ways than one.
The Hip Hop Project is no Cinderella story; while Russell Simmons and Bruce Willis did donate a recording studio to the project, it remains that these youth have life struggles that they are still dealing with at the close of the project. However, armed with the hope and tools of expression that Kazi helped them develop, it seems like the path chosen by these young people is going to lead them on an upward spiral, rather than a downward one. This is yet another reason why this movie is powerful: it's realistic.
The purpose for making this movie seems to be two-fold. On the one hand, by sharing the story of the The Hip Hop Project, executive producers Bruce Willis and Queen Latifah probably hope to inspire others to start on their own road to recovery through music and reaching out to others. On the other hand, The Hip Hop Project shows how many lives were transformed by this project, particularly that of its director, Kazi, whose incredible journey takes him from a seemingly hopeless young man destined for nothing but trouble to a successful artist, mentor, and inspiration to other youth in the same boat as he once was in.