Christ Bearer: The Rapper Who Chopped His Penis Off
Our new documentary, Christ Bearer: The Rapper Who Chopped His Penis Off, is released this week on BBC Three. Director Tim Crawley explains how the project came about.
Hey Tim. How did you come across this story?
I’d just finished making another film for VICE about mental health in skateboarding. I was reading online about Christ Bearer’s story. It was to do with parenthood. He wanted to be a dad and he kept messing up and I’d just had a kid so that moved me. I went to his website and listened to a bit of his music and thought I’d send him an email.
So what happened after that?
He watched the film I’d made for VICE and felt a real connection with it. I said to him, well done for sharing your story. After that I said we should make a documentary, and he was like, ‘fuck yeah!’ I think he’d wanted to do something for a while but hadn’t had the chance to do it properly.
How was it when you finally met in person?
We’d had lots of Skype conversations and I’d got to know him pretty well. It was really surreal actually. When we met, he’d just had his wisdom teeth out. I was like, you’re not even going to be able to speak! But we got some drinks, chilled out, and did the interview. It was really good to meet him. He’s really funny but also really intelligent. He’s just an interesting storyteller.
Any other particularly memorable moments?
Yeah. We went into the depths of Long Beach, where we met some of Christ Bearer’s mates then went right down to almost the frontline. We were in the car with this 20 grand camera - two 20-something white guys with all these gangsters, but they were all really nice, really sound, happy to meet us. We went into the hood, watched them party all day, and they showed us round and told stories about Snoop and Nate Dogg.
It sounds like people were happy to chat to you?
We were really lucky - Christ Bearer’s friends were so nice and open about the subject. There are three other characters - his rap partner Meko and his old skool buddies Wayne Rippatoe and Marquette Wesson. Given the subject matter, and the hood we were in at the time, we got some really amazing responses which completely broke any stereotypical images you might have had from listening to West Coast rap.
How do you think Christ Bearer found the experience?
He said it was therapeutic. It was the first time he’d been back down to Long Beach since it happened, so for him it seemed like it was quite cathartic and he was really stoked. His story has been around for a while but it’s never really been taken in a sensitive way. No-one’s ever really tried to dig deep. That was the good thing about this project.
What do you hope people take away from this film?
It’s an interesting story. But I’d be happy if it breaks down any barriers and gets people thinking, ‘if this dude can talk about this then maybe I can talk about what I’ve got going on’.