Watch a documentary about a hip-hop festival held in an Indonesian top-security prison

Documenting how Joe Flizzow, MC Syze and DJ Stan come together for 2008’s Cipinang International Hip-hop Festival

A new documentary has dropped, describing a hip-hop festival held in Indonesia’s Cipinang maximum security prison.

Released yesterday (August 31), the HipHopDX documentary, titled Cipinang Prison: A Hip Hop Story, provides an in-depth look into Cipinang International Hip-hop Festival, a 2008 festival that hosted over 30 hip-hop acts inside Jakarta’s Cipinang Penitentiary Institution. The institution is Jakarta’s top maximum-security prison, renowned for housing drug-related criminals, terrorists, and murder convicts.

The documentary comprises performance and behind-the-scenes footage filmed by Edwin Raj, interlaced with interviews with key figures involved in the event, including main organiser DJ Stan and headliner, Malaysian rap icon Joe Flizzow. Other interviewees include performers DJ CZA and fellow Malaysian rapper MC Syze, as well as organiser Sylvia Effendi.

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Watch the documentary here:

Featuring narration by Ramengvrl and story direction by Yuna’s husband, filmmaker Adam Sinclair, the documentary traces DJ Stan’s efforts in organising the event. A former inmate at Cipinang for over two years, the DJ was originally tapped to provide entertainment for the Youth Pledge in Indonesia, before deciding to host a hip-hop festival.

Flizzow, a friend of Stan’s during his Too Phat era, was brought in to headline and co-organise the festival. The documentary traces the process of Stan’s team in navigating the prison system and logistics of ensuring safety during the event. Key moments include persuading prison wardens oblivious to hip-hop culture, as well as providing proposals to Indonesia’s Ministry of Defence.

The event attracted 4,000 attendees, despite the prison only holding a maximum capacity of 1,500. “It was cool to see a sea of convicts hungry for entertainment,” describes CZA about the scene during the event. “This flood of inmates, they were running to the stage, and my heart raced like I was going to have a stroke,” added Effendi.

Despite the outsized attendance, the documentary depicts a safe event, with local b-boys, graffiti crews and cyphering MCs from Jakarta present alongside receptive crowds. “This is where the Asian element comes to play. Apparently, all the prisoners were briefed by the big boss – I don’t think the big boss was the warden,” Flizzow shared about the safety behind the event.

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“This was one of the few times in my life where we [came] together for a good cause,” Flizzow further commented in the documentary. “It’s always good to see [the hip hop] scene united […] Put faith in humanity and hope that your music can somehow heal.”

In related news, Joe Flizzow will be performing later this month at Malaysia’s Good Vibes Weekender Festival, joining a lineup that includes Jackson Wang, CL, Beabadoobee, Leaism, The Peachskins and others. The event takes place September 23 and 24 at the Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach in Selangor.

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