Richard Montes: Passing the Mic with Intention and Impact

What’s Important About These Items

“When you do what you love, it will never feel like a job.” That, or something like it, is a motto long passed down generation to generation. This author can cosign it, somewhat, and has one that is applicable to everyone, particularly those who work in the performing and creative arts world: When you do what you know, you’ll change the story.

Living this thought effectively for years is director/writer/producer Richard Montes, who recently gave copies of his remarkable documentary “Pass The Mic!” and its memorabilia to the Universal Hip Hop Museum. Richard cut his teeth as filmmaker by growing up in an underserved Los Angeles neighborhood.

Pass The Mic movie
“Pass The Mic!” on DVD and VHS
“Pass The Mic!” is the first film to capture and share the Chicano and Latino Hip Hop movement.

Flash forward to 2003, when “Pass The Mic!,” whose development began in the late 90s, is released. Richard cinematically passed the mic to the suppressed voices in Latin Hip Hop culture with a truly compelling documentary. “Having grown up within the culture,” Richard told us, “I worked from the inside out and provided freedom to the artists to speak openly and earnestly.” And like everything whose intentions are integrity-based, the film has endured: besides being screened at the American Film Institute’s Music Documentary Series, and the only Chicano documentary showcased to date, “Pass The Mic!” is continually sought by and included in higher education curricula for Chicano Studies, and referenced in various Chicano and music textbooks.

Why Richard Donated These Items to the UHHM

Because Richard recognizes authenticity as a key component to his film’s success and impact, and he is deeply committed to being a voice to the unheard, the Official Record of Hip Hop was an ideal (and appropriate) place to receive the movie and its collateral. Richard declared, “Choosing to donate to the UHHM is vital in my work to represent and preserve the Chicano and Latino contributions to Hip Hop in the West Coast.” While Richard didn’t say this, we acknowledge – and deeply respect – the effort and importance of telling the stories of people who society tends to ignore, whether intentionally, historically, or racially.

The Universal Hip Hop Museum stands with Richard in the capture and broadcast of unique aspects of Hip Hop and those who present them. We are grateful to be one of the organizations that can present “Pass The Mic!” to generations and communities around the world. Many thanks, Richard.

Sick Jacken Psycho Real Seditious Beats Radio Seis of La Sinfonia ILL Fame
Top photo: Sick Jacken of the Psycho Real interviewed by Seditious Beats Radio/KFPK’s Fidel Rodriguez, Los Angeles, California, 1998
Bottom photo: Seis of La Sinfonia/ILL Fame,
Tucson, Arizona, 2000
Both photos courtesy of Safada Y Sano Productions

In Richard’s Words

Chicano contributions to arts and culture remain largely overlooked; this erasure comes at a high cost. As a filmmaker who grew up in an overpoliced and underfunded neighborhood in the east side of Los Angeles, I know the devastation of invisibility. My work as a filmmaker aims to document, preserve, and tell stories that highlight my communities’ histories. Having the “Pass the Mic!” Collection at the Universal Hip Hop Museum contributes towards the well-being and unity of Brown, Indigenous, Black, and immigrant communities.”  – Richard Montes

Keep up with Richard and his latest projects via his website, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

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