Hulu’s ‘Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told’ Documentary Educates The Masses

April 11, 2024

Read the full interview on JustNowNews.press!

This new documentary documents the rise and fall of Freaknik, Atlanta’s version of Woodstock

Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told recently hit #1 on Hulu, educating audiences all around the world on how Freaknik rose to become not only a staple in black culture, but a cultural phenomenon. Essentially, this is Atlanta’s version of WoodstocK only a bit more ratchet.

If you’re from the West Coast like me, it’s hard to imagine something happening here that could possibly be up to par with the heights of Freaknik. For those that aren’t familiar, Freaknik began in 1983 as a small picnic near the Atlanta University Center, before evolving into the ultimate spring break destination for college students.

But it didn’t stop there, Freaknik at its peak drew in over 250,000 people each year, as thousands travelled to Atlanta from the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and even Europe to experience it for themselves. The event scaled so quickly that it spilled throughout downtown and metro areas, remembered by the memories of loud music, camaraderie, dance contests, rap sessions… even a basketball tournament.

Director P. Frank Williams states, “I had no idea it would galvanise the whole world. I didn’t even drop a trailer or announcement, I just said it’s gon’ happen and everybody tuned in. It’s a multi-generational story, meaning that your 18, 17-year-old kids, and us 50, 60 something people — your grandma might have been out there with your homegirls. As you saw, they’re having a good time. But she was 21 at one point too, right? Is it okay that your grandma was having a good time?”

One thing to note is the importance of Freaknik to black culture as a whole, simultaneously putting the city of Atlanta on the map. “I’m blessed I came from the 90’s,” he continues. “I’m from the Black Panther, I come from the root of Hip Hop. I’m telling you stories from the inside of the culture to the outside, that’s what’s important. Shout out to E.D.I Mean and all the people, we lived through the mixtapes. Times where you didn’t take a selfie and you were trying to listen to the music. You had to actually put a tape in the tape recorder, so I’m blessed for that.”

One thing about Freaknik: this was in the 80’s and 90’s where there was no social media or internet. This was a time where you were present in the moment, interacting with those around you without worrying about needing to document every single moment for Instagram. In a sense, it allowed everyone to genuinely enjoy each other’s company and create long-lasting memories.

Experiencing Freaknik himself in 1991, Williams was the perfect candidate to tell the story of the rise and fall of Freaknik, particularly given his background working in Hip-Hop as both a journalist and filmmaker. His impressive resume includes working on FOX’s Who Shot Biggie and Tupac?, TV One’s acclaimed music biography series Unsung, BET’s American Gangster, and Hip Hop Homicides (executive produced by 50 Cent).

The documentary saw appearances from some big names from both music and sports, including Jermaine Dupri, Uncle Luke, Too $hort, Killer Mike, Jalen Rose, CeeLo Green, Erick Sermon, Rasheeda. It also unveils the meaning of Freaknik is a portmanteau of “picnic” and “freak,” inspired directly by Chic’s song “Le Freak” released in 1978.

On Sunday, March 24th, I had the pleasure of attending the Los Angeles premiere for Freaknik: The Wildest Party Never Told, taking place at General Admission in Hollywood. The event invited friends, family, and select media to witness the documentary for themselves, with a Q&A and afterparty to follow.

One important thing to note is how the 1996 Olympics eventually led to the demise of Freaknik.“In the words of my brother CeeLo, he said, ‘Big bank take little bank’,” Williams states. “The Olympics made $2 billion. If you watch the film, hopefully you can watch it in a place where it’s more quiet another time, because it’s a history lesson and education. Bill Campbell had a difficult situation. He had to help the black community, a black city. Imagine you’re the mayor, and you want to make sure these young black students are happy and satisfied. All these businesses. But at the same time, you have a white business community who can’t get anywhere because you need negros is turning up and having a good time. He’s like ‘Well, what do I do?’

The biggest factor to the downfall of Freaknik arrived as women came forth about the sexual misconduct that was immediately apparent. The bigger Freaknik got, the bigger the debauchery. Footage was unveiled showing men groping women and trying to take off their clothes. In 1998, four rapes, six sexual assaults, and four shootings were reported. The documentary highlights victims that to this day, have to live with that trauma.

Speaking on this topic for the first time publicly, Williams continues, “For me, that was one of the discoveries. Atlanta actually tried to help Freaknik go forward. But once the element came in, we had to stop that. We can’t disrespect black women ever, so we’re not going to do that. That’s not what I do. That was the end of Freaknik.”

Being a black man creating this documentary isn’t the easiest when you’re working with the #1 global company, Disney, who recently acquired Hulu. But ultimately, William’s goal was to make a film about black joy. Freaknik is the very reason Atlanta became the capital of Black culture, laying the foundation for Black southern music, style, and culture to dominate.

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