Hip Hop Biopics- The New Hustle

By September 13, 2015Articles and Opinions

Hip Hop is a hustler’s sport at its finest. How hard you grind, is in most cases, more important than how dope you rhyme. Over the years we’ve seen hip hop take the world by storm, enabling kids from the poorest of the poor communities, to reach international acclaim and crossover into marketplaces unfathomable 40 years ago. From selling drugs to selling music, to selling merch, to selling whatever will sell, Hip Hop entrepreneurship has always influenced and been influenced by the most lucrative financial opportunities, and from the looks of it, “the most influential genre of music” has a new hustle. The Hip Hop Biopic.

As Straight Outta Compton nears the end of its run in theaters, and closes near $200 million on a $28 million investment, history is gearing up to repeat itself as rappers begin to do business the we’ve always done it, by playing that good ol’ fashion game of Monkey See, Monkey Do.

When Hov got a deal with Reebok for the S. Carters in 03, yes I copped a pair of them fresh white, and even though Reebok was giving out deals to rappers cuz it lost out on Lebron and Melo to Nike and Brand Jordan, 50 followed suit with the G-Unit joints.

Then we had the sports drinks, the alcohols, the clothing lines, weed paraphernalia, headphones, and now we’ve reach our next trend, the self indulgent biopic, because there’s no greater way to say you’ve made it, than to have a movie made about yourself?

Now don’t get me wrong, I think Straight Outta Compton was pretty dope despite Dre looking like the innocent starving artist and this determined musician who stood up to armed hooligans and probably one of the most notorious label executives to ever live. Cube was pretty clean as well, aside form the office reorganizing he did at Priority. But they screwed him over so that was more justice than him being out of pocket.

With that being said, the movie was well made and it introduced new marketing opportunities that the artists and filmmakers could benefit from. NWA is said to be going on tour, their album got its first Top 40 Hit on Billboard, and it provided at platform for Dre to promote his music project and Beats 1 Radio on Apple Music.

Film has always been a lucrative industry for investors looking to make big returns, it’s the one industry that is seemingly recession proof, cuz even when everything seems to be going to shit, we can always escape and watch a movie about someone overcoming the shit we find ourselves stuck in.

“However, is this really a thing though?”

According to Daz, they’re already prepping for the start of production on the Dogg Pound Biopic, Big Boi just dropped a cliffhanger on Reddit about a possible Outkast biopic. Master P was on the Breakfast Club promoting his biopic that Executive Produced by his son Romeo Miller. Tupac has a biopic scheduled for production soon starring Marcc Rose that’s said to be directed by John Singleton.

And the blogs are having a frenzy on all the biopics people really want to see. Tribe Called Quest, Jay-Z, The Fugees, Public Enemy, Lauryn Hill, Big L, and the list goes on and on.

For the most part, I see this as rappers seeing the success of Straight Outta Compton and just like when E-40, Ludacris, Diddy, and 50, and Hov got into the alcohol industry, I see a migration of artists into the film industry. Unfortunately, film is not an industry you can just invest money into and because your face and name is attached the film will immediately see a return, just look at DOPE, it was highly anticipated and promoted by the biggest names in the industry. I don’t know what their expectations were for the film, but I can imagine it didn’t live up to whatever they were only bringing in $17 million domestic.

As a filmmaker, I don’t mind more folks jumping into the craft at all. I think we need more representation of Hip Hop in cinema. However, film is a master’s craft and it takes a lot of extremely talented individuals all working collectively, where rap is thought of as more of a one man sport, two if you count the producer.

We’ll see how it all pans out.