As I argued in a previous post, after the impressive box office opening weekend numbers for "Straight Outta Compton" 2 weeks ago, if you’re expecting a sudden boost in terms of the variety of "black films" that are backed by Hollywood studios because of "Compton’s" success, don’t. Instead, what I said would more likely occur is that any writer or director with a script based on the life (or lives) of hip hop icons from years past, will likely get more meetings with studio executives than they’ve ever had before! So don’t be surprised if that long-in-limbo Tupac Shakur biopic suddenly is fast-tracked for release in early 2016!
It happens all the time – a (usually) Hollywood-backed "black movie" excels at the box office (surprising execs and analysts alike), and one of the immediate questions we ask is whether the financial success of whatever the movie is, means anything for "black films" going forward.
In this case, I think it means more hip-hop bios.
And one of them just might tell Gang Starr’s story.
The Rolling Stone reports today that veteran producer DJ Premier – one-half of Gang Starr (the other being the late Keith "Guru" Elam, who died in 2010) – has begun working with Guru’s sister to bring the Gang Starr story to the screen.
"I told her I need some time; there’s no rush," Premier tells Rolling Stone. "It took over 20 years to do N.W.A and Dre told me, ‘I wanted to do it because I didn’t want [anyone] to mess with what N.W.A stood for in the movie and not have it weaken our legacy,’ and it’s the same thing with Gang Starr."
Emphasizing the need for authenticity, and maybe even (unconsciously) taking a swipe at "Straight Outta Compton," Premier adds: "All the crazy stuff we did that a lot of people don’t know about has to be included in order for it to be authentic… I lived with Guru. I knew him well and know the stuff he really went through. All the wild groupie parties; all the shootings, everything. We went through crazy, crazy shit, and in order for it be as authentic as ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ it has to be pretty much like that. We went through a wild, wild journey."
Of course the troubles with the high-profile N.W.A. biopic have been well-documented since the film’s release, with some, in essence, questioning its "authenticity" given that it omitted certain uglier aspects of the group’s history.
"I want it to be as authentic as possible… I want to cover everything that really went down with us," the super producer/DJ added.
If he really wants to do this, now is probably as good a time as ever to get it done; any lengthy delay might mean a missed opportunity.
I was, and still am a big Gang Starr fan. But, unlike the very public N.W.A. narrative (even before the film was made), I can’t say that I’m anywhere as familiar with the story of Guru and Premier; so it’s a film I’d definitely want to see.
I should also mention that a Public Enemy biopic may also be something to look forward to. As reported on this blog a week ago, front-man Chuck D hasn’t ruled out the idea entirely, based on a new interview he gave to The Washington Post. In the lengthy piece, when asked specifically about the possibility of a Public Enemy biopic, Chuck said the following: "I don’t make movies. I can’t make that call."
The interviewer pressed a bit further and asked: "If someone approached you, would you be open to it?"
And Chuck D replied: "I ain’t acting in it, and I ain’t writing the script. Where do I figure into Hollywood? … Where it might be involved with something I do, maybe a score, a new soundtrack."
They pretty much left it there, and moved on to the next topic. But he didn’t rule out the idea entirely, except to imply that, if there was indeed interest in a Public Enemy film, he likely wouldn’t have a hand in its making, the way Dr. Dre and Ice Cube were very hands-on in the production of "Compton."
But it doesn’t seem like he’d be against someone else taking on the challenge. Although they would very likely need his participation to an extent, in relating the group’s stories.