Hollywood’s Side-Eye

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So the 86th Academy Awards have come to a close and a quality hip- hop movie was noticeably absent from the long list of nominees. Our only consolation, we got to see Pharrell do his R&B thing for Hollywood royalty, but he was singing and it was a song from a kids flick.

Where’s our next “8 Mile”, “Belly”, or “Hustle & Flow”? It’s been a while since a team of serious writers, actors, and producers teamed up to contribute to urban filmography. I don’t think I’m alone in saying the best movies of this type are often those made for us, by us (shout out to the FUBU clothing era) but it’s long overdue for someone like Quentin Tarantino to  take a crack at creating a cinematic masterpiece based on the most popular culture in the world. In the meantime, there are a few projects on the horizon worth keeping an eye on.

Kanye, of course, is looking to contribute to film in the near future through a project dubbed “Yeezus”. He’s enlisted the help of author Bret Easton Ellis, most well known for his novel “American Pyscho”. So far there isn’t more information to share about the project. One thing we’re guaranteed for sure is this film will not lack originality considering who’s behind it.

Frequently we’ve been treated to numerous documentaries chronicling aspects of life as a rhyme star or the struggle associated with the business side of things. The next big documentary to drop will be Nas’ “Time is Illmatic”, telling the story of his classic album, “Illmatic”. It’s set to debut at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 16th followed by Nas himself performing the entire album for those in attendance. This has been done before but not featuring such a high profile M.C. on the big screen as opposed to television. It will be interesting to see reports of its reception.

Speaking of Hustle & Flow, it looks like television is finally taking a crack at producing a show based in a fictional hip-hop universe.  FOX is currently producing a pilot called “Empire”, which will star a reunited Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson. Howard will play a record label owner and Henson his ex-wife who also happens to be an ex-con. Timbaland is on board to produce original music for the show’s soundtrack, giving it the makings of a successful production. The writer and executive producer is none other than Lee Daniels (The Butler, Prescious). It’s about time we had an alternative to all the embarrassing reality TV shows out there and this could quite possibly do the trick.

So although we haven’t been treated to a serious filmmaker’s vision of hip-hop culture in recent times, there’s still plenty of new entertainment featuring familiar faces on the way to our theaters and TV sets. I won’t hold my breath for the day Spielberg directs the story of Public Enemy, but it’s nice to know there’s something for us in the works to go with the typical Hollywood movie menu.

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