It’s been proven time and time again that once Hollywood gets fixated on something they continue to put out as much of it as possible. Its latest fixation is the celebrity biopic centered on prominent and legendary hip-hop figures and the upcoming subject is none other than iconic hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.
Industry insider Deadline broke the news that a biopic on the life of Def Jam founder Russell Simmons is in the very early stages. Titled Life And Def: Sex Drugs Money + God, the film is set to chronicle the rise of Simmons from his days in the inner city streets of Queens, New York to becoming one of the most influential and legendary figures in all of music. If that wasn’t enough to pique your interest, it was also announced that the film will be written by Blackish creator Kenya Barris, who is also the co-writer of the highly-anticipated summer comedy Girls Trip.
Fox last year signed a deal with Barris and his production company, Khalabo Ink Society, to hatch films aimed at telling compelling stories that pull back the curtain on the parts of our society that typically go unnoticed. ‘Life And Def’ will capture the rebellious rise of rap and hip hop in America, through the prism of the disruptive [Russell] Simmons and the formation of Def Jam Records. That label started with rap icons like L.L. Cool J, Public Enemy, and the Beastie Boys and grew to include Kanye West, Jay-Z and DMX.
It’s a different view of a zeitgeist movement than L.A-set films like ‘Straight Outta Compton’ or ‘All Eyez On Me.’ The backdrop here is New York City in the early ’80s, when crime and crack were spreading like wildfire, Gotham City teetered on bankruptcy and MTV was blowing up as disco was dying. Into that vacuum walked Simmons, a young party and record promoter who emerged from hustling on the streets of Hollis, Queens to managing young musical artists who were rapping words to a beat instead of singing a melody, with furious passionate lyrics that burned across ethnic, class and geographic lines and spoke to an emerging youth culture.
Simmons is co-producing the film through his Def Pictures imprint along with Misher Films. Since the film is still is the early stages, there has been no word of casting choices or a director. Given that Def Jam is considered the Motown of hip-hop, it should be very interesting to see how it all came together on the big screen.