Universal has acquired the action-comedy pitch Run the Jewels by writing duo Alex Blagg and Neel Shah. Kevin Hart is attached to produce via his Hartbeat Productions banner.
The film centers on a group of failed rappers who attempt to rob an eccentric hip-hop mogul.
2013 marked the 20 year anniversaries of not only the two best hip hop parody films but apparently the only two major screen released hip hop parody films so far, CB4 and Fear of a Black Hat. No, seriously it is...google hip hop parody films and these two movies are the only things that pop up.
Released in 1993 and starring Chris Rock, Allen Payne and Deezer D as MC Gusto, Dead Mike and Stab Master Arson the profane faux gangster rap group CB4 the first hip hop parody film is a hilarious romp.
Coming out the following year, Fear of a Black Hat starring Rusty Cundieff, Larry B. Scott and Mark Christopher Lawrence as Ice Cold, Tasty Taste and Tone Def, the members of N.W.H. (Niggas With Hats) and equally funny mockumentary about the rise and fall of a rap group.
At first I was shocked to discover that after 20 years there wasn't much if any major film releases following these movies that poked fun at the rap recording industry and hip hop culture. But after looking at how rap music, its participants and the industry has evolved over the last 20 years maybe its not so surprising that no one has done any more parodies and satires of the music and the people.
When CB4 and FOABH came out, the extremes they portrayed were comical because at that time no one thought any of that macho, hyper masculine posturing and behavior was real. I mean it was all for show right? All the songs about murder and mayhem and all the attitudes that reveled in it was make believe and exaggeration for effect just to stand out in a increasingly crowded genre of music that was becoming global before our eyes. No one would really act like that...right?
In FOABH there was a running joke that NWH had to keep getting different managers because they would always end up getting killed some how, usually because of the groups bullshit in some way. But that running gag was inspired by the rock mockumentary film This Is Spinal Tap more than spoofing any real life examples. And that's because in the early 90s when those movies came out there were no high profile rap artist or managers that got killed. In CB4, the record label the group was signed to, TrustUs Records, was slimy but only in the way that the recording management industry have always been slimy. And all the guns that all the characters carried around and threatened each other with, that was all exaggerated as well, it makes the movie funnier to see a rapper strapped up to his earlobes. You see at that time no one would believe that any of that stuff would happen in real life.
But if there was a spoof film about Rap music and artists today who and what could they exaggerate for comedic effect? Maybe that film would have a scene where a rapper at an award show interrupts the acceptance speech of an artist in completely different category of music to complain about how fucked up the voting was or how they thought they would win and then the camera would pan across the shocked faces of audience members at the rude action. Yeah, that would be funny because what artist would do something as ridiculous as that in real life? How about a scene were a rapper gets arrested with a stockpile of guns and automatic weapons at his home? Kind of like the way Tasty Taste had a whole room dedicated to guns and bombs in FOABH. Because as we all know no one in their right mind would have that many weapons in their possession. Maybe female rappers could be featured and in one scenario two top selling female rappers get into a beef not because they don't like each other but because their entourages clash and it culminates into a shootout at a radio station.
The ideas are flowing now, let's do a scene where there's a gangster rap label and the CEO runs this legitimate business like a criminal organization complete with actual gangbangers hired as security and office personnel and during meetings whenever someone makes a bad suggestion the CEO would lock the door of the conference room and that person would catch a beat down from the label owner and gangbanger/security. Hell let's take it even farther and have a scene where a studio technician gets beat up for rewinding the tape too far back during a recording session. That's just crazy right? I mean no real business would do some dumb shit like that. Or the film could be done like one of those comedy murder mysteries where prominent top selling Rap artists are getting killed one by one (a few in public no less) but the cops are so clueless that they can't solve the killings. And even though that one is a bit macabre its okay because it stretches the suspension of disbelief. No one would believe that celebrities so prominent in the public eye would be killed and the cops not arrest someone in connection with the murder so it makes great material for a comedy of errors movie...right?
Unfortunately that movie or movies (could have been a franchise like the Scary Movie series) haven't been made over the last 20 years because rappers have been too busy doing all that crazy shit in real life. An award show interruption not only occurred but happened three times, twice with Kanye West and before him Ol' Dirty Bastard jumped on stage during Shawn Colvin's 1998 Grammy award win for Song of Year .
Rapper T.I. was arrested on federal weapons charges after trying to buy unregistered machine guns and silencers from undercover federal agents in 2007. That came after the rapper's best friend was killed following a party in Cincinnati in 2006. The rapper said the bullets that killed his friend were meant for him.
Lil Kim got into a beef on wax with Foxy Brown, Brown even admitted that it had more to with the people around them than the two women themselves yet it escalated to the point of a shooting outside of a radio station where the members of the two entourages encountered each other. The result was one person shot in the back and Lil Kim jailed for a year for lying to the grand jury about what she saw or didn't see. And I'm not going to recount the ridiculous list of rappers killed in the last ten, fifteen years.
Hip Hop and rap music is in dire need of an image makeover and the first place to start is to bring back fun in the music and culture. Before Rap music's Dark Age (the period between 1995, after Tupac was killed, and somewhere in the 2000s) there was fun and diversity in the genre.
I'm not going to say it was all rainbows and lollipops but one could get silly and be popular in rap music. Humpty Hump anyone? But it seems today the humor and comic sensibilities in Hip-Hop leans hard into the mean spirited. Kinda like the way someone would laugh if they saw a guy trip and fall down a flight of steps.
Chocolate Droppa (Hart's parody rap persona) seems well poised to bring back some much needed silliness and light hearted humor to the culture. Actually CD could have been used a few years ago but Hart has the clout now to make it happen with himself as a producer. I know its a tall order to expect one person to have a significant affect on a whole culture but maybe Kevin Hart's project can initiate some change in direction that others can pick up on.