It turns out that a lot of people really wanted to see the son of Ice Cube play Ice Cube, and Straight Outta Compton was a tremendous hit. It’s been successful enough to spawn a pseudo-sequel about Tha Dogg Pound, and now Universal is eyeing a Def Jam biopic. According to Deadline, the studio is considering Michael B. Jordan and Jonah Hill for the respective parts of Def Jam label founders Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin (despite the fact that Robbie Coltrane basically made an eight-part audition video for the role of Rubin).
Deadline reports that the project would adapt Life And Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, + God, Simmons’ own account of Def Jam’s early years. (So if there’s a scene where a grade-school Russell single-handedly invents rap music out of whole cloth, you’ll know why.) The story follows the transition of hip-hop as it moves out of underground clubs and becomes a mainstream musical genre. Presumably it will stop before it gets to the part where the two coasts started beefing and legendary rappers wound up murdered, because that sounds like a pretty good movie premise in its own right.
While it had its distinguishing moments, Straight Outta Compton fell victim to the stereotypical beats of the biopic genre. Perhaps by focusing a movie on the dealmakers behind the scenes, these clichés could finally be upended. Instead of a penniless street poet who finds inspiration rapping on the corner, we’ll follow a desperate A&R agent frantically searching corners for a penniless street poet to lure back to the studio with the promise of “eventual” recompense. Rather than the requisite scene that cuts from inside the recording booth to the nodding heads of producers outside, we’ll skip the artists, and cut from nodding producers to the smiling faces of paunchy studio executives, bravely lighting cigars with $100 bills. And instead of that pivotal moment when an influential bandleader meets a nobody musician—a musician we recognize will become a legend in their own right—we’ll get to see a fateful contract signing between an influential radio mogul and a little-known media company that becomes Clear Channel.