Tag: DJ Premier

VH1 Orders Hip-Hop Film “The Breaks” to TV Series

"The Breaks" on VH1

article by eurweb via blackamericaweb.com

VH1 has given a huge break to hip-hop drama “The Breaks.”  After airing as a TV movie and possible back door pilot, the cable network has ordered it as a series, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The film follows the journey of Nikki, David and DeeVee, three friends united by their love of hip-hop, as they work to blow up in the music industry. The film begins in summer 1990 in New York, where the industry’s artists and hustlers intersect in the dance clubs and the street corners of the still crime-ridden city. But they all soon discover lives can be broken as fast as legends can be born.

“The Breaks” is based on Dan Charnas’ best-selling book “The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop,” considered one of the most comprehensive accounts of the history and business of hip-hop, notes THR. The book spans 40 years of stories and was culled from more than 300 interviews with execs, entrepreneurs, hustlers and handlers.

“The Breaks” aired in January and currently ranks as the No. 2 cable original movie of the year among adults 18-49, 18-34 and women in both demos. The January premiere and immediate encore collected a combined 2.6 million total viewers, propelling VH1 to a 42 percent gain among adults under 50 in January.

Wood Harris (The Wire), Mack (Tristan) Wilds (90210), Afton Williamson (Banshee), David Call (Gossip Girl), Antoine Harris (Ballers) and Method Man starred in the TV movie. Most are expected to return for the series.

DJ Premier composed the score and served as executive music producer.

Grandmaster Flash Joins Upcoming Netflix 1970s Rap Series “The Get Down” as Associate Producer/Adviser

Grandmaster Flash and Mamoudou Athie
Grandmaster Flash and actor Mamoudou Athie (Photo: Netflix)

 Hip-hop icon Grandmaster Flash is set as an associate producer and adviser on The Get DownBaz Luhrmann’s upcoming Netflix series about the 1970 NYC music scene and the birth of rap. “I can’t tell you just how much joy and great spirit we are getting from working with some of the founding fathers of the form,” Luhrmann said in a statement. “Not only in music, dance and graffiti but the culture of the time in general. The whole team is absolutely thrilled to have Grandmaster Flash on board.” Netflix also said today that newcomer Mamoudou Athie will play the DJ legend on the show (see photo above). Best known to mainstream audiences for the 1982’s “The Message,” Grandmaster Flash emerged from the ’70s Bronx scene along with fellow DJs Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa as a pioneer of the fledgling genre. “Flash developed a host of specific techniques that allowed DJs to move seamlessly from one break beat to another,” said author-journalist Nelson George, part of The Get Down writing team. “Flash’s innovations, developed in his Bronx apartment bedroom, are the bedrock of club spinning, even in the age of (vinyl emulation program) Serato.”

Flash’s involvement with Get Down follows VH1’s announcement last month of The Breaks, an original movie and potential backdoor pilot about the 1990s NYC hip-hop scene. Gang Starr’s DJ Premier will serve as music producer for that project, becoming the latest music great to oversee soundtracks for TV series including Timbaland on Fox’s Empire and T Bone Burnett on ABC’s Nashville.

article via Erik Pedersen via Deadline.com

DJ Premier Signs On As Music Producer For VH1 Rap Drama “The Breaks”

Grammy Winning Producer DJ Premier to supervise music on upcoming VH1 movie "The Breaks" (Photo: xxlmag.com)
Grammy Winning Producer DJ Premier to supervise music on upcoming VH1 movie “The Breaks” (Photo: xxlmag.com)

According to Deadline.com, VH1 has announced production of The Breaks, an original movie about the Hip-Hop business set in New York City during the early 90s, that will serve as a backdoor pilot for a potential series. Christopher Edward Martin, better known as DJ Premier, multiple Grammy-award winning member of the seminal rap group Gang Starr, will serve as executive music producer and compose the score.

The Breaks is based on Dan Charnas’ non-fiction book The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, which covers the rap from its infancy in the 1970s house party and park scene through the staggering financial and cultural milestones of the early 2000s. Set in 1990, the series will follow three friends from different backgrounds attempting to break into the business just as the art form became part of the pop music mainstream.

Given the setting, which happens to mark the middle point of the golden age of hip hop, the rise of gangsta rap, and the height of New Jack Swing, Texas native DJ Premier’s involvement is a huge advantage. In addition to his work with Gang Starr, Premier has been involved with some of the most influential and successful rap and R&B albums of all time, including works by KRS-One, Big Daddy Kane, Snoop DoggCompton’s Most Wanted, Nas, D’Angelo, The Notorious B.I.G., and Jay Z.

The Breaks follows VH1’s previous TV films, 2013’s CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story, and 2014’s Drumline: A New Beat, both of which saw great ratings for the network. Single Ladies, an original series which ran for three seasons on VH1and is now enjoying a fourth on Centric, started as a two-hour back door pilot. If successful, The Breaks could similarly spawn a full series aimed at the audience of other shows with soundtracks overseen by music titans, like Fox’s Empire, with music production by Timbaland, and ABC’s Nashville, which saw T-Bone Burnett as music producer during its first season.

The Breaks will be written, directed and executive produced by Seith Mann, whose previous credits include episodes of The Wire, Fringe, The Riches, Entourage, and Homeland.  In addition to his production work, DJ Premier is also the host of a weekly show on Sirius XM’s Hip-Hop Nation. Filming for The Breaks will begin in June, and the film is scheduled to air sometime in late fall 2015.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

FILM REVIEW: Nas’ Essential Contribution to Hip Hop Highlighted in Documentary “Time Is Illmatic”

Nas Time is Illmatic

It’s unlikely that hip-hop documentary “Time Is Illmatic” will have many showings as thrilling as its opening-night slot at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, where it preceded an impassioned live performance by its subject, the artist born Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones and better known by his stage name: Nas. Still, this brisk, stylish and extremely heartfelt portrait of Nas’ rise from the housing projects of Queensbridge to the heights of hip-hop royalty ably stands on its own, marked by an admirable focus on the man and his music rather than hype and hagiography. Sure to be embraced by fans (but also a fine primer for neophytes), “Time” should have a long home-viewing shelf life following additional fest and select theatrical bookings.

In his feature directing debut, the former graffiti artist and graphic designer One9 smartly avoids trying for a comprehensive career portrait of Nas, instead centering on the rapper’s humble origins and the making of his landmark 1994 debut album, “Illmatic.” Comparable in its impact on hip-hop to that of Jackson Pollock’s splatter paintings on the art world, “Illmatic” seemed a prodigal work, constructed of airtight rhythms and intricate rhymes, steeped in the violent realities of ghetto life yet far-reaching in its lyric and musical allusions (including “samples” that ran the gamut from jazz to Michael Jackson), as intimate as a diary while also serving as a very public statement of artistic intent. Nas was all of 20 at the time, and best known for his electrifying guest rapping on popular singles by Main Source and MC Serch.

Two decades later, Nas is close to an eminence grise, but the figure who appears onscreen for much of “Time Is Illmatic” appears humbled by his massive success and is quick to acknowledge those who helped pave the way (like the pioneering female rapper Roxanne Shante, who gave the teenage Nas an early break as part of her crew), as well as those (like childhood friend Willie “Ill Will” Graham) who were less lucky at surviving the Queensbridge mean streets. To this, the film adds a carefully selected mix of testimonials from friends, family members, artistic collaborators and assorted lions of old-school hip-hop. But save for a couple of fleeting appearances by Cornel West and Henry Louis Gates, “Time” eschews third-party critical analysis in favor of keeping the focus on neighborhood and personal experience, a cinematic “trip down memory lane” to complement the one Nas rapped about on “Illmatic” itself.

The pic’s first half devotes much of its energy to anatomizing Nas’ childhood and early performance career, with particular attention to his parents — the jazz sideman Olu Dara and his wife, Ann Jones — who raised their two sons (Nas and younger brother Jabari, aka “Jungle”) in a bohemian cocoon of art, books and music very different from the Queensbridge norm. After a brief childhood flirtation with the trumpet, Nas had already begun writing rhymes by age 8. Curiously, it was Dara himself, by then divorced from Ann, who persuaded both boys to drop out of New York’s public school system (where he believed they were receiving an inferior, resource-starved education) after completing the eighth grade. He wanted them to follow their entrepreneurial dreams, which was easier said than done in the New York of the pre-Giuliani, crack-besieged late ’80s and early ’90s.

Fans of old-school hip-hop will take particular delight in the docu’s evocation of the neighborhood rivalries and MC battles that played out in the form of tracks like Marly Marl and MC Shan’s “The Bridge” and KRS-One’s “South Bronx,” and helped to stoke the young Nas’ creative fires. (The opening cut of “Illmatic” featured a prominent sample of the seminal 1983 hip-hop feature “Wild Style,” also excerpted here.) Returning today to the old neighborhood, Nas reflects emotionally on the devastation wrought by drugs and gang violence and how, but for a few strokes of luck, he too might have become another victim.

In its second half, “Time” shifts gears to the recording of “Illmatic,” with Nas and his quintet of illustrious producers (Nas, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, L.E.S. and DJ Premier) offering insightful, track-by-track deconstructions of the album’s most enduring cuts: “Life’s a Bitch,” “One Love,” “The World Is Yours” and “It Ain’t Hard to Tell,” with its inspired sampling of Michael Jackson’s “Human Nature.”

The documentary occasionally reveals its multiyear gestation period in the variable range of video formats used to capture the interviews, but otherwise sports a polished, professional sheen.

review by Scott Foundas via Variety.com