New Film Catches Up With Aging Rappers – Exclusive Outtakes, Part 3

Adult Rappers Poster

Paul Iannacchino knows rap. The self-proclaimed writer/director/creative guy used to be a producer signed to EL-P’s Def Jux label (as one-third of Hangar 18) but left the world of indie hip-hop behind when he realized that it wasn’t for him. Still, his exposure to the inner workings of the game and his time on the road with indie stars like Cage and Aesop Rock left him with great memories and a valuable rapper Rolodex that would later come in handy.

As Paul grew up and decided to pursue a film career, he took a look around at his former contemporaries and began to wonder about what happens to rappers when they become regular, tax-paying adults. And so, the idea for Paul’s upcoming documentary, Adult Rappers, was born. The film, which just wrapped production, is set to premiere at film festivals later this year. A few weeks before finishing up his final cut, Iannacchino came by XXL‘s offices to play us the first five minutes of the film, and we were blown away. As the doc delves into the real lives of guys like R.A. The Rugged Man, Murs and J57—artists who found real success in their primes and were eventually faced with a crossroads where they could either continue their rap careers or hang up the mic—viewers are given a behind-the-scenes glance into the reality of what the remaining 23 (offstage) hours of an aging rapper’s day look like.

In the past two weeks, XXL ran the first and second installments of outtakes from the upcoming Adult Rappers documentary. In this final edition, we have R.A. The Rugged Man himself, talking about his career, his label woes and that one time he brought a stripper friend to a photo shoot at the Rawkus Records offices. As you might imagine, things got a little weird when she opened up her bag full of sex toys and started to “perform.” Watch the hilarious clip below, alongside the third part of our interview with Iannacchino.

XXL: As someone who was a hip-hop producer before becoming a filmmaker, after making this documentary do you feel like you’ve let hip-hop go? Are you just going to focus on film now, or do you want to keep exploring hip-hop?

Iannacchino: Hip-hop will always be there because I was a fan and a head first. My first concert at 13 was the Beastie Boys and Public Enemy, so it’s in my blood for sure. But there’s definitely some catharsis in this film, about leaving that part of my life behind. I mean, I realize that there’s part of me in this story because some of it hits really close to home. There’ll always be an element of hip-hop in stuff that I do, just like for any of us who love the music and the culture so much, but film is what I do and what I aspire to do.

Are you okay with that? 

Absolutely. I think I had a great run as a horribly average producer, and I’m okay with that. I mean, it was fun; I had a great time. We were in New York, and we were a part of the scene at a really cool time, and I love that I can tell my kids that I was on a tour bus with Murs and Shock G. That was amazing, and I got to see a lot of stuff that not a lot of people do, but I have no regrets about not pursuing that part of my life.

Was film something you always wanted to pursue? 

I’ve done advertising and TV and commercials for as long as I’ve done music. I studied painting, so I’ve always been a visual person, but I got more and more into storytelling the older that I got. I was also lucky that I was in a career where I was learning the back end of that as I was going, so I was pursuing a career as a director for as long as I was pursuing a hip-hop career. They were sort of on parallel paths. The irony is that when I look back on it now, I can see that I could’ve been way further ahead on the directing side if I wasn’t chasing the hip-hop dream.

But then the idea for Adult Rappers might’ve never come to you. 

I don’t think it would’ve, without having all of those experiences. And I would’ve felt like I never took a shot. That’s the thing, there are some people in the film who didn’t, who never quit their 9-to-5, and kind of regret that they didn’t take their shot.

Why would this movie appeal to somebody who doesn’t recognize any of these rappers and isn’t a hip-hop head? 

I think it’s appealing to anyone who’s ever had a passion that they pursued as a career or wished that they did. There’s a quote from J-Zone in the film, where he goes, “When your hobby becomes your job, it’s time to get a new hobby.” I think anyone can relate to the idea of, “I have this thing that I love, but I don’t know how to monetize it. And I don’t know if I should, but if I do, what does that look like?” It’s scary. I think there are independent artists of all different backgrounds—people who paint, people who are craftsmen, people who work in the film industry but aren’t in a union—all these people understand the struggle of, “How do I pay my bills?” and “I don’t have health insurance.” But they all have this thing that they want to do. I think it’s a really relatable story, in that way.