Russell Simmons Is Creating a Broadway Musical About Hip-Hop
Russell Simmons is bringing hip-hop to Broadway. Simmons recently sat down with Rolling Stone to discuss The Scenario, a Broadway show that celebrates hip-hop as its grown over the last 30 years. Inspired by the hard rock musical, Rock of Ages, Simmons wants to create a musical that captures hip-hop's best moments. After seeing the show, Simmons said that this venture became "the most obvious thing in the world," calling The Scenario the hip-hop version of the jukebox classic.
The play will "be half-concert, half-storytelling. Something like this deserves a little bit of a love story and a little bit of [Public Enemy's] 'Fight the Power.'"
"The life story of hip-hop is Ice Cube's Are We There Yet?, not [N.W.A's] 'Fuck tha Police,'" he said while explaining the difference between The Scenario and Holler If Ya Hear Me. "It's Ice-T [playing] the longest-running cop on TV. That's hip-hop. It's "Jesus Walks" as much as it is 'Fuck Tha Police.' The celebration of poetry is not defined by one poem."
According to the Def Jam co-founder, The Scenario will tell a commercial story that will surely take audience members on an emotional roller coaster as it hints on social affairs. Simmons is teaming up with hip-hop historian-author Dan Charnas (The Big Payback) to write the script. The musical, which Simmons and Tony award winning Scott Prisand will produce, is set to hit Broadway in late 2016. It will feature a mix of actual rap songs and musical versions of classics. This is Simmons second Broadway venture, the first being his adaptation of his hit HBO show Def Poetry Jam back in 2002 for which he won a Tony award.