Straight Outta Compton wasn’t supposed to do what it did. The F. Gary Gray-directed N.W.A. biopic seemed like a pipe dream, until it wasn’t—it opened last month to rave reviews and stellar numbers at the box office, beating out the ill-fated and fantastically expensive Fantastic Four remake. With the hip-hop narrative suddenly a bankable genre, one studio is looking to dig back even farther in the genres history. According to Deadline, Universal is mulling a movie that would chronicle the origins of Def Jam, focusing on its famous co-founders, Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin. The proposed project would be based on Simmons’ 2002 book Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, + God, which was co-written with Nelson George. Early buzz has Jonah Hill playing Rubin; Simmons would be brought to the screen by Michael B. Jordan, who, ironically, was one of the saving graces in Fantastic Four. 

Def Jam was founded in Rubin’s NYU dorm room and quickly began issuing singles from the likes of T La Rock, Jazzy Jay, Jimmy Spicer and others; shortly thereafter, they started developing the careers of stars like Run-D.M.C., LL Cool J and the Beastie Boys. Rick Rubin has since become a go-to producer in the rap, rock and pop worlds, while Simmons has continued to expand his corporate empire into fashion and every crevice of the entertainment industry. Universal has yet to confirm that the project is in production, but two bankable stars could certainly help ferry it into theaters.

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