Following last week’s announcement that Russell Simmons was bringing his Hip Hop musical The Scenario to Broadway, the Rap mogul spoke with Rolling Stone about the musical’s rock and roll roots, what he envisions for the project and how it differs from the Tupac Shakur-inspired Holler If Ya Hear Me.
First opening up about the origins of the idea, Simmons says that it stemmed from a rock and roll musical that he was taken to.
“I met the guys at [The Scenario production company] Big Block and they took me to see [hard-rock jukebox musical] Rock of Ages,” Simmons says. “I saw it and said, ‘What the fuck? This is exactly what I need to do.’ It was the most obvious thing in the world to me. I was inspired when I saw it. I must be getting old because what I’m doing now is right squarely in the middle of Broadway, which is squarely in the middle of America. It’s overdue.”
When asked about what he envisions for The Scenario, Russell Simmons says it’ll be a mixture of things.
“It’ll be half-concert, half-storytelling,” Simmons reveals. “Something like this deserves a little bit of a love story and a little bit of [Public Enemy’s] ‘Fight the Power.’ It’s not easy to write, but it’s easy to conceive of. It’s all the old people going to the Broadway theatre and seeing rebellious youth culture [laughs]. Two generations later, rap still has that rebelliousness; it hasn’t changed. At the same time, though, it’s successful pop culture. We’ve never had an American cultural phenomenon like this that has spanned so many generations.”
Russell Simmons Compares “The Scenario” To “Holler If Ya Hear Me”
When asked whether he’s worried that The Scenario will have the same outcome as the Tupac Shakur-inspired Holler If Ya Hear Me that closed within two months of its debut, Simmons says that the two are completely different, despite both having Hip Hop roots.
“I’m sorry it didn’t go, but this is a whole different thing. This is a celebration. I loved Tupac, but I don’t see his life story aligning with… Look, the life story of Hip Hop is more like mine. End up going to yoga every day and living in Beverly Hills. The life story of Hip Hop is Ice Cube’s Are We There Yet?, not [N.W.A’s] ‘Fuck tha Police.’ 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. This is not the same scenario [as Holler]. It’s a whole different world. We’re talking about something that’s right down the middle versus something that’s really alternative.”
The Scenario is scheduled to debut in late 2016 and will be written by Dan Charnas. Charnas previously wrote The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop.
To read the full interview, visit Rolling Stone.