THE NEW YORK TIMES: Russell Simmons Plans Musical on Early Days of Hip-Hop

The pioneering rap impresario Russell Simmons is aiming to bring a hip-hop revue to Broadway late next year. The musical, currently titled “The Scenario,” will feature renditions of classics from the 1980s and ’90s.

Mr. Simmons is producing the revue through Def Pictures alongside Scott Prisand, who produced the jukebox hit “Rock of Ages,” which recently closed on Broadway after a lengthy run. Dan Charnas, an author and hip-hop historian (“The Big Payback”), has signed on to write the show’s book.

“The Scenario,” named after a song by A Tribe Called Quest, will most likely feature a love story while also addressing the sociopolitical challenges of early hip-hop, Mr. Simmons explained in a phone interview Thursday.

“I’ve never been so sure about anything I’ve produced in my entire life,” he said. “This is squarely in the middle of what Broadway needs.”

Mr. Simmons helped bring hip-hop to the mainstream in the 1980s as a co-founder of Def Jam Records. The show’s soundtrack has yet to be finalized, but Mr. Simmons said there is a good chance that songs from the label will appear.

“It would be nice to have some ‘Raising Hell’ in there,” he said, referring to the 1986 Run-DMC album that he co-produced. “But it’s driving me crazy. There’s so much music — Kurtis Blow to Kanye West.”

“The Scenario” will follow two other recent hip-hop-inflected musicals. One, “Hamilton,” which features original songs, is moving to Broadway this summer after its current sellout run at the Public Theater.  But “Holler if Ya Hear Me,” based on the music of Tupac Shakur, closed quickly after lukewarm reviews and meager ticket sales.

Mr. Simmons said it would be wrong to compare his project and the Shakur show. “That was a Greek tragedy, this is a celebration of hip- hop,” he said.

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