did you learn how to write screenplays?Curtis
Scoon: I wanted it so bad I made it happen. I bought a software package called
Final Draft. I went to the village and started to buy a screenplay, but I ended
up going home and writing it. Word got around that I was writing. There’s only
1 degree of separation between me and everyone in Queens. Soon, Fat Cat and his
family asked me if I wanted to do his movie and I said, “Sure.” I finished
the movie, titled 1013, which is New York Police code for officer down.
I finished it two weeks before Jay was murdered. I finished that script on October
15 and October 30, I had bigger things to worry about. All of that had to take
a backseat. AllHipHop.com:
Can you explain who Fat Cat was and what he did in Queens? He was the central
figure between Ethan Brown’s book Queens Reigns Supreme: Fat Cat, 50 Cent and
the Rise of the Hip-Hop Hustler.Curtis
Scoon: Fat Cat was a drug dealer/gangster/ghetto entrepreneur. He was the biggest
name in his time in the ‘80s. When he got busted in 1988, he had been in
prison three years. They seized $20 million in drugs and 30 people were arrested,
and he was running that from behind bars. And that’s 1988 money. His name and
his right hand man, Pappy Mason, their names have been in countless rap songs.
Nas, 50, his crew they all reference them. The thing about Cat that distinguished
him from all the other people who made money, is the activities that went on with
his crew, such as the killing of a police officer, people connected to them were
accused of that. AllHipHop.com:
So what’s your screenplay touch on? Curtis
Scoon: Well, I wrote my screenplay different. I didn’t want it to be a hood story.
So I wrote it as a parallel drama, one Black, one White [and] one urban, one suburban.
You see the drama when the worlds collide. I am talking to someone from Queens
about producing it now, but I don’t want to say names. It’s a natural fit for
the film and the actor. It’s a natural fit, not so much as an actor but on another
level. If you are going to do a Queens story, the biggest names come out of Queens.
You have to include those people because Fat Cat had so much of an impact on the
whole game, whether it’s streets or entertainment world. It’s only right it ends
up with someone from Queens playing a pertinent role. We are trying to put it
together, get the lead actor, the director and so on and so forth. AllHipHop.com:
Queens Reigns Supreme touched on a lot of this. At the beginning of the
book, Ethan Brown thanks "The Snake Charmer," which is your alias. What
role did you have in the book? Curtis
Scoon: It all started with my Playboy article. That was key for me. It
did two things. It shed a lot of light on the Jam Master Jay case and silenced
all my critics. It gave me a voice. I’ll be forever grateful to Chris Napolitano,
the executive editor of Playboy. He gave me a shot and he’s a classy dude.
In that article, I demonstrated my ability to penetrate a world journalists normally
don’t penetrate. I would get people to talk who normally wouldn’t talk. I was
supposed to do the book with the writer of the Playboy article, but we
didn’t see eye to eye. And then I was supposed to be the author with another writer
and that didn’t work. So I called Ethan Brown and pitched the idea, and he and
his agents made it happen. So that’s why he dedicated the book to me.
the idea to him because I wanted to do something that would help raise Fat Cat’s
profile, which would help get my movie made. Just the way things are, I knew it
would take more than Fat Cat’s story. Peoples’ memories only go back about
five years, so I came up with the idea to put all the guys in Queens in one book
and then to connect it to Hip-Hop. And that’s what would make people go out and
buy it anyway. And most people appreciate more about the first half, the street
guys than anything else in the book. AllHipHop.com:
Why weren’t you more prominently featured in the book, in terms of getting credit?
Scoon: Alot of my friends ask me the same thing. When you work with someone on
something, compromises have to be made. I feel Ethan did a great job on the book.
But I didn’t want to put my name next to his words. I didn’t want to be accountable
for something he did. There were certain things in the book, I wouldn’t have done.
And because Ethan is the author, it went in. There were other things he listened
to, but I may have done it different. For instance, I wouldn’t have used all of
the court papers. To me, pictures were more valuable because that’s what our market
wants. Little different things. I am comfortable with it. Every time Ethan gets
a dollar, I get paid and it did what I wanted it to do. It raised Cat’s profile,
I am writing for magazines. In fact, in the December issue, I have an interview
with Fat Cat in King Magazine. AllHipHop.com:
How did you get Fat Cat to talk to you? He hasn’t gone on record since like 1985
about anything. That’s a huge co-sign for your project. Curtis
Scoon: They don’t call me “The Snake Charmer” for nothing. The thing
is, getting stuff out of people is not overwhelming them with what you want, but
having an understanding of what they need. I saw Cat had a need to set the record
straight. He never did it before because he never trusted anyone. He trusted me.
He got a chance to speak to someone who wasn’t going to twist his words and make
him look bad. A lot of guys don’t trust the journalists. I cosigned for Ethan
a lot, and that’s why a lot of people spoke to him who normally wouldn’t have,
people in prison and everywhere. AllHipHop.com:
Do you have a part in the TV series being developing with Tommy Mottola off of
the book? Curtis
Scoon: That was put in place after I connected Ethan to a good friend of mine
named Ed Woods, who’s the VP at Casablanca. Ed Woods pitched it to Tommy and set
it up. I’m still waiting to see what happens with that. I have a lot to contribute
to any project, like the stuff I am doing with BET. AllHipHop.com:
What stuff are you doing with BET? Curtis
Scoon: I am consulting them on the series American Gangster. I found out
about the project and contacted Nelson George who is the executive producer of
the show. I found out they were doing Fat Cat and naturally I wanted to get involved.
I was hired as a consultant and I helped them put together a show, and I haven’t
seen the final edit, but they got a lot of access through my participation. Anyone
who has dealt with me has benefited. Ethan is a good writer, but he was reviewing
CDs before Queens Reigns Supreme. I think it’s done a lot for him. He’s
done a lot for me too, but nobody has given me any handouts. I earn my keep, I
come looking to do business and that’s how all of my relationships have been.
I did one small piece for King in the summer and I addressed the snitching
fad. I pitched them on the Fat Cat story because with his new found relevance
in pop culture through the book, the Tommy Mottola situation and the BET series,
I thought the time was right and it worked for me. They were interested in the
story, I got them the exclusive and I wrote the article. There’s a lot of pictures,
rare pictures of Fat Cat, Pappy and Supreme. It’s gonna be a nice layout. AllHipHop.com:
So what’s next, beyond the Fat Cat script? Curtis
Scoon: I am developing a show for one of these new mobile networks, 20 minute
episodes that you can watch. I am producing a documentary titled From Queens
Come Kings, that’s going to show the influence of the streets of Queens and
the substantial amount of artists who came from Queens, who in turn had an influence
on pop culture. It all started in Queens, from the Godfather hats to the big rope
chains. Rappers like LL and Run would copy that style and people would emulate
them everywhere. The whole bling thing is a progression from the big rope chains.
The genesis is right there in Queens. People talk about the Bronx being the birthplace
of Hip-Hop and their correct, it’s no lie. But when you look at old tapes of Bambaataa
and Grandmaster Flash, they look like Parliament or The Village People. What you
see in Hip-Hop has Queens all over it. When you see the Lost Boyz and dreadlocks
and all that, it’s from Pappy Mason. There’s so many little things the rappers
picked up from these guys and presented it to the world. A
funny story: The original name of the book was Hell Up In Hollis. I told
Ethan I didn’t think that would fly. He got his book deal under that working title.
I suggested we call it From Queens from Kings, but they said it sounded
too much like King of Queens and they brought up brand confusion. Then
I named it Queens Reigns Supreme, and Ethan added the subtitle of ‘Fat
Cat, 50 Cent & The Rise of the Hip-Hop Huster.’ When
I suggested the name, it was my answer to KRS-One. I like the song "South
Bronx" but no, n***a, Queens reigns supreme, get it straight! The song was
hot, but it wasn’t the truth. And he built his career dissing Queens. Nothing
personal, but that was my little response. It ain’t Knowledge Reigns Supreme,
[KRS acronym ], it’s Queens Reigns Supreme. Don’t forget it.