Welcome to the first official Hollywood Shuffle column discussing all things movies, television, celebrity and just plain Hollywood. To kick things off, we bring you an in-depth look at the years rising trend and popularity of Hip-Hop in Hollywood, followed by our Short List of the Top 5s of 2007! Lists are in no particular order.1. The Rise of the Rapper/Actor2007 truly was the year that Hollywood embraced Hip-Hop on a mainstream level. As Hip-Hop flexed its power over mainstream culture, all the major movie studios took notice.
No longer subject to stereotypical gangster roles in urban films, Hip-Hop artists were signed to major talent agencies such as William Morris, CAA and ICM, not for their ability to sell out a concert, but for their ability to land major acting roles in mainstream films. Artists such as Christopher Ludacris Bridges, Mos Def and Common led the way in 2007 as legitimate actors with mainstream appeal in action films, comedies and dramas. For 2008, expect even more films from Hip-Hop artists including Ludacris (Ball Dont Lie, RocknRolla), Mos Def (Be Kind Rewind), Common (Wanted, The Nightwatchman), The RZA (Life is Hot in Cracktown), Andre Benjamin(Battle in Seattle, Semi-Pro), Method Man (Meet The Spartans - previously announced as Hunting And Fishing; The Wackness), Xzibit (X-Files sequel) and Snoop Dogg (Coach Snoop).
2. America Loves an American Gangster
Pegged as the modern day version of Scarface, Universal Pictures American Gangster was one of the most anticipated films by the Hip-Hop community for 2007. And although pirated versions of the film reached the streets two weeks before its release, it still managed to gross a solid $128 million in the U.S., and was well received by mainstream critics with three Golden Globe Nominations (Best Motion Picture Drama; Best Director, Ridley Scott; Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama, Denzel Washington)More important though, was the social impact that American Gangster had within popular culture and the Hip-Hop community. The true story of Frank Lucas and his rise to fame and infamy in the drug game became an inspiration for the modern day hustle. Jay-Z was so moved by watching an early screening of the film that he created the now-infamous concept album based on the movie.
Several TV networks including The History Channel ran specials on Frank Lucas and the 1970s New York drug scene. Bumpy Johnsons wife came forward to tell her side of the story to AllHipHop.com, and the documentary Superfly: The Untold Story Of Frank Lucas gave background info and in-depth interviews with street legends like Pee Wee Kirkland. All in all, American Gangster has definitely made a mark in pop culture history.3. The Hip-Hop Reality Show Craze
When reality TV first hit the networks in early 2000, it was reserved for singing contests and watching people survive in exotic locations. Seven years later, 2007 proved to be a banner year for Hip-Hop as it dominated the reality show segment. Diddy with Making the Band and Flavor Flav with Flavor of Love might have been the pioneers of reality-rap series, and newer reality shows such as Keyshia Cole: The Way It Is and Runs House carried the torch - but 2007 saw the birth of a flurry of major network reality shows based around Hip-Hop personalities. The Lil Kim reality show Countdown to Lockdown was a huge success for BET, and The Salt-N-Pepa Showon VH1 was met with enthusiasm. Even Irv Gotti got into the mix with VH1s Gottis Way. Soon, mainstream networks such as E! took notice of the highly entertaining personalities in Hip-Hop and landed the top dog of them all with Snoop DoggsFather Hood. The first episode of Father Hood premiered in early December and had a solid start topping E!'s four-week average in the time slot by 22%.
Look for more reality-rap activity in 2008, including the long-awaited Jim Jones Keepin Up With The Jones and reality shows with Suge Knight, Coolio, Chris Brown and Funkmaster Flex all in the works as well.
4. The Power of Will
Without a doubt, 2007 showed the true Power of Will. Will Smiths two films of 07,The Pursuit of Happyness(opened mid Dec 2006) and I Am Legend showed off Smiths acting range and blockbuster universal appeal. As I Am Legend opened at an astounding $76.5 million, it could easily be argued that Will is now the biggest star in Hollywood.
Some argue that his going salary of $20+ million per film is overpriced, but consider the fact that Smith has seven straight films that have grossed over $100 million in the U.S. alone, and he is one of the few African-American actors with bigger international appeal, and that price tag looks to be a great investment.Although he is one of the most successful, if not the most successful, rapper-turned-actor in history, Smith often does not get the proper due with the Hip-Hop community because of his commercial roots with the rap game, which included mainstream songs such as Parents Just Dont Understand and Getting Jiggy With It and his TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Its hard to believe a hater never laughed at an episode of The Fresh Prince or enjoyed any of his countless blockbuster films including Independence Day, Ali, Men in Black, Bad Boys and I, Robot.5. Urban films Aint Just Gangster No More
The trend of urban films in the early 90s was dominated by gang bangin and drug dealing. Classics such as Boyz N the Hood (1991), Juice (1992) and Menace II Society (1993) introduced Hollywood to the world of life in streets and dynamic characters such as Doughboy, O-Dog and Bishop. Critics both praised these films for their true to life representation of inner city life, and simultaneously slammed them for glorifying violence, broken homes and drug use.
Through these films, directors such as John Singleton and The Hughes Brothers became important figures as they brought these important and realistic issues to the surface. Fast-forward to 2007 and the urban film landscape has dramatically changed. True, the problems of the early 90s are just as relevant and important, but 2007 saw the rise of an urban film of a different kind. The emphasis on drugs and violence has instead been replaced by an emphasis on family values, friends and all-things-positive.
Super director/producer/writer Tyler Perry is largely credited for this winning formula that studios love, due to its low budgets and high box office return. Perry continued his formula and success in 2007 with hits (from a profitability standpoint) Daddys Little Girlsand Why Did I Get Married? Even Doughboy (Ice Cube) reformed from his gang days and continued with the popular family franchise Are We There Yet? with 2007's Are We Done Yet? Also, holiday films This Christmasand The Perfect Holiday were also met with enthusiasm.OK! Now time for a little fun .after much research, unofficial surveys and days upon days of deep contemplation and mediation, we are proud to bring you...
The Top 5s of 2007 Short List
Most Over-exposed Celeb body part 1. Kim Kardashian - her gravity defying rear end
2. Britney Spears her freshly shaved head
3. Tyra Banks - her assortment of wigs, weaves and all things hair
4. Mariah Carey her ummm chest
5. Mel B every body part she couldnt fit in her Dancing With the Stars costumesMost Over-exposed Wannabe Celebs
1. Tay Zonday - YouTube sensation Chocolate Rain2. Sanjaya - The hula dancing, hair nightmare guy from American Idol
3. New York - The self-proclaimed Ghetto Queen
4. Solange Knowles - Dont worry lil sis you will get there5. Tila Tequila Hobbits are people too!
Most Anticipated Baby Conceived in 20071. Halle Berry with Halle as the mother and a male model father, this kid hit the genetic jack pot 2. Jennifer Lopez twins with Marc Anthony, nuff said
3. Jessica Alba if its a girl, chances are in 18 years she will be hot (so wrong, I know)
4. Jaime Lynn Spears cant wait when Auntie Britney comes to baby sit5. Nicole Ritchie cant wait when Auntie Paris comes to baby sit
Celebrity You Would be Most Afraid to Leave Your Pet With1. Mike Vick nuff said
2. Britney Spears although she treats her dog better than her kids
3. Mike Tyson he might bite it
4. Paris Hilton she might leave it in her purse
5. Diddy he might brand it with a Ciroc logo and sell it
Guilty Pleasure Reality Show1. I Love New York
2. Celebrity Rap Superstar3. Runs House
4. Snoop Doggs Father Hood5. The Salt-N-Pepa Show
Best movies to watch in the theater (not illegally downloaded to your 15 computer screen)
3. Bourne Ultimatum
4. I Am Legend5. Live Free or Die HardBest movies that you wont admit you watched (and liked)1. Norbit
2. Ghost Rider
3. Wild Hogs
4. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
5. The Game Plan
Movies that tried REALLY hard to attract the urban hip-cool demographic (but didnt)
1. Code Name: The Cleaner
2. Freedom Writers
3. The Kingdom
4. Alpha Dog
5. Rush Hour 3
Scott Yeti is Content Editor of WoooHah.com, the latest in Hollywoods Hip-Hop trends, style and more