RZA Directing Common, Azealia Banks in New Rap Film 'Coco'

Common, Jill Scott will join Banks, who plays an aspiring rapper honing her craft studying poetry

RZA will direct Azealia Banks in the new rap drama 'Coco' with Common, Jill Scott Credit: Unique Nicole/Getty; Taylor Hill/Getty

Wu-Tang Clan mastermind RZA and rapper Azealia Banks are teaming for the upcoming musical drama Coco. RZA will direct the Lionsgate/Codeblack Films feature, which stars Banks as a "twentysomething female rapper named Coco." The Brooklyn-set film – which co-stars Common, Jill Scott and Lorraine Toussaint – has already begun shooting in New York. 

In the film, Banks' protagonist dreams of pursuing a hip-hop career, but is persuaded by her parents to finish college. In a poetry class, she is transfixed by "the power of the spoken word," developing a verbal strength that ends up propelling her toward her rap goals.

"I'm extremely excited and vigorously inspired to be working with Azealia Banks in my new directorial installment," RZA said in a statement. "Producer Paul Hall and I have assembled a cool and eclectic cast to surround Azealia. Our story, which is set in today's contemporary youth culture, will bring a new voice to cinema that needs to be heard."

The Hollywood Reporter notes that Scott will play a "a professor who believes that rapping and slam poetry cannot co-exist;" Toussaint will reportedly play Coco's mother, and Common will appear as a "mentor figure."

Banks released her debut LP, the bold EDM-rap hybrid Broke With Expensive Taste, in 2014. RZA made his directorial debut in 2012 with the Seventies Kung-Fu homage The Man With the Iron Fists, which he co-wrote wrote with horror director Eli Roth.

In December, a fully reunited Wu-Tang Clan released A Better Tomorrow, their first album in seven years. Three months later, RZA teased a group of 200 listeners with "the first, the last, the only public listening session" for the group's near-mythical seventh album, Once Upon a Time in Shaolin. There is only one copy of the LP, which will be sold on auction site Paddle8.com – and RZA claims he's already received offers up to $5 million.