Russell Simmons Bringing Hip-Hop Classics to Broadway - Rolling Stone
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Russell Simmons Bringing Hip-Hop Classics to Broadway

Def Jam mogul links with hip-hop historian-author Dan Charnas for new musical, ‘The Scenario’

Russell SimmonsRussell Simmons

Russell Simmons attends the 2015 Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills, California on February 22nd, 2015.

Larry Busacca/VF15/Getty

Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons wants to take the rap game to Broadway.

The hip-hop magnate revealed details about a new musical on the early days of hip-hop titled The Scenario. The show will feature the genre’s greatest hits from the mid-1980s to the beginning of the millennium.

Simmons will produce the show along with Tony-award winning producer Scott Prisand. Prisand formerly produced Rock of Ages, the Broadway revue about rock culture in the 1980s, which just finished a six-year run.

Hip-hop historian/author Dan Charnas has been drafted to write the show’s story. Charnas is the author of The Big Payback, the critically acclaimed book chronicling the creation of the rap industry and began his career as an A&R man for Profile Records, where he worked with Run-DMC and Dana Dane.  

The Scenario marks Simmons’s second theatrical venture following a Broadway adaptation of his hit HBO show Def Poetry Jam in 2002, for which he won a Tony award.

Simmons helped turn hip-hop from niche genre to cultural phenomenon with the co-founding and expansion of Def Jam Recordings, the vaunted label home to Run-DMC, LL Cool J and Beastie Boys, among many others. Simmons went on to found the Def Comedy franchise, which helped bolster the careers of comedians like Dave Chappelle, Kevin Hart and Jamie Foxx.

While the show’s music has not been finalized, Simmons told The New York Times that it’s likely that music from Def Jam artists will be featured in the show. Simmons hopes to premiere The Scenario in late 2016.


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