Hey Rappers, Make These Musicals
Confirmed last spring, America’s one true poet laureate Jay-Z will be in charge of creating new music for the upcoming remake of Annie. Produced by Will Smith and starring his, why-didn’t-you-just-name-her-Junior, offspring Willow, the film will take place in contemporary New York and almost invariably be more interesting than the original, with a better soundtrack. (Theatre weenies are encouraged to leave your raging, snobby disdain in the comments below, and also to shut the fuck up about your undergrad performance in My Fair Lady already.)
As I am both a tremendous hip-hop fan and someone who at one time ran a spotlight for her high school theatre troupe, it struck me that more rap artists should put their spin on classic Broadway musicals. Because they would be better. More relatable. And probably feature more strippers. Observe:
West Side Story by A$AP Mob and Brick Squad: A$AP mob are the Jets, led by A$AP Rocky’s Tony, who falls in love with Waka Flaka’s Maria and loses his/her love by murdering Lex Looger as Fernando with a semi-auto instead of a dinky switchblade. Would “America” be a better song produced by Looger? Yes. Do I mostly want to see Waka in a dress half-rapping half-shouting “I Feel Pretty”? Also yes. And what I get off to is none of your business.
The Wiz by Whiz Khalifa: A, you could call it The W(h)iz Khalifa and B, you could keep the same story until Whiz and his pals make it to the poppy field. Then they get high as hell and forget where they were walking and come up with hooks about colors for the last half hour of the show. College freshmen will think it’s brilliant. No one else will understand the appeal.
Urinetown by R Kelly: Sure, technically R Kelly’s an R&B artist, but come on. Urinetown. Urinetown!
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee by Clipse: First of all: how fucking good is Clipse? I’m hard pressed to come up with a rap duo with better flow or vocabulary— who else rhymes “gratuitous” in a song about slinging blow? Throw these two a musical about words, and I promise you will have a better product than the one you started with. Can you use “wamp wamp” in a sentence, please?
The Sound Of Music by Wu-Tang Clan: At first I was going to suggest assorted members of the clan as the VonTrapp children and keeping most of the plot. Then I realized The RZA would just remix all the music into something more suitable to a kung-fu flick’s soundtrack, so why not just go with it? Let the RZA do his thing, put the rest of the Wu in nun habits, and have them trade off verses explaining the solfege scale as they brawl with Nazis through the entire second act.
Hairspray by Nicki Minaj: Partially because the show has a lot to do with race and gender roles and elaborate wigs, but mostly I’d like Ms. Minaj to remake Hairspray because anything that keeps her making music instead of a reality TV show is a blessing upon mankind. Even if it means Big Sean gets a guest spot. I’m desperate, people.
Children Of Eden by Busta Rhymes: Prove to me Busta Rhymes isn’t god. Go ahead, do it. You can’t. Because you can’t prove a negative and that’s a terrible rhetorical defense. What I’m saying is Busta Rhymes writing through the lens of god would be great and potentially autobiographical and whenever the show’s pacing got sloppy Busta could just blow through the act at forty-five words per second and ultimately leave the audience more satisfied than if they had to sit through three hours of flamboyant Sunday school.
Jesus Christ Superstar by Kanye West: If Kanye West had an excuse to crucify himself in front of thousands of people, he’d take it. As I write this I realize this isn’t far outside the realm of possibility; kill me. Better yet, buy me tickets.