Rap music would not be where it is without Tupac Shakur, the legendary rapper whose music combined personal experiences and social commentary into fiery tracks. His enduring influence and legacy are set to be the focus of two upcoming biopics centered on his life and story. These films will be coming out in the foreseeable future, effectively acting as follow-ups to last year's NWA-centered hit, Straight Outta Compton.
All Eyez On Me
The first movie about Tupac's life will be the biopic All Eyez On Me, named after Tupac's fourth and most successful studio album.
Before its first trailer hit the internet on what would have been Tupac's 45th birthday, All Eyez On Me was subjected to multiple delays brought about by the legal battles centered on the rights to Tupac's story and music. In 2009, production house Morgan Creek Productions tried to sue Tupac's mother Afeni Shakur for the rights to her son's music. In October 2015, the movie's producer Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films sued Morgan Creek for breach of contract when the latter began casting and production for All Eyez On Me without the producer's knowledge and blessing. As of this writing, the legal problems have been settled and accounted for.
All Eyez On Me will chronicle the struggles and hardships a young Tupac Shakur encountered when growing up to become a rap superstar. The biopic will also revolve around the heated social and political climate created as police brutality targets African-Americans, a timely topic given today's current events and tensions.
Music director Benny Boom directed All Eyez On Me. Prior to the Tupac biopic, Boom directed music videos for famous rappers such as 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Nas and Nikki Minaj. He made his film debut with the comedy movie Next Day Air. Before Benny Boom landed the biopic gig, many other prominent directors were attached to All Eyez On Me, including Training Day director Antoine Fuqua, Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton and Devil in a Blue Dress director Carl Franklin. All three left production due to creative differences with the biopic's producers.
Newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr. stars as Tupac Shakur in his first major role. All Eyes On Me will also feature Danai Gurira (Michonne in The Walking Dead) as Afeni Shakur, Harold House Moore (Terrence Franks in Single Ladies) as Dr. Dre, and Jamal Woolard as Tupac's rival Biggie Smalls aka The Notorious B.I.G. - a role which Woolard already played before in Biggie Smalls' own biopic, Notorious.
Check out the latest trailer for All Eyes On Me below. This trailer was released on the 20th anniversary of Tupac's death.
If All Eyez On Me shows how Tupac came to be, Labyrinth will deal with the rapper's impact and the fallout following his death in 1996. Labyrinth follows Los Angeles based detective Russell Poole as he investigates the murders of Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. Compared to the biopic All Eyez On Me, expect Labyrinth to have a procedural structure, given the background and personal history of its detective protagonist.
While investigating Biggie Smalls's death, Poole found evidence tying cops to Tupac's recording company Death Row Records and its controversial CEO, Suge Knight. Suge Knight has been accused of masterminding Biggie Smalls's death as retaliation for Tupac's assassination, though no concrete evidence has surfaced. The LAPD forced Poole to cease all investigations of their own people, which led to his resignation. Now a private investigator, he would later appear in documentaries covering the deaths of the rap stars before dying from a heart attack in 2015.
Johnny Depp is set to bring Russell Poole to life in Labyrinth. This is a far cry from his famously eccentric roles like Jack Sparrow from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and more in line with his darker and unconventional portrayals of real-life criminals, like the violent gangster James "Whitey" Bugler from Black Mass or Prohibition-era bank robber John Dillinger in Public Enemies. Labyrinth will give Depp a chance to break from his usual mold and explore more character-driven acting avenues once again.
The upcoming Labyrinth will be directed by Brad Furman, the director behind critically acclaimed legal dramas and crime movies such as The Lincoln Lawyer and The Infiltrator. The combination of the two who have proved themselves in well-received movies about the lives of infamous criminals gives Labyrinth a creative edge and possible Oscar recognition. Depp and Furman will be working on Christian Contreras' script based on the journalistic account LAbyrinth: A Detective Investigates the Murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G., the Implication of Death Row Records' Suge Knight, and the Origins of the Los Angeles Police Scandal written by Randall Sullivan.
Labyrinth currently has no release date since production has yet to begin. This Russell Poole biopic may serve as a good companion piece to All Eyez On Me and serve as an alternate perspective and look at the life and death of one of the most iconic rappers in the entire music scene.