Chance the Rapper is back and ready to once again try his hand at the film world — after starring in A24’s pizza-delivery thriller Slice, Chance will be the producer at the center of Hope, a new movie musical to be developed by MGM. According to Deadline, the film will follow “a group of Chicago teenagers that band together to turn art into action within their community.”
However, Chance is not the only notable member working on this project. Penning the script is Carlito Rodriguez, whose work includes writing for Fox’s Empire and HBO’s The Leftovers. As for the music, Grammy-winning songwriter and producer Nico Segal will be in charge of writing the film’s original songs. By working together on this collective project, these collaborators may hold the key to creating a fresh, unique endeavour that stands apart from what is currently being done in the industry.
While Chance is known mostly for his musical ventures (if his stage name is any indication), he is consistently praised for his position as an innovator in music. In 2017, he became the first streaming-only artist to win a Grammy for his album “Coloring Book,” and while his music is primarily considered hip-hop, he is known for his seamless incorporation of elements of jazz and gospel music into his work. Being a leader in the industry is something that will elevate Chance’s contributions to this film, especially while in the role of a producer.
One way in which this will likely take form is the move to make this film a hip-hop musical. Based on the musical backgrounds of both Chance and Segal, to do this would be a no-brainer and will most likely shape the direction in which this project is headed. Segal has worked with Chance previously and both are members of the hip-hop collective SaveMoney. Their combined expertise in the genre could result in the creation of a successful rap musical, a genre that has had little exploration in film. The craze over Broadway production “Hamilton,” one of the few well-known examples of a hip-hop musical, is a testament to the mass appeal a film of this sort could have among audiences.
Furthering the team’s capabilities to make this kind of film is the presence of one of the project’s other producers, Scott Bernstein, who worked as a producer on 2015 biopic Straight Outta Compton. This was a heavily rap-influenced film, being a biopic about hip-hop group N.W.A, so Bernstein will already have knowledge on what it is to make a film with this genre of music at its center. In terms of integrating the music with plot, Rodriguez’s experience on Empire means he is already very familiar with writing in a way that incorporates frequent musical performance.
In addition to this team’s potential to create something incredibly original with the format, there is something powerful that could be done with the film’s plot regarding social activism. Despite the plot’s currently limited description, the film’s team has the capacity to make a powerful political statement — Chance has long been an activist figure, and began a campaign in 2014 alongside his father called “#SaveChicago,” which sought to diminish gun violence in Chicago over Memorial Day Weekend and resulted in the city going 42 hours without a gun-related homocide. Both Chance and Segal have also publicly spoken out against Donald Trump’s presidency, with Segal even dropping his former stage name Donnie Trumpet after the results of the election were announced.
So long Donnie Trumpet
— nico (@nicosegal) November 9, 2016
Beyond politics, Chance has also been an advocate for “empower[ing] youth through the arts, education, and civic engagement” and created the organization Social Works for this purpose, raising millions of dollars for Chicago Public Schools. This sort of dedication to pressing social issues means the ability to give the film an authentic, empowering message — one that might actually inspire audiences to go out into the world and do good.
Spearheaded by Chance, this team has the background and the passion to create and fulfill a unique vision that is unlike anything audiences have seen before. To bring ideas of social change to fruition in a hip-hop musical could result in an effective and groundbreaking film if done well. Hopefully, Chance and his team will pull their strengths together to make this a film that has a lasting and memorable impact.