Looking Back When Krush Groove Was First Released In Theaters

Krush Groove Review

“Krush Groove,” a 1985 American musical comedy-drama, stands as a significant film in the hip-hop genre. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, the film was written by Ralph Farquhar and directed by Michael Schultz. Schultz also co-produced the movie alongside George Jackson and Doug McHenry. Loosely based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings and the rise of record producer Russell Simmons (renamed Russell Walker for the film and portrayed by Blair Underwood in his feature film debut), “Krush Groove” offers a stylized glimpse into the world of hip-hop music and culture. Simmons himself was involved as the film’s co-producer and story consultant, even making a cameo appearance as a club owner named Crocket.

What most young hip-hop fans do not realize about the film Krush Groove is the significant trouble it caused in movie theaters when it was first released. If you were young, you could not tell your mama that you were going to see Krush Groove in the theaters. There were fights everywhere as rival gangs who flocked to see the film ended up in some extreme brawls in front of shocked patrons. It was similar to the trouble that theaters faced when Al Pacino’s Scarface was released in theaters a few years earlier.

One of the key aspects of “Krush Groove” is its authentic portrayal of the 1980s hip-hop scene. The film serves as a time capsule, capturing the essence of the era’s urban music scene. Its depiction of the struggles of launching a record label and the complexities of the music industry provides a gritty, realistic perspective often glossed over in mainstream portrayals.

The plot of “Krush Groove” revolves around Russell Walker, who has successfully signed all the hottest acts to his Krush Groove record label, including Run-D.M.C., Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde (Alonzo Brown), and Kurtis Blow, with Rick Rubin producing their records. However, when Run-D.M.C. has a hit record and Russell lacks the funds to press records, he borrows money from a street hustler. Simultaneously, a romantic subplot unfolds, with Russell and his brother Run both vying for the affections of R&B singer-percussionist Sheila E. The film features appearances by numerous other artists, including LL Cool J, Beastie Boys, New Edition, The Fat Boys, and songs from Chaka Khan, Debbie Harry, and the Gap Band. Additionally, members of the R&B group Full Force cameo as bodyguards.

The cast includes several artists playing themselves, such as Sheila E., Rev Run, Run-DMC, The Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow, and New Edition. Also notable are LL Cool J, Russell Simmons, Richard Gant, Lisa Gay Hamilton, and Rick Rubin, among others. The film features uncredited appearances by Chris Rock and Kara Vallow, with Coati Mundi seen as a record shop owner.

“Krush Groove” departs from historical accuracy in several aspects. The film depicts Simmons as already partnered with Rick Rubin to form Def Jam, here called Krush Groove Records, whereas, in reality, Rubin started the label in his college dorm in 1984. Larry Smith, not Rubin, produced Run-D.M.C.’s first two albums. LL Cool J’s discovery also differs from reality, where he was found through a demo tape rather than an audition. The Fat Boys’ name origin and discovery, Russell Simmons’ financial struggles, and the romantic storyline between Simmons and Sheila E. are also fictionalized for dramatic effect.

Filmed over 26 days in April 1985 in The Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens, “Krush Groove” was produced on a budget of $3 million. Locations included the famous Disco Fever club, which was shut down by local authorities on the last day of shooting. The film’s production was marked by LL Cool J’s persistent freestyling at shooting locations, leading to his inclusion in the movie.

Despite receiving mixed reviews and holding a 43% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “Krush Groove” has a notable place in hip-hop culture. Its soundtrack, released by Warner Bros. Records, features a blend of hip hop, synth-pop, and R&B, with contributions from artists like Chaka Khan, LL Cool J, and Kurtis Blow. The album peaked at number 79 on the Pop chart and number 14 on the R&B chart. However, the film was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song for “All You Can Eat.”

The movie was released on VHS in 1986 and DVD in 2003, with special features including commentary from Underwood, Schultz, and others. “Krush Groove” has also been referenced in other films, such as “Dogma” (1999) and “House Party” (1990), underlining its impact on popular culture and the hip-hop community.

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