F. Scott Fitzgerald spent his final years as a failed Hollywood scriptwriter, never having produced the seminal work of American letters on black America’s hip-hop aristocracy he’d always dreamed of writing. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity, waiting to be optioned. Had he, like producer Andrew Lauren—son of Ralph Lipschitz—grown up “summering in the Hamptons” (as G‘s press release states), perhaps Fitzgerald would have realized how easy it could be to bleed old-sport Gatsby of its death-of-the-American-dream theme and squeeze out a hacky romantic drama instead. The potential existed to unpack some socioeconomic baggage: the (fraught?) relationship between an entrenched black elite and a rap nouveau riche, or even hip-hop’s conspicuously label-conscious consumption. Nah, here dudes break out Plexiglas nunchakus when angered. One ‘hood-rich-meets-blue-blood-rich scene is employed as comedic throwaway; it’s also the film’s truest. The rest: treacly orchestral swells for the brooding, oh-so-familiar impresario, Summer G, and no green light but the one mistakenly given to start production.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 25, 2005