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It’s a Hard Knock Life: Annie Hip-Hop Remake

Two things that usually don’t go together: hip-hop and Broadway musicals.  Nonetheless, the two marry in the upcoming remake of the classic musical, Annie.  A recently released trailer stars Jamie Fox as Benjamin Stacks, a wealthy businessman and political candidate who rescues 11-year-old foster-kid Annie (the irrepressible Quvenzhane Wallis) from tyrannical orphan mistress Miss Hannigan (Cameron Diaz).  How appropriate that the Sony picture is produced by Will Smith (Overbrook Entertainment) and the Jiggaman himself.  Jay-Z’s 1998 smash hit, “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)”, sampled the original Annie musical –making him one of very few rappers to successfully mesh the hard core streets of hip-hop with the razzle dazzle of Broadway.

The Will Gluck-written and directed picture is about a billionaire New York mayoral candidate, Benjamin Stacks, who bumps into Annie on the streets of Harlem.  He asks her, “Why are you running?”  She answers, “It gets me places faster!”  Benjamin takes her in as a potential boon to his political strategy saying, “The more we’re seen together, the better it is for my campaign.”  From the official synopsis, “Stacks believes he’s her guardian angel, but Annie’s self-assured nature and bright, sun-will-come-out-tomorrow outlook on life just might mean it’s the other way around.”  From the trailer, we also see that Cameron Diaz’s Miss Hannigan may be just as crazy (if not as hilariously comical) as Carroll Burnett in the original 1982 film.  Cameron mugs and overacts a lot, but her line, “The only thing you can taste is not that taste,” brings snickers.

The original Annie film is about plucky red-headed orphan Annie (Aileen Quinn) who can’t catch a break during The Great Depression.  She still keeps everyone’s spirits lifted despite the misery of Ms. Hannigan and the miserly-ness of Daddy Warbucks (Albert Finny).  At that time Annie was an ode to Shirley Temple who lifted America out of its 1930’s slump with her bright smile, curly locks and tap dancing.

In 2014, it’s Quvenzhane, a spunky African-American girl with bright eyes, afro puffs and hip-hop dancing who lifts America out of its Great Recession.  (The film was originally set to star Will Smith’s daughter Willow Smith).  It’s nice to see a little black girl saving an entire city, and it’s dope that she’s probably a street smart hustler. Feels authentic.

If Quvenzhane (of Beasts of the Southern Wild fame) has anything to do with it, look forward to a heartwarming movie with a little hip-hop edge to brighten up your 2014 holiday.  The sun will come out tomorrow, bet your bottom dollar on Quvenzhane!  Annie is slated for release December 2014.

 

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About the Author

on MUSIC IS MY OXYGEN WEEKLY.

Mic check 1,2,1,2. Not the words you expect to bust out of Orange County, California, but that's where Deborah Jane found her funk. Daughter of Guyanese immigrants, Deborah grew up in an all-white suburb where she was one of the only black kids in her school. (Fun fact: She didn't make her first black friend until attending Stanford University). Hip-hop gave her a voice and helped her discover her roots. Now she is an emcee and writer who both spits raps and writes editorials, TV shows and films - especially hip-hop musicals!

At Stanford, she wrote and produced an award-winning hip-hop musical, Strange Fruit: The Hip-Hopera (www.strangefruithiphopera.com) - now in development as a feature film. Deborah also launched her hip-hip theatre webseries, The HOTT (www.youtube.com/TheHOTTtv), published in Urban Cusp Magazine. Currently, she is penning her first hip-hop album, Do You Love Me Deborah Jane? And do you? She truly hopes you all love her.

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