Three 6 Mafia
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Hustle & Flow: From The Street to the Silver Screen

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Everyone loves a rags to riches story or at the very least a story about a character who’s trying to make a better life for him/herself. Hustle & Flow, a movie which came out in 2005, uses this same theme.  The central character, DJay, is a dope dealer and pimp who’s unhappy with his life. He acquires a small keyboard from a drug addict in exchange for some dope and that rekindles his love for music. In the course of the movie DJay learns of the success of a rapper from his neighborhood, and he quickly reacquaints himself with Key, a friend from high school, with the plan that music will be their way to a better life.


The movie takes us through the struggles that DJay goes through as he tries to better his life through music. The acting in the film is brilliant but the real story is the soundtrack. Being a movie about a rapper it only makes sense that the soundtrack should contain a lot of hip hop and that’s exactly the case. We can safely assume that without the music the movie wouldn’t have been as successful as it was. The most intriguing scenes are where we see DJay and his collaborators putting together their music.


The breakthrough moment comes when the crew records the song It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp, a song whose concept we witness DJay coming up with as he’s walking down the street and chatting with Key. He raps about how he’s witnessed a lot of crazy things in his life and despite the fact that he’s aware that pimping is wrong he does it because he needs the money to live. It’s a song that perfectly captures so many feelings; humanity’s tendency to justify its wrongdoings, it’s the autobiography of any man who has faced struggles and moral dilemmas, and it’s a song that takes us into a world that many of us have never experienced.


Most importantly the song gives us insight into the motives of the central character, therefore allowing us to sympathize with him and understand why he lives the way he does. Later on we see DJay recording another song with the same title as the movie, Hustle & Flow, which takes us further into his life. He expresses his hunger as a budding artist and expresses that he will do whatever it takes to succeed life (more especially music).


Hustle & Flow went on to win the Best Original Song Academy Award for It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp making it second hip hop song to scoop the award. Eminem won the same award just 3 years prior. Three Six Mafia (the writers and producers of the song) performed It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp at the awards ceremony making them the first ever hip hop group to do so. Their scooping the award proved that the tide had changed in Hollywood. Hip hop entered the fold and in fact 2015’s Academy Award for Best Original Song went to a hip hop song.


The Hustle & Flow soundtrack was released o moderately low commercial success. The real story here is that that good music, no matter its origins, who performs it, or it’s musical and lyrical content, can break down barriers and move people so much that society is forced to change as did Hollywood thanks in part to Hustle & Flow’s soundtrack. Music that originated in the streets and was shunned for many years was now fully accepted on the silver screen.