A few days ago several people on my Twitter timeline began venting their frustrations in reference to Soulja Boy playing the role of Bishop in what was billed as the sequel to Juice.
All I could do was shake my head.
It wasn’t because sequels rarely live up to the original (let us all pray Hangover 2 avoids this curse) and a movie like the aforementioned 1992 classic is better left untouched. Rather because Rule #210 in the Unwritten Rule Handbook of Hip Hop clearly states recreating Pac’s work and expecting it to be met with open arms is a lost cause. I specifically remember Hov catching flack for “’03 Bonnie And Clyde” and he already had Reasonable Doubt, Vol. 1 and Blueprint under his belt by that time. So for Soulja Boy, who has achieved his fair share of commercial success, yet largely considered a one trick pony long removed from his glory days, I knew this wouldn’t end well. I saw Young DeAndre on an episode of The Game once and his performance did not exactly conjure memories of Pac on A Different World. Channeling an inner-Bishop, one of the staple characters in urban film history? And all because of a mixtape by the same name and a haircut? That’s setting yourself up for failure.
Still, I refused to pay attention to such rumors, or at least what I perceived them to be at the time. Twitter said Aretha Franklin died last December and Kobe Bryant would miss the entire playoffs with an ankle injury only to have him to baptize Emeka Okafor the next day. The social networking giant’s track record was far from spotless. Then Soulja’s XXL interview surfaced.
XXLMag.com: Why did you decide to remake Juice and not Boyz N The Hood?
Soulja Boy: The Juice thing went along with my mixtape. I got the idea first for the mixtape. Let me tell you the whole story, I was in California watching the Juice movie and I called my barber to get the Bishop haircut. Then I TwitPiced the photo and everybody went, “Ahh, man, Soulja got the Juice cut.” So I knew I had to make a mixtape. So I got in the studio and got with DJ Scream, recorded the mixtape. 450,000 downloads the first two days. After that I was like, I need to do this movie. If I do this movie and I play Bishop, I’ma tear it up, man. At the same time I’m promoting me doing music in a positive way but at the same time I’ll be breaking into the acting field. Basically, killing the bird with one stone so that’s why I picked the Juice thing.
XXL: So who’s writing the screenplay?
SB: With the screenplay Rage [Dale Resteghini] just came off a $15 million dollar movie with 50 called Gun that they shot. So they shooting the movie. Rage is the same director from “Crank That (Soulja Boy)”and “Kiss Me Thru the Phone.” I told them how I wanted it to be, but they shooting everything. We already had a couple of film festivals reach out trying to get the official premiere. The Bel Air Film Festival, the Sundance Film Festival they want us to premiere the Juice film there. So we got a lot of options.
XXL: You’re shooting the film in Atlanta as opposed to New York but as far as the storyline are you sticking to the original script. For example, does Bishop still shoot the bodega owner?
SB: Actually that part is still happening where I shoot the dude in the head. There are just little details in the movie which are different. As far as the beginning of the movie they show Bishop’s nicer side where I see a little girl with her cat stuck in a tree. I get the cat. Then later on in the film when we’re about to go in and rob the bodega she sees me. I’m waiting for the last customer to walk out and she walks out and she looks at me in my eyes. I’m right there in the shadow with a gun, ‘bout to run into the store. Little things like that are different.
XXL: What did you particularly like about Pac’s role as Bishop?
SB: I was sitting and watching the movie and thought if I had to play anyone in the movie I had to play that part. I liked how 2Pac became the character. When he flipped out, that was my favorite character in the whole Juice movie.
XXL: You’ve obviously seen the film, have you’ve heard the soundtrack?
SB: Nah, I haven’t heard the soundtrack. I ain’t ever heard the Juice soundtrack. [XXL]
I’ve been alive for 25 years and nearly three months. Throughout that time, wishing on an individual’s downfall has never been one of my character traits. I’m trying to come up just like the next person, but ahhh man. Bless his heart. He’s going to need every prayer he can get.