Why You Need To See Def Jam’s “The Show” Again [FLASHBACK FRIDAY]

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In 1995 Russell Simmons teamed with director Brian Robbins and producer Mike Tollin (Tollin/Robbins Productions) to create Def Jam’s Hip-Hop documentary “The Show.”

“The Show” was both about giving fans insight into the lives of the most prominent Rap acts of the time as well as a live performance film a la “Wattstax.” “The Show” was scored by the legendary Stanley Clarke and while it featured interviews with old school legends like Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Melle Mel & The Furious Five and Kurtis Blow it focused mainly on The Notorious B.I.G., Wu Tang Clan, Warren G and Run DMC. “The Show” hit theaters on August 20th and even though the film had a powerhouse director & producer and prominently featured the vaunted Def Jam logo, it did poorly at the box office, grossing less than $3 million dollars after only six weeks in theaters.

One of the key reasons the film underperformed could be attributed to the fact “Yo! MTV Raps” had its final show on August 17th, 1995. Without Def Jam having MTV in its corner to help promote the film to a larger audience, it instead did dreadfully and was prone to heavy bootlegging. The opening sequence with Russell Simmons visiting Slick Rick in prison and the scene with Method Man arguing with U God were first viewed on bootleg VHS tapes in the hood rather than on the silver screen.

While the film itself floundered at the box office, the soundtrack went platinum in only two months after its August 15th release date. Much of this success can be attributed the classic Redman and Method Man collaboration “How High,” which anchored the playlist.


Almost 18 years later, Def Jam’s “The Show” ultimately stands as an important Hip-Hop documentary that forever trapped Hip-Hop’s Second Golden Era in amber for future generations of Rap and Hip-Hop fans to view and experience some of the greats speak and perform their classic material live.

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