Jay-Z To Bring Gangsters To Big Screen

While the documentary of his "Hard Knock Life" tour won't arrive in theaters until next month, Jay-Z is already looking ahead to his next big-screen project.

The rapper plans to produce a feature based on the lives of some of New York's real-life uptown gangsters, many of whom have served as inspiration to the legions of MCs who have emulated the infamous thugs in their rhymes.

Mekhi Phifer ("Shaft," "I Still Know What You Did Last Summer," and "Soul Food") has been tapped to star in the film, which looks to begin shooting later this year.

Meanwhile, Jay-Z's "Hard Knock" documentary, "Backstage," is scheduled to hit theaters on September 6. As we previously reported, Jay has been screening the film for some of his colleagues, which reveals what he and his tourmates DMX, Redman, Method Man, and the entire "Hard Knock" crew went through in putting together one of the biggest hip-hop tours of all time (see "Jay-Z, Aaliyah

Head 'Backstage' As Film Finds Opening").