Roc-A-Fella Film Division Kicks Into High Gear

Biopic of '80s Harlem drug dealers, starring Cam'ron, next on rap label's cinema slate.

After bringing the highs and lows of cross-country touring to the big screen with last year’s documentary “Backstage,” Roc-A-Fella Films is set for a second round of Hollywood swinging.
The movie company headed by Roc-A-Fella Records co-CEO Damon Dash hopes to release “Paid in Full” (working title) — based on the lives of infamous ’80s Harlem drug kingpins Rich Porter, Alberto “Alpo” Martinez and AZ — by early fall.
“The movie is about something I personally saw from a distance,” Harlem native Dash said. “These guys were real ghetto celebs. As I look at what’s going on today, I don’t think some people understand how influential Harlem was in the ’80s. How it’s still influential.”
Many current rappers can be heard referencing Porter, Alpo and AZ on their records, including Shyne, who often refers to himself as “Shyne-Po.”
Filmed on location in Harlem and Toronto, the movie, which stars Mekhi Phifer, Wood Harris and rapper Cam’ron (Dash’s longtime friend from Harlem, whom he also manages), started production late last summer and is on its last three days of re-shoots. While the picture — a joint venture with Dimension Films, as was “Backstage” — is semi-biographical, no real names will be used, Dash said.

In addition, Roc-A-Fella is gearing up to start production on the Lion’s Gate drama “The Criminals,” which stars Beanie Sigel and will feature his Dynasty family members Jay-Z and Memphis Bleek. Beans also appears a movie titled “Get Down or Lay Down,” which is scheduled to come out this year. Dash has a film in development with Universal pictures called “Paper Soldiers.”
There’s more music in store from the Team Roc, of course, with Beanie Sigel’s The Reason set to drop on June 12 and a release from newcomer Freeway following later in the year.
As for the possible tour headlined by Jay-Z and R. Kelly (see “Ja Rule Lines Up Movies, Hopes To Tour With Jay-Z” ), Dash said it’s still in the works, “but you know how these tour things go.”