Released On October 25, 1985, Krush Groove is Loosely based on the rise of media mogul Russell Simmons and the pioneering Def Jam Recordings. Distributed by Warner Brothers, the 97 minute Michael Shultz directed film depicted the vibrancy of New York’s emerging movie, black music scene. Written by Ralph Farquhar, production on the film was done by Simmons, George Jackson, And Doug McHenry. Simmons, whose character was brilliantly portrayed by then newcomer Blair Underwood, also made cameo in the film as a club owner. Additional cameos were made by Paul Anthony and B-Fine of the iconic singing group Full Force, and the Beastie Boys. Filmed in Hip Hop’s birthplace of the Bronx, New York, Krush Groove featured many iconic locations, among these was the iconic famous Disco Fever.
In the movie, Simmons signed all of the hottest acts to his Krush Groove label with legendary producer Rick Rubin serving as the in-house producer. These acts included Hip Hop pioneers, Run DMC, Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde and the King of Rap, Kurtis Blow. Challenges arise when Run-D.M.C. scores thier first hit record and Russell doesn’t have the money to press records. In Dire Straits, he reluctantly borrows money from a street hustler who terrorizes him for repayment. To give the film a softer side, Russell and his brother Run go through great lengths competing for the heart of famed musician Sheila E.
Although packed with musical prowess, the scenarios in the movie conflicted with reality. For example, Simmons started his career on the quest to catapult his creation Rush Management to stellar status, and Def Jam was started by Rubin in 1984 in his college dorm at NYU. However, The movie, shows Simmons already being teamed up with Rubin to form Def Jam, which was renamed Krush Groove Records. Another major example was the involvement of producer Larry Smith. Larry Smith was the producer of Run-D.M.C.’s first two albums, with the second album featuring the massive hit “King of Rock”. Despite Smith’s role as producer, he is not portrayed in the film at all.
Another noticeable absence was that of pioneering Hip hop group Whodini. Despite being part of the Rush Management vehicle, the group does not appear in the film, nor are they mentioned. Although the Fat Boys, Sheila E, and New Edition contributed to the fresh new scene, they were featured in the film, but not part of the Rush Management roster, which was confusing to fans.
Another example was the discovery of LL Cool J. Then 17, LL portrayed himself in the film as was discovered through performing his hit “I Can’t Live without My Radio,” during an audition in front of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Jam Master Jay, DMC and Rubin. In reality, LL Cool J was discovered in Rubin’s apartment with the help of Beastie Boy King Ad-Rock, not an audition. LL’s discovery, is also what catapulted Def Jam’s success.
The accompanying soundtrack also generated substantial buzz. Peaking at peaked at #79 on the Pop chart, and #14 on the R&B chart, the album featured many songs by artists appearing in the film, but also a few that were not such as, Chaka Khan, Debbie Harry, and the Gap Band.
Krush Groove was released on DVD in 2003. Among the special features included on the DVD are commentary from Blair Underwood and Michael Schultz. Although the film received mixed reviews by critics and fans alike, the undeniable talent featured throughout, made it an all around enjoyable film, and a permanent staple in Hip Hop culture.