On Jan. 26, Ava DuVernay introduced a tribute to the late Nipsey Hussle at the 2020 Grammy Awards that included performances by Meek Mill, DJ Khaled and John Legend — but the Emmy-winning director has much more planned.
Sources say DuVernay is working on a Hussle documentary for which Netflix has won the rights. The late Grammy-winning rapper, whose real name was Ermias Joseph Asghedom, was fatally shot in March 2019 in Los Angeles at the age of 33. In addition to his critically acclaimed music, which included the Interscope album Victory Lap, Hussle had become a community activist in his native South Los Angeles and, at the time of his death, had shifted his focus to preventing gang violence.
DuVernay is no stranger to the documentary form, having directed the Oscar-nominated 13th, which shines a light on the injustice of mass incarceration of African Americans and Latinos. During the 2017 awards-season campaign for the film, DuVernay enlisted Hussle as a panelist to offer his perspective on how the for-profit prison system was decimating inner-city communities.
Prior to the Netflix pickup, Apple was poised to be in the lead position for the Hussle doc, with other streamers including Amazon also in the mix. (DuVernay previously worked with Netflix on 13th.) Still, the project wasn’t expected to fetch the same kind of money as Apple’s mammoth $26 million spend on a Billie Eilish film or Amazon’s $25 million on a Peter Berg-directed Rihanna doc. Sources said the Hussle bidding was in the teen millions. In fact, the music doc genre has become explosive in recent months, with the streamers creating the frenzy.
The late rapper’s family is participating in the doc, which will be produced by DuVernay and Hussle’s Marathon Films.