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We're dying to see ''Hustle & Flow''

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D.J. Qualls, Terrence Howard, ...
Hustle & Flow: Alan Spearman

We’re dying to see ”Hustle & Flow”

RELEASE DATE July 15

WHY WE CAN’T WAIT The buzz on this hip-hop drama, an audience-prize winner at Sundance, couldn’t be stronger. MTV Films, which won a record-setting bidding war for the distribution rights, believes it has another 8 Mile, or at least another indie smash like Napoleon Dynamite.

THE PREMISE Memphis pimp Djay (Terrence Howard, left, with DJ Qualls and Anthony Anderson) has an early midlife crisis and decides to become a rapper instead. But he learns that hip-hop, like pimpin’, ain’t easy.

SOURCE A screenplay by director Craig Brewer

THE BACKSTORY It probably didn’t hurt that Howard is a self-taught musician in real life. (A longtime supporting player in films like The Best Man, Howard was last seen on screen playing guitar opposite Jamie Foxx’s Ray Charles in Ray.) Still, Brewer drew the line at letting Howard contribute to Djay’s lyrics.

BURNING QUESTION Backed by the marketing savvy of MTV and the brand-name prestige of Sundance and producer John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood), can this low-star-wattage indie break through to an audience large enough to justify the hype?

COME FOR Howard’s star-making performance

STAY FOR The crunk. Not yet a fan of the burgeoning Southern rap genre? You will be once the film’s soundtrack embeds itself in your ears.

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