Westside Gunn and Benny the Butcher Rank Street Films

Gunn, would this Rick James show be an original television series or a documentary?

Westside Gunn: A television series. I don’t want to talk too much, but we’ve been talking twice a week to make this happen. Rick James’s brother was also his attorney, so he knows everything from the day Rick was born to the day Rick passed. Everything legally, everything he ever got into in the streets, music, whatever, he was right there. So it’s just like hearing all the stories from the horse’s mouth. Of course Rick James is a legend, but the story is even more legendary—like, a two or two-and-a-half hour film wouldn’t be able to capture it all. So it started off as a movie, but it’s just too much, even just the different people in his life. You could do one one piece of his life and it would take up two hours, so he had to change it into a series.

Back to the Roc-A-Fella films. I’m curious as to which one you think is the best?

Westside Gunn: There’s nothing better than Paid in Full.

Benny the Butcher: It’s gotta be Paid in Full for me.

I agree, but tell me why you put Paid in Full above the rest.

Westside Gunn: Too authentic. It’s real life. We’re street dudes, so of course we’ve heard the stories and read the articles and all of that. But just to see it play out was fire and the acting was legendary. Meki Phifer, Cam’ron, the homie Wood Harris. They got so deep into character that you forgot they were acting. And that’s what I love about movies: when you forget they’re even acting, you really think that they’re the characters. Flawless performances, flawless direction. That’s some shit you could literally just put on right now or if it’s on TV, you’re not going to skip. As soon as you see Paid in Full, you’re going to leave it on that channel. It’s a classic.

What are some of your other favorite street films?

Westside Gunn: I mean, Paid in Full is definitely probably top three, but I love I’m Bout It. Master P did his thing with that. I had never been to New Orleans at that point, so seeing it made it feel like I was there. And then you can’t even speak on like Juice, Boyz n the Hood, and Menace ll Society because those are all too easy. I watch little joints like the YG movie, Blame It On the Streets [laughs]. Of course Streets Is Watching; that’s a classic. Murda Muzik, the Mobb Deep movie. I like watching the joints that are set in Detroit and Cleveland.

It’s interesting that you didn’t just mention the classics or the layups that automatically come to mind. Benny, what about you?

Benny the Butcher: All the same joints. You know there’s like a Mount Rushmore of hood classics, give or take two or three joints. But lately I’ve been on the Detroit films— Murda [Pain] has made a lot of shit. I’ve been watching a lot of them on Hulu and Amazon. I’ve been on that heavy.

Westside Gunn: Detroit has the illest hood movies.

I have to ask a tough question: which do you think is better: Boyz n the Hood or Menace ll Society?

Westside Gunn: Aw man, that’s a crazy question. That’s not even right. That’s a Biggie-2Pac question. That’s not even fair. I can’t say.

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