Utopia has purchased global rights to “American Rapstar,” a look at the rise of SoundCloud rappers.
The film, which screened at such major festivals as SXSW, DOC NYC, and the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, pulls back the curtain on a group of lo-fi young artists, who boast a rebellious punk energy along with their colorful facial tattoos and penchant for prescription drug use. It’s a rising generation of talent such as Smokepurpp, Lil Xan, XXXTentacion, Lil Peep and Bhad Bhabie, all of whom have disrupted the music industry and used new technologies to grow their audience.
“American Rapstar” will begin streaming on Sept. 1, 2022 on Hulu. Utopia will present a global virtual screening via Altavod.com on Oct. 4, 2022 with exclusive bonus content available only on that day, before releasing the film on-demand on all platforms Oct. 11, 2022.
“I couldn’t be more excited to partner with Utopia for the release of ‘American Rapstar,’ a film that I believe fits right in with their slate of bold, provocative and fearless releases,” director Justin Staple said. “’American Rapstar’ presents an inside look at one of the most influential music scenes of the last decade — filled with young and boisterous characters, who will be remembered for their impact on modern pop culture forever. Through these figures, the film tackles the modern social issues that young people face today — from the opioid epidemic, to gun violence, to spiking anxiety and depression rates in a generation who often find themselves living their lives through their presence on social media.”
“We are excited to partner with Utopia who have been distributing some of the most compelling, artful films across the culture,” says Braxton Pope, producer of ‘American Rapstar.’ “Director Justin Staple has been embedded in the Soundcloud rap world for years and has brought his specific aesthetic and social anthropological instincts to the scene, capturing the full breadth of the forces that shaped these artists.”
“‘American Rapstar’ is a fascinating, emotional, and deeply resonant exploration of not only a globally influential music movement powered by youth culture and technology, but also the generation who both produces and consumes it,” says Danielle DiGiacomo, Utopia’s head of content. “It is a riveting and important film and cultural document with which Utopia is proud to be partnering on.”
A production of Ventureland, “American Rapstar” is produced by Braxton Pope and Kerstin Emhoff; executive produced by Ali Brown and John Battsek, with cinematography by Jake Moore, Michael Marius Pessah, and editing by Justin Staple.
This deal was negotiated by DiGiacomo for Utopia with producer Braxton Pope on behalf of the filmmakers.
Variety's Brent Lang contributed to this post.