Krush Groove

Krush Groove
Krush Groove
Directed by Michael Schultz
Produced by Michael Schultz
George Jackson (producer)
Russell Simmons
Written by Ralph Farquhar
Starring Sheila E.
The Fat Boys
Kurtis Blow
New Edition
Beastie Boys
Music by David Lombard
Cinematography Ernest Dickerson
Editing by Jerry Bixman
Conrad M. Gonzalez
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release date(s) October 25, 1985
Running time 97 min.
Language English

Krush Groove is a 1985 Warner Bros. film, written by Ralph Farquhar and directed by Michael Schultz (who also produced the movie, along with George Jackson and Doug McHenry). This film is based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings and up-and-coming record producer Russell Simmons (re-named Russell Walker in the film), portrayed by Blair Underwood in his feature film debut. Russell Simmons was the film's co-producer and story consultant; he also has a cameo role in the film as a club owner named Crocket.



In the movie, Russell Walker has signed all of the hottest acts to his Krush Groove record label, including Run-D.M.C., Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, and Kurtis Blow. Rick Rubin produces their records. When Run-D.M.C. has a hit record and Russell doesn't have the money to press records, he borrows money from a street hustler. At the same time, Russell and his brother Run are both competing for the heart of R&B singer-percussionist Sheila E. Also appearing in the film are LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, New Edition, the Fat Boys and some of their songs, as well as others from the likes of Chaka Khan, Debbie Harry, and The Gap Band. Members of the R&B band Full Force also make a cameo in the film as bodyguards.

Krush Groove is based on the non-fiction inception of the label Def Jam and the hardships that artists RUN DMC and Russell Simmons, played by Blair Underwood, faced to become successful. Originally, Russell started out his career trying to get his company Rush Management up and running. However in the movie he is shown as already being teamed up with producer Rick Rubin to form Def Jam records, referred to as Krush Groove records in the film. The label was originally started by Rick Rubin back in 1984 in his college dorm at New York University.[1] The movie starts off with Run-DMC and Kurtis Blow, known as the king of rap, as two of the first artists to be under the label with both Kurtis Blow and Run-DMC as both artist and song producers/writers.

The beginning of the movie is opened with Run-DMC in the studio performing “King of Rock” for Russell, Rick, and Kurtis Blow. However, Run DMC was not always involved in the Def Jam scene as shown in the movie, and Rick Ruben was not the producer of “King of Rock”. Run and D had to persuade both Russell and their original producer and bass player, Larry Smith, to give them a chance to record a demo.[2] With the lyrics that Larry Smith had once bought off of Run for $100, their first demo, “It’s Like That” was created.[3]

In the movie, the group also performs their track “My Adidas” from their album Raising Hell, created later after the success of the label, “Can You Rock it Like This”, and “You're Blind”. Run-DMC was known first rap act to produce cohesive, fully realized albums.[4] With their new style in music, Run- DMC was said to have created a new era of music, an era, which according to them, would not have been created without Larry Smith.[5] Larry Smith was the producer of Run-DMC’s first two albums that were falsely credited to Rick Rubin, who produced their third album Raising Hell.[6] However in the movie, Larry Smith role is not portrayed at all.

Later on the team was joined by its first popular teen sensation LL Cool J, who plays a very small role in the movie at the age of 17.[7] Playing himself, LL Cool J, is discovered through his piece “Radio” when performed at an audition in front of Russell, Curtis Blow, and Rick in Rick’s apartment. In reality, LL Cool J was discovered in Rick’s apartment but not through an audition. While going through a box of demos, Beastie Boy, Ad-Rock, stumbled across LL’s mix-tape song.[8] With this, he produced a beat and co- wrote “I need a beat” with LL and Rick, which launched the careers of both LL and Rick, allowing the Def Jam label to take off.[9] The song “I Can’t Live without My Radio” was conveniently made for the movie as a way for LL Cool J to star in it.[10] However this song was also one of the great hit songs in the album Radio produced by and was the title of LL’s first debut album released in November 18, 1985.[11]

Other artist that were a part of the Def Jam family but did not have a major role consisted of Beastie Boys, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, and Whodini. Characters that were not part of the Def Jam family but greatly contributed to this new era were the Fat Boys, Sheila E, and New edition. In the movie, there is a particular focus on Sheila E. and the Fat Boys that over -shines the small amount of attention focused on New Edition.

The Fat Boys were the first group to show case the human beat box while rapping.[12] In the movie, the group originally referred to themselves as the Disco 3. It was not till a scene in an Italian Buffet, where the three boys took the phrase “All you can eat” to the next level by eating everything. When the grouped realized this they were really fat they decided to give themselves the name “Fat Boys”. In reality, the name “Fat Boys” was suggested by their manager when he received a bill of $350 hotel bill for extra breakfast ordered by the boys on their European tour.[13] As portrayed in the movie the group was discovered through the Coca-Cola/Tin Pan Apple rap contest at Radio City Music Hall where the won the first place prize, a recording contract, but had entered the contest to win the second place prize a stereo set.[14] The boys perform their songs “Don’t You Dog Me”, “All You Can Eat”, “Fat Boys”, and “Pump it Up”.

Throughout the movie Sheila E. and Russell are romantically involved, which discouraged Run, who was always interested in her. In reality, Run did not like the concept of being disloyal to his brother, and the romance between Russell and Sheila was made up.[15] Sheila E. made it into the film simply because they wanted a love interest, like in most films, and she recorded for Warner Bros, the distributor of the film.[16] In the movie Sheila plays herself, a drummer and percussionist performing her hit songs “Holly Rock” and “Love Bizarre”. In addition, all the money issues that Russell faced in funding the label by borrowing from loan sharks and friends is also false.[17]

The movie was not made the way the artists desired, but with all the talent of that time and most of the members of the Def Jam Family, the purpose of the movie, according to Russell Simmons, was to showcase the array of young talent emerging from New York's black music scene, and depict its vibrancy.[18]


Krush Groove was filmed in the Bronx, New York (including at least one scene in the Marble Hill projects). Among the locations where the movie was shot was the famous Disco Fever, a popular club during the embryonic stages of hip hop that, by the time of the film, had fallen on some hard times. Disco Fever owner Sal Abbatiello expected the movie not only to turn the spotlight on the burgeoning hip-hop movement but also to "bring attention [back] to the club"[citation needed] and so agreed to have scenes shot there. Unfortunately, the attention surrounding the filming brought the scrutiny of the local authorities, who shut the club down for good on the last day of shooting for not having all the proper licenses and permits. There was also a scene shot in Shepard Hall of the historic City College of New York.

During an interview to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the film, Russell Simmons reflected on the legacy of Krush Groove and its position in hip-hop culture history. The film, Simmons said, is still recognizable not only for having brought together so many Def Jam stars at the time, but for also introducing new talent, such as LL Cool J. Cool J was so persistent during filming, showing up to shooting locations and performing freestyles, that producers ended up putting him in the final cut. This backdoor auditioning process became a staple of the production. “Other cats weren’t so lucky,” Simmons said. “We had this one cat who tried to be like LL, and we just couldn’t understand what his gig was. Dude was a total clown. He was wearing a clock around his neck way before Flav. Neon jumpsuits, everything. Of course our whole thing was black leather and adidas. That was the thing in rap at that time. He came in speaking some sort of pidgin English and just kept groping our female set workers. We called him ‘Hands’ at first cause we didn’t know what else to call him.” Simmons went out to explain that, after some time, they crew realized ‘Hands’ was actually speaking siSwati, a sister tongue to siZulu. “That’s when we called in Afrika Bambaataa, you know, cause this is ’84, right. The Zulu Nation was hot at that time, working that African infusion into everything, breakbeats, graffiti, peace in communities. We thought Afrika could translate. Nah, son. Ends up that dude doesn’t know a word of zulu.” As former crew members tells it, the rapper referred to himself as ‘Lishisa Lizambane’, siSwati for ‘Hot Potato’. Run of Run-DMC recalls “We didn’t know how he got to the Bronx, but apparently cat was from Africa. Like real Africa. As in, middle-of-nowhere Swaziland Africa.” ‘Hot Potato’ was a self-dubbed name, due to his penchant for passing himself around amongst ladies, not unlike the action of a real hot potato. As for his freestyles, Simmons claims he “had no idea what was happening, cause it was all jumbled up siSwati and English. He wouldn’t perform without a stick in his hand, occasionally made bird whistles, and randomly did high leg kicks for no reason. I remember thinking he was rappin’ about police, police, police. Come to find out, he just kept using this word ‘liphalishi’ which is some sort of a staple meal where he comes from. I kept thinking this clown was hard, but apparently he just kept rapping about food.” Due to the absurd nature of this unknown, producers couldn’t justify including one his performances in the final cut, out of fear of alienating their core audience. “We actually tried to film him in a scene once,” remembers Kurtis Blow, “but he kept putting his mug all up on Sheila E.” After filming, ‘Hot Potato’ was never seen from him again, although speculation is that he returned to native Swaziland. “Thats unfortunate,” says Simmons, “cause once Public Enemy came out we realized just how ahead of the game ‘Hands’... excuse me... ‘Hot Potato’ really was.”

The movie was released on DVD in 2003. Among the special extras included on the DVD are commentary from Underwood, Schultz, and The Source magazine Senior Editor Brett Johnson, a theatrical trailer for the movie, and the Krush Groove All-Stars video "Krush Groovin'."


The following appeared as themselves, except where noted:

Chris Rock appeared uncredited as a man standing next to phone during the fight in the club. Kara Vallow appeared uncredited as a Hip Hop Dancer. Coati Mundi was seen as a record shop owner.


The movie had a positive reception.[19][20]

Other references

This movie is referenced in the movie Dogma as being better than E.T. by Loki (Matt Damon).[21][22]


Krush Groove
Soundtrack album by Various Artists
Released October 24, 1985
Recorded 1984–1985
Genre Hip-hop
Length 45:00
Label Warner Bros.
Producer Rick Rubin
Kurtis Blow
Russ Titelman
Sheila E.
Lonnie Simmons
Russell Simmons
John Benitez
Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis
Michael Schultz film soundtracks chronology
Car Wash
Krush Groove
Singles from Krush Groove
  1. "(Krush Groove) Can't Stop the Street"
  2. "Feel the Spin"
  3. "Krush Groovin'"
  4. "Holly Rock"
  5. "She's on It"
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars [23]

Music from the Original Motion Picture Krush Groove (also called just Krush Groove Soundtrack) is a soundtrack album by various hip-hop artists, released on Warner Brothers Records in 1985. The album peaked at #79 on the Pop chart and #14 on the R&B chart. The Krush Groove soundtrack was released on Warner Bros. Records in 1985 and featured songs from the movie. Only 1,000 copies of the album were ever pressed on compact disc.[citation needed]

Track listing

  1. Chaka Khan—"(Krush Groove) Can't Stop The Street" (5:10)
  2. LL Cool J—"I Can't Live Without My Radio" (short version) (4:25)
  3. Kurtis Blow—"If I Ruled the World" (6:19)
  4. Fat Boys—"All You Can Eat" (3:27)
  5. Debbie Harry—"Feel the Spin" (4:01)
  6. Sheila E.—"Holly Rock" (4:57)
  7. Beastie Boys—"She's on It" (3:32)
  8. Gap Band—"Love Triangle" (4:47)
  9. Force MD's—"Tender Love" (3:55)
  10. Krush Groove All-Stars (Run-D.M.C., Sheila E., Kurtis Blow, Fat Boys)—"Krush Groovin'" (5:05)

Other songs appeared in the film but were not on the album soundtrack:

  • Autumn - "Kold Krush"
  • Run DMC - "King of Rock," "It's Like That", "Can You Rock it Like This," "You're Blind"
  • Fat Boys - "Don't You Dog Me," "Fat Boys," "Pump it Up (Let's Get Funky)"
  • Sheila E. - "A Love Bizarre"
  • UTFO - "Pick up the Pace" (released as the b-side of "All You Can Eat" on Warner Bros. Records 28829)
  • Nayobe - "Please Don't Go"
  • New Edition - "My Secret"
  • Chad Elliot - "I Want You to be My Girl"


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  2. ^'s_like_That_(Run%E2%80%93D.M.C._song)
  3. ^'s_like_That_(Run%E2%80%93D.M.C._song)
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  18. ^ Russell Simmons Biography - life, family, childhood, parents, history, wife, school, mother, young
  19. ^ Maslin, Janet (1985-10-25). "Krush Groove (1985)FILM: 'KRUSH GROOVE,' BY MICHAEL SCHULTZ". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  20. ^ "Good Rap, Bad Rap: Music Tops Plot In `Krush Groove`". Chicago Tribune. 1985-10-25. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  21. ^ Scott, A. O. (2000-04-02). "Film; Hip-Hop, How They Love Ya". The New York Times. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  22. ^ "Dogma". Entertainment Weekly.,,271586,00.html. Retrieved 2011-04-24. 
  23. ^ Krush Groove at Allmusic

External links

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