Image credit: Getty/Marla Aufmuth
From the best-selling novel to the big screen, “On the Come Up” tells a dynamic hip-hop story that feels all too real — mostly because it stems from reality. Sana Raisen’s film based on Angie Thomas’ best-selling novel of the same name premieres on September 23. Newcomer Jamila C. Gray plays the film’s heroine, Brie, a high school student and battle rapper who dreams of listening to a music-shattering world. She also stars in the film with Lathan, Method Man, Lil Yachty, Mike Epps, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, GaTa, Miles Gutierrez-Riley, Titus Makin Jr. and Michael Anthony Cooper Jr..
“I also hope this will allow them to see the real Brees doing their thing and give them more respect and respect.”
Dubbed “A Love Letter to Hip Hop,” the film follows Thomas’ previous book-to-movie product, “The Hate You Give,” and revolves around Brie’s novel story from poverty to her little taste. Fame is all about giving her family a better life. While On the Come Up is a fictional story, Thomas told POPSUGAR that many of its elements were extensions of her younger self, but she never expected the novel to be turned into a film.
“I hope it will,” she shared. “The funny thing is that I was writing the book, ‘On the Come Up’, and I was on the set of ‘The Hate U Give’. In fact, one of the first people to read any part of On the Come Up was Amandla Stenberg. We were in the production tent and I had her read it on my phone. So I was working on it and I was very motivated to get it done because I also wanted to see it come to life…but you know, You never know where things are going. You never know filmmaking and production etc. A lot of times, everything is in place at the right time. Thanks to me, everything is in place at the right time with the right people.
Thomas shared that it “means a lot” to see people still invested in hip-hop stories, especially those told from the perspective of young black girls. “Women, especially black women, are ignored and sometimes disrespected in hip-hop, and that’s what we’re built on,” she noted. “We’re such an important part of the culture and we deserve respect. Knowing that people are watching this film, they’re seeing this young woman who found her strength and her voice through hip hop, and they’re It was an amazing feeling to leave with a deeper appreciation for the art form itself. But I also hope that it will allow them to see the real Brees who is doing their thing and give them more respect and respect.”
“On the Come Up” was written and inspired by Thomas. Read on to learn more about it and discover what prompted its author to turn part of her real life into an illuminating coming-of-age story.
Image credit: Paramount+
What is “coming soon” about?
In this book, 16-year-old Bri aspires to become one of the greatest rappers of all time — or at least gain enough fame to get her and her family out of her ghetto. The daughter of an underground rap legend who was killed in his prime, everyone expected Brie to carry the torch in his name and sweep the battle rap scene. With her mother recently out of work and the family’s bills piling up, Bri decides to chase her rap dreams so she can end the family’s financial hardships. However, when her big success leads her down a dangerous path, she must choose to either stay true to herself or defer to the “fake gangster” image the music industry is trying to impose on her.
Is Coming Soon based on a true story?
According to Thomas, she was “inspired to write ‘On the Come Up’ for several reasons” – one of which was that her life mirrored its protagonist. “I was a lot like Bri when I was 16,” she shared. “I want to be a rapper and I think it’s a way to get my family out of poverty. We’re in financial trouble and I think it’s a good way to get us out of it. Because when I watch TV I listen to Radio, people who look like me, they call it a rapper. That’s what I think is the best way to be a storyteller. So at 16, I wanted to be a rapper. But Bri’s story was also influenced by Inspired by a lot of censorship due to my first novel, The Hate You Give. It is one of the most banned books, and even now there are more people trying to ban it to silence me.”
Thomas’ real-life censorship played a big role in the episodes of “On the Come Up,” as Bri also faced people who tried to shut down her music for “inciting violence.” “I wanted to write this story about a young black girl who had someone trying to silence her and people focused more on how she was talking than what she was saying,” Thomas added. “I think it’s important to highlight that and talk about what it means and how people feel when they don’t want to hear what you have to say, because it makes them uncomfortable and the message that’s being sent to you. Also, take back the power and say, ‘You know ? I’m going to stand by my truth, no matter what people think ‘What do you mean? So to me, this story, feels like the right time to say the right thing.'”
“On the Come Up” is now airing on Paramount+.