Hip-Hop Artist Turned Indie Filmmaker on the Sacrifices We Make for Art

PosterPaul Iannacchino, former rapper turned filmmaker, just finished production on his indie documentary, Adult Rappers. The film will feature some of hip-hop's lesser-known artists discussing life after hip hop, and how much of the time an artist has to be a hyphenate in order to hold on to their dream. A trailer has now been made available online. Click below to watch a teaser and read about how Iannacchino turned from rapper to filmmaker.

Check out this teaser for Iannacchino's Adult Rappers.

XXL covers Iannacchino's story. He was once signed to famed indie hip-hop producer El-P's label, Def-Jux. When he left the hip-hop world (a hard place to make a living), he started thinking about how many rappers were in the same position as him, not riding around in Bentleys, but taking the subway to work every morning. Like indie filmmakers, most rappers, even successful ones, have to have a side gig in order to make ends meet:

I mean, there are so many rappers now. That was part of the conversation when we first started, like, how could there be this many house painters? How does an industry sustain this many people? And you know not everybody is eating off of their music. There just isn’t enough pie...There are people who are totally comfortable living a decent life and having a house, and they just happen to be rappers. And that’s interesting and encouraging, and it leaves you with a sense of, “Oh, you can do it the right way and come out on the other side okay.” The flip side is someone like J-Zone, who really feels the obligation to demystify that fact and say, “You can do it the right way and be talented, but end up not getting s#%t.” That happens more often than not, but those are the stories you don’t hear.

Substitute the word "filmmaker" for "rapper" and you can see what I'm getting at. Luckily for Iannacchino, his film surpassed its Kickstarter goal of $10,000 last week, just wrapped production, and is looking to premiere at festivals later this year.

The film follows the lives of underground stars like R.A. The Rugged Man, Murs, J57 and J-Zone, who are not known to the wider hip-hop audience, but managed to thrive on the independent scene that started in the mid-90s. Fame and fortune never followed, though, and so many were forced to get day jobs to support their rap careers, or give up all together.

J-Zone, a hilarious guy and brilliant producer from Queens, was even reduced to covering high school basketball games for a tiny local newspaper. Then he started blogging at egotrip and wrote a hilarious book  detailing his rise and fall in the rap world, reinventing himself as a sharp, witty writer.

As an indie filmmaker, what do you do to pay the bills? Do you have to work a day job out of the industry, or do you support yourself as an editor, blogger, P.A., etc.?


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Your Comment


You're waiting for $&@!ing Slug?!

June 3, 2013 at 7:26PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


"He's so F&%KING ugly!" ahaha.
On another note- I was doing the PA thing for a long time in commercial land here in Toronto. Then, I got an opportunity to PM some stuff. Since then, thats been paying the bills while I write & direct.

June 4, 2013 at 2:04PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


Looks great. Glad he got the funding. I would have kicked in on this had I known about it. It's an interesting topic that certainly applies to film makers too. :-)

June 3, 2013 at 7:32PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM


really interested to see this whenever it comes out. glad to see R.A. has a part in this too

June 4, 2013 at 6:18AM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

You voted '+1'.
Christian Davis

Wow great post and this applies to many fields and genres not just hiphop, but it speaks so truely of the the music form.

The amazing thing is that there have been many white directors who started out directing hiphop music videos ( MICHAEL BAY, FRANCIS LAWRENCE, spike jonze, romanek, brett ratner that went on to become big hollywood directors but on the same token other than a few black directors, none have never had a shot at directing in hollywood.

Just like anything else in the industry one has to be extra critical , especially a black director when choosing to do side gigs, because its a uphill struggle to start with and a reputation for hiphop music videos are not high on hollywood studios priorities , especially for a black man.

A list of white directors who started doing hiphop music videos

June 5, 2013 at 4:54PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM

jay clout


feedback please and blesses

June 6, 2013 at 8:24PM, Edited September 4, 8:21AM