This year marks the 20th anniversary of Illmatic, the debut LP of rapper Nas and one of the most influential hip-hop albums of all time. To help commemorate the album, Xbox Studios is turning to production company Electric City and writer/director Jonathan Levine for Street Dreams, a TV-length series inspired by Nas’ early life.
Nas grew up in New York City’s Queensbridge neighborhood, long known as a breeding ground for hip-hop and rap talent. Street Dreams will enter that neighborhood in the early 90s with a series of half-hour episodes.
In order to best capture the look and feel of New York in the 90s, Xbox Studios is turning to a writer and director who grew up in that era: Jonathan Levine. Levine’s film The Wackness was one of the first 90s period and won the Audience Award at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival. Levine has since built an impressive filmography (his two most recent directing credits are 50/50 and Warm Bodies), and he is the highest-profile filmmaker to team up with Xbox Studios thus far.
The announcement of Street Dreams is the latest of what has been a flurry of activity from Xbox Studios over the past couple of months. The year-old wing has also picked up a series of short documentaries from Academy Award winners Simon and Jonathan Chinn as well as a skating comedy series. Add all these projects up, and you get a library that will feature subjects like video games, extreme sports, and rap–three topics that overlap well with Xbox’s core audience.