Musician, producer and actor Pras Michel (pictured above, at right) is teaming with Polygram Entertainment, Universal Music Group’s film and television production company, for a TV series inspired by the real-life story of the Rap Intelligence Unit, the controversial NYPD division formed in 1999 — following the murders of Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur — which was tasked with investigating people and crimes connected to the rap scene. An officer in the covert unit, like former police detective Derrick Parker, who published a book about his experience in 2007, was known as a hip-hop cop.
The project was created with Jean Claude LaMarre, who serves as executive producer alongside Michel, Steven Victor, EVP of Def Jam Recordings (pictured above, left), and David Blackman, head of Polygram Entertainment. Mick Betancourt (“The Purge,” “Chicago Fire,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) has signed on to write, and the project is represented by Jennifer Baltimore, SVP Business & Legal Affairs at UMG.
“The idea for this project was born out of my own experiences as an artist and hearing about the experiences that others had with the RUI,” said Pras, a founding member of influential group the Fugees, in making the announcement. “We’re excited to develop a show that will not only entertain but inform fans about the world of hip-hop, given its prominence in popular culture.”
The as-yet-untitled project centers on a cop who goes undercover at a successful New York rap label and “is exposed to the lavish and intoxicating lifestyle of a hip-hop underworld,” according to a description of the series.
Added Victor: “As the landscape of media and entertainment continues to evolve, we are constantly looking for new opportunities to tell stories, entertain and help our artists build strong connections with their fans. With hip-hop’s growing influence on popular culture, the time is right for this show and I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with Pras to bring this project to life.”
Pras is repped by APA and attorney Robert Wallerstein.
Polygram Entertainment most recently co-distributed (with Studio Canal) “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years.” The film and TV arm is currently in production on the first fully authorized Motown documentary, and is financing the upcoming Ron Howard-directed Luciano Pavarotti documentary.