“This is a movie that I wish I had when I was 17 years old,” the musician told Variety at the film’s premiere at the ArcLight Hollywood on Wednesday. “I needed to see it in real life. I needed to see what I was trying to accomplish in a film that’s so descriptive, so accurate to the story of being a rapper.”
In the musical comedy produced by Live Nation Productions, Kyle plays Owen, an up-and-coming rapper whose career prospects couldn’t be more bleak — until video of him projectile vomiting on Wiz Khalifa goes viral on social media. In order to save his shot at a music career, his best friend and manager, Jeff (Harrison Holzer), gets him access to an after-party teeming with musicians and moguls.
Aside from Kyle’s starring role, several other hip-hop artists make appearances in the film, including Khalifa, Teyana Taylor, DJ Khaled, and French Montana. But that’s not enough for Kyle, who believes every hip-hop artist should bring their talents to Hollywood.
“All of the hip-hop community should start trying to bridge those two together,” Kyle said. “The art of storytelling in rap is so potent, and the art of storytelling in film is so potent. It’s like they’re meant for each other.”
A longtime follower of the hip-hop scene, Holzer hopes young artists with big dreams will be inspired by Jeff and Owen’s bumpy journey to stardom.
“From the beginning, this movie was for the culture — for the hip-hop culture — for the youth, and also just for the dreamers around the world,” Holzer said. “It was for the dreamers and for the hustlers. It was important for us to shed light on this story about two kids who have been grinding and hustling.”
One of the many hurdles Jeff and Owen face on their mission for fame occurs when thousands of people share Owen’s unfortunate encounter with Khalifa on social media — a plot thread Holzer believes is emblematic of an internet-driven society.
“In the world we live in, you can go viral overnight for the best reasons or for the worst reasons, and I think a lot of time, it is for the worst reasons because people love laughing at shame or humiliation,” Holzer said. “This is about overcoming a huge setback. Kyle literally boots on Wiz Khalifa — I don’t know a bigger setback than that. So what we’re trying to show with it is that, yes, you can go viral for all the wrong reasons, but even after that, if you just keep going, if you keep pushing, stuff will work out for you eventually.”
Holzer would like to see Owen’s plight and eventual triumph spark a “revolution of hip-hop-centric films,” while producer Heather Parry, who called the movie “a hip-hop ‘Superbad,'” is confident that the revolution has already begun, with musical films like the Lady Gaga’s “A Star Is Born” and the Freddie Mercury biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” soon to hit the big screen. And for Jordan Rock, who plays Bernard, the more hip-hop-film fusion, the better.
“I would love to see more hip-hop in movies,” Rock said. “I would love to see more ‘8 Miles’ and more ‘After Parties’ and more rappers, please.”
Also present at the premiere were supporting cast members Shelley Hennig, Jamie Choi, and rapper Fatboy SSE. “The After Party” debuts on Aug. 24.