From Lyrics To Lenses: Black Musicians Who Ventured into Directing

Prince, Questlove, Donald Glover and more.

In the world of entertainment, creative minds often transcend the boundaries of their primary craft and venture into uncharted territories. The realm of filmmaking, particularly directing, has become a compelling canvas for artists to channel their artistic visions and narratives beyond the lyrics and melodies of their music. Here, we explore the journeys of a few notable musicians who have delved into directing, including Prince, Questlove, Donald Glover, and more.

  • Prince

    While Prince is renowned for his legendary music career, his foray into directing was equally distinctive. The enigmatic artist directed two feature-length films: "Under the Cherry Moon" (1986), a black-and-white romantic drama and "Graffiti Bridge" (1990), a musical drama that was the sequel to 1984's "Purple Rain."  Although he didn't direct "Purple Rain," the film earned him an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score. Although his directorial work may not have achieved the same level of acclaim as his music, it showcases his diverse artistic talents and creativity.

  • Questlove

    Questlove, the drummer of The Roots, made a remarkable directorial debut with "Summer of Soul (...Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised)." The doc explores the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, featuring electrifying performances by iconic artists. This documentary garnered critical acclaim and won the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature, firmly establishing Questlove as a director of great promise.

  • Donald Glover

    Donald Glover, recognized for his work as a musician (Childish Gambino), has also dabbled in directing. He has succeeded as a small screen director, winning an Emmy for his work on the groundbreaking series "Atlanta." This year, he also directed the Amazon Prime series "Swarm."

  • Ice Cube

    Ice Cube, a hip-hop icon and actor, added "director" to his impressive resume with the film "The Players Club" (1998). The movie, set in the world of strip clubs, provided an early glimpse of Cube's talent behind the camera. 

  • RZA

    RZA, a founding member of the Wu-Tang Clan, translated his love for martial arts and hip-hop into filmmaking. He directed "The Man with the Iron Fists" (2012), a martial arts action film, showcasing his unique vision and love for the genre. He also directed the Hulu series "Wu-Tang: An American Saga."

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