Legendary entertainer Eddie Murphy—who recently was honored with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor, the highest honor for a comedian in the U.S. – has achieved major success in film, television, and stand-up. With classic comedies like Beverly Hills Cop, Coming to America, Trading Places, The Nutty Professor remake, and a host of others under his belt, the genius with which he approaches humor has made him one of the greatest of all time. He has also led an illustrious television career, most notably his Emmy Award-winning tenure as a cast member on Saturday Night Live in the early 1980s. However, he’s been relatively quiet in the last decade, performing in one-off TV specials here and there, but never embarking on a full-fledged return to a television series. But his filmography is about to receive a much-awaited addition, thanks to a forthcoming film starring the beloved icon, and Heads will be happy to hear that it centers around the world of sampling in Hip-Hop music.
In an exciting bit of news announced by Deadline, the Academy Award-nominated star will play the lead in Soul Soul Soul: The Murray Murray Story, a mockumentary centering on a 1960s Soul singer whose ruffles are feathered when a hit song of his gets sampled by an as-yet-unnamed Rap artist. Murphy plays Murray Murray, a washed-up former chart-topper who “puts his old band back together and tries to take down Hip-Hop when a hot artist samples his hit song from 1962.” According to the site, Netflix is in negotiations with the film’s creators to air the fake documentary in the near future, but further details have yet to be released.
The storyline, while not fully known, is already familiar to many as in the past, several Hip-Hop artists have faced backlash for the allegedly unpermitted use of music in the creation of a new beat. Kanye West and Jay Z were sued by Syl Johnson in 2011 after the duo used a sample of Johnson’s “Different Strokes” on Watch the Throne’s “The Joy,” a track found on the LP’s deluxe version. Even more recently, Pharrell Williams was at front-and-center in a bitter legal battle with the family of late great Marvin Gaye and though not a battle over a sample (the Gaye family claimed Williams effectively copied Gaye’s song “Got to Give It Up” on the smash single “Blurred Lines” he produced for Robin Thicke), it’s an example of the ongoing friction between generations of artists with differing perspectives on creative license. Of course, such friction is nothing new. In fact, Biz Markie famously released an entire album inspired by his own dealings in “sampling court” after getting into some hot water over a sample he used on 1991’s “Alone Again.” 1993’s All Samples Cleared! was a tongue-in-cheek response to his being taken to ask by singer-songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan for unfairly using his “Alone Again (Naturally)” as a sample.
As fans await more news about Murphy’s upcoming project, there’s no doubt some will be wondering who will fill out the cast.