Hustle and Flow was released in 2005 to much fanfare. It was written and directed by Craig Brewer, who produced the film with financing from John Singleton. After being shown at the Sundance Film Festival, the film's distribution rights were purchased by Paramount for $9 million. With a budget of only $8 million, this already made the film a major financial success.
The story begins by following a black pimp named Djay, who lives in Memphis, Tennessee. He lives in a rough part of town in a duplex with three women: Nola, Lexus, and Shug. Shug is pregnant with his child and not working, Lexus is hustling at a strip club, and Djay is actively pimping Nola from his car.
After Djay sees someone else from Memphis, Skinny Black, on television as a rap star, he wonders if he could do the same thing. He meets an old classmate, Key, who is trying to get a music production and recording business off the ground, and is further convinced that he should try his hand at rapping. Soon enough, he is laying down tracks in his duplex, with egg cartons on the walls for isolation.
After recording some tracks, including "Its Hard Out Here For a Pimp" and "Whoop That Trick", Djay realizes that he also needs to do some marketing. When Skinny Black comes home on July 4th, he goes to the bar to meet him. While there, he must convince Skinny to help him market his music.
Djay is played by Terrence Howard, who apparently spent years researching pimps and even living with them to prepare for the role. His girls, Nola, Lexus, and Shug, are played by Taryn Manning, Paula Jai Parker, and Taraji Henson, respectively. Key is played by Anthony Anderson and his assistant, Shelby, who is played by DJ Qualls. Skinny Black is played by the rapper Ludacris and Isaac Hayes also makes a cameo as Arnel.
Despite being an independent film, this film still had a sizable budget and, as a result, the picture and sound quality is excellent. The movie was shot in a widescreen format, but it isn't nearly as wide as some other films. Brewer does a good job of capturing the motion of the film through close camera shots of the characters.
The soundtrack for the film is quite impressive and, since it is a movie about the music career, it should be. It features three films that were written by Al Kapone, but rapped by Terrence Howard himself. There are some other rap tracks, but there are also some older songs from other genres as well.
The film does a good job of keeping things interesting since we never really know what is going to happen in some parts. We have no idea of whether Djay will make it in the rap industry or not. Djay has many conflicts with other people and his girls, adding to the emotion of the film. Terrence Howard does a good job of making the audience know how much he really wants to fulfill his dream.
Overall, I thought the movie was great. Everyone can relate to Djay having big dreams for the future and feel concern for him trying to accomplish his dream. For an independent film, this movie really raises the bar.