“The whole world’s got a false perception of my city,” rapper/filmmaker Quanie Cash says on the commentary track to Loyalty & Respect
, a full-length feature about the pitfalls of drug dealing and street hustling. “They think it’s country down here. But ain’t no guitars or country music where I’m from.”
Nor will you find any in the East Nashville rapper’s self-produced film, which was picked up by Warner Home Video for release on DVD Jan. 24. (The soundtrack CD, distributed by Sony/Red, hits the streets the same day.) Loyalty & Respect
follows the tangled paths of two rivals: Supreme (played by rapper CEO), a likable guy as far as drug dealers go; and Notorious (played by Cash, who also wrote the script and directed), a ruthless loner who’s loyal to no one but himself.
Shot entirely in Nashville, the picture features familiar landmarks and locations: the Citgo station at Fifth & Main; the J.C. Napier public housing complex; the now defunct Strike One Records; and a slew of familiar street signs. The entire cast is made up of locals, most of them friends of Quanie’s from the neighborhood. None of them, not even Cash, had acting experience. There’s no shortage of violence, with one particularly wince-inducing murder.
“I feel like Hollywood’s missing something when they tell those stories. I want to show kids the hard reality of the streets,” Cash explains, “not just glamorize that life. Sometimes all they see is one end of it, and those harsh realities that we deal with in the movie, they don’t always come across on screen. That’s why the message at the end is so strong.” Though at times the film shows the perks of the big-balling lifestyle—spinner hubs and spending sprees abound—suffice it to say that in the end, crime don’t pay.
But rapping, filmmaking and entrepreneurial spirit do, if you’re talented and persistent—a message Cash hopes to communicate. No other style of music has spawned more impresarios than hip-hop. From stars like Master P to behind-the-curtain wizards like Russell Simmons, both of whom Cash cites as inspirations, one-man or -woman industries have proliferated. Rappers’ names become brand names.
“I definitely want to show kids there’s another way,” Cash says. “That’s definitely my reason for doing all of this entertainment. Nashville as a whole, they know me, they know I come exactly from where they’re at, so I can inspire people to be rappers, actors, filmmakers, whatever. I want to show them it can be done. You don’t always have to be ‘signed’ and all that—you can make stuff happen for yourself. Then, if situations come along in the process, they come along.” Situations like a deal with Warner Home Video, for instance.
Though Cash won Best Director at a film festival in Las Vegas last year, the Warner deal came about when a couple of the company’s street promoters ran across his movie. “After the DVD release, the next step is television,” Cash says, adding that it would most likely wind up on BET. But he’s not waiting around to see what happens—he’s got two more scripts in the works, Loyalty & Respect II
and a comedy called Crackhouse
. He plans to begin shooting the sequel in late February.
In addition, he says he wants to start giving back to the community, first by working to establish a $1,000 college scholarship. Once details are worked out, students will be able to apply on Cash’s website, www.quaniecash.com
To celebrate the release of Loyalty & Respect
, Cash will be signing DVDs and CDs Tuesday, Jan. 24, at Cat’s Music on Gallatin Road in East Nashville. Call the store for details.