Iggy Azalea killed Tupac Shakur—or, rather, her music killed Holler If Ya Hear Me, the Tupac-inspired musical that recently announced it would end its dismal Broadway run. That’s what Holler star Saul Williams believes, as he tells Rolling Stone the “Australian girl rapping with a southern accent” is indicative of the “American race psyche” that doomed the hip-hop musical about gun violence. While Williams says he and everyone involved with Holler knew that their play’s subject matter meant they’d face an uphill battle in an industry that was “fully aligned with escapism,” he says the play’s real struggle was due to, in Harry Belafonte’s words, putting an “afrocentric-themed play… on a Eurocentric stage.” That could be true, considering how well downer plays about mostly white people like Spring Awakening, Les Miserables, and Rent have done in the past. Though Williams’ further assertion that “Broadway or America prefers their stories packaged like Rocky at this point” is a pretty moot point, considering that adaptation also closed earlier this month.
Of course, there’s also the fact that Holler If Ya Hear Me got terrible reviews—though Williams suggests those may have been tinged with racial bias as well. The New York Times called the play “heavy-handed,” while Billboard called it “unclear” and “tiring” at “two-plus hours.” None of which helped the show’s funding, with the show’s producer openly trying to raise $5 million to keep it open just two weeks ago and, when that failed, blaming “the financial burdens of Broadway” for the play’s ultimate demise.
Still, there’s no denying that Holler If Ya Hear Me maybe could have stood to be a little more fancy.