Russell Simmons is looking to restart his Def Poetry Jam and is talking with Grammy-winner Chance the Rapper to host it. Simmons teased the new project, which would be called All Def Poetry, today on Instagram, saying the potential series is in the works at HBO. Simmons has a long-standing relationship with HBO, where he has been under back-to-back first-look deals.
Simmons’ original Def Poetry Jam was a spoken-word poetry series hosted by Mos Def that ran on HBO from 2002-07. It was a spinoff from Simmons’ landmark Def Comedy Jam, which aired on HBO from 1992-97; that stand-up comedy showcase launched several careers including those of Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence, Steve Harvey and Bernie Mac.
Word is Simmons has been talking with Chance since the Grammys, where the rapper took home three trophies including Best New Artist.
Simmons via his All Def Digital recently partnered to come aboard as executive produce of Romeo Is Bleeding, a documentary directed by Jason Zeldes that explores the power of spoken-word poetry to save and elevate youth. The film is set to Donté Clark’s street poetry and follows him as leads a cast of Richmond, CA, high school students in an effort to mount a fresh adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. As the play comes together on the stage, real life begins to parallel the Shakespearean tragedy, and Donté must decide if he is capable of being the leader Richmond’s youth needs him to be.
The Film Collaborative will release the docu in select theaters July 28.
Simmons had been reviving different aspects of the Def franchise. Last year, HBO launched All Def Comedy, a stand-up comedy special and successor to Def Comedy Jam.