After the critical issue of casting "Filly", we knew that finding the right composer and music supervisor would be the next critical factor in delivering the authenticity to our characters' world and driving the story home.
We wanted the music to create dramatic situations for the audience to position themselves in the story, and continually push that story to the emotional center of the character without becoming melodramatic. On top of that we had to mesh the dramatic score intimately with the performance songs, the orchestral elements had to keep the grit of Filly's world whilst the hip-hop had to retain the drama of her story. Reza Safinia was just the man to deliver that balance. Prior to his current incarnation as a composer/music supervisor, Reza was a very successful record producer working with international pop stars such as Kylie Minogue, and prior to that, he started his career in studios assisting in sessions with some the biggest names in hip-hop such as Wu Tang and Terror Squad.
Reza created the seamless soundscape of the film by using common elements throughout the score that could be reprised into different productions. The movie opens with his unadulterated banger "Dream Big", a pounding beat incorporating soaring strings and mesmeric piano line, harking to the aspirations of our protagonist, that deconstruct into the sobering score of the prison segment as the beat vanishes.
Elsewhere the score mutates into dark electronic tones, incorporating genres such as dubstep, to reflect the aggression of the antagonist character Wyatt. The performance songs also take a turn to urban pop as Filly's career progresses under the guidance of the Svengali Big Cee, who steers Filly away from her underground roots. As the music spans the course of Filly's career and character arc, so does the vocal delivery.
Reza drew on his experiences recording both the most underground of rappers, and the most polished of pop stars, to coach Gina Rodriguez, in the different stages of Filly the artist, and she excelled. Initially he had her just talk on the mic, about her life, about her thoughts, whilst music was playing in her headphones, until she was so comfortable that it became second nature and the talks turned into fluid raps. On "Dream Big" she sounds as hard as she does effortless, with a sick street flow, on "Filly Brown" (Big Cee) she sounds like a perfect urban pop princess. From a story telling point of view it was important to get these extremes from Gina's performance to show the artistic arc of the "Filly Brown" character.
In the final scene of the movie, Filly's been shamed, she's lost her pop career, but she's found her family and found herself going full circle to her underground rapper persona. Everything we've seen in the film culminates in the moment she faces her mother across a prison glass window, rapping her heart out, her soul laid bare to the audience. The scene starts with the orchestral score setting the emotional tone, capturing the family dynamic, and as Filly finds her groove, a hard hip-hop beat introduces itself into the climax of evocative strings. Once again the score and the hip-hop live in harmony as Filly's story resolves.
Reza was very lucky to be able to collaborate with a great team of artists and lyricists put together by music supervisor, Edward "E-Dub" Rios. Rios is a founder of Silent Giant Entertainment, an entertainment content production company, with a nationally syndicated radio program for over ten years, Pocos Pero Locos, featured in the movie. PPL, hosted by E-Dub and Lisa "Khool-Aid" Rios, has been deeply rooted in the English speaking Hispanic marketplace, and is heritage for multiple generations of Latinos, due to the fact that it is, and has been the only program of its kind in the country.
For Pocos Pero Locos, there was an importance in adding sprinkles of authentic lifestyle, such as Manny's tattoo shop and the integration of an online radio station, in order for the movement's core to devote their loyalty, and increase grassroots word-of-mouth and natural discovery.
Integrating real-life musical artists from the PPL world was also a priority, so the team called on support from long-time friends and music industry colleagues Jenni Rivera, Chingo Bling, Baby Bash, Cuete Yeska, Braxton Millz, Funny Bones Crew along with other artists that appear in film.
On April 16th, Milan Records will release the Original Music Album to "Filly Brown" with the film's score and songs featuring Gina Rodriguez, Braxton Mills and Diamonique. The record will be produced by Reza Safinia and include tracks of original music used in the film. Silent Giant Entertainment will be releasing The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack to 'Filly Brown' with songs inspired by the movie, offering their take on the underground Latin hip-hop scene.
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