Cleveland Native Steven Caple Jr.'s Hip-Hop Movie Soundtracks

Sylvester Stallone, Steven Caple Jr. and Michael B. Jordan on the set of "CREED II" [MGM/Warner Brothers]
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Music plays a major part of Cleveland native Steven Caple Jr.'s films, specifically hip-hop.

Director Steven Caple Jr. on the set of "CREED II" [Barry Wetcher]

Friday night the 31-year-old director discusses the influence of hip-hop culture on his movies - including last year's Rocky sequel "Creed 2" and his 2016 debut "The Land" - at MOCA Cleveland.

For his first film Caple enlisted two of Cleveland's best-known rappers, Machine Gun Kelly and Ezri , in a tale about inner-city skateboarders looking for a better life.

Actor Michael Kenneth Williams, actor/rapper Ezri Walker with director Steven Caple Jr. on the set of "The Land" [IFC Films]

"Ultimately there's truth to their lyrics and what they're telling," Caple said. "When you look at people like Machine Gun Kelly and Ezri these guys already had it naturally. They knew what vein or what lane I was basically playing in, in terms of telling this story."

After a successful debut at Sundance, "The Land" became Caple's calling card, which led to TV work and then the 2018 sequel in the Rocky franchise "Creed II" starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone.

With a big-budget film like "Creed II" Caple was able to collaborate with major hip-hop artists like Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky and Lil Wayne.

Steven Caple Jr. and actor Sylvester Stallone on the set of "CREED II" [MGM/Warner Brothers]

"They would come in and watch a scene or two and then I'd talk to them about what I wanted," he said. "So you're kinda like orchestrating a soundtrack in the background as well as putting your movie together at the same time, which is always fun."

Caple developed a never-take-no attitude, which he attributes to his Cleveland upbringing. 

"When you're trying to convince people [in Hollywood] to go all the way back to the Midwest to shoot a small movie that's your first one, it's difficult," he said. "You bring that hustle that you have back at home in Cleveland, Ohio."

Actor Michael B. Jordan and Steven Caple Jr. on the set of "CREED II" [MGM/Warner Brothers]

A big part of that is living through the winters in Northeast Ohio, which Caple believes conditioned him to pursue his dreams.

"You go through the crazy weather and the crazy storms and those gray skies. I kinda model my life after that. Even though the skies are gray you still gotta keep moving forward," he said.

Steven Caple Jr. speaks at moCa Cleveland's eCLEctic series "Made You Look" Friday, at 7 p.m.

Listen to Dan Polletta's full interview with Steven Caple Jr.:

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