Record executive and entrepreneur Damon Dash is still finding inspiration from the real-life Harlem drug kingpin on whom he based his fictional 2002 hit film “Paid In Full.”
Alberto “Alpo” Martinez, one of the real-life inspirations for the gritty crime drama, was murdered in a drive-by shooting in NYC on Halloween. Dash said he now has the ending he was struggling to find for the sequel.
“‘Paid in Full’ is a reflection of everything I’ve learned and I am really going to see it through now that there’s an ending,” Dash told Page Six. “So this is going to dramatically change based on what happened Sunday. I was stuck on how to really approach it and this is actually giving me more clarity.”
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The original film was a fictional depiction of the rise and fall of characters based on Martinez and his friends Azie “AZ” Faison and Rich Porter. Hip-hop artist Cam’ron and actors Mekhi Phifer and Wood Harris starred as the fictionalized versions of characters who represented Martinez, Porter and Faison, respectively. The film was produced by Dash.
On hearing the news of Martinez’s death, Phifer reflected on why he chose to play the role. “We had an obligation to do these brothers justice! I’m just happy we were able to have the honor of doing so,” Phifer wrote in an Instagram post. “I never actually met Rich, ( I was much younger during that time) but got the essence from their friends and family when I chose to do the role.”
“I grew up knowing the legend of these Kats and had to represent the humanity in the choices they made,” Phifer continued. “Hopefully, lessons were learned and not glorified in any way. Hopefully, we were able to capture their motivation and mannerisms. RIP to both these brothers. Much love!”
After getting arrested and convicted of murder, conspiracy and a variety of drug offenses, Martinez was sentenced to 35 years in prison. However, he became a government informant and entered witness protection after testifying against some of his former associates.
On Oct. 31, Martinez was shot five times and rushed to Harlem Hospital where he was pronounced dead. He was 55.
Now that he has the real-life inspiration needed for an ending, Dash said he has to make sure “Paid In Full 2” will be better than the original.
“‘Paid in Full’ was a classic. To even touch it again, I got to come better,” he said. “So the story got to be straight. Everybody’s thinking it’s got to be tight and based on the fact that I have creative control, I can do things the right way. Sh*t’s going to be incredible.”
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