Rapper Pras has always had a way with words, but never did he imagine that a game of Scrabble would spark his next venture. “Skid Row,” a Screen Media documentary, finds the Fugees principal living as a homeless man for nine days on the infamous Los Angeles strip of the same name. The film opens Aug. 24 in New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.
“A couple of years ago, a few friends of mine and I were playing Scrabble, and one of them came up with the idea to shoot a documentary about skid row,” Pras tells Billboard.com. “I thought he was trying to distract me ’cause I was about to make like 100 points, but he wasn’t.”
Last year, after two weeks of filming, a month of pre-production and another two weeks of editing, “Skid Row” was ready to be seen. “I went in with the notion that it’d be easy, but then you get there and you realize it’s a whole other world and that ignorance is bliss. Most people think homeless people are on drugs or lazy, but that is far from the truth,” says Pras. “I left with a completely different mindset on the situation.”
While on the streets, Pras endured rats crawling over his belongings and a stream of dope fiends doing drugs. But he also made a few friends, some of whom have passed away since filming. “I just got a call last week. One of the guys that used to be a heroin addict and helped us, he died of an overdose,” he says with a tinge of sadness.
Pras also expressed frustration about the status of the long-awaited Fugees reunion, which seemed on track as of last fall. “We went in the studio and recorded a couple records that were incredible. But, to put it nicely, it’s dead,” says Pras. “Me and Clef, we on the same page, but Lauryn [Hill] is in her zone, and I’m fed up with that sh*t. Here she is, blessed with a gift, with the opportunity to rock and give and she’s running on some b*llshit? I’m a fan of Lauryn’s but I can’t respect that.”
Pras has instead turned his attentions to an upcoming solo project for Sony BMG, “Experience,” due before the end of the year. A video for first single “Pop Life” was recently filmed in Hong Kong, Dubai, Macao and Abu Dhabi, with scenes still to be shot in New York, Cuba and Haiti.
In addition, Pras will appear in the film “Six Bullets” alongside Josh Lucas this fall. He is also launching his non-profit organization, Prasperity Projects, next month in New York.