Brown Sugar is a 2002 American romantic comedy film written by Michael Elliott and Rick Famuyiwa, directed by Famuyiwa, and starring Taye Diggs and Sanaa Lathan. The film is a story of a lifelong friends, A&R Andre and Editor-in-Chief Sidney. The two can attribute their friendship and the launch of their careers to a single, seminal childhood moment - the day they discovered hip-hop on a New York street corner. Now some 15 years later, as they lay down the tracks toward their futures, hip-hop isn't the only thing that keeps them coming back to that moment on the corner.
The movie was released in the US on October 11, 2002 and ran for 16 weeks, grossing $27,363,891 domestically and $952,560 in the foreign sector for a worldwide total of $28,316,451.
Brown Sugar is a film that follows the evolving relationship between Sidney (Sanaa Lathan), an attractive young woman who has just been appointed the editor-in-chief of the hip-hop magazine XXL, and Dre (Taye Diggs), an A&R for Millennium Records. They have been bound together since their early childhood. The news that Dre is preparing to be married to Reese (Nicole Ari Parker), a successful entertainment attorney, sends Sidney into a subconscious tizzy.
Suddenly, she doesn't seem to know how to behave around Dre anymore, and an impulsive kiss on the eve before his wedding sends fissures of doubt cracking in every direction. Dre gets married and begins to settle into his life when a decision to sign an untalented but commercially viable rap group forces Dre to choose between his love for true hip hop and his job. He decides to quit his job and start his own record company, focusing on bringing back the real hip hop that his generation fell in love with. Reese, however, is not understanding and thus not supportive of this venture. Additionally, as Sidney draws closer to Dre due to their partnership in the label, jealousy develops over Dre and Sidney's friendship.
Sidney, who also has begun to live her life with a budding relationship with Kelby (Boris Kodjoe) receives a proposal from her boyfriend which she accepts. Turmoil ensues when Dre finds out Reese has been having secret liaisons with a man from the gym (who texts Reese to confirm a rendezvous). Dre brings Sid to bust her in the act. This leads to a night of shared passion between Dre and Sid and opens Sid's eyes to the fact she is not prepared to get married to Kelby. She calls off the engagement and while searching for Dre sees Reese and Dre in a parting embrace that she misconstrues as more.
While at Hot 97 waiting for Cavi's first single to play on the Angie Martinez show, Dre hears Sid talking about her new book I Used to Love H.I.M. Though based on her love affair with hip hop, it really is a chronicled time line of her love affair with Dre. He recognizes this and rushes over to the station to confront his feelings, as well. Meanwhile in the production booth, Sid's cousin Francine finally asks Cavi out on a date, which is something he has been trying for since their first meeting.
The film ends with Cavi's song playing in the same park where their love of hip hop began.Taye Diggs — Andre Romulus 'Dre' Ellis
Marc John Jefferies - Young Dre Ellis
Sanaa Lathan — Sidney 'Sid' Shaw, Dre's best friend
Aaliyyah Hill - Young Sidney
Mos Def — Christopher Anton 'Cavi' Vichon, a cabby (and secret rapper) who later befriends Dre
Nicole Ari Parker — Reese Marie Wiggam Ellis, a district attorney who later marries Dre
Boris Kodjoe — Kelby Dawson, an NBA star who Sid meets and starts dating
Queen Latifah — Francine, Sid's cousin
Wendell Pierce - Simon, Dre's boss at Millennium Records
Erik Weiner — Ren, half of The Hip Hop Dalmatians
Reggi Wyns - Ten, half of The Hip Hop Dalmatians
Venida Evans - Older Woman
Liza Lapira - Hot 97 Receptionist
cameo appearancesBig Daddy Kane - Himself
Kool G Rap — Himself
Pete Rock — Himself
De La Soul — Themselves
Tariq Trotter aka Black Thought — Himself
Jermaine Dupri — Himself
Talib Kweli — Himself
Common - Himself
Method Man - Himself
Slick Rick - Freestyler
Dana Dane - Freestyler
Doug E. Fresh - Beatboxer
Ahmir Thompson aka Questlove - Himself
Russell Simmons - Himself
Fabolous - Himself
Beanie Sigel - Himself
Angie Martinez - Herself
Kimora Lee - Herself
In the Chicago Sun-Times, Roger Ebert gave Brown Sugar three out of four stars and said it was "more like a slice of black professional life" than a rap comedy, a film thoughtful about its characters, who he said were as deep and complex as those in Terry McMillan novels.
2003 NAACP Image Awards (nominations)Outstanding Motion Picture
Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture — Taye Diggs
Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture — Sanaa Lathan
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture — Mos Def
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture — Boris Kodjoe
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture — Queen Latifah
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture — Nicole Ari Parker
A soundtrack containing hip hop and R&B music was released on September 24, 2002 by MCA Records. It peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200 and #2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.