Private Project

Comin' up Short

“Comin' up Short” is the true story about Shorty, a member of “Da Lench Mob," one of the most controversial platinum and gold rap recording groups of all time led by Ice Cube.

Shorty went from forming a notorious deadly street gang in South Central at the age of 11, to becoming one of the most feared Gang Bangers in Los Angeles. After being released from prison, he became Ice Cube's personal protection against the threats from Cube's former group N.W.A. (Eazy E, Dr. Dre, Jerry Heller).

Shorty's sole testimony is a colorful monologue that recants verified true life stories about robbery, drug dealing, attempted murder, and imprisonment to finding his purpose through gang intervention all while racing against time to save his own life.

  • Queen Muhammad Ali
    Director
    #Bars4Justice
  • Hakeem Khaaliq
    Director
    #Bars4Justice
  • Queen Muhammad Ali
    Writer
  • Hakeem khaaliq
    Writer
  • Steve Muhammad-El
    Producer
    #Bars4Justice
  • Queen Muhammad Ali
    Producer
    #Bars4Justice
  • Ice Cube
    Producer
    Straight out of Compton
  • Jerome "Shorty" Muhammad
    Key Cast
    "Self"
    Boyz n the Hood
  • Ice Cube
    Key Cast
    "Self"
  • WC
    Key Cast
    "Self"
  • NWA
    Key Cast
    "Self"
  • Public Enemy
    Key Cast
    "Self"
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Runtime:
    60 minutes
  • Completion Date:
    September 14, 2020
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
    English
  • Shooting Format:
    Digital 4k, 6k, archival
  • Aspect Ratio:
    1.90∶1
  • Film Color:
    Color
  • First-time Filmmaker:
    No
  • Student Project:
    No
Director Biography - Queen Muhammad Ali, Hakeem Khaaliq

Queen Muhammad Ali along with Hakeem Khaaliq directed Comin’ Up Short., a feature documentary. “Comin' up Short” is the true story of Shorty (Jerome Muhammad) a legendary member of “Da Lench Mob," one of the most controversial platinum and gold rap recording groups of all time produced and led by Ice Cube. Prior to Comin' up Short, they directed and produced the short documentary #Bars4Justice, which won Best Short Documentary at the Pan African Film Festival (PAFF) and was screened twice at the Documentary Fortnight: MoMA’s International Festival of Nonfiction Film and Media in New York. #Bars4Justice has been used as a teaching tool in universities to address the modern civil rights movement taking place across America. The film has been screened internationally in Beijing China, Glasgow Scotland, Bogota Colombia, Tirana Albania, and Apia Samoa. Their work can be described as visual anthropology, mixed with Hip Hop activism and the preservation of Indigenous Culture.

Born of Samoan royalty, Queen’s Great Grandfather is Paramount Chief (King) Tuli Le’iato of American Samoa whose letters are on display at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. She is an Artplace America Awardee, an ISF Film Grant recipient, Tiapapata Artist residency, and a Mutianyu Fellowship Residency Awardee. Recently Queen was honored by representing American Samoa at the Indigenous peoples March in Washington DC. Based in American Samoa, Queen uses ethnographic documentation to deploy initiatives to preserve the indigenous arts on the island.

Khaaliq was born and raised in South Central, Los Angeles, CA. His father was a stuntman in Hollywood with work featured in the controversial film The Spook Who Sat By The Door. Khaaliq is also the great nephew to prominent photographer Addison N. Scurlock. Ebony Magazine featured Hakeem for his award winning visual ethnographic project Invisible Mexico, which is the culmination of 13 years of research filming Afro Mexicano and indigenous cultures in Central America. He is also the recipient of The Mutianyu Artist Fellowship in Beijing China, Artist Research and Development Grant recipient, Tiapapata Artist residency, and his work has been featured on MTV, VH1, Showtime, NBC, Lions Gate Films, PBS, and Univision Television Network.

Both Queen and Hakeem have been invited to speak, teach and to present at ASU, CSULB, Whayne State University (Allied Media Conference), NAACP, UA (The University of Arizona), NAU, TEDx, Global Education Center, MoMA, Artplace America Summit, The New School and The Karen Work Seleznow Gallery, among others, they currently teach film in American Samoa.

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Growing up in South Central Los Angeles I was exposed to gang culture at an early age. In public elementary school, my classmates and I were taught how to draw and recognize gang graffiti in art class. I grew up near the corner of Florence and Normandy. On April 29th 1992 the world became familiar with my neighborhood when LA erupted after a jury acquitted four LAPD officers in the filmed beating of Rodney King. Besides being a filmmaker, I am a Los Angeles Gang expert, and there are no gang experts except participants and affiliates. This lifestyle although glamorized and vilified in the media is as mysterious to outsiders as an untouched tribe in Africa or the South Pacific.

Around 2001 I met Shorty. He invited me to his home in an area of Los Angeles called the Jungles which is an all Blood Street Gang (red) area made famous in the 2001 film Training Day, starring Denzel Washington. Shorty was a Crip (blue) leader or an OG and a notorious one at that. I thought it was interesting that he had so much respect in the streets that he could live in Blood territory with no fear of anything. During this time Shorty asked me to document and film him uniting Bloods, Crips, Mexican and Samoan Gang leaders for peace. Some years later after I met my partner, Director Queen Muhammad Ali, I would tell her about hanging out with Shorty shooting him and some of the stories he would tell me. Unbeknownst to me, Queen knew of him as Brother Jerome since she was young. She knew nothing about his Gang life and she didn’t know I was speaking of the same person. She said he was the most kind and loving brother she knew growing up. So we knew two diametrically different Shorty’s.

As time passed Shorty was like our big brother and much more than a good friend. Shorty had been talking to Ice Cube about producing a film about his life and his group Da Lench Mob. Some of which was dramatized in the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton. But everybody knows that Ice Cubes stories in his songs and persona were the real experiences of Shorty and others in Da Lench Mob. Shorty’s health started to degrade and despite his numerous almost daily treatments for renal kidney failure, we were able to conduct two interviews with Shorty totaling about 9 hours. Queen organized the interviews into the structure that became the film. Shorty’s testimony in this film could land him back in prison but he wanted to tell his story nonetheless. On many occasions Shorty would call us from the hospital and give us optimistic updated reports about his health and how he was working to get better. I remember while filming the reenactments, Shorty would call us on FaceTime from the hospital bed and laugh at how much the people looked like and acted like what he had described.

While Queen and I were shooting another film project in American Samoa Shorty passed away on Father’s Day June 16th 2019. We were devastated. We returned and helped the family with the funeral. Ice Cube paid for the funeral and spoke about how important Shorty was to him. This film is his last interview and his verified account of what really happened to Ice Cube, Da Lench Mob, and himself.