Top 5 Performances By a Rapper in a Movie
Though awards season is behind us, we’re still thinking about the movies, albeit in a hip-hop state of mind. We don’t have to run down the list of rappers who’ve done horrible stiff turns in movies. And we’re getting more skilled acting from rappers like Mos Def, Luda and Common. But what about the OGs who paved the way? The game would’ve been different without this countdown.
5. LL Cool J: Deliver Us From Eva
Raymond Ray Adams was a smooth talking playboy who picked up a little change while falling for Gabrielle Union. This bet-gone-wrong plot was completely predictable; the real surprise was that LL didn’t rely on his lip-licking skills to carry the role. He showed regret and desperation without sacrificing the character’s personality, and if the image of LL riding through a downtown office on a white horse doesn’t do it for you… Well, it didn’t do it for me either, but there you go. The brother ain’t perfect, but he tried.
4. DMX: Exit Wounds
DMX plays what looks to be a hard-knock drug dealer, and Steven Segal (in his last hit movie) plays a cop on his case. Despite the cliché set-up, the movie isn’t half bad. More than any other rapper, DMX was best at channeling the pain and regret Tupac had tried to infuse in his music. And like Pac, he wasn’t a bad actor either. If not for the crack and theft issues, the X man might have built a pretty solid post-rap career in Hollywood, or at the very least in straight-to-DVD black Hollywood.
3. Run: Krush Groove
Of all the rap movies that came out in the 80’s, Krush Groove was by far the best. Although Breakin’ and Beat Street had bigger budgets, they were really just trying to ride the break dancing fad while it was still hot, so rappers were in the background. In Krush Groove, Run’s turn as the character “Run” showed a range of ethos. Now before you say it ought be easy playing yourself, ask DMC how easy it was! For each of Run’s scene-stealing turns, DMC was right beside him, offering up another line worthy of the Worst Performance by a Rapper in a Movie award. DMC’s role as “DMC” is only surpassed by Nas’s satanically bad acting in Belly.
2. Queen Latifah: Set It Off
Before you say ‘I told you so,’ Queen didn’t make the list because of her astonishingly natural talent for sucking another girl’s face—it was the empathy she inspired that had audience members more shook up over her death than any of Set It Off’s other stars. Cleo is more than a SuperDyke; she’s that ride-or-die, crazy-ass homegirl that, no matter how far you go apart, will have your back to the end.
1. Tupac: Juice
The sunny dancer from Digital Underground had already made waves with Tupacalypse Now, but it took a brilliant turn as Juice’s vulnerable maniac to cement his reputation. Politics aside, Bishop made Pac gangsta. I mean, Nobody in Digital Underground was exactly sending chills up the spine. But after Juice, Pac was more credible as the Wrong N****to mess with.