For the last two decades, top-chart rappers have been setting their mics aside and taking to the silver screen to try their hands at acting. And you know what? Some of these movies are pretty awesome. In no particular order, here are five of the best movies starring rappers.
5 “Independence Day” (1996)
Really, there are a handful of worthy Will Smith movies, but Independence Day tops the list because it is a classic good-guy-saves-world-from-aliens movie. A fleet of alien ships invades Earth with plans to wipe out the human race. Groups of survivors, including the U.S. President (Bill Pullman) head toward Area 51, where it’s rumored that the military has captured one of the alien ships. Will Smith plays Captain Steven Hiller, a Marine pilot leading a counterattack on the alien ships. Hiller meets up with the President and the resisting military forces at Area 51, where he leads an attack on the aliens on July 4 to win back humanity’s independence. Now America has two reasons to celebrate!
4 “Juice” (1992)
Tupac Shakur stars as Bishop in this intense movie that centers on four friends in Harlem trying to survive the streets while trying to earn respect, “juice,” from their peers. Despite reservations from Q (Omar Epps), the group robs a convenience store in an attempt to earn some “juice,” but when Bishop shoots and kills the store owner, the group fractures as they begin to fear and loathe Bishop. At this point, Bishop goes a little blood-lust-crazy and starts plotting and killing people and then trying to frame Q for all of it. Q decides he has to confront Bishop and end the drama once and for all.
3 “Four Brothers” (2005)
Mark Walberg, aka Marky Mark, plays Bobby Mercer, and Andre Benjamin (from OutKast) plays Jeremiah Mercer, who, along with their other brothers Angel (rapper/musician Tyrese Gibson) and Jack (Garrett Hedlund), come home to Detroit to investigate their mother’s death, which at first appears to be a random killing during a robbery, and discover that her murder was intentional. The adopted brothers resolve to track down the killers and get revenge.
2 “8 Mile” (2002)
In “8 Mile,” rapper Eminem as Rabbit is essentially telling his life story, growing up in the 8 Mile district of Detroit (with some additional stuff added in for drama). In this emotionally intense film guided by Eminem’s early experiences, Rabbit struggles to launch a rap career despite poverty and anger issues. Yes, there is actually a lot of rapping in the movie, but it’s top-quality and integrated into the script so well that it feels natural and not forced.
1 “Boyz in the Hood” (1991)
Ice Cube plays Darren, aka Doughboy, in this drama about a group of childhood friends in South Central Los Angeles. The movie follows the group, showcasing two brothers as they struggle to survive the violence and drugs of their neighborhood. Darren’s brother, Ricky (Morris Chestnut), is an athlete hoping to win a football scholarship to USC while “Dough” succumbs to the alcohol, violence and crime of the ‘hood. The brothers hold true to themselves with a strong sense of pride and honor. “Boyz” is a poignant look at the problems and difficulties of escaping racism, violence, poverty and drug abuse.