The world just can’t get enough of that Eminem character. They want him in their CD player, they want him in their magazines and judging from this week’s box office they want him on their movie screens. Biff hasn’t seen this much overexposure since America’s four-month obsession with Jack Black. Seriously though, the kids love their Marshall Mathers and his new movie “8 Mile.” But this isn’t the first time a hip-hopper has made the transition from the microphone to the big screen, oh no no no. So if you just can’t get enough of rappers-turned-actors and you’re sick of watching Ice-T on that crime investigator TV show thing that he’s doing, then Biff’s got a few recommendations that may just float your biz-oat.
Biff’s gonna bring this one chronological style, starting out with the “Citizen Kane” of rap films, 1985’s “Krush Groove”. This was the first movie about rap music that starred rappers. Run DMC, Kurtis Blow, The Fat Boys, they’re all there. Even LL Cool J managed to squeeze himself into a few shots, and you better believe that New Edition makes an appearance. Oh, how I love that Ricky Bell.
Apparently pleased with their first foray into acting, the Fat Boys shocked the nation by starring in their own feature film, 1987’s “Disorderlies”. Riding on their popularity from getting old, out-of-work musicians (Chubby Checker, Beach Boys) to appear with them on new versions of their old songs (Twist, Wipeout), the Fat Boys movie finds Prince Markie Dee, Kool Rock Ski and the human beatbox Buffy as orderlies for a millionaire. Hijinks ensue.
Not to be outdone by their “Krush Groove” co-stars, Run DMC starred in their own film in 1988 titled “Tougher Than Leather”. The film confused Run DMC fans everywhere, including yours truly, when it showed the crew from Hollis running around with machine guns and cursing up a storm, something their records never talked about. The R-rating made the film inaccessible to their legion of younger fans and the movie pretty much bombed. The record of the same name is awesome, though. Whose house? Well, it’s Run’s house, silly!
Still not impressed? You want more? Oh, Biff’s got more. 1991 was an important year for rappers in film as it saw the acting debuts of Ice Cube and Vanilla Ice. Vanilla Ice, on his mission to send white people in hip-hop back about 15 years (and think of all the work that MC Serch put in. He must have been peeved), made one of the most bizarre movies Biff has ever seen, “Cool as Ice”. It’s all-colorful, things are oversized and it seems like more of a film about a Zach Morris dream, all polka dotty and neon. “Drop that zero and get with the hero.” Oh Vanilla, you funky rhyme killa. On the other hand,/ Ice Cube was awesome as Doughboy in “Boyz N the Hood,” making him, in Biff’s opinion, the first rapper to truly show off his acting skills.
Then there’s “Who’s the Man,” starring “Yo! MTV Raps” hosts Dr. Dre and Ed Lover. This movie has more rapper cameos than Biff can count. Watch out for House of Pain, Freddie Foxxx, KRS-One, Fab Five Freddy, Phife Dawg, Guru, Heavy D, Kris Kross, Kid Capri, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, D-Nice, Melle Mel, Busta Rhymes, Bushwick Bill, Naughty By Nature, and who can forget the heartfelt performance of Kool G Rap as “guy in barbershop chair”? Unforgettable.
Don’t forget about Big Daddy Kane in “Posse” or Raekwon the Chef in “Black and White”. Biff knows you didn’t forget about “Beat Street” with Kool Moe Dee or Shyheim’s Oscar worthy performance in “Original Gangstas”. Method Man was in “Copland” as well as in the really crappy Hype Williams film “Belly”, along with DMX and the worst rapper-turned-actor of all time, the always-mumbling Nas. There’s still Master P in “I’m Bout It” and Snoop Doggy Dogg in that really awful “Bones” movie. I know there’s more, but I think you get the picture. Rappers, since the dawn of the genre, have always loved to act, whether it be in videos or movies. Biff doesn’t know why, but he does know that their movies are almost always enjoyable, unless it’s anything with Ja Rule. Toodles!