Ain't nuthin' but a big-screen thang, baby

Dre_lNew Line just helped Dr. Dre jump big-time into the movie biz by hooking him up with a multiyear production deal. Apparently, Dre will start out developing "dark comedies," which immediately made me think about fellow N.W.A gangsta Ice Cube’s Friday (but not Next Friday, which I make a point to think about as little as possible) and how surprised I’d have been, back when I was freaking out my dad with Straight Outta Compton and its tales of murderous mayhem in the CPT, to know that one day Cube and Dre would become mainstream movie folk. Then, of course, I remembered the photo of Dre in a flyboy pose, decked out in a white doctor coat and stethescope and a full face of makeup, and realized that these cats have made their bread and butter telling stories and "acting" throughout their entire careers. (Then I thought of Eazy and Cube’s Jheri Curls and laughed a bit, because that is just funny.)

Still, even though studio gangstas Dre and Cube lack the bullet holes in the face to prove their ”realness” (here’s looking at you, 50 Cent), you’ve got to hand it to them for being able to parlay the street thug pose into such lucrative, multifacted careers. Ice-T was the first to pull off the transition in New Jack City (he was also the first guy to sell hella records rapping about L.A. street life), but Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, and Fitty seem to be the ones keeping it going in the new millennium. What do you think, PopWatchers — which hip-hop act, gangsta or not, has been best suited for his (or her — hello, Latifah!) transition to the silver screen? Or for all the headz out there, which one has been able to keep it the realest in doing so?

Comments (13 total) Add your comment
  • Ronda

    The best transistions of course have to be Will Smith. I mean who would ever thought he’d be the movie star he is today? Also Ice Cube, Queen Latifah, (who both have been nominated for Oscars) Tupac (who given the chance if he had lived long enough could’ve been a mega star)

  • Ronda

    I meant to type Will and Latifah have both been nominated for Oscars not Cube.

  • MM

    I agree with Will and Latifah, though I don’t know how “hip-hop” I would really consider Will. He is more “pop rap” if there is such a thing. I think Ludacris has been excellent in the roles that he has played (and I think he received a SAG award for ensemble cast for Crash).

  • Deb

    What about Eminem? (eight mile)LOL

  • Katy

    Tupac was brilliant in “Gridlock’d”. And anyone who doesn’t want to see DMX on screen is straight crazy.

  • Phil

    Personally I thought Alicia Keys & Common were both great in SMOKIN ACES. I mean neither are really gangsta, and more conscious than anything, but I thought they both portrayed gritty characters we’d never expect them to bring to life. If you haven’t seen Smokin’ Aces, go check it out this weekend!

  • Jedidog

    TUPAC will rise again! The Machiavellian Prince, was the greatest there ever was and the greatest yet to come.

  • Karla

    Don’t forget Mos Def. He’s doing some beautiful work – not as a star, per se, but as a very strong actor.

  • ceej

    I’d be careful who you call studio gangstas there…
    I also loved Common and Keys in “Aces”. The scene where Common started backing up from the rising elevator smoke and all the cops move in? Classic!

  • tk

    I think Cube, Lahtifa, Mos Def and Ludacris have definately kept it real in having careers in both fields – we shall see how Dre fares, he’s a great producer, not tooo gangsta these days – but Will Smith, not, he didn’t even keep it real when he was a ‘rapper’ he’s a great actor, don’t get me wrong, but he’s not hip hop to mainstream – he’s lollipop to serious actor (and even though he says he never swore in a song, I remember “You saw my Blinker B*&^^, even if he wants to forget, and clown folks like Eminem and Cube for profanity in their lyrics) – **yes I might still be holding a grudge against him for that statement.

  • MM

    Karla – I definitely agree with you on Mos Def as an actor, but not a lot of people know his music.

  • Karla

    Whatever happened to Cool J? He did some fabulous work. I still use his “military meal” monologue from the strange movie Toys. He held his own with Robin Williams and Joan Cusack – hello!
    He just came out with another album, but where’s his career? It looks a little TVd out.

  • Nick

    Can’t rappers just rap and then….go away?

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