The most successful interpretations by famous rappers who have lent their faces to film.
The word “cameo” refers to the appearance in a play or film of a well-known character who is not a professional actor. From the early 1980s to the present, many rappers have tried their hand at acting, playing themselves or characters designed to leave an indelible impression in the memory, often contributing to the very success of the film.
In this editorial, we have selected the 11 most memorable cameos played by renowned rappers during the peak of their careers.
Grandmaster Flash in Wild Style – 1982
“Wild Style,” considered the first Hip Hop film, explores the origin and purity of Bronx hip-hop, comparing it to other influences from the inner city. In this engaging storyline, Grandmaster Flash‘s masterful cameo as himself stands out, showcasing his magical skills in deejaying, breakdancing and beatboxing. The cameo represents the first starring a hip hop artist in the film world.
Kool Herc in Beat Street – 1984
Following the success of “Wild Style,” a new wave of Hip Hop-themed films began in the early 1980s. The following year, “Beat Street” was released with a notable cameo by Dj Kool Herc as the owner of Burning Spear, a small club where Double K, the film’s protagonist, plays. Kool Herc made his contribution as a hip-hop veteran, authentically representing 1980s New York with naturalness and believability.
The Fat Boys in Disorderlies – 1987
The Fat Boys brought their unmistakable irony to one of the most engaging comedies of late 1980s American cinema, playing two unlikely home health aides to an elderly millionaire. It was a cameo that showed the funny side of their eccentric personalities.
Run-DMC in Tougher Than Leather – 1988
Eclectic music producer, peerless talent scout and, in this film, also screenwriter Rick Rubin directed “Tougher Than Leather” in 1988, casting Run-DMC as impromptu detectives investigating the mysterious death of one of their friends, Runny Ray, played by Raymond White.
Public Enemy in Do the Right Thing – 1989
One of the most iconic films about street culture does not see Public Enemy play a cameo in the film, but their song “Fight the Power,” commissioned by director Spike Lee, definitely serves as a supporting actor.
Tupac in Juice – 1992
“Juice” is a film that showed the world Tupac’s acting skills behind the camera as well, contributing greatly to the success of the film, which was initially underrated by critics. The late rapper played the role of Bishop, a member of The Wrecking Crew, an unscrupulous character who begins his rise in the world of crime by pitting himself against the main character, Omar Epps, as Q.
Ice Cube in Higher Learning – 1995
Ice Cube, as Fudge, confronts with other characters the harsh reality of racism on a college campus, amid discrimination and bullying. Ice Cube proves he is also comfortable behind the camera-a surprising breakthrough that ushers in Ice Cube’s long career in film, which will continue through 2015 with ‘Straight Outta Compton.
Nas in Belly – 1998
“Belly” in 1998 turned Nas into a bona fide Hollywood star, playing the role of Sincere, head of a Queens family, loving father, and loving husband, who shrewdly runs the city’s largest drug enterprise.
Snoop Dogg in Training Day – 2001
“Training Day” revolutionized the cop genre by telling the story of a corrupt officer, played by Denzel Washington, who moves through the slums of Los Angeles. Here, the cop meets Wheelchair Jimmy, a character played by Snoop Dogg, in a cameo that adds authenticity to his performance, lending a touch of reality to the portrayal of West Coast culture.
Fat Joe in Scary Movie 3 – 2003
The third installment of “Scary Movie” takes aim at hip-hop in the 2000s by parodying “8 Mile,” with Simon Rex, better known as Dirt Nasty, going head-to-head with Fat Joe in the iconic rap battle from the Eminem film, which here becomes grotesque to surreal.
RZA and GZA in Coffee and Cigarettes – 2004
Director Jim Jarmusch cast RZA and GZA of the Wu-Tang Clan in one of cinema’s most successful cameos, as they drink coffee, smoke cigarettes, and engage in surreal dialogue with Bill Murray. One of the most ironic and absurd scenes in modern cinematography.