The 18 Best Rapper Movies

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Since the days of Wild Style and Krush Groove, rappers have put their music on hold and delved into the film world. A bunch of these efforts were pretty bad—remember Ice-T in Leprechaun in the Hood—while others were so bad they were good. Cam crying in Killa Season or KRS fleeing the scene without a word in Who's The Man? had some unintentional comedy, as did DMX trying to explain to Nas what our purpose on earth is ("Shorty can't eat no books!") in Belly. And then there were the ones that were actually straight-up good.

The 18 films that follow didn't get much in the way of Oscar recognition, but if cinema is meant to entertain, well, they do that and then some.

1. Belly

Though the acting is cringe-inducing, it's still shot beautifully by Hype Williams. Film buffs say it's one long music video, and it kind of is. But it still looks great. Personally I watch it at least once a month, and a lot of rappers still make reference to it.

2. Paper Soldiers
Kevin Hart stars alongside Beanie Sigel, N.O.R.E., and a few others as a bumbling house burglar who means well but can't seem to get anything right. The highlight is definitely when Beans puts the beats on an overzealous cop. Charlie Murphy wrote the screenplay so... yeah.

3. State Property 2

The sequel made the cut just off of sheer humor. The subject matter was the same as the first movie, but the writers and actors didn't take themselves too seriously, making for more believable characters. N.O.R.E. really did his thing in this, as did Oschino Sparks. What the fidididduck?

4. Strapped
HBO released this 1993 movie about gunrunners in Brooklyn. Though Bokeem Woodbine was the lead, Fredro Starr played the grimy Bamboo. Dude pulled a gun over a sandwich (he was getting screwed, though) and later even shot at Bokeem in his mom's living room with the whole family there! Yeeesh. Das EFX and a slew of other rappers make cameos.

5. Paid In Full
Number 5 should be Number 1 to me. Based on Rich Porter, Alpo Martinez and Azie Faison—the Harlem trio that made millions a week in the 1980s—this film probably ranked highest as far as acting. Cam'ron embodied the Harlem hustler persona, playing the brash, cold-blooded Rico with Wood Harris on the opposite end of the spectrum playing Ace, the quiet, fair mastermind of the multimillion Harlem drug ring. Mekhi Phifer was decent as Money Mitch, but my favorite was N.O.R.E.'s little contribution. Don't blink or you'll miss it.

6. Who's The Man?
Straight comedy. Ed Lover and Dr. Dre become cops (much to Dennis Leary's dismay) to do their best Scooby Doo and Shaggy impressions and solve the murder of their boss and a pillar of their Harlem community. Even House of Pain was in this joint.


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8 comments
David Bacon
David Bacon

No Friday or Colors is completely unacceptable. 

Jason
Jason

What rappers where in Colors? Oh yeah... not a single one.

yikes t.
yikes t.

For #11, you mean TRESPASS.

bryan76
bryan76

I understand why it wasn't, but Fear Of A Black Hat needed to be on here.

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