Oh, biopics. If there was ever a genre with “Oscar-bait” written all over it, it’s this one. Whether it’s one of Forest Whitaker's best performances playing Idi Amin, or Renee Zellweger's transformation into Judy Garland, biopics are usually a surefire way to get Oscar buzz.
The same rationale apparently doesn't apply to rap biopics, as even though we’ve gotten movies about Biggie and 2Pac, with the films being Notorious and All Eyez on Me, respectively, as well as the N.W.A. movie, Straight Outta Compton, none of the actors or actresses involved in those films were nominated for their performances.
Now, you could argue that none of those performances were comparable to, say, Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles, or Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, and I wouldn’t necessarily argue with you. That said, with Snoop Dogg getting his own biopic, it made me think of five other rap biopics that I would love to see get made. And maybe, just maybe, if Hollywood ran with any of these biopics, we might see one of these actors up there on the stage one day thanking the Academy for awarding their performance.
H to the Izzo, a.k.a., Shawn Carter, would have a really interesting life story, mostly because of the massive amount of hustle involved to get him to where he is today. His first album, the classic, Reasonable Doubt, debuted when the artist was at the ripe old age of 26 (which is downright ancient in the world of rap), and it was preceded by—you probably guessed it if you listen to his music—years of drug dealing.
But, what I’d REALLY love to see is a film that showcases Jay-Z in his prime. I’m talking the formation of Roc-A-Fella Records, his verbal beef with Nas (which, I’m sorry Nas fans, that Jay won), and even his marriage to Beyoncé. And, you want drama? How about we actually get into Jay cheating on Queen B? I mean, honestly, forget who’s going to play Jay-Z. That can be hashed out later. What I really want to know is who would play the now 40-year-old Beyoncé. Because you know she can’t be played by just anybody. Sheer royalty requires only the best.
Okay, so, there’s already been a really good Beastie Boys movie called Beastie Boys Story. But, that was a documentary by Spike Jonze. That said, as good as it was, I’d really like to see actors play the Beastie Boys, as the documentary really showcased how the three friends (Adam Yauch was only in it through archival footage because he passed away in 2012), grew up together and evolved throughout the years.
If anything, I might like to see a movie about the Beastie Boys’ earliest years when they were more of a punk band struggling to find their eventual rap identity. I love, love, love a lot of the later Beastie Boys albums, like Hello Nasty, To the 5 Boroughs, and Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, but I’d really like to see a biopic that maybe ended with the release of Licenced to Ill. Because sometimes, I prefer biopics that focus more on MAJOR EVENTS (like the movie Selma) rather than being a full life story.
While she wasn’t the very first female rapper to break onto the scene (M.C. Lyte would take that title with 1988’s Lyte as a Rock, making her the first female rap artist to release a solo rap album), Newark’s own Queen Latifah was probably the first to really make a major splash with a general audience. But, unlike with the Beastie Boys, I would really love to see a full life story, from her beat boxing days, all the way up to her acting work on The Equalizer.
The really cool thing about a Queen Latifah biopic, though, would be that it could showcase all the waves she made with her explosive introduction into the rap world, as well as all the artists she influenced who followed after her. And, here’s the best part—I would want Queen Latifah to play herself. I mean, look. If Eminem could basically play out his life story in 8 Mile, then I don’t see why Queen Latifah—an Academy Award nominee—can’t play herself in her own biopic.
When my favorite rapper, MF DOOM, died, it really hit me hard. And, apparently, I wasn’t alone, as many people paid tribute to the late rapper, who died at 49. The thing is, MF DOOM had a pretty tragic life, losing both his brother and his son, neither of which he ever really recovered from.
That said, I think there is much to be said for a man who goes on to wear a mask (with pride) and to declare himself a supervillain, going so far as to not even show up to some of his concerts and to instead send DOOM Imposters. I would really love to see a film about why Daniel Dumile (who even had an alliterative name like a comic book character) decided to take on the identity of DOOM in the first place. Honestly though, I really just want to hear “Rapp Snitch Knishes” on the big screen, and maybe finally learn who Mr. Fantastik is.
Last but not least, I want a Kool Keith biopic. Now, if you don’t know who Kool Keith is, I don’t entirely blame you, since the rapper has probably had more identity changes than any other rapper in history. He started out in the rap group The Ultramagnetic MCs, but then went on to have his own solo career, first coming out as Dr. Octagon, and then becoming Dr. Dooom (where he killed off Dr. Octagon), then Black Elvis, and then…you know what, I have no idea what identity Kool Keith has right now. The dude has built a career on being an enigma.
That said, I would want an enigmatic biopic to go along with the rapper's eccentric career. Something along the lines of the Bob Dylan movie, I’m Not There, where different actors play different aspects of the musician himself. Because if any rapper deserves a bizarre, out-there biopic, it’s Kool Keith.
Which rappers would you love to see get a biopic? For more news on upcoming rap biopics, make sure to swing by here often.
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Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.