We love seeing our favorite rappers take a turn to Hollywood.
Giving MCs another notch on their belts to brag about on wax, acting can sometimes take a Hip-Hop star all the way to the Oscars — what’s good, Common! — or solidify a career that carries them years beyond their last hit album. Another cool benefit: it gives them yet another medium to show off their swaggy sense of style.
We scoured through decades of rapper-turned-actors to come up with 10 of the freshest masters of ceremony to hit the silver screen in style. From 2Pac as “Birdie” in the 1994 hoop classic Above the Rim, to Hype Williams’ visually astounding debut film Belly that arrived four years later and saw Nas rocking some serious steez, we think you’ll agree with this one.
Keep scrolling to peep 10 of the most stylish rappers in the roles they played on film. Let’s start things off with a classic:
Film: Krush Groove (1985)
Played By: Run-D.M.C. (playing themselves)
This is less of a “three-way tie” and more of a “packaged deal,” as RUN-DMC has and always will be. From the all-black-everything steez of the dearly missed mixmaster Jam Master Jay, to the classic adidas tracksuit style of both Run and D.M.C., respectively (seen above), this was the role that defined rappers showcasing their style on film. Salute to the legends!
(TIE) “Kid” and “Play”
Film: House Party (1990)
Played By: Kid ‘n Play, respectively
If the 1990s had to be summed up using one specific thing, this movie would be it hands-down — both Christoper’s and their era-defining early ’90s style being the main reason why. Both Kid and Play had so many fresh looks throughout this film, from Kid’s high top fade to Play’s high-shouldered sport coats, but the iconic dance scene takes the cake for the ultimate “bros-night-out” attire. Oh, and they killed it with the moves of course.
Film: Boyz n the Hood (1991)
Played By: Ice Cube
Clearly inspired by the style of his former real-life NWA bredren Eazy-E, Ice Cube’s character in this early ’90s coming-of-age hood classic represents quintessential West Coast street style. The standout piece is Doughboy’s Detroit Tigers New Era cap — worn primarily for the “D” insignia since the “hood” in question is actually South Central, LA — and the rest of the ‘fit is just simply corner boy swagger. Super simple, but memorable for sure.
Film: Above the Rim (1994)
Played By: 2Pac
It was hard to narrow down a single role where 2Pac showed off his iconic style — he literally stayed fresh on and off the big screen! — but the camo-on-camo look of his character in this show-stealing performance ultimately takes the cake. We could do this whole list on Birdie’s crooked crime-boss-turned-hoops-coach style, but we’ll let a few of these other guys get some shine, too.
Film: Belly (1998)
Played By: Nas
Let’s talk about this Avirex jacket from the scene above, where he’s sitting under the painting in Tommy’s dream apartment. Wait, how about the opening scene where he’s walking through legendary ’90s hotspot The Tunnel in neon glow-in-the-dark contacts? Maybe it was just the way Hype Williams was capturing the angles in his amazing directorial debut, but Esco was straight wildin’ for respect with his wardrobe in this film. We’ll let you decide after watching the film again if the respect should be given, but from us it’s a definite yes.
Film: Romeo Must Die (2000)
Played By: DMX
We almost considered profiling the style from his debut in the aforementioned film, but X has way too many roles where he keeps it fresh for us to add another Belly look into this list. Thus, we chose his small-yet-standout role from this Hip-Hop/Kung Fu fusion flick. Although Aaliyah is the showstopper in this film, from her beauty and debut acting chops all the way to the top of the charts with the Hot 100 #1 single “Try Again” off the soundtrack, DMX definitely held his own with noticeable ‘fits if nothing else. The climax of course is the one scene where Baby Girl and the Dark Man share camera time, ending with his character Silk seeing his demise while wearing — you guessed it! — a silk shirt. Classic film irony.
Film: Paid In Full (2002)
Played By: Cam’ron
Killa Cam’s role depicting the real-life Harlem drug lord Alpo Martinez is considered by some to be one of the greatest performances by a rapper in a film, especially for an acting debut, and the way they stayed true to the coke-boy-fresh look of the ’80s is one of the prime reasons behind it. A true period piece in all its glory, Paid In Full was Cam’s chance to prove that Dipset was more than music, and he did so effortlessly and had a killer style to match. We’re still trying to find that Dapper Dan-inspired Gucci velour tracksuit — custom, of course!
Film: 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Played By: Ludacris
You really don’t get to see enough of Tej’s afro and fire LV-inspired custom 2000 Acura NSX — the latter can be spotted more clearly in Luda’s “Act A Fool” music video from the film’s soundtrack — but when he does pop up it’s usually a memorable performance. Every time we see this movie it makes us want to book a flight to Florida for a high-speed beach vacation, and Ludacris is one of the main reasons why. We’re so glad his character received way more love (and flyer whips!) during the later sequels in this billion-dollar film franchise.
(TIE) “Rooster” and “Junior”
Film: Idlewild (2006)
Played By: Outkast (Big Boi and Andre 3000, respectively)
There was a point in the mid 2000s where everyone — and we mean everyone! — wanted to achieve the “urban prep” look. Outside of the “old Kanye,” who we still miss dearly, none other crushed it quite like Outkast. Bringing their real-life steez to the big screen, both Big Boi and 3 Stacks did it up in this Depression-era rap musical. Although the film itself was received lukewarm by the public, you can never deny that both guys, and the entire cast, looked extra sharp. The ’30s never looks as dope as it did in this cult classic period piece.
Film: DOPE (2015)
Played By: A$AP Rocky
Depending on who you ask, rappers in movie roles are either few and far between – the good ones, at least — or completely oversaturated in the straight-to-DVD department. However, Lord Flacko wasn’t too bad in this ’90s-inspired campy flick. A standout quality of his performance was his dedication to keeping with the fashion of the time, which, when it comes to style, we all know he doesn’t play around with. It gives us hope that we’ll see more emcees killing it in front of the camera, and hopefully staying fresh at the same time.
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