We don’t need every rapper starring in a movie to be good or bad; we just need them to be believable.
For as long as one can remember, musicians have been crossing over into film. The respective mediums of music and movies have always found a fascination with each other, and the experience of watching some of our favorite artists dabble in film has worked to varying degrees.
Hip-hop, specifically, has always shared a much different and often bizarre relationship with film. Although several of rap’s biggest names, such as Tupac Shakur in Juice or Eminem in 8 Mile, found iconic roles when they dove into the film industry, hip-hop stars have often found themselves in roles that cross over into the strange and ridiculous, whether intended or not.
So how do we define a ridiculous rapper movie role, and how do we decide who wears the crown? It’s easiest to define if we first establish some boundaries. The most ridiculous rapper movie role doesn’t necessarily have to be the “worst” movie role, even if the rapper's performance in the film justifies a spot on our list. There are plenty of terrible rap movies—such as Master P’s MP da Last Don, Dr. Dre’s The Wash and Big Boi’s Who’s Your Caddy—that don’t contain movie roles ridiculous enough to make this list even if they do contain some of the worst scenes you could possibly imagine.
Instead, the worst and most ridiculous rapper movie roles are best defined by simply providing you with a list of the most ridiculous roles we can remember.
Without further ado, here we go…
Method Man — The Wackness (2008)
Known for his roles in How High and as Cheese Wagstaff on The Wire, Method Man has never been a newbie to acting. Yet, in The Wackness, Meth remains the glaring hole in an otherwise interesting and delightful movie. Seemingly workshopping a “Little Jacob from Grand Theft Auto 4” accent, wearing a wife beater and beret that screamed “I listen to too much Talib Kweli,” and portraying a character that at one point calls Rudy Giuliani a “blood clot,” nothing about Method Man’s performance makes any sense. Also, his intro into the film—to the tune of Notorious B.I.G.’s “The What” featuring himself—is thoroughly and hilariously disorienting.
Tone Lōc — Blank Check (1994)
The Disney movie Blank Check is my white whale of written pop culture criticism and Tone Lōc’s performance as Juice only adds to the movie’s legacy. Mr. “Wild Thing” himself manages to top his scene-stealing performance from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective as a wise-cracking criminal henchman who, at one point, actually alludes to how dumb he is by saying he “flunked recess.” Tone Lōc’s four-packs-a-day, baritone voice only adds to the ridiculousness of an already insanely absurd plot, and it's one that anyone who turned on Disney Channel could never forget.
Busta Rhymes — Halloween: Resurrection (2002)
Busta was not the first, nor the last, rapper to take a shot at the “hilarious but extremely stereotypical Black actor in a horror film” role, but he is the only one to literally fight Michael Myers using martial arts. Not only does he attempt several roundhouse kicks, with ensuing sound effects and someone else’s voice, but his ridiculous moves actually manage to inflict damage upon the invincible serial killer, AND THEN TAKES THAT MOTHERFUCKER’S OWN MASK AND PUTS IT ON.
The Top 10
10. LL Cool J — Toys (1992)
LL has never been one to shy away from all things corny, bizarre and ridiculous. This is a man who once recorded a song with Brad Paisley titled “Accidental Racist” and consciously chooses to star in NCIS: Los Angeles. I’ve personally never been able to correctly use the phrase “doing too much,” but I do believe it is quite fitting for LL Cool J’s non-musical career.
His magnum opus of ridiculous can be found in the 1992 film Toys starring Robin Williams, Joan Cusack and Robin Wright. Taking place inside a toy factory, and with most of the actors playing various toys that come to life, LL takes the cake as Capt. Patrick Zevo, even though he’s dressed like Cap’n Crunch. It’s a role you can clearly tell LL is trying much too hard to convince us of despite the fact that he’s dressed like the Pillsbury Doughboy if he watched too many Public Enemy music videos. It’s his earnestness in a thankless, bizarre role that actually makes him harder to believe.
9. Wyclef Jean — Carmen: A Hip Hopera (2001)
Yes, Carmen: A Hip Hopera, a musical that manages to star Beyoncé, Mos Def, Mekhi Phifer, Rah Digga and Wyclef Jean, and possesses the cinematography skills of Michael Scott’s Threat Level Midnight, is as bad as its title suggests. Yet, it is Wyclef’s tarot card-reading psychic role that takes the cake. Wyclef’s ridiculousness lies in the fact that his role as the singing-rapping fortune teller still manages to be left field in a movie that takes place entirely in left field. Through his inexplicable pronunciation of “luhhh-ovvee!” to his wide-eyed stare, he turns in a truly insane performance worthy of some sort of documentary to explain its origin.
8. Vanilla Ice — Cool as Ice (1991)
Once upon a time, Vanilla Ice was one of the biggest musicians on the planet. At that same point, he also made a film/musical titled Cool As Ice, in which he plays a rapper/biker that travels to a small town and falls in love with a girl. The ridiculousness of this role has been, and will always be, the fact that fucking Vanilla Ice starred in a movie. They legitimately allowed the mastermind behind the classic “Go Ninja, Go Ninja, Go!” to take the leading role in a film that cost money, and utter lines such as, “drop that zero and get with a hero.” This film belongs in a museum.
7. Ludacris — The Fast and The Furious franchise (2001 - Present)
When Ludacris made his first appearance in 2 Fast 2 Furious as mechanic and tech expert Tej Parker, he was a simple garage owner who dabbled in boosting and fixing up cars. By the end of The Fate of The Furious, the franchise’s eighth installment, Tej was hacking into encrypted government databases, and utilizing satellites to pinpoint terrorists before they stole nuclear warheads. Where did Tej manage to learn such skills over the course of five films? Good fucking question.
Luda’s role in the F&F franchise has always been more for comic relief than actual centrality to each film’s plot. Yet, unless he spent his free time between jacking cars and traveling the world doing online computer hacker courses, the hilarity of his role is not in what he says, but the single fact that his character is able to do what he does in each film. You would have an easier time convincing me that Release Therapy was a good album.
6. Sticky Fingaz — Leprechaun: Back 2 tha Hood (2003)
Sticky Fingaz’ film career is as volatile as any rapper’s that comes to mind. At moments, he remained a grounded force onscreen, even when the plot was something as insane as Dennis Quaid and Tyrese Gibson piloting a crashed plane in the Gobi desert. At other moments, the man who once washed Eminem on his own song found himself as the most laughable person on screen, even in a movie as unconscionable as Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood.
In yet another legendary installment to quite possibly the worst horror franchise in history, it is Sticky’s resolve to remain in character as Cedric, a lazy-eyed, machine gun-wielding gangbanger that puts him on this list. Mr. Fingaz, who tries to provide us with what I’m sure he believes to be Daniel Day Lewis-esque acting chops, is ultimately outdone by the Leprechaun, and it’s a shame because you can really feel an emotional breakthrough happening on screen with his character right before the Leprechaun says, “What’s up, ninjas?” and proceeds to kill him.
5. Lil Bow Wow — Like Mike (2002)
Before Shad Moss started riding coach on American Airlines, tricking us with fake Instagram pictures, he starred in Like Mike, a movie about a kid who finds an old pair of actual game worn Michael Jordan shoes and proceeds to ball the fuck out in the NBA.
In a film that already includes absurdities like lightning hitting a pair of basketball shoes and making them magical, as well as a professional basketball team whose best player is Morris fucking Chestnut, Lil Bow Wow’s Calvin Cambridge soars to new heights of insanity in this one. There are several things about the character of Calvin that aren’t ever explained, though. Like, why do all the NBA players suck so bad against a child as tall as Earl Boykins? If Calvin’s shoes turn him into Michael Jordan, then why wasn’t he just a huge dick to all his teammates the whole movie? Why is he friends with Jonathan Lipnicki? These are things we will never fully understand.
4. Snoop Dogg — Bones (2001)
In 2001, Snoop Dogg decided to try his hand at horror films, and what he eventually made was Bones, the furthest thing from a horror movie. As well, the most ridiculous part of Snoop Dogg’s movie is the star himself, who plays Jimmy Bones (unclear if that’s a family name), a resurrected gangster from hell who looks like if André 3000 and Kung Lao from Mortal Kombat did the Dragonball Z fusion technique.
At some points, like in the scene above, Jimmy Bones tries to scare people by inexplicably stabbing pool tables that spurt blood for whatever reason. At other points, when asked by drug dealers if he wants to get high, he responds with one-liners like, “I got a natural high...a SUPER natural high.” It’s the type of exhilarating nonsense that one could watch for hours, while still wondering just what exactly Snoop thought he was getting himself into. An undeniably ridiculous performance.
3. Ice-T — Tank Girl (1995)
I double-checked and, yes, Tank Girl is an actual movie that actually came out and people actually agreed to act in. Of all of the spots in this movie, however, none feels more out of place and insane than Ice-T as a walking, talking kangaroo named T-Saint.
I must admit that I have not actually seen Tank Girl in its entirety, nor do I wish to, but I can tell you that just by the sheer fact that in order to explain this movie I have to say the words, “Yea, I think Ice-T is in it as a kangaroo warrior,” is enough ridiculousness for me to be sold on this particular ranking. Luckily, Ice-T finally found his calling in 38 years of Law & Order: SVU, but that doesn’t mean any of us could ever forget whatever the hell this was.
2. Will Smith — Independence Day (1996)
Here is the point in which I’m going to piss all of you off. Yes, Will Smith, legendary actor, had a completely ridiculous role in the sci-fi classic Independence Day. Here are all the things that make his role as Captain Hiller, the role that transitioned him from a rapper/actor to a bona fide movie star, completely unbelievable:
- I’m supposed to believe his girlfriend is both Vivica A. Fox AND a stripper. He is more than welcome to have his girlfriend be either Vivica A. Fox or a stripper, but there’s no way I’m believing both those things are true.
- His best friend is supposedly Harry Connick Jr., which is impossible because the only people who like Harry Connick Jr. are people who like bad romantic comedies, and Harry Connick Sr.
- Looking like a cross between a Xenomorph and a Kylie Jenner wig, he takes down an alien WITH ONE PUNCH and then screams at it, “Welcome to Earth.” Yea, Will, it didn’t hear you because you just killed it.
- Finally, he saves the world using the alien's spaceship, which is navigated with the help of Jeff Goldblum, and once I got to the Jeff Goldblum part of this sentence, it should’ve been enough to convince you.
1. 50 Cent — All Things Fall Apart (2011)
I actually begin to laugh just thinking about this role. In 2011, 50 Cent reached the rock bottom of his entire career with his role as Deon Barnes, a football player diagnosed with cancer. In theory, the idea of a feel-good sports movie about an athlete overcoming cancer sounds promising. Only 50 could take such a role and turn it into a full-on parody.
It’s honestly hard to pinpoint the most ridiculous aspect of 50’s character in this movie. Is it the KRS-One dreads wig that he wears? Is it the fact that he actually lost 54 pounds to play the part for a straight-to-DVD movie? Is it the fact that you know, just from watching the trailer, that 50 Cent really convinced himself he was part of something really special, only for the result to be a movie that might not make it to the Lifetime Network? The answer is all of those.
50’s role as Deon is the most ridiculous because of just how hard you can tell he tried to make it believable. The wig, the makeup, the forced emotional scenes, and the buildup to the movie all reek of him trying way too hard, and, in turn, he churned out quite possibly one of the worst movies ever.
50 Cent always wanted to be the king of something, and now he finally can be.