That rap life. It’s pretty safe to say it’s one big cliché more often than not. Same hustler turned rapper/CEO back-story. Same talk of taking their careers “to another level.” Same watch brands, same movie references... I mean, we like Tony Montana as much as the next guy but there has to be some other movie besides Scarface and maybe Goodfellas you’ve watched that resonated, no? Casino? King of New York? Think a little harder. You’re missing the point of this exercise…
In the name of proving rappers aren’t always so one-dimensional, here are ten movies that ten rappers not only watched and enjoyed but also admittedly influenced their art. --J. Pablo
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Q Tip: It’s just to me, the quintessential New York movie. I’m a New Yorker to the fullest and though there are a lot of films set in the city, I really appreciate this one because it’s definitely gangster but deals with loyalty and faith and other themes that are usually on the backburner in gangster flicks. Plus I had a lot of friends like Johnny Boy growing up. Good dudes, who just were fuck ups, y’ know?
NORE: This film is the realest, not just because it’s a documentary. Some documentaries the [subjects] tell lies or twist the truth to suit themselves. My nigga Tyson kept it all the way real. Like that scene when he’s getting choked up, fighting back tears because he knows how [powerful] he’d become and how far he’d come from being this bullied kid in Brownsville. I try and keep it that raw straight from the heart. That’s why niggas still fuck with me.
Vado: It was just a movie for NYC and specifically Harlem man. That was like one of the first movies that were geared toward us like that. And it just spoke to me because in my hood there are a lot of good dudes who get caught up in street shit like GQ did. Plus I think this was Pac’s best role. Niggas was all trying to be Bishop once this shit came out.
Jay-Z: A lot of our culture is based on individuals trying to keep things as authentic as possible. It’s the main reason that reality shows are the majority of programming nowadays. But in spite of that I think people want the happy ending. Never under estimate the power of a happy ending.
Common: This is my favorite movie in which nobody gets killed. I thought conceptually it was great. Instead of dealing with heartbreak, just erase the entire experience… that was genius. Lots of us would use that treatment because love can hurt. I try and include the topic of love in my music because it’s a very big part of our existence. When you can address love and still be humorous and not over do it… that balance is what I try and accomplish with my music.
Sean Price: I was real smart in school. I used to be really kind of a nerd almost when I was young, like grade school. I was in the top of my class always and I was into video games. But then by the time I was fourteen I was selling crack. That’s why I relate to that movie. A lot of smart poor kids who never get a chance because of their wild upbringing.
2Chainz: I know you’re thinking, “Typical answer for a rapper/ former D-Boy.” But it wasn’t the usual gangsta shit that moved me. Really it was a lesson in leadership. G Money, even though he put Nino Brown onto bass, couldn’t realize the vision like Nino could. It taught me that leaders have certain qualities that make people want to get next to them and follow them. They think differently, like why take over a corner when you could have the whole block? But that could lead to jealousy and envy amongst your team if you’re not careful and the whole operation will crumble.
Big KRIT: This probably my favorite movie of all time. The film showed me that some people are willing to do anything in the pursuit of something coveted. If you let it, greed can consume you and the people around you. Then before you know it, your entire life has passed you by and you can’t even enjoy the things you were chasing after.
Raekwon: See me, how grew up, loyalty is everything. This movie is about gangsters but it goes deeper. It’s really about lifelong friendships and the honor and loyalty amongst friends that carries us out of bad situations and into prosperity.
Action Bronson: Pretty much anything with Billy Crystal because he’s such a funny Jew. Plus it just reminds me of my grandfather because those were the types of movies we would watch together. Things like Death Wish and Bad Lieutenant also. But the Billy Crystal stuff always taught me not to take myself too, too seriously, you