14 Notable Feature Films Directed By Rappers
As hip-hop's influence has gone global over the years, it became natural for hip-hop to expand into media beyond music in its 40-year existence. The influence of hip-hop can be seen in the growing world of television, fashion and art as artists looked for artistic validation beyond their native ground.
One avenue that hip-hop artists have looked to expand into is the world of feature films. Since the early attempts at feature films like Rick Rubin's Run-DMC biopic, Tougher Than Leather, hip-hop artists have attempted to bridge the gap between music and cinema. While many rappers have tried their hands at acting, a few have attempted to make the step to go behind the camera and become directors, too. In 40 years, enterprising rappers have tried their hand at directing in a variety of films including comedies, gritty crime dramas, action films and even the occasional documentary. Some of these films that they have made are quite good (or at least, entertaining) and some of them have not.
XXL has compiled a list of 14 notable feature films directed by rappers.
From Something To Nothing: The Art Of Rap (2012)
Directed By: Ice-T
Ice-T’s debut film, Something From Nothing: The Art Of Rap, is an intimate and often illuminating look into the craft of being an MC. Interviewing a laundry list of the greatest rappers to ever hold a microphone, Ice-T picks their brains on their creative process, the artists that inspire them and what it takes to call themselves MC.
The Man With The Iron Fists (2012)
Directed By: The RZA
The RZA's directorial debut, The Man With The Iron Fists, is a film that pays homage to the classic Shaw Brother kung-fu films that influenced Wu-Tang's music. The film is set in 19th century China where a humble blacksmith played by The RZA defends his town against encroaching warriors seeking an ancient golden treasure. The film stars The RZA, Lucy Liu, Russell Crowe and WWE's Bautista.
Killa Season (2006)
Directed By: Cam'Ron
Killa Season is a loosely autobiographical film directed by Cam'ron that chronicles the evolution of high school basketball star to a full-time heroin dealer. The film is loosely structured and contains many strange and often incoherent sequences. Many of Cam'ron's Diplomat cronies appear as loosely based versions of themselves in the film including Juelz Santana, Hell Rell, Damon Dash and Jim Jones.
The Wash (2001)
Directed By: DJ Pooh
Although DJ Pooh is best known as a producer and a filmmaker over the years, he also released a little-known rap album, Bad Newz Travelz Fast. However, Pooh is best known as a filmmaker. In 2001, Pooh directed a remake of the classic 1970s blaxploitation comedy The Wash, starring Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
Baller Blockin' (2000)
Directed By: Bryan "Birdman" Williams & Ronald "Slim" Williams
In one of the most famous Direct-To-DVD hood films of all-time, Baller Blockin' is an action comedy set in the Magnolia Projects of New Orleans starring the Cash Money Millionaires. The film is directed by the Cash Money Records owners, Birdman and Slim, and is about the daily trials and tribulations that arise on the streets of New Orleans.
I'm Bout It (1997)
Directed By: Master P & Moon Jones
Master P's I'm Bout It was an independent film released by P's No Limit Films in 1997. The film is loosely autobiographical and centers around Perry McKnight (Master P) and his brother, Kevin, as they live and hustle around New Orleans.
Gunnin' For That #1 Spot (2008)
Directed By: Nathaniel Hornblower (a.k.a. Adam Yauch)
Gunnin' For That #1 Spot is an excellent documentary film directed by Nathaniel Hornblower, a.k.a. Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys. The film follows eight of the country's top high school basketball stars as they vie for position on a college roster and a potential shot at being the overall No. 1 pick in the NBA. The film stars future NBA players Kevin Love, Tyreke Evans, Brandon Jennings and Michael Beasley.
Hot Boyz (2000)
Directed By: Master P
Hot Boyz was a 2000 crime film that starred Master P's younger brother, Silkk The Shocker. The film is notable for launching a rivalry between Master P's No Limit and Cash Money Records because of the controversy surrounding the name "Hot Boyz," a well-known and established rap group on Cash Money Records.
Before I Self Destruct (2009)
Directed By: 50 Cent
Before I Self Destruct is a crime film written, directed and starring 50 Cent that was released to coincide with his 2009 album of the same name. The film is about a young kid named Clarence who dreams of becoming a basketball start but descends into the criminal underworld.
3 Strikes (2000)
Directed By: DJ Pooh
DJ Pooh's directorial debut, 3 Strikes, is a screwball comedy starring comedian Brian Hooks about life under California's three strikes law. Hooks plays Rob, an ex-con on his second strike looking to go straight, who gets embroiled in a fiasco with the police as he tries to evade and prove his innocence. The film was a critical and commercial flop that garnered the ignominious distinction of holding a 0% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes film review aggregator.
Straight Outta L.A. (2010)
Directed By: Ice Cube
Straight Outta L.A. is Ice Cube's first foray into the world of documentary and is about the life, times and cultural impact of the Los Angeles Raiders and their connection with Cube's seminal gangster rap group, N.W.A, in the 1980s. The film was part of ESPN's critically acclaimed 30 For 30 documentary series.
Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That! (2006)
Directed By: Nathaniel Hornblower
Adam Yauch's directorial debut, Awesome; I Fuckin' Shot That!, is a 2006 concert film that follows the Beastie Boys at their performance at Madison Square Garden while on tour. The film is notable because it was entirely shot by fans who were passed out cameras to shoot the film from many different angles as possibly giving the film a look from the perspective of the eager fan.
Player's Club (1997)
Directed By: Ice Cube
Ice Cube's Players Club is the rapper's directorial debut and centers around a young, unwed mother who takes employment at a strip club to pay her bills. The plot focuses on the many comedic situations and characters she encounters as she works at the club.