When one thinks of “rappers-turned-actors,” award-caliber performances aren’t what typically comes to mind. That’s because for every winning turn such as Queen Latifah’s Academy Award-nominated work in Chicago, there’s half-a-dozen-or-so like Nas’s in Belly (“I’ve been shot,” delivered in a monotone pitch as a bullet lodges itself in Nasir’s guts). Or, even worse, the painfully inept cops of hip-hoppers in straight-to-DVD fare (rent 1999’s Thicker than Water, starring Fat Joe and Mack 10, at your own peril).

Despite such an imbalance in quality, it’d be wrong to overlook the fact that several rappers have convincingly earned their cinematic stripes. The obvious example is Ice Cube, whose filmography speaks for itself; same goes with Will Smith, who, yes, was a legitimate rapper at one time. Common has gathered respect in Hollywood, and The RZA continues to snag A-list projects (he’ll next be seen in the November comedy Due Date, starring Robert Downey, Jr. and directed by The Hangover maestro Todd Philips).

This weekend, T.I. checks back into theaters with Takers, an action flick about a crew of bank robbers looking to make one final, and huge, score. Co-produced by T.I. and his Grand Hustle Entertainment partner Jason Geter, Takers allows the ATL superstar to bust guns (with fake rounds, mind you) and call the shots; it’s a positive step into leading man territory.

With Takers on the mind, XXL taps into Hollywood’s unstoppable trend not known as 3D: remakes. Picking a few choice rappers from hip-hop’s lot, we’ve envisioned five remakes that’d benefit from rapper slants. If there are any other Hollywood remakes you’d love to see a rapper take on, let us know in the comments section. Now, let’s start the show.

T.I. as “Elvis” in The King
This would be a clever play on words for Tip. In title alone, the 2005 independent drama falls right into the Atlanta rapper’s wheelhouse for obvious reasons (place the words “of the South” after The King and you’d have a T.I. biopic). Story wise, though, English filmmaker James Marsh’s quiet heart-grabber has nothing to do with rap supremacy. It’s the story of a just-discharged Navy man who heads to Texas to find his estranged father. Change the early setting from a Navy commune to prison, if anything, to bring it closer to T.I.’s comfort zone. If Tip hopes to be taken seriously as an actor, a project of this ilk would be a great look.

Nicki Minaj as Barbarella
It’s only a matter of time before Ms. Minaj shows up on the big screen. After all, she’s a former acting major with theater experience back in her high school years. Plus, in a June interview with New York, Minaj talked about how Meryl Streep is one of two celebrities she’d be starstruck around (the other is Judge Judy). Hollywood has long been flirting with the idea of redoing the campy 1968 sci-fi picture Barbarella, which starred a foxy Jane Fonda. For “Black Barbie” Minaj, it’s a custom built role just waiting for her. Black Barbarella, anyone? And imagine the Young Money princess kicking ass while dressed in form-fitting spacesuits. Have mercy.

Keith Murray as “Tommy” in Goodfellas
Let’s be clear with this one: we’d be perfectly content without a Goodfellas remake. What’s perfect should remain untouched, and Martin Scorcese’s truly gangsta gangster flick is an expert’s class in filmmaking from scene one to end credits. But after seeing Keith Murray’s recent on-camera spaz-out that surfaced online, we couldn’t get past visions of Joe Pesci’s combustible character in the 1990 masterwork. In said Internet clip, Murray, looking quite loose of screws, goes off on how he once fought Tupac Shakur and how he smashed a bottle over Dame Dash’s head. Maybe Dash questioned Murray about an unpaid tab…

Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y as “Steve” and “Wardell” in Uptown Saturday Night
Hollywood suits love to cast younger, teen-attracting actors, so the idea of remaking the classic Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier comedy Uptown Saturday Night with a couple of under-30-year-old faces isn’t too far-fetched. The key to the 1974 original—about two grown-up pals involved in a nightclub robbery that results in a missing, and winning, lottery ticket—was the chemistry between the two leads. Watching the film today, it’s easy to believe that Cosby and Poitier are good friends. Much like Wiz and Curren$y, though the remake would incorporate a bit less “Leggy Peggy” and much more Mary Jane.

R.A the Rugged Man as “Joe Spinell” in Maniac
Within the horror community, 1980’s Maniac, from exploitation cinema director William Lustig, is a cult classic, no small part due to its excessive gore and general luridness. The film’s main character, “Joe Spinell,” played with disturbing realism by Frank Zito, is a sicko with mommy issues living in Manhattan and prone to slaying women for sport. In other words, Maniac is fun for the whole family. R.A., aside from slightly resembling Zito, is both a horror connoisseur and an independent genre film producer and writer (see 2008’s provocative Bad Biology). Not only are we sure he’s a fan of Lustig’s original flick, we’re willing to bet that he’d jump at the chance to reinvent Spinell.

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