The trend of rappers shifting into acting is nothing new, and in theory it makes sense. Both roles focus on emotive storytelling, right? Unfortunately, that transition isn't always a smooth one–a point hammered home repeatedly by the new film Just Wright, starring Queen Latifah and Common. It's 100 minutes of pure drivel.
Latifah has made the leap to legitimate movie star, but Common is still relatively new to the game. This is due in large part to the fact that he's a terrible actor (Smokin' Aces? Really?).
In Just Wright, Common plays a basketball star on the New Jersey Nets in some alternate world where they actually make the NBA Finals. He's injured during the All-Star Game, and is nursed back to health by physical therapist Latifah.
The crap factor here isn't all Common's fault. This laughably clichéd film fails on multiple levels, eliciting laughs in the most awkwardly “touching” moments. But his go-to facial expression, sort of a wide-eyed fart-sniffing smile, should be reserved only for moments where he has indeed just sniffed a fart.
He won't be the last rapper to stumble into an acting role, though. So let's look back at past examples of good rappers who are terrible actors.
1) Nas – Belly (Hype Williams, 2008)
Nas's debut album, Illmatic, remains a revered classic. But the rapper struggled in this film fraught with Williams' Technicolor visual style and melodramatic flair. One of the scenes is supposed to be based on his song “One Love,” but no dialogue in this movie comes close to Nas's flow.
2) Busta Rhymes – Halloween: Resurrection (Rick Rosenthal, 2002)
Busta is actually pretty funny in this installment of the Halloween series–and this scene, where he curses out Michael Myers, isn't bad. Still, it's not like he's acting here. He's basically just being Busta. One has to wonder how he fit his dreads inside that William Shatner mask, though.
3) Andre 300 and Big Boi – Idlewild (Bryan Barber, 2006)
From start to finish, the members of Outkast sucked hard in their big-screen star vehicle. Whatever chemistry they had in the studio evaporated in this Prohibition-era showboat. Yet they still seem to continue getting new acting jobs. Go figure.
4) Everlast – Who's The Man? (Ted Demme, 1993)
If you love Golden Era 1990s hip-hop, chances are you love Who's The Man? Everlast may have little to do in this movie, but what he does, he does very poorly. Maybe it's the goatee, nose ring, and blunt bringing him down.
5) Cam'ron – Killa Season (Cam'ron, 2006)
Cam'ron wrote, directed, and starred in this straight-to-video release. Here he gets to act tough, flash his gun, and basically be Cam'ron in all his glory. This was the epitome of a vanity project, but clearly Killa Cam doesn't give a fuck.