EMINEM is the latest rap star to go from busting rhymes to delivering lines. As his film, 8 Mile, hits the big screen we examine the sweeping phenomenon of rap stars in film. Words: Catherine Bromley
he challenge is no longer to think of rap stars who have appeared in
movies but to think of one who has not. Ice T. lee (‘ubc. l.l. (‘ool J.
Snoop l)ogg. Queen Latifah. Busta Rhymes. Puff Daddy (or whatever he‘s calling himself these days). Bow Wow. Biz Markie and Mos Def are just some of the rappers who have made their names in movies as well as music (note: the omission of Will Smith from this list is deliberate. as most will argue his candy ass rhymes preclude him from being classified as a rapper in the first place). As you read this. a whole new league of hip hop artists are waiting to join their number and first up in the frame is white—boy rapper Marshall Bruce Mathers lll aka Slim Shady aka liminem. making his cinematic debut in (‘uttis Hanson‘s 8 Mile.
As the story goes. limincm and his producer Jimmy lovine had long been entertaining film pitches with a view to making the phenomenally successful rapper even more famous. ‘We kept hitting the ball and Brian Grazer was the first guy to hit back.” says lovine about the film producer who approached liminem with the challenging role of playing himself. From here. the real Slim Shady went on to meet director (‘urtis Hanson. to whom. it is reported. the cocky young chappie said ‘there isn‘t anything to acting‘ and he would ‘breeze through it”. l,’nfot'ttimttcly for him. liminem was proved wrong and spent a ‘gruclling’ six weeks in rehearsals to learn the difference between acting like an ape on stage and acting like an ape in front of a movie camera.
Although American film critics have gushed over liminem's performance in the film — Andrew Sarris of the / ’ew York Observer went so far as to say: ‘I have to go back to James Dean in lilia Ka/an‘s liuyl oil-[den and Nicholas Ray"s Rebel without u (have to find a comparably jolting piece of male aggressiveness coupled with a bottled-up vulnerability" « the rapper only just succeeds in his impersonation of an actor. (iranted. he does have a strong on-sereen presence. but so did .Vladonna when she played herself in Desperate/y Seekng Susan and look what happened to her film career.
With any luck then. liminem will dismiss any ideas of becoming the next Laurence Olivier and 8 Mile will go down as just another example of
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