10 Hip-Hop Acts Besides Tupac Who Deserve the Big-Screen Treatment

Ms. Lauryn Hill at Coachella 2014
Ms. Lauryn Hill at Coachella 2014
Photo by Timothy Norris

It’s somewhat surprising that it took more than two decades after his untimely passing to get a big screen tribute to the late Tupac Shakur. Tupac was, and to an extent remains, the most magnetic figure in the annals of hip-hop. Hell, the guy’s commercial prime only lasted a few years, and yet, he is still regarded my many (including yours truly) as the greatest rapper of all time.

But, alas, the time has come; All Eyez on Me, which documents the meteoric rise and many controversies of the late, great Tupac Shakur, finally hits theaters on Friday. Coincidentally enough, that would have been Tupac’s 46th birthday.

Whether All Eyez on Me goes the way of Straight Outta Compton (good) or Notorious (bad) in the archives of hip-hop biopics is to be determined, but one thing is for certain – a number of other hip-hop legends deserve the big-screen treatment as well.

10. DMX
While you certainly wouldn’t think so now, there was a time when DMX v. Jay-Z was a legit argument. The erstwhile Earl Simmons’ first five records all debuted at No. 1, and only one of his seven albums didn’t debut in the top spot – Year of the Dog...Again debuted at No. 2. Not only that, but DMX’s lyrics – particularly early on – rank among the darkest, most introspective lyrics in hip-hop. Plus, the personal issues are many. Multiple prison stints. Fathering 15 children. A conversion to Christianity. Bankruptcy. A near-death experience last year. Suffice to say, DMX’s life story doesn’t lack for content.

9. RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE
Sure, Rage was not technically a hip-hop group, but rather, a rock group with a hip-hop front man. That said, the group was downright revolutionary in its political approach. Whereas rock legends like the Beatles and Bob Dylan were fairly peaceful in their political and societal leanings, Rage kicked the door down and made its stance known in the loudest of ways. In hindsight, it’s almost surprising the band only released three proper studio albums; during that time, they became the voice of the disaffected and disenchanted. That said, little is known about the inner workings of the band and how it all fell apart, which might make for some nice allure in a cinematic telling of Rage’s story.

8. BEASTIE BOYS
Formed as a New York punk-rock group, the Beastie Boys evolved into one of the most noteworthy groups in hip-hop history. What began as a trio of immature types rapping about beers and boobs evolved into a politically conscious group that served as elder statesmen in the hip-hop game. The unfortunate death of Adam “MCA” Yauch from cancer in 2012 officially put an end to the Beastie Boys (fellow members Mike “Mike D” Diamond and Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz opted not to continue out of respect to their late teammate), so now seems a good a time as any to tell the story of one of the most influential and unique acts in hip-hop history.

7. KANYE WEST
Back when Kanye was in full-throttle mode – he seems to have mellowed a bit of late – every day almost felt like a movie. Married to a reality TV star. Many, many controversial opinions. His ventures into fashion. A nervous breakdown. Lost amidst all the TMZ hoopla is the fact that, when he’s on, Kanye is about as good as it gets as a hip-hop producer. The mix of distinct music and public antics has made Kanye one of the most famous people on the planet; it would also make for interesting cinema.

6. DRAKE
Drake insists in his lyrics that his upbringing wasn’t all television appearances and first-class flights. He raps often about his struggles coming up and the dues he paid to become arguably the biggest rapper in the world. Whether that’s entirely accurate is certainly up for debate, but either way, it would make for a nice origin story. Started from the bottom, now he’s here? Let’s see how he did so.



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