The Weeknd is the most recent hip-hop artist to transition into the film industry. The music video for title track of his new album, Starboy, revolves around a dramatic mini-narrative which will be explored further in his upcoming filmic venture, Mania.
Earlier this week, Tyler the Creator also announced that he will be producing a documentary based around his latest album, Cherry Bomb.
MANIA ! a visual piece… COMING SOON pic.twitter.com/fQGrtjwVbm
— The Weeknd (@theweeknd) November 21, 2016
Amidst the recent trend of hip-hop musicians-turn-filmmakers, we explore which other MCs have gone behind the camera.
It turns out that rappers switching to film aren’t rare. While many have stepped into documentaries about their own lives, others have taken on full length features and artistic shorts.
We have compiled a list of the ones who managed to transition from in front of the camera, to behind it:
With Nas as an executive producer, Baz Luhrmann directing and a mass of famous musicians collaborating, the Netflix series The Get Down chronicles the era of 1970s hip-hop through the lives of Bronx youth.
Ice Cube has had many accomplishments in the film industry. Just to name some, he wrote Friday (1995), directed The Player’s Club (1998), produced Straight Outta Compton (2015) and the Ride Along franchise (2014 – 2016).
Legendary figure in the Wu-Tang Clan, RZA, starred in, directed and wrote his debut The Man With the Iron Fists (2011). RZA’s creative inspiration came after working with iconic director Quentin Tarentino to produce the soundtrack for Kill Bill. Set in 19th century China, the plot centres around different characters who must band together in adverse circumstances to defeat a traitor that threatens the livelihood of themselves, and a village.
Among his many music and business pursuits, rapper 50 Cent also has an impressive film portfolio. Before I Self Destruct (2009) is a crime drama film that he directed, produced, wrote and starred in.
Cruel Summer (2012) is a short film directed and written by Kanye West that premiered at The Cannes Film Festival. The “fusion of short film and art” received positive critique. Directed, written and starring West, Runway (2010) is a 35 minute musical short film serving as a music video for a collection of songs from his album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
Ice T directed and produced Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap (2012) as an intimate documentary about the conceptual and practical process of creating rap. It features a stellar cast of artist-friends, such as DMC, Dr. Dre, Eminem and Snoop Dogg.
Tyler The Creator
Although not released yet, the co-founder of Odd Future will make his filmmaker debut with a documentary about his latest album, Cherry Bomb. However, he already has extensive experience in directing music videos for his own and other Odd Future member’s songs.
Childish Gambino also has a broad background in the film industry. Behind the camera, his experience is: writing Mystery Team (2009), Clapping for the Wrong Reasons (2013) and episodes of Atlanta (2016) and 30 Rock (2008 – 2009)
While you’re here, check out our list of the best music biopics out there.