We appear to be in the epoch of the hip-hop biopic. Last year brought us “Notorious” (about the life of the Notorious B.I.G.), while films about Tupac, Run-D.M.C. and the Juice Crew are all in different states of production. Yesterday came the news that the next rap legends to be immortalized on film will be N.W.A, who will be the subject of a film called (fittingly) “Straight Outta Compton.” It’s a story that will make a perfect film, as N.W.A rose up from the underground, made a colossal impact on the music world and then burned out just as quickly (which makes for a comfortable story arc).
But who will step into the difficult roles of Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, Yella and especially Eric “Eazy-E” Wright? If we were producing “Straight Outta Compton,” here are the first actors who would get offers. And if we were to put together another version of N.W.A in the same mold (or for some reason cast a radio play about the group), here are the MCs we would want involved.
Actor: Percy Daggs III. Best known for playing Wallace on “Veronica Mars,” he’s a guy who could really break out in a juicy role like Cube’s. He has just the right amount of toughness to carry off Cube’s rage but retains the heart of gold that Cube stored behind all that bile.
Rapper: Malice. If there is anybody who has been carrying on Cube’s legacy as the guy who invented gangsta rap, it’s the man who serves as 50 percent of the Clipse.
Actor: Kenan Thompson. The “Saturday Night Live” cast member is secretly a great actor looking for the right role — and what better one than the thumping beat and bellowing voice of the good Doctor?
Rapper: Dr. Dre. The guy is still a monster behind the decks, and it begins and ends with that.
Actor: Nick Cannon. Though Ren co-wrote much of N.W.A’s material with Cube, he regularly gets overlooked and has spent his entire life being underrated — probably because he had an inherent sweetness about him that Cannon can grab with both hands.
Rapper: The Game. It’s clear that the hero-worshipping MC would want to be a part of the flick (the dude has an N.W.A tattoo after all), and while he would probably like to play Eazy-E, his style and attitude match Ren way better.
Actor: Drake. The kid can act, already knows the hip-hop game and brings the same type of sing-songy sweetness to tales of the street as Yella did.
Rapper: See above.
Actor: Jamie Foxx. He’s nearly too old to pull it off, but his ability to combine comedy and seriousness (Eazy did die young, after all) would make him the perfect candidate.
Rapper: Eminem. He’s the natural heir to Eazy’s throne, with just the same perfect balance of humor, business savvy, violence, respect for the game and unfettered charisma.