Oh, You’re Into Hip Hop? Five Surprise Celebrity Rap Fans
By Anton Constantinou
Just last week I learned that Romesh Ranganathan is a hip hop fan. I’ll be honest, the news did take me by surprise. Beyond his stand-up routines, I would never have guessed that the award winning comedian has a podcast series called Hip Hop Saved My Life.
In it, he’s joined by fellow British comedians, Mark Smith, Joe Jacobs, Fergis Craig and Frankie Boyle, to name a few – who are also rap enthusiasts, it turns out. And I’m not just talking your everyday “trap” nonsense; these guys know their shit.
Have I missed something? Has real hip hop overnight become the talk of pop culture? Does an appreciation for the music form exist beyond the realms of a few underground communities buried away in big cities. When you’re really into something, it’s tempting to assume that that passion is yours and yours only. Of this charge, I’m guilty. Somewhere between the obscure downloads and festival visits, I’ve become disillusioned. At a guess I’d say it’s a mixture of naivety and pretentiousness.
A Spotity analysis in 2015 put hip hop down as the most listened to genre on the planet. In their “life musical map of the world”, taken from study of 20 billion tracks, the digital music service found rap to be most popular in over 1,000 cities across the globe. Translation: I’m not the only one streaming Digable Planets.
Scaling down that analysis (considerably), we’ve decided to take a look at some of the shock stars who harbour a fondness for hip hop. Here are five we’ve unearthed:
The controversial Scottish stand-up cites his love for hip hop as having started early-on. Raised by Irish parents who looked up to the likes of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr, young Boyle took a shine to strong black voices, of the like you commonly find in rap music. His Thursday Spotify playlist is jam jacked with dope tracks like Make Your Mind Up (Souls of Mischief), Come Clean (Jeru the Damaja) and Track Two (Ab-Soul). Over on Twitter, Boyle can regularly be found pushing album or song releases, such as Noname’s Telefone back in September. Here he is with Romesh relaying a deliciously cheeky theory that Biggie and ‘Pac were homosexual lovers:
Best known for his roles in Even Stevens, Transformers, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and, more recently, American Honey, Actor, LaBeouf, has breakdanced on live television, directed videos for rapper, Cage, and is also a pretty impressive freestyler. Not content at just showing support, he’s also gone as far as to diss Soulja Boy, who, in response has called for LaBeouf to be banned from Atlanta.
What better way to show your appreciation of hip hop then commissioning for two acrylic bags to be made with Biggie and ‘Pac’s names on them, as Paltrow did in 2015. We’re not sure as to the extent of her love affair, but having Jay Z and Beyonce as close friends has evidently proved an influence. On various occasions over the past decade or so, Paltrow’s popped up on rap’s radar – in September 2006, for example, she delivered a chorus from Jay Z’s Song Cry at the Royal Albert Hall, while March 2011, the Sliding Doors actress demonstrated her knowledge of NWA after being put to a pop quiz on the Graham Norton Show.
If there’s one type of music which is going to get you over the finish line in time it’s hip hop, with its heavy bass and ethos of “overcoming obstacles”. Former competitive swimmer, Michael Phelps, is clearly aware of this, else he wouldn’t have named Lil Wayne and Young Jeezy among his 2008 pre-race pump up list. In 2005, those names were Eminem, Dre and Notorious; that same year he attended a Snoop Dogg concert, where he met The Game backstage. Here he is introducing Future – whose song Stick Talk was the apparent inspiration behind his 2016 Olympics game face:
No surprises that the star of stoner comedy film, Pineapple Express, is a huge Wu Tang fan. What is crazy is the fact that he showed out for Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s last ever performance in 2008. Torn between Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu–Tang (36 Chambers), A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders and The Roots’ Do You Want More?!!!, Rogen struggled to settled on a favourite rap album of all time, concluding “..i’ll let you know”. In this freestyle on Sway, Rogen tries his might against fellow actor and rap fan, Joseph Gordon Levitt:
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