When Ice Cube starred in Boyz N The Hood way back in 1991, the transition from stage-rocking MC to scene-stealing lead actor was unheard of. In his role as Doughboy, a hardened gangbanger from South LA, Cube was effectively cast in the role he’d been playing for years as part of NWA and on his solo album ‘Amerikka’s Most Wanted’. His performance was well-received, the critics raved, and a template was established.
Eminem followed the same path in 2003, playing a dirt-poor battle rapper with a dream in 8 Mile, and shortly after, 50 Cent attempted to put his lifetime in between the celluloid lines with 2005’s Get Rich Or Die Tryin.
Whether Em ever had Hollywood aspirations is unknown, but both Cube and 50 spent the following years between the studio and the set, each dropping several albums while appearing in multiple films. Cube’s filmography is surprisingly diverse; from action (Anaconda, xXx: State Of The Union) to family movies (Are We There Yet, Are We Done Yet). All the while, Cube was learning, negotiating the difficult terrain of the entertainment business. He established film franchises (Friday, Barbershop, Ride Along), a production company (CubeVision) and has become a power player in Hollywood.
There are parallels between Ice Cube’s smooth transition from rapping to acting and that of his son. O’Shea Jr first appeared on screens playing his father in 2015’s Straight Outta Compton. He wasn’t about to play himself (in the film sense, not the DJ Khaled sense) in his motion picture debut, but playing his father was the next best thing. And this time around, his uncanny resemblance to his father was an asset, not a hindrance.
Playing Cube gave Jackson Jr both ample screen time and one of the film’s most compelling and imposing character arcs to prove his abilities. His performance transcended any talk of nepotism; he had not only perfected his father’s menacing scowl but nailed the moments of despair, fury, revenge and occasionally, comedic timing.