When rap burst on the scene in the 1980s, Hollywood was quick to cash in. Early hip-hop-centric movies like Krush Groove, which featured the first ever on-screen performances of the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J, and the more serious Beat Street hold up surprisingly well, while others like Rappin’ and Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, well, not so much.
The format of film also opened the door for artists to star in movies. From the nearly unwatchable Run DMC film Tougher Than Leather to the Fat Boys comedy (yes, the Fat Boys had their own movie) Disorderlies, it really wasn’t until the House Party movies, starring the safe rap duo Kid ’n’ Play, that it was clear there was some solid box office money to be made.
Soon, artists were abandoning the studio and stage for the more profitable and often safer world of film. Considering that the violent gangsta rap phenomenon was busy imitating itself in the real world with many of its most famed practitioners actually being murdered (as was the case with rivals Tupac and Biggie), movies didn’t seem like such bad an idea. Several rappers, including Will Smith, Ice Cube, LL Cool J and Ice T, to name a few, now find themselves better-known for their television and film careers than anything they did on record.
Case in point: the duo of Method Man and Redman.
Longtime friends and despite being legendary MCs — Method Man, of course, being a key member of Wu Tang Clan — they’re now perhaps best-known outside of the hip-hop world for their 2001 stoner comedy classic How High.
In certain circles, How High is considered the Citizen Kane of the stoner film genre, up there with Up in Smoke and Dave Chappelle’s Half Baked. It also appealed to and blended hip-hop and stoner culture, which in many ways was a first for film.
How High’s popularity spurned a short-lived TV show on Fox, Method & Red, which both MCs swore off due to their lack of creative control, and for years now the demand for a How High sequel has been high. Despite being gifted lyricists, arguably two of the greatest of all time, they’re just as known for their often-quoted juvenile stoner jokes in a film now more than a decade old.
Which is why it’s nice to see Method Man and Redman return to music, preparing to release Blackout 3, their third full-length together, and another sequel to their debut Blackout, which is widely considered a classic of the genre.
With the Ventura area being both a hip-hop and stoner hotbed, their show at the Ventura Theater this week promises to bring out hard-core rap fans who understand the iconic status of Method Man and Redman, but there’s also sure to be a segment of the audience that’s more excited to see two bona fide movie stars.
Method Man and Redman, with locals Mantis opening, will perform at the Ventura Theater on Wednesday, June 5.