By Thomas A. Harden
Academy Award-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix wants to rap. In fact, in 2008 the acclaimed thespian declared on a red carpet to “Extra” that he was giving up the bright lights of Tinseltown for the more, dimly lit surroundings of a recording booth.
Many believed that the actor-turned-rapper’s rap-star ambitions were merely a well-crafted hoax. But Phoenix and his publicist soon dispelled the prank accusations to MTV News in 2009, stating that the actor’s transition from the big screen to hip-hop was very real.
To prove just how serious he is about his new profession, Phoenix teamed up with his brother-in-law Casey Affleck to chronicle his hip-hop odyssey in the newly released film “I’m Still Here.” Created from footage taken the year following the actor’s retirement, the documentary goes behind the scenes of the A-List actor’s quest to obtain rap stardom.
Throughout his transformation, Phoenix tries to align with hip-hop’s all-stars. In the film, the grizzly-looking rapper is seen onstage with Jamie Foxx in a club in Las Vegas, and even goes as far as to attempt to secure Diddy to produce his debut album. Needless to say, the hip-hop mogul wasn’t amused by Phoenix’s lofty desire.
In a clip from the film that leaked online, and in a scene that is reminiscent of Mr. Combs’ performance in the box-office hit “Get Him To Greek,” the Bad Boy CEO jumps into a tirade after he asks Phoenix if he has money to make the album and the actor says he has a studio in his garage. “See, that’s the motherf—in’ problem when people try to do things, they don’t do it the way they do it for their own industries,” Diddy says. “When you go make a movie, you got money to make a movie, right?”
Phoenix explains he wants it “to be a place of true exploration.” But Diddy quickly switches back to the topic: “Can you do that in acting?” Phoenix says he can, because as an actor, you’re shielded. It’s a different thing.
“No, that’s not a different thing. Lights, right? Lights, motherf—er, lights!” Diddy says. “Craft services, trailers, makeup, hair, DP, gaffers. Same thing. Studio, engineer, me. ME [Diddy]. Speakers. Do you have any money?”
“Um, well how much do you need?” Phoenix asks. “How much do you got?” Diddy responds.
Phoenix laughs. Diddy doesn’t.
In light of the situation, we compiled a dream-team list of artists that Phoenix potentially could work with if Diddy executive produced the album. Hit the jump to see the drama unfold.
Young Money All-Stars
Like Pheonix, Young Money all-stars Drake and Nicki Minaj are actors-turned-rappers. Drizzy is a child star of the hit teenage drama “Degrassi” and the Queens, New York, Barbie studied drama at LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in the Big Apple. Being that Drake and Nicki understand the difficulties of crossover success, from Hollywood to rap, the new Bonnie & Clyde team up with Phoenix for the renegade track “Hollywood Up to No Good.”
Phoenix won a Golden Globe for his portrayal of Johnny Cash in the 2005 biopic “Walk the Line.” In 2008, Snoop remade the late country western star’s hit “I Walk the Line,” for the tribute album Johnny Cash Remixed. To pay homage to the beloved singer, Phoenix and Snoop record a country ode dedicated to Cash, while sipping gin and juice.
Yeezy and Phoenix have something in common — outlandish behavior that fuels their celebrity. However, in an attempt to escape their celebrity, the two stars record a remix to Kanye’s hit “Monster,” where the duo trade bars to exorcise their demons.
Like Eminem, Phoenix is viewed as an enigma in his field. There’s no real way to understand the method to their madness, or should we say, genius. Capitalizing off their rare abilities, Diddy combines the dynamic duo for a techno-laden track titled “Enigmas.”
Street cred is most important in hip-hop. In an effort to be accepted by hard-core fans, Phoenix pairs with Tip for the street anthem and title track to his documentary “I’m Still Here,” where the rappers detail their checkered past over a triumphant track produced by Swizz Beatz.
Who do you think Joaquin Phoenix should work with on his debut LP?