Hip-Hop’s Top 10 Most Influential Movie Bad Guys (Thugs, Criminals, & Drug Dealers)


This month we list Hip-Hop’s Top 10 Most Influential Movie Bad Guys. The reason we narrowed it down to thugs, criminals, & drug dealers is because then we’d open the door to Superfly, Dolemite, Goldie from The Mack and other characters from famous blaxploitation films. While they have had influence over Hip-Hop artists, they sometimes are just the same character with different names. On this list we just wanted the toughest and hardest of the movie characters that had the most influence on rap.

10. Frank White (King Of New York – 1990)
A lot of you young kids might not know this, but Biggie didn’t make up the name Frank White, it came from the movie King of New York. In the movie Frank White (played by Christopher Walken) is released from Sing-Sing prison after serving a number of years for drug trafficking. Appalled by the crime and poverty that have infected his old neighborhood, White makes a bid for redemption by eliminating his competitors and using their money to finance a new South Bronx hospital for the needy. Doing this, he becomes a hero to the poor. With all that said, Biggie was the one who brought this character to Hip-Hop, and that’s enough to get number 10.

9. Deebo (Friday – 1995)
Who doesn’t remember Tiny Lister’s character Deebo. As with many other phrases at the height of the first Friday movie’s popularity, the name “Deebo” found its way into the slang vernacular of junior high- and high school-aged teenagers in the form of a verb, as a euphemism for robbery, playing off of the character’s ability for punking out people and bullying in general. The character was basically a symbol for the neighborhood bully from your childhood. You see Tiny Lester in a number of Hip-Hop videos playing this role as well the phrase that follows one of Deebo’s knock outs; “You got knocked the fuck out!”

8. Tommy “Buns” Bundy (Belly – 1998)
Many people thought the role of Tommy Buns was just DMX playing himself; it wasn’t much of a stretch in terms of acing ability. But hell, Tommy was still one of the most ignorant killers around. What about the speech he gave Nas’ character Sincere (while smoking weed), “I’m smoking weed, running stop signs, these fucking pigs can’t see me!” Tommy was also all about the money; fuck a book, religion, whatever; “Get money!” Some people would’ve preferred to have Ox on this list, but I give it to Tommy because he dodged getting killed.

7. Bobby Johnson (South Central – 1992)
“OG” Bobby Johnson is probably the only character on the list who tries to makes a change for the better. But of course, that’s not what we talking about here. Bobby Johnson (played by Glenn Plummer) was the founding member of the Deuces. It’s not so much what he did, but the legend he had while he was in prison and when he got out. We all have heard stories of hood legends; Bobby Johnson was this. South Central may not be one of the best movies, but this character gave the movie some notice.

6. The Corleone Family (The Godfather trilogy – 1972, 1974, & 1990)
Yea I know, the Godfather family should be higher right? Naw, some of the influence for rappers comes from real life mobsters like Gotti and the mafia in general. But still, you can’t deny Marlon Brando’s Vito Corleone (Jay-Z has referred to himself as “Young Vito”). These films have too many references in Hip-Hop to name. But think about it; any time you see a guy sitting behind a desk smoking a cigar, or anytime you hear him say something about “family” (We not talking his baby mother either), you know where he got it from.

5. Alonzo Harris (Training Day – 2001)
Denzel Washington’s first role as a villain and he killed it. A lot of people talked about dirty cops and Alonzo showed it to them. He was a different type a gangster being that he wasn’t respected for doing gangster shit, but because he had a badge. The soundtrack to the movie as well as roles for Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre gave this movie the stamp as far as being Hip-Hop approved. Do you remember Lil’ Scrappy’s video for “No Problem”? On “Why”, Jadakiss rapped, “Why’d Denzel have to be crooked before he took it?”

4. Bishop (Juice – 1992)
Tupac Shakur’s character Bishop was crazy and relatable. He wasn’t your Nino Brown or Scarface, he was just a dude from around the way. You saw him get crazy with power and you probably know somebody in the hood like him. I guess Tupac playing this role had a lot to do with the influence. Some would say that Tupac played this role for most of his career.

3. O-Dog (Menace II Society – 1993)
O-Dog (played by Larenz Tate) helped popularize the thug lifestyle idolized by black youths in the early nineties. He epitomized what gangster rappers want to be; he didn’t give a fuck and he is crazy. I sometimes see The Game trying to do this in his rhymes (“it’s the sequel to Menace and Oh Lord he done went O-Dog”) or even 50 Cent (“have a young nigga buckin’ shit like he O-Dog.”). Don’t forget Jay-Z referencing O-Dog on “Girls Girls Girls” remix (“or now I get around, like the late Makaveli on Pirelli twenty inches, or Caine and O-Dog’s stick-up tape from Menace.”)

2. Nino Brown (New Jack City – 1991)
Wesley Snipes’ portrayal of Nino Brown is still praised by rappers 16 years later. Just ask Lil’ Wayne; where did his label get the name “Cash Money” from? (Nino Brown’s gang) Why is his album named “The Carter”? (Nino Brown’s apartment complex turned crackhouse) Biggie even named one of his Junior M.A.F.I.A. sidekicks Nino Brown.

1. Tony Montana (Scarface – 1983)
Of course Al Pacino’s Montana is number one; who else did you expect? How many times have you watched Cribs and seen a rapper hold up a Scarface DVD or memorabilia? Yea, I lost count a long time ago too. The come up story of Tony appeals to almost every thug rapper in the world of Hip-Hop. Be it Juelz Santana being pictured at a desk with a mountain of coke for XXL or Nas rapping about a blimp that says “the world is yours”, the references are too many to name.

Honorable Mentions:
Alejandro Sosa (Scarface – 1983)
Keyser Söze (The Usual Suspects – 1983)
Nicky Santoro (Casino – 1995)
Henry Hill, Jimmy Conway, & Tommy DeVito (Goodellas – 1990)
Sonny (A Bronx Tale – 1993)
Ox (Belly – 1998)