First published on 3 May 2012. Updated on 3 May 2012.
Which craft has been the toughest to hone – music or acting?
Music is like my lifeline, and it’s the easiest for me to do. I got bitten by the acting bug after doing [1991’s] Boyz n the Hood; [director] John Singleton showed me, for one thing, that it’s a creative space, like writing. I’d been trying to create movies in song form, but here was a way to have a three-dimensional canvas that moves. As far as acting goes, it’s difficult to stay that consistent all day in a scene.
Were you a fan of the TV show 21 Jump Street before getting involved with the movie?
When 21 Jump Street was really going on, I was running around too much to be a true weekly fan, but I enjoyed it. I’m glad we just took the premise of the show and almost spoofed it in a way. To me, that was the thing that was fresh about this.
It’s funny – your old rap group, NWA, had a big hit with the song ‘F**k tha Police’, and now you’re portraying a cop in this fi lm. What was it like playing Captain Dickson?
It was cool. He’s a stereotypical loud captain – mad about everything. It’s kind of fun to play that guy and put my take on it. He’s over the top; he talks a lot of s**t. That can’t be bad.
Would you ever want to go back to high school undercover?
No, no, never [laughs].
If you had to go back to school, though, which crowd would you hang with?
I would definitely look for the go-getters, the ones who are trying to do big things even though they’re still in school. I always liked people who had other things going on outside of school, who were progressive. I came up at a time when we were the freaks – the ones who loved hip hop. The crazy outsiders that everybody was like, ‘What the hell? Why you carrying that cardboard, what’s breakdancing, [what’s] rapping?’ We were the freaks because people didn’t understand it, so they didn’t want to be a part of it. I was always [going at] my own pace, doing my own thing anyway.
21 Jump Street opens on 10 May.