Over the years, countless rappers have referenced classic mob flicks as a comparison to their own lives. While references such as these have become gratuitous and somewhat cliché, they are not always too far off from the lives and personalities of certain rappers. For instance, while watching The Godfather tonight for the umpteenth time, I realized that there are certain rappers whose careers have in multiple ways paralleled members of the Corleone Family. I have picked out seven rappers whom I feel have particular similarities to the family.
Jay-Z is Don Vito Corleone
Like the Don, Jay started out as a petty street criminal before rising to the top through persistence and bold moves. Also like the Don, Jay has managed to stay on top by making smart business moves and asserting his power among his competition. Jay also references the first Godfather film on Drake’s Light Up, giving him Corleone-esque advice in the process.
50 Cent is Michael
50 was raised in the same house as his drug-dealing uncles; Michael was raised in the most powerful crime family in America. 50 was left to find his way in the world after the murder of his mother; Michael was forced into a life of crime after an assassination attempt on his father. Much like Michael, 50’s career has been based off of cold, calculated moves to stay on top.
2Pac is Sonny
Passionate, loving, hot-tempered, and impulsive, ‘Pac embodies many of the qualities of the Don’s firstborn son. Like Sonny, 2Pac’s hot-head led him to make some bad moves. The events of their respective demise are also eerily similar; Sonny is set-up by the man he gave a brutal beating to for abusing Sonny’s sister, and many claim that 2Pac was murdered by Orlando “Baby Lane” Anderson in retaliation for ‘Pac’s assault of him after a Mike Tyson fight.
Mos Def is Tom Hagen
Mos Def and Tom Hagen are both calm-natured men with equal parts book smarts and street smarts. What’s more, both men rarely are fazed by anything. Hagen is not at all deterred when attempting to persuade a big-time movie producer to give the Don’s Godson a part in a movie, and Mos Def says on “Fear Not A Man” that he doesn’t get fazed by the intrusiveness of big brother. They also offer great advice, with Hagen being a solid consigliere to the Corleone Family, and Mos Def offering Kanye West solid advice in the aftermath of ‘Ye’s infamous Taylor Swift incident.
The Game is Fredo
Like Fredo, The Game grew up around hardened criminals, though his status as a true gangster is in question. The Game also made the fatal mistake of biting the hand that fed him when he spouted off about 50 Cent after 50 helped him create his stunning debut, The Documentary. Fredo unwittingly made a deal that allowed his brother Michael’s enemies to attempt to kill him, and we all know what Fredo’s fate was after that.
Russell Simmons is Clemenza
Like Clemenza, Russell has been in his business since its humble origins. Russell also helped many aspiring artists and businessmen into hip-hop, while Clemenza initiated the Don into a life of crime that ultimately led to the formation of the Corleone Crime Family. Like with Clemenza, it has always never been personal for Russell. It has simply been about business. Both have stuck around long enough to know the lay of the land, and they act accordingly.
Young Buck is Tessio
Tessio was a revered and valued member of the Corleone Family. He was a high-ranking official within the organization, and he had been there from the start. As a result, his betrayal was as heartbreaking to the family as it was shocking. Young Buck was once a loyal member of G-Unit before crossing his boss and subsequently being shamed and outcast from the group.
There you have it. Next time you hear Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt or The Game’s The Doctor’s Advocate, you can now correlate a classic movie with the music. You’re welcome.