Los Angeles, CA – With the Winter Olympics coming to a close this week, ’80s babies are reminded the famous Jamaican bobsled team depicted in the 1993 film Cool Runnings. But what some may not know is the cult classic, which was based on true story, almost included the late Tupac Shakur in its cast.
HipHopDX recently caught up with Malik Yoba, one the stars Cool Runnings, at the premiere Netflixs new drama Seven Seconds and spoke to him about his recollections Shakur’s involvement. Yoba recalled one his more memorable moments with Shakur that was reenacted for USAs new series Unsolved.
Theres a shot in Unsolved] where Tupacs character is coming out the Universal Sheraton,” he told DX. “When I auditioned for Cool Runnings, Tupac auditioned for Cool Runnings, and we went to have dinner. Theres a shot in Unsolved which was exactly where I was with Tupac walking out the Sheraton. He came out the elevator smoking a blunt. We went to Tony Romas. He was packing that night. Theres a few Tupac stories but thats the one that comes to mind ’cause it was front and center on the show. We just talked about the business and why he didnt want to take his nose ring out to audition for the movie.
For the younger generation, Yoba is probably best known for his role as Vernon Turner on Empire. But for those 30 and up, he will always be J.C. Williams from New York Undercover. Its a show many people still associate with Hip Hop thanks to its music and the various guest appearances by urban artists that would play the fictional club Natalies.
Yoba praised the groundbreaking show for being ahead its time in an era when Hip Hop still wasnt fully accepted by the mainstream.
One the things about being black in America is that sometimes it takes the rest the world time to catch up with your greatness,” he said. “So if you look at things historically whether it was jazz, R&B, blues, Hip Hop, rock music, the world caught up after the fact and so I think that New York Undercover specifically, the timing it, to come out in the ’90s, to be the first drama to star an African-American and a Latino (Michael De Lorenzo), the first show to place Hip Hop at the front and center it, it gave so many people a shot. If you go back and look at all the guest stars that came through that show, Regina King was one them, Terrence Howard, Naomi Campbell. We were writing and shaping culture at a time when we were just expressing ourselves honestly and the world has caught up now.
Yoba noted the ripple effect and how far the one-time niche genre has come since those days.
Now Hip Hop is pop music,” he said. “Now, we have arguably American royalty with JAY-Z and Beyonce where 25 years ago that wouldnt have been the case. JAY-Z was still on stage wearing bulletpro vests performing during Reasonable Doubts first run. Im a kid from the Bronx. I watched Hip Hop be born in my neighborhood. In fact, Kool Herc called me this morning. The Godfather Hip Hop called me this morning, so when you know youre part the culture but the world at large doesnt see it, we take a lot pride in that. Its a sad commentary on how things move but it is what it is.