‘Wanted:’ Jamie Kennedy unleashes his rhymes



Genevieve Giambanco

Off the set of “Scream” and onto a new screen, Jamie Kennedy entertains a theatre near you in his co-written movie “Malibu’s Most Wanted.”Inspired by a penchant for rap and our ever-changing culture, Kennedy stars as a laughable exaggeration of his Malibu-white-boy-wannabe-rapper, Brad, a regular character that appears on his WB prank show “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.”Eager to speak his mind on the comedy and music that play such a significant role in his work, Jamie Kennedy sits down and shares a little of the inspiration behind what keeps his creative juices flowing.

Genevieve Leon: What inspired you to do this movie?Jamie Kennedy: I think it’s something that’s kind of ripe. It’s been around for awhile. The white kid into black culture is kind of peaking, so I figured I should tell the story while I’m young.GL: How did the writing process for this begin?

JK: I had done the character in my stand-up routine, and then I did it on my show, “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment.” It seems to be a popular character. We thought it would be a good idea, so we pitched the movie idea to WB.GL: Where were you in the creative process of this when “8 Mile” came out?JK: You know what, four white dudes wrote the script. I’m one of them. Two of them live in Beverly Hills, so what do we know about rap, right? But we were very thorough. We went to South Central and rode into locations. We went to Compton, got a few ideas, read a few books – that’s a given. You’ve got to do that if you want to get into rap. We had no idea that while we were doing it, Eminem was doing the same exact thing only better. We saw “8 Mile” and said we have to make ours different. So we went and shot that scene, but everything else is the same. Basically, because Eminem made it so legit, we wanted to do a funnier version.

GL: When did you fall in love with hip-hop?

JK: I fell in love with hip-hop when I was 12 years old. A dude gave me a tape and he was like, “yo man, check this out.” Up to that point I listened to Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC and Led Zepplin. I hadn’t heard anything like the break beats in Run-DMC, that very first album. After that, I was into it like 24/7. I was like, into Curtis Blow, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, Cool Mo Dee, Fat Boys, all that. I used to go to the sound on 69th Street in Upper Darby and buy tapes. I remember when Will Smith was here and would sell his tapes on 69th Street.

GL: Growing up as a white boy in Upper Darby, did you get teased because you were into rap?

JK: Sometimes, yeah, definitely. But I wasn’t so crazy. It depended on who I was with. I used to be into break dancing. I used to have to break dance in my garage and hide because everyone would make fun of my parachute pants. Sometimes I was “G-ed” up with my hoodies and all that. Other times I was dressed up in a nice polo shirt. You know, you gotta mix it up.GL: So now that rap has become so widely appreciated, how do you feel knowing that you were down with it way before it was popular?

JK: I have been down since day one. I think it’s great. Like, rap music for me as a person represented “cool.” It was cool. When I heard the rhymes of L.L. Cool J, I thought, “I can get a chick.” When I saw the video with all those girls in it, I thought “I want that.” The beats are infectious and fun. It’s just fun. Even guys who put on these crazy acts and say some crazy lines know they are playing characters. Darrell Mack from Run-DMC told me that in ’86, their biggest year, they went to Japan, got off the plane and there were these Japanese kids, like tons of them digging hip-hop. That’s when he knew it was on. It’s been like that for 15 years and it’s not going anywhere. It’s exciting. I hope that everyone remembers where it came from, New York and Philly.

GL: Who are currently some of your favorite artists?

JK: My favorite rap artist is 50 Cent, obviously. That just bumps everywhere! I was in Miami and it was bumping. I was in Oakland and it was bumping. It’s everywhere. Obviously, I like Eminem. Anything that Dr. Dre does. I like all types of Biggie, early Puffy, all of the Roots – that’s the best.

GL: Want to break out some freestyle for us now?

JK: I gotta think about that (laughter). Alright … Well, Brad raps about the problems. He’s always saying like, “Hey yo, sometimes I gotta break out my nickel plated Uzi when the tool man forgets to finish the tiles on Jacuzzi.”

GL: Is comedy a satisfying niche for you?

JK: It’s very much like that. After I do something, I feel like I have exercised this little creative comedy demon and now it’s out there and it’s on tape and in the world. It feels very gratifying. I want to continue to do it as long as I can because it’s so much fun and there are a lot of directions that we can go. We can get much bigger and crazier.

GL: Do you have any interest in breaking into straight drama?

JK: Yeah, sure. You gotta break into it slowly, because people always say, “Don’t take yourself too seriously.” But, yeah, I would like to do that eventually.

GL: Are there any actors or directors in particular that you would like to work with?

JK: I was just thinking about that on the plane. I thought, “I wonder if I would ever get to work with Woody Allen.” That would be cool because he works with all types of people. My friend Michael Rappaport has done like three movies with him.

GL: If you weren’t into acting, where would you be?

JK: You know what I would be doing? It’s so amazing. I would probably be working at Domino’s. That’s where I was when I left. I’d probably be managing it by now. I’d probably be managing a couple by now because I was ambitious and always thought of ways to get the pizzas out faster.That’s where I would be.