The late comedian and actor made several cameos in rap music videos from the late ’90s to the early 2000s.
On Wednesday came news that John Witherspoon, the beloved actor and comedian featured in everything from Boomerang and Friday to the Boondocks, had passed away at the age of 77. Witherspoon’s career spans decades, beginning in 1980 with The Jazz Singer as an MC. Since then, he appeared in countless films and television series; just recently, he voiced the father of Mr. Peanutbutter’s current love interest Pickles on the latest season of Bojack Horseman.
Along with his filmography, Witherspoon also made some notable cameos in rap music videos. Of course, his appearance in Jay-Z’s “I Just Wanna Love U” will surely be one of the first to come to mind. But he also appeared in several other rap videos throughout the late ’90s and ealry 2000s. Witherspoon was loved throughout rap communities across the United States, and these rap cameos reflect that. So, in honor of Witherspoon, here are the five times he made a cameo in a rap music video.
Jay-Z, “I Just Wanna Love U (Give It 2 Me)” (2000)
Witherspoon dawns the role of Jay-Z’s disgruntled next door neighbor as the rapper has a house party that features several other notable cameos (Lil Kim, Jermaine Dupri, Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek). After seeing the women frequenting the function, Witherspoon tries to get in too, claiming to be everyone from Will Smith to Jay-Z himself. The music video literally stops at this moment, allowing Witherspoon to bask in his comedic glory before gaining entrance to the party. It goes to show that even with a cameo, Witherspoon can steal the show.
LL Cool J, “Ain’t Nobody” (1996)
How is Witherspoon always at the greatest functions? Another cameo-filled music video (a who’s who of ’90s Black sitcom stars pop up throughout: Martin Lawrence, Tichina Arnold, Alfonso Ribeiro, Shawn Wayans), Witherspoon appears right at the very end. He’s already in the party (which happens to be in some biodome hidden deep in a snowy forest) and enjoying himself, staring directly into the camera as a crowd surrounds him. Pops — always the life of the party.
Field Mob, “Sick of Being Lonely” (2002)
Although not the main standout cameo of the video (that clearly goes to the pig), Witherspoon’s appearance on Field Mob’s hit song “Sick of Being Lonely” is still memorable. He’s first seen in between two women at the club before running into Shawn Jay and Smoke, who tell Witherspoon that they want to “Bang, bang, bang” and “Coordinate” (two references to the actor’s appearance in the 1992 film Boomerang). From there, Witherspoon offers some advice to the “young playas.” Although the pair’s night doesn’t end as they planned (their girlfriends come to the club and drag them out despite their best attempts at trying not to be discovered), at least they managed to have a moment with Mr. Jackson himself.
Goodie Mob, “They Don’t Dance No Mo'” (1998)
In an alternate reality, Willie and Ms. Pearly ended up together and with the ATLiens. Witherspoon’s cameo in “They Don’t Dance No Mo'” is basically Friday. But instead of speaking to how the youth are “sissified” because they’d rather pick up a gun than do fisticuffs, he’s focused on how they don’t dance anymore. Khujo even references Friday‘s plot point in his verse (“They don’t with fists/ They bring they piece”). Witherspoon was a fan of the mobs and vice-versa — now if only he had made a cameo in Crime Mob’s “Knuck If You Buck.”
Hitman Sammy Sam, “Step Daddy” (2003)
If there was any rap music video where Witherspoon’s cameo also served as the main character, it’s Hitman Sammy Sam’s “Step Daddy.” The Atlanta artist enlisted the comedian for the music video to his “Double Dutch Bus”-interpolating novelty hit, where he portrays a stepdad who gets no love from his girl’s children. It’s a deep cut that isn’t immediately memorable like Jay’s “I Just Wanna Love U,” but is just as important. It shows how Witherspoon felt like family, and how generations of Black people were introduced to him through the many projects he lent his talents to. Including a cameo in a kid-friendly song about challenges of being a stepdad.