In 1993, Onyx emerged on the scene with Bacdafucup. The album showcased an appealing mix of Rap/Rock aggression, articulated anger and MTV-ready crossover appeal. It didn’t hurt that legendary Run DMC member Jam Master Jay gave the group his personal stamp of approval. What often gets overlooked is that Sticky Fingaz and Fredro Starr essentially started acting careers at the same time they began moving units for their work in the recording booth. One can argue that titles such as “Throw Ya Gunz” and “I Murder You” weren’t exactly palatable to Hollywood, but they didn’t prevent the pair from sharing screen time with the likes of Rhea Perlman, LL Cool J, Michael Chiklis and Don Johnson.
“We ain’t never been to no muthafuckin’ acting school!” Sticky Fingaz says of his and Fredro’s many acting roles. “We’ve been in the school of real life, and we reciprocated that shit into the acting world. It’s just like [“Light Up”] when Drake said, ‘When Fredro Starr / Was in Sunset Park stunting hard in his yellow goose…’”
With 20-plus years of music and films on deck, Fredro and Sticky looked back on some of the experiences associated with their more memorable roles.
Sticky Fingaz & Fredro Starr Skipped The “Clockers” Audition Line
Sticky Fingaz: Not only was I trying to audition, but it was an open call audition, and the line was around the block. If I remember, it was either Brooklyn or Manhattan. We was Onyx at that time, but it was kind of early. So we were like “Throw Ya Gunz” Onyx not “Slam” Onyx. I was like, “I ain’t waitin’ in no line,” and we skipped the whole fuckin’ line. Nobody said shit. We had so much energy when we walked up there that not only did Fredro get the part…because he was already the golden boy from doing Strapped with Bokeem Woodbine and Forest Whitaker. And Jam Master Jay hijacked the job to score the whole fuckin’ soundtrack. So not only did Fredro snatch a role, but I snatched one too. The energy level was just so crazy, and we were good at our craft.”
Suge Knight & Tupac Recruit Fredro To Death Row After “Sunset Park”
Fredro Starr: To me, that was the first starring role that was on my back. It was challenging. Doing that movie was like, “I’m gonna show muthafuckas that I’m not playing.” It was a lot of fun and jokes but also a lot of seriousness with Terrance Howard. He was my first acting coach, and me and him spent a lot of time together. He’d show me different things and just acting shit. Niggas don’t even know that shit.
And Sunset Park was when Tupac came to the movie premiere; I felt like he was looking at me on the big screen as an actor. And what the fuck was Tupac thinking when he saw a nigga like me on the screen? He was an actor, and it was only really me and ‘Pac at the time acting. He did Juice, and I did Strapped. He did Above the Rim, and I did Sunset Park around the same time. With the admiration and how I was feeling to know ‘Pac was looking at me on screen, I felt like, “Yo, this nigga ‘Pac is watching me in my movie.” I felt ill. I felt like the respect was so crazy. It was a big run, and there were a lot of things behind that movie.
Sticky Fingaz: ‘Pac and Suge [Knight] tried to take Fredro to Death Row! It was like, “Come to Death Row and you gonna live forever, baby.”
Fredro Starr: It was just one conversation in the parking lot at the Sunset Park premiere. Suge asked if I wanted to get down with Death Row, but it never amounted to anything after that. I just did my thing with Jam Master Jay, and they were doing their thing. We actually went on tour with Dre and them for The Chronic, so… If it would’ve went that far, then who knows? It’s like a “What if?” comic book by Marvel, but we here.
LL Cool J Gives Sticky Fingaz A Lesson On The “N.C.I.S.: LA” Set
Sticky Fingaz: I don’t even want to say it…fuck it, I don’t give two shits; I’m gonna say it. We’re on set, and I ain’t seen the nigga L in a minute. That’s my Queens cohort, so I’m feeling real comfortable. We’re working, getting our jobs done and all of that. But I keep saying “nigga” this and “nigga” that. So LL rolls up to me like, “Yo, stop saying ‘nigga,’ my nigga [laughs].” He was like, “Man, you’re fucking up the bread!” I was getting too comfortable, so I had to tell him, “Oh shit, my bad, O.G. Thanks for putting me back on game.” I don’t know if LL is gonna be mad at me for telling that, but whatever. That was a jewel, and I took it like that. I accepted it respectfully, and there was nothing derogatory. Some niggas might take offense and say, “We ain’t fuckin’ with that.” But I was like, “Yes, sir!”
Fredro: That’s the jewel though. Only a nigga would’ve taken offense to it like that [laughs].
Sticky Fingaz: Only a nigga would take it how I took it like, “Yeah, you right my nigga. Good lookin’ for putting me on point, my nigga. One.”
Fredro Starr Gets Smoked Out Of His Appearance On “The Wire”
Fredro Starr: The Wire was ill. That shit was crazy, because I was only on two episodes, and I think one of the main reasons was because of some behind the scenes shit nobody knows. My nigga Hasaan [Johnson], my nigga J.D. [Williams]—all them niggas that was on The Wire—when I got down to Baltimore, I hadn’t seen them niggas in a minute. So everybody came to my room and was blazing up. I mean, they might’ve called the fire department, because we blazed that shit up! The whole floor was smelling like weed. HBO told me I had to move to another hotel and shit. I didn’t wanna snitch on niggas and be like, “Yo, it wasn’t me…it was everybody.” So I just took that L, went to another hotel room, and they did the shit again! Niggas came through the next night and blew it up, and that was my last episode on The Wire playing Bird. I think they wrote a nigga off real quick.
But that’s some real shit though, because I was like, “Damn, why do I only have two episodes?” I think I was too much for HBO out there in Baltimore, man. That’s just some behind the scenes shit.
Fredro Starr Calls His “Moesha” Character A Gift And A Curse
Fredro Starr: I think Moesha was ill; it was putting myself in a broader light of television. You have to kind of water yourself down, but I was able to bring my originality to television. The scriptwriter Mara Brock—who is one of the biggest television producers right now—she was one of the writers on Moesha. She was asking me what I wanted to say, and she took the time to actually let me build my character myself. That worked for Hollywood, because I would say some slang, and they would have to actually know what the slang meant. I would say, “Hey shorty,” and I was being myself on television. They were paying us to act real. Moesha was a gift and a curse, because Onyx fans didn’t like that. They thought I was being too soft.
Lyor Cohen Pays Onyx $1 Million To Pass On “Dangerous Minds”
Sticky Fingaz: I had the part in Dangerous Minds. Remember, you didn’t wanna do that shit?
Fredro Starr: Nah, the reason I didn’t do Dangerous Minds is because Lyor [Cohen] gave us a million dollars, and said, “You can’t do the movie.” That’s the reason I didn’t do Dangerous Minds. I got pulled off the set. Straight up. Lyor Cohen said, “We gotta get his ass in the studio,” so they gave niggas a million dollars for the All We Got Iz Us album. But if you look on the credits of Dangerous Minds, my name is on there. Google that shit. I was with Michelle Pfeiffer and all that.
But back to Moesha, it was a good springboard, but it was a gift and a curse. The Onyx fans thought it was soft. They thought the whole love story thing was soft, so it worked for me and against me.
Sticky Fingaz: Ultimately, as a kid from the ghetto, that’s our art. That’s our life, and that’s our hustle. I feel it worked for you; fuck all that against shit. And if anyone takes it as a diss, nigga walk in our muthafuckin’ shoes.