1988 was hip-hop's greatest year.
It was the year Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back brought expletives and Civil Rights commentary back to mainstream music. It was the year DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince's sophomore album, He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper, sold more than three million copies, before garnering the genre's first Grammy Award. It was the year the now seminal N.W.A. would bring the country's youth to their knees — and their parents to panicked tears — with their classic debut album, Straight Outta Compton. But most of all, it was the year the rap game would forever change when a hit film called Big delivered to us the genre's most cherished muse, Tom Hanks.
Tom Hanks and popular hip-hop's rise were coincidental. Big established Hanks as a massive box office draw throughout the '90s and 2000s and earned him his first Oscar nomination. Around the time hip-hop got its foothold in mass culture, Hanks became that culture's leading man. With his boyish looks, back-to-back Oscar wins in 1993 and '94 (one of two actors to win twice in a row in the Best Actor category) and massive street cred for his breakout performances of "Jimmy Jimmy Cocoa Puffs" and the unforgettable Dan Akroyd-collaboration "City of Crime," Hanks somehow wound up as a persistent presence in American hip-hop.
That's partially because many of his characters became cultural touchstones. Hanks' iconic character repertoire includes an array of good-hearted and definitively American icons: Forrest Gump, a boy trapped in a man's body, Santa Claus, Jim Lovell, Captain Richard Phillips and a toy cowboy. As rappers moved from niche to mass audiences over the last few decades, Hanks references afforded mass appeal and the opportunity for some not-too-subtle punning.
Among the many things hip-hop and Nora Ephron have in common, Tom Hanks is often the least acknowledged. With Frank Ocean's hit Grammy-performed 2013 hit "Forrest Gump" and Buckwheat Groat's recently viral gangsta rap video, "Tom Hanks," it's time we finally plumbed the depths of Hanks' weird hip-hop influence. Here are 33 of the greatest Hanks lines in rap.
1. "Hey Mama" by Kanye West
"Forrest Gump's momma said, life was like a box of chocolates
My momma told me go to school, get your doctorate."
2. "Womyn" by Heems
"Women like to watch You’ve Got Mail with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks
Women you’re great, on behalf of men, Thanks
I’m glad to be a part of your ranks."
3. "All That (Lady)" by Game ft. Lil Wayne, Big Sean, & Jeremih
"She told me 'bout her ex man, her old boy stories
And how she had a dildo, you know, toy stories."
4. "Clique / Fuckin' Problem" by Tyga
"Competition’s small so I live big like Tom Hanks
Big bang, 22, nigga don’t believe in King."
5. "Fresher Than Ever" by Young Money ft. Gudda Gudda, Jae Milz, Flow, Mack Maine, & Birdman
"Young Mack my driver but I’m Captain Phillips, niggas
I’m in the water like a pirate."
6. "Walk Alone" by The Roots ft. Truck North, P.O.R.N., & Dice Raw
"The longest walk I’ll probably ever be on
The Road to Perdition, guess I’m finna to get my plea on."
7. "One Two Shit" by A Tribe Called Quest
"Go ask the last MC what happened when he said battle
I bust his ass in Cleveland now he’s sleepless in Seattle."
8. "Look at Me" by Lil' Wayne
"Four was mild but five is so wild
I can smoke a green mile."
9. "Hollis to Hollywood" by LL Cool J
"That’s when LL come in
Blast a ass like Apollo 13
Sugar get the cream."
10. "French" by Tyler the Creator
"This bitch knew dick like Bubba knew shrimp, yeah."
11. "Battle Scars" by Lupe Fiasco & Guy Sebastian
"Holding on another lover’s phone sends you back into the zone
With no Tom Hanks to bring you home
A lover not a fighter on the frontline with a poem."
12. "A Million in the Morning" by Jay Electronica
"Am I conscious or dreaming
Peeping Tom Hanks, Angels and Demons."
13. "Maaad Crew" by Method Man & Redman
"I'm like open wounds, pour the iodine in
Messin’ wit us is like Saving Private Ryan
You acting out a line now lying, dying."
14. "XXL Cypher" by Kendrick Lamar ft. Yelawolf, Lil B, Cyhi, & The Prynce
"Treat him like a welterweight and stuff him in some trunks
You fuckin with a giant I'm Forest Whitaker sparrin with some Forrest Gumps."
15. "Nightmares" by Clipse
"And one day, they may even catch up with me man
But 'til then, I'm Leonardo, Catch me if you can, ah!"
16. "When You See Love" by Dom Kennedy
"I'm in a league of my own, Tom Hanks."
17. "Phat Rabbit" by Ludacris
"Cause I got mo' diiick, than a lil' bit and time flies, when I'm havin fun
I can make a ho get like Forrest Gump and just run baby run."
18. "Xplosion" by Outkast
"Now won’t that make us all fools
Like class clowns praying Private Ryan comes round
Sound travels at one thousand, one thirty, feet per second."
19. "Tapout" by Rich Gang
"Six inch, pumps, play with his balls, dunks
Bald head, yep, don’t want no Forrest, Gumps
Don’t let me tell ya, twice, already told you, once
(Eat that pussy!)"
20. "Deep Space 9mm" by El-P
"Dissolve into the syncopated fragments of vinyl, splashed on loose leaf
We can embrace on the business end of my face, Joe vs. the Volcano suicide leap."
21. "3 Minute Rule" by the Beastie Boys
"I stay up all night, I go to sleep watching Dragnet
Never sleep alone because Jimmy is the magnet."
22. "Livin' a Movie" by Kanye West
"Suck like ol’ girl got booed at Apollo 13
Ghosts use my Hollow Man for Friday 13th."
23. "Make it Big" by 9th Wonder ft. Khrysis
"Like Tom Hanks nigga I'mma make it big
I'mma make it big, I'mma make it big."
24. "Expensive Pens" by Action Bronson
"I'm fully blown like Tom Hanks in Philadelphia
I'm out for a self-ia, Bronson not helpin' ya."
25. "Game Got Switched" by Ludacris
"Chilin' in the gump with no trace of Tom Hanks,
So put this in yo' jaw like wieners and beef franks."
26. "Ride Slow" by Abu Soul
"The screw give me drive like a flat-head, every fill up
I must be Captain Phillips."
27. "Jack Sparrow" by The Lonely Island ft. Michael Bolton
"Life is a box of chocolates and my name is Forrest Gump
Though I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed
I give Jenny all my love
Okay, then I’m a legal aid."
28. "Dance in the Sand" by Shwayze
"Damn you fine
You got Shwayze shakin' the rattle
Crying like a baby Cause I'm sleepless in Seattle.”
29. "Put Up or Shut Up" by Gang Starr
"Ain't no way, so come, make my day
Like Tom Hanks I earn long bank and cast you away."
30. "Lite It Up" by Lil Wayne
"Louisiana, I'm from that swamp
I'mma pull this bitch out and dump
Better run like Forrest Gump"
31. "Speakers on Blast" by Game ft. E-40 & Big Boi
"Switch it up, heat it up, speed it up, that means I'm gone
Light years, ahead of your Buzz, Toy Story and club songs."
32. "Mula" by Big Sean ft. French Montana
"I'm on a secluded island, swear it feel like Castaway
Put that money in my shooter hands, and tell him blast away."
33. "Forrest Gump" by Frank Ocean
"Forrest Gump you run my mind boy."