Sometimes, all you need is a good Tumblr to give you the proper inspiration for a new piece of writing. In this case, I stumbled upon the work of an unknown blogger who created the hilarious Rappers Don’t Smile. The bad news here, however, is that it hasn’t been updated in at least a year’s time—as of me writing this—and that’s a huge bummer. Why? Because as any hip-hop head knows, rappers (like any entertainer, really) have a tendency to take themselves too seriously. There’s nothing wrong with being a serious artist who wants his or her work to be held to another standard. But there’s also nothing wrong with cracking a smile once in a while.
Now, for the sake of this piece, I decided to take that blog’s theme and run with it. As I’ve gotten into some online gambling as of late, I have then thought about what it would be like to see those players. What if I could actually see my virtual opponents I’m going head-to-head against at the BetFair Casino (which I found thanks to the enticing newcomer bonuses)? Would it be too real or would it make it more like playing at an actual casino? And what if some of my competitors ended up being rappers? Seriously—Nelly is well-known in the poker community, and so is Ja Rule. But considering they would be too easy to mention here, I looked back to that Tumblr and thought, “Hey, what about the rappers who have the best poker faces?” Yeah, I had way too much fun with this one.
The five rappers I’ve picked for this aren’t ones that I’m necessarily poking fun at or anything like that. It’s merely the fact that the majority of their photos feature them either looking sad, angry, or some combination of the two. Drake almost made the list—just do a Google image search and you’ll see why—but he also just looked too happy here.
Can you find a photo of Kanye West looking happy? Sure. Are you more likely to find one of him mean-mugging the camera (or the guy behind the lends)? Absolutely. This became increasingly true after the release of his emotional 2008 album, 808s & Heartbreak, which led to a more stone-faced Yeezy than we were used to seeing. And that right there is what would make him such a solid fixture at the casino tables.
With his goofball/maniacal Slim Shady character all but gone—for the most part—Eminem has remained one of the more serious mainstream figures in hip-hop. “Berzerk” was about as fun as it’s gotten for Em these past few years, but even then there was a “this is real rap” atmosphere to it all. Can you imagine his eyes staring at you from across a poker table? Yeesh.
Really, you could pick almost any member of the Wu-Tang Clan, but something about choosing Raekwon just feels right. Even when he’s at his most emotive—aka spitting through his clenched teeth—there’s still an overtly monotone quality to his voice. To that end, you can easily picture him looking at you through his sunglasses, cigarette dangling from his mouth, and ready to up the ante.
Of all the rappers on this list, Ab-Soul easily takes the crown for having the best poker face. It’s not simply because he’s typically looking down or straight-faced in its photos. No, it has more to do with the fact that he pretty much is always wearing sunglasses—with good reason. It turns out that he contracted Stevens-Johnson syndrome at the age of 10, which caused his eyes to be sensitive to light.
Whether as part of N.W.A. or on his own, Ice Cube‘s been the go-to angry rapper for quite some time. The only problem is that he doesn’t necessarily record new music all that often, instead opting for films alongside comedic actor Kevin Hart. The contrast there and in previous movies, like the Friday series, proves that Cube’s got that O.G. death stare down like few others.