Everyone's been so distracted with Christina Aguilera's big-screen debut in "Burlesque" this week that they overlooked the fact that Nas, Mr. Illmatic himself, made his first foray into television acting on last night's episode of the rebooted "Hawaii 5-0." In his 80 seconds of screen time, courtesy of Nah Right, Nasir Jones plays "Gordon Smith," an ex-con caught up in a robbery after being used as a decoy by the actual robbers. The plot is essentially lifted from this much-circulated October 2008 story where a pack of thieves (dressed as road maintenance workers) used Craigslist to recruit a pack of unknowing decoys (actual road maintenance workers) to show up at the location where the crooks were robbing an armored car. The typical procedural "ripped from the headlines" plot line, so let's focus on Nas' small-screen acting chops.
The rapper previously starred in the 1998 gangsta film "Belly," but since then it's been a bunch of uncredited cameos or "As Himself" appearances. Despite the decade off camera, Nas kept his thespian skills intact with his "5-0" role. While we wouldn't put Nas' performance on the level of Ice Cube in "Friday," it's certainly better than Ice Cube's recent guest appearances on the deplorable TV version of "Are We There Yet?" And when Nas delivers the line, "Look man, I went straight in the joint and found the Lord, I didn't do nothing wrong, all I did was answer an ad," you really feel like he did go straight in the joint and found the Lord.