Idris Elba’s hustle never goes unnoticed. Since his first DJ gig at Coachella Music Festival in Indio, Calif. and getting married to model Sabrina Dhowre in April, the British actor, DJ and rapper has been diversifying his resume beyond the small screen.
Elba has been getting his bars up as heard on his latest summer jam “Boasty” alongside fellow U.K. spitters Wiley (the song’s original artist), Stefflon Don and Sean Paul. The braggadocious cut wouldn’t be his first rap rodeo, though. As a teen, the East London native was part of a rap group. He has also teased the idea of releasing a rap album for the past few years. Throw in his record label, 7Wallace Music, and it’s clear that Elba has no intention of being branded as another Hollywood star giving a rap career a whirl.
“I’ve always had this dream state of I’m going to be a rapper one day,” says Elba. “I think all rappers want to be ball players, all actors want to be singers … but the truth is I’ve been writing and spitting all my life. I just never tried to put out stuff like I’m a rapper.
“For [“Boasty”], I actually just wanted to remix the song,” he continues. “I put Stefflon [Don] on it and she put Sean Paul on it and I put a verse on it just to be like this is the vibe I’m going for and everyone was like, ‘This verse is sick. Stay with it.’”
Pass him the proverbial AUX cord for a summer-centric playlist and his knowledge runs deep, ranging from Congolese music to classics à la Sister Sledge—proof that he stays in tune with his culture without skimping on nostalgia. Of course, Elba plugs his latest tune “Boasty” when it comes to getting any party started, which happened when the banger dropped at his own wedding.
“I recently got married and [my wife and I] had an incredible wedding, and I’m just gonna tell you the truth, the biggest song we played at our wedding was ‘Boasty,’’ laughs Elba. “It went off. I got to spit my verse in front of my family. It was fun times.”
Ahead of season five of his hit BBC show Luther, Elba sat down with BET to further discuss his somewhat humble hip-hop beginnings (including working with JAY-Z and Pharoahe Monche), comparing music-making to acting and the gems he’d plug into his Sounds of Summer playlist.