Ari Melber of MSNBC’s The Beat has a knack for weaving Hip-Hop into nearly everything he does. Whether he’s reciting lyrics from JAY-Z during a segment for his show or interviewing Snoop Dogg, his love for the culture bleeds into his journalism career. Most recently, he got the inimitable Tom Hanks to address the topic while revealing to the Forrest Gump actor just how many Hip-Hop artists have name-dropped him over the years.
During a recent sit-down with Melber for The Beat‘s “Summit Series,” Hanks—the actor everybody seems to love—was shown a video montage of the many artists who’ve included him in their songs. From Gang Starr to Frank Ocean and Killer Mike to Tyga, Hanks was blown away.
“Wow,” he says in the clip. “Holy cow. I think that what I get from that is in the realm of Hip-Hop artistry, there is a leaning into an instinctive drive. I don’t want to overuse the word ‘theme.’ But any kind of, like, true artistic creation is about examining some sort of mystery. And I would say that what those Hip-Hop artists might be talking about is that same sort of faith.”
From there, Melber brings up Forest Gump, Hanks’ 1994 film that won the hearts of Americans. He says, “Frank Ocean, for example, there and Killer Mike, who’s a very politically conscious artist, they’re not saying, oh, Forrest Gump’s not cool, it’s not trendy. It’s years later and it’s—no, keeping it real, if you grew up on that and it means something to you, they’re weaving it in and putting it into their own art.”
Hanks, still nearly flabbergasted, then draw parallels from Gump’s character to the idea of being an outsider, which is very much how Hip-Hop started.
“Thirty years, but it ends up speaking in that way because Forrest Gump was told by everybody, you don’t belong here,” Hanks says. “You are not, what, smart enough—any of this stuff in order to be here. And I think that might be speaking to a segment of the population that is often told that you’re not allowed in here. You’re not supposed to be in here.
“Go off and be with your own kind, because nothing is going to translate between your life and mine or my life and yours. And that’s that is the antithesis of art. And it’s also the opposite of community. And we ain’t nothing unless we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves, which is our community.”
Tom Hanks currently stars in the film A Man Named Otto and just released a new book called Tom Hanks: The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece. Watch his comments on Hip-Hop above beginning around the 18-minute mark.