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Why Leroy From Concrete Cowboy Looks So Familiar

When most people think of cowboys, images of Roy Rogers and John Wayne probably come to mind. In real life, though, Black Americans have a rich history of establishing many of the tropes and ideas modern audiences typically associate with cowboys. The ideal of the Black cowboy lives on with groups like the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club, a non-profit organization in Philadelphia, where adults teach kids about proper horsemanship while carrying on the principles set forth by the cowboys of the past. 

This group finally gets a chance to shine in the public eye thanks to the new Netflix film, Concrete Cowboy, which centers on 15-year-old Cole (Caleb McLaughlin) who goes to live with his estranged father, Harp (Idris Elba). Harp has been part of the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club for years, inspiring a generation of young Black kids, but he just can't seem to connect with his own son. These two actors are backed up by a solid supporting cast consisting of Lorraine Toussaint, Jharrel Jerome, and Clifford "Method Man" Smith, who plays Leroy. 

Whether he's credited as Cliff Smith or just Method Man, the Grammy-winning rapper has been highly influential over the years. He's best known for being one of the original founding members of Wu-Tang Clan, and while he still drops a verse every now and then, he's gotten more and more acting credits under his name, as of late. Here's where you may have seen Method Man on the big and small screens before. 

Method Man had his own sitcom in 2004

The early 2000s ushered forth a phenomenon of nineties gangsta rappers breaking the perceptions a lot of people had of them, by venturing into projects most people probably wouldn't inherently associate them with. Ice Cube, for instance, starred in the decidedly family-friendly Are We There Yet?, while his contemporary Ice-T joined the cast of Law & Order: SVU. Then you have the likes of hip-hop duo Method Man and Redman getting their very own sitcom on Fox, appropriately called — what else? – Method & Red

The premise was simple enough. The two rappers played exaggerated versions of themselves, depicted as moving into a mostly white suburb in an upper-class area of New Jersey. It wasn't meant to last, as the series was canceled after a single season. The rappers would go on to express their disdain for the way Fox handled their show, which was notorious for the poor use of a laugh track that really slowed down the momentum of the jokes (via The Village Voice). 

Method Man went from the suburbs to the streets of Baltimore...

It's natural for general audiences to have been caught off-guard by seeing a rapper best known for lines like "I put the f***** buck in the wild, kid, I'm terror, razor-sharp" star in a watered-down sitcom like Method & Red. Thankfully, something like The Wire was much more in his wheelhouse, and his performance on that TV series was, not surprisingly, much better received than Method & Red

Across several seasons of The Wire, Method Man honed his craft as an actor, jumping into the juicy role of Melvin "Cheese" Wagstaff. He plays an integral role in the narcotics operations around town, and he's pretty good at his job for a while ... that is, until Omar (Michael Kenneth Williams) busts one of his deals, and ends up stealing the entire heroin supply for Baltimore. It's not long after that before Cheese meets his end at the hands of Slim Charles (Anwan Glover). Across four seasons, though, Method Man proved he had what it takes to run with major league actors, and his resume filled up at a rapid pace after that.

Method Man has showed off his sillier side, too, especially alongside Amy Schumer

It's safe to say Method Man's brand of humor is the kind that works best without a laugh track involved, which is something various high-profile comedians seem to have caught onto — particularly Amy Schumer. 

Method Man has appeared in several projects from Schumer over the years, including a brief cameo in an episode of her Comedy Central series, Inside Amy Schumer. He stops by during her "Milk Milk Lemonade" music video, but not in the way you expect (that honor belongs to Amber Rose). instead, Method Man is there to send an all-important (and kind of gross) message to all of the fellas out there who love big butts and cannot lie. Method Man worked with Schumer again, shortly thereafter, in the Schumer-led comedy, Trainwreck. In the 2015 film, he plays Temembe, an orderly who is a bit ticked off, since he was a doctor in his old country, and this new job is the best he can do in the States. Trainwreck also saw Method Man reunite with director Judd Apatow, whom he had previously done a cameo for in 2009's Funny People.

Trainwreck was nothing but a good time for Cliff Smith, as he told HipHopDX, "Being that it's a Amy Schumer project and I love her comedy, it was a win-win for me."