Petey Pablo, The Black Robert De Niro?

Rapper to make big-screen debut in marching band flick 'Drumline.'

Petey Pablo makes a grand entrance in “Drumline,” his first big-screen role. 
The film, which just finished shooting in Atlanta, is a coming-of-age comedy
that revolves around the explosive world of southern marching bands,
fixtures at historically black colleges and universities.

Pablo, whose Timbaland-produced anthems “Raise Up” and “I” have made him a
hot commodity, performs “Raise Up” and his new single, “I Told Ya’ll,” in the
movie with the Morris Brown College marching band.

“I pull out in a platinum Bentley,” Pablo said. “I get out for the
performances as the drums are playing. It’s like I’m a special guest for
one of the biggest scenes in the movie.”

Grammy-nominated Blu Cantrell also appears in the film. She sings the
national anthem for the film’s climatic Big South Classic battle of the
bands showdown.

Due to arrive in theaters August 21, “Drumline” stars Nick Cannon (“The Nick
Cannon Show”) and Orlando Jones (“Evolution,” “Double Take”). It was
directed by Charles Stone III (the mastermind behind Budweiser’s memorable
“Wazzup?!” commercials, as well as videos by Public Enemy and the Roots, among
others) and based on a story written by Dallas Austin (producer of TLC, JT
Money), who played in a marching band in high school and who hand-picked
Pablo and Cantrell for their debut film roles.

Pablo, for one, appreciates being able to skip auditioning for his part. 
“It was easy,” he said. “I just basically woke up one day and they’re
telling me that I’m going to be in a movie. I’ve been really blessed, man. 
All the stuff that I’m doing and that has been done for me has basically
come overnight.”

Austin, however, has been working on “Drumline” since 1995, when he wrote
the story on which the flick is based. He serves as the film’s musical supervisor as well as one of its producers.

He hopes to bring a variety of sounds to the movie. “The essence is to come
with drums from all different perspectives, whether it’s drum’n’bass, garage,
hip-hop from the South, hip-hop from the West or up North,” Austin said. 
“All of them have their different elements, so it was important to me to
combine as much rhythm to the movie as possible and not just limit it to the
South, where a lot of the bands are.”

Also based in the South — North Carolina to be exact — Petey Pablo isn’t
resting on his laurels now that he’s making movies. He’s already recording
the follow-up to 2001′s gold-certified Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry.  He
and Timbaland will be producing the majority of the album, which Pablo is
recording in New York, North Carolina and other locales.

As he did on his first album, Pablo plans to bring a new sound with his
second album, due later this year. “My albums take you through different
situations, different changes, and it really doesn’t sound like anything
else,” he said.

That difference was obviously noticed by Austin, who has Pablo smiling. 
“I’m happy as a motherf—er,” said Pablo, who is thrilled with his first
movie role. “This has sparked off some new sh–. Now, the movie people are
looking at me like I’m the black Robert De Niro. It’s on and popping.”

For a full-length feature on Petey Pablo, check out “Petey Pablo: Raising The Bar.”