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2014 Oscars: Captain Phillips' Barkhad Abdi Reveals the Crazy Way He Learned English

Barkhad Abdi, Oscars Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

Who knew that rap music could also serve as an English language educational tool?

Barkhad Abdi, aka the main villain in Captain Phillips, nabbed an Oscar nomination for his very first movie role, which is impressive enough. But what's more impressive is the crazy way he learned how to speak English after moving to America from Somalia in 1999.

Besides watching episodes of Seinfeld to help master the English language (everyone needs the phrase "not that there's anything wrong with that" in their vernacular), Abdi listened to albums by Beyoncé's other half: Jay-Z.

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"Sophomore year of high school, that's when I started listening to a lot of hip-hop," he told Ryan Seacrest on the Oscars red carpet. "When you listen to a lot of music, you kind of understand [the language].

So which album was the first one he memorized as part of his "language studies?"

"I think it was his first album, Reasonable Doubt," Abdi revealed. Old school Jay-Z as your English teacher? We're jealous.

Abdi is up against the likes of Bradley Cooper, Jared Leto and Michael Fassbender for the Best Supporting Actor category. Not too shabby for someone who got the role at an open casting call in his adopted hometown of Minneapolis.

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"That was my first character and I really liked the story," he said about his experience on Captain Phillips. "And with such a great actor Tom Hanks…I just had to become the character."

Jay-Z would be proud.

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