After announcing his retirement from acting in October, Joaquin Phoenix made his first public foray into the music world Friday, saying he was ready to put his real self out there and not hide behind movie characters, reports.

“This is me saying this is who I am. This is my story,” the actor-turned-aspiring rapper told People magazine before taking the stage at Las Vegas club LAVO. “After all the years of reading scripts and reading lines, this is my chance to do something straight from the heart and put it out there.

“When I was young I liked punk rock music but then I discovered rap. I love the storytelling aspect of hip-hop.”

Fluttering around the club’s catwalk, Phoenix, 34, rapped to the sounds of a drumbeat and encouraged the crowd to dance, reports. While the crowd cheered for the songs, Phoenix said he was prepared for mixed feedback before taking the stage. “Are there people out there who think I’m a joke? I’m sure there will be,” he told People magazine.

Click here to see Joaquin Phoenix performing

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