NEW YORK – Adrien Brody's surprise Oscar triumph Sunday night will certainly transform his acting career, but the 29-year-old New York City native -- who's long been moonlighting as a hip-hop producer under the name A. Ranger -- has equally high hopes for his music.
"Adrien is a fanatic," deejay Stretch Armstrong, one of Brody's musician friends, told The Post. "Music is just as important to him as acting."
Word on the street is he's pretty good, too.
Brody has played some demo tracks, which often marry heavy urban beats to Japanese or Middle Eastern music, for his pals P. Diddy and Jay-Z, and the rap world high rollers expressed interest in sampling them for their own songs.
Such an endorsement would be the equivalent of that gold statuette for Brody the mix master.
"He'd love to use his new power to work on the music for his movies," says Sky Nellor, another Manhattan deejay, who dated Brody for a few years and remains a close friend.
Brody certainly isn't the first movie star to want to make music.
Other actor-musicians include Keanu Reeves, Dennis Quaid and Brody's fellow Oscar-winner Russell Crowe, but unlike those guitar-slingers, Brody's ax of choice is a Korg Triton sampling keyboard.
Friends say Brody can recite entire raps by some of his favorite emcees, such as 50 Cent, Nas or Biggie Smalls. And whenever he gets the chance, Brody loves to go clubbing.
"We go out downtown, anyplace there's a good deejay and attractive girls," says Armstrong. Some favorites include Tribeca Grand Hotel and Spa.
"You wouldn't recognize him in a club. He's completely on the low. Bobbing with his head to the music, probably with a hoodie on."
"Adrien is a really good dancer," says a New York scenester who dated Brody briefly last year. "He's an attractive guy, you know. And he dances totally chill. He looks cool."
He's even taken his own turn on the decks. On Valentine's Day last year, Brody deejayed with Armstrong and soul singer Joi at Joe's Pub on Lafayette Street.
Just don't expect him to do it again any time soon.
"Deejaying live isn't really Adrien's thing," says his lawyer, Michael Guido, who's introduced him to hip-hop bigs like Roc-A-Fella's Damon Dash and Def Jam's Lyor Cohen.
"He wants to be in the studio, producing tracks and working with rappers."
Brody already has one cut out there: "This Ain't a Movie," on the soundtrack to his 1998 indie flick Restaurant. Brody recorded it as A. Ranger and got the Rawcotiks to rap over it.
Though it sounds a little like Eminem, Marshall Mathers probably doesn't have to worry about the competition. Brody hasn't put out another song since.
Still, "Adrien was crazy excited about it," Nellor says. "That was his first taste of recording, and he wants more."
Brody is so devoted to his music, he even worked on it during the grueling six-month European shoot for The Pianist.
As he was preparing to play a Holocaust victim, director Roman Polanski wanted Brody to feel what it's like to lose everything.
So he sold his car, got rid of his Manhattan apartment, broke up with Nellor and went on a crash diet to lose 30 pounds from his 160-pound frame.
"That Korg Triton was the one thing he kept," Nellor recalls. "He carted it from Paris to Berlin to Warsaw."
Brody used the keyboard to study the Chopin pieces he mimed in the film -- and to compose a lot of his own music.
"Adrien was really affected by the movie, so [the music he made is] interesting, dark, gloomy stuff," says Armstrong, who compares Brody's Pianist-era tracks to the rich, syrupy trip-hop of Britain's Portishead and Tricky.
Now that Brody owns an Oscar, it might be hard for him to carve out time for his hobby.
"He definitely wants to devote more time to his musical side," Guido says. "But now every film director is going to be calling him. We'll see if he has the time."