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NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 25: Will Smith attends the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards at the Barclays Center on August 25, 2013 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)

Two Checks: The Most Successful Rappers Turned Actors

We hear complaints from educated, esteemed Hollywood and aspiring actors every so often that rappers and singers are snatching their coveted roles right from under their noses. Although there may be some truth to that argument, some rappers really do have acting chops and real talent. Some would argue fans enjoy their acting careers better than their songs.

Will Smith, an undeniable force in Tinsel Town, went from the summer-time anthem "Summertime" and "Parents Just Don't Understand" with bandmate DJ Jazzy Jeff to the classic and family favorite 90s sitcom Fresh Prince of Bel-AirMen in Black, Hitch and a dozen other highly-acclaimed feature films. Smith has taken the acting world by storm, all from a background in music.

But there are a handful of rap superstars whose acting careers have been so successful you may have forgotten they initially began with a career in music. We gathered the top eleven rappers turned actors who have, without a doubt, transitioned from the studio to in front of the big screen.

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LL Cool J

Mama said knock you out! Or did she say knock this acting career out of the box with a successful career in award show hosting, TV sitcoms (In The House, CSI) to feature film Deliver Us From Eva and more.

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Ice Cube

No more N.W.A. Bring on the R.W.A, "rappers while acting." This California rapper turned actor launched one of Hollywood's classic series to date, Friday to funny movie All About the Benjamins.

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Queen Latifah

All hail Ms. Dana, also known as the woman who can do anything. From rapping "Who You Calling a B*tch" to 90s TV staple Living Single to her own talk show, times two, to feature films including Set it Off.

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Common

Don't let his charming smile fool you, conscious rapper Common is extremely multi-dimensional. From community awareness to acting to albums, this Chicago native can do it all.

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Andre 3000

This eclectic rapper, one half of the Atlanta rap-duo Outkast, isn't just confined to a music studio, making waves in Hollywood, with leading roles in Four BrothersIdlewild alongside Paula Patton and the Jimi Hendrix biopic, All Is By My Side.

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Ice T

Who'd ever think that Ice-T, the 80s rapper who was known for his anti-police lyrics would actually play a cop on the silver screen? Ice T, born Tracy Lauren Marrow, plays Detective Fin Tutuola in NBC's Law & Order: SVU and is pretty darn good at it.

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Mos Def

Regarded as one of hip-hop's most introspective and insightful artists, Mos Def has played in over twenty projects, better known for his roles in Brown Sugar, Carmen: A Hip Hopera alongside Beyoncé and Monsters Ball.

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Mark Wahlberg

Some 90s babies probably aren't hip to the fact that before there was Mark Wahlberg, he was affectionately known as Marky Mark from the hip-hop band Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. Before he hung up his mic, Wahlberg took Hollywood by storm, starring in films such as Ted, Transformers: Age of Distinction, and The Other Guys starring Will Ferrell amongst dozens others.

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50 Cent

Ever since his breakout role in Get Rich or Die Trying, the feature film loosely based on the New York rapper's life, 50 Cent, born Curtis Jackson is now a celebrated and esteemed actor in his own right. Starring in All Things Fall Apart, Righteous Kill with Hollywood veterans Robert DeNiro and Al Pacino. Jackson not only acts but produces movies as well.

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Ludacris

The Atlanta born rapper is just too fast and too furious for competitors who try to keep up with him. The "Lovers and Friends" rapper has starred in one of the most popular movie series to date, Fast and Furious, and Academy Award nominated Crash and Hustle & Flow.

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VIBE Vixen's Boss Talk Podcast: Meet Peppermint, The Boss Using Her Gifts For Good

VIBE Vixen's Boss Talk podcast amplifies the voices of women and she/her-identifying individuals in their respective industries as they discuss their journeys toward becoming the bosses we know today. From their demeanor and confidence and persevering through life’s pitfalls to make a name for themselves in their own way, being a boss is much more than 'just running sh*t.'

Miss Peppermint started as a staple in the New York nightlife scene, and after appearing as a contestant on the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, she’s continued to make a name for herself.

Outside of the show, she's traveled the world and is hoping to release her third album, which she hints will be influenced by the '90s, R&B, and neo-soul. She's also planning on re-releasing her debut album, Hardcore Glamour, for its 10-year anniversary.

"I'll be doing a lot in New York this year for World Pride," she explains to Boss Talk's host, J'na Jefferson. Pride takes place throughout June. "The last album I dropped was 2017... I'm excited about that, I'm writing it now. It's just poems, but I'm excited."

Peppermint, who was the first openly transgender contestant on the Emmy Award-winning show, was also the first transgender woman to originate a principal role on Broadway for her role as Pythio in Head Over Heels. 

 

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"On paper, it shouldn't make sense... it's hard to explain what it is," she says of the musical, which combined a loose adaptation of 16th-century piece The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia with the music of the new wave group, The Go-Go's. It closed in late-2018.

"The better way to explain it now that it's over and closed is 'a revolutionary show about dismantling the patriarchy...'" she says about Head Over Heels. "I knew that they wanted to cast a trans actor... I wanted to put as much as I could into it, and try to do our non-binary siblings well and proud... [the show] became something I really believed in."

Peppermint continues to share her love of performing all over the world and is also an activist, who aims to promote the importance of LGBTQIA representation and advancement. She has worked and supported organizations such as The Point Foundation, which aims to help LGBTQIA students attend college. 

"People are just starting to catch on that having queer voices is essential and inevitable," she says of further representation of LGBTQIA individuals in media and entertainment. She praises Pose creator Ryan Murphy for showcasing trans people of color both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes.

"Giving [trans people] the power to speak for themselves, rather than slapping the community with stereotypes or archetypes... we're past that," she continues. "We're not in the phase where they're feeling comfortable to be who they are, but I think we're getting close."

Listen to the full episode below.

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Kush & Splendor: 5 CBD Beauty Products That’ll Take Your Self-Care Routine From 0 To 100

Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

And what better way to up the ante on one’s wellness routine than with all-natural CBD? Just ask Dr. Lana Butner, naturopathic doctor and acupuncturist at NYC’s Modrn Sanctuary, who incorporates CBD in her treatments.

“CBD is a fantastic addition to acupuncture sessions for both its relaxation and anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving effects,” Butner shares with Vixen. “The calming effects of CBD allows for patients to deeply relax into the treatment and really tap into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for rest, digestion and muscle repair/regeneration.”

She adds that CBD’s pain-relieving effects are “far-reaching,” from muscular and joint pains to migraines and arthritis—and even IBS and indigestion.

The magic lies in CBD’s ability to impact endocannabinoid receptor activity in our bodies. Without getting too wordy, our bodies come equipped with a system called the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the HBIC over our sleep, appetite, pain and immune system response. Also known as cannabidiol, CBD teams up with this system to help reduce inflammation and interact with neurotransmitters. According to Healthline, CBD has also been scientifically shown to impact the brain’s receptors for serotonin, the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our mood and social behavior.

All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are thebomb.com for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

Note: Data and regulations surrounding CBD and its use are still in development. That said, please don’t take anything written in this post as medical or legal advice, and definitely double check the laws in your state. Also, please do your body a favor and hit up your doctor before trying any new supplements. We’re just tryna look out for you. Okay? Okay. Read on.

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Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

In a new interview with Essence, actress Vivica A. Fox discussed how she initially turned down her role in Two Can Play That Game based on the script. The established entertainer said it's her mission to ensure that black people are positively portrayed onscreen, and noticed the aforementioned film's prose didn't live up to those standards.

"I think the reason why—no I know the reason why—I've been doing this for such a long time is that I fight," Fox said. "When we did Two Can Play That Game, I fought for the way we talked, walked, the way we loved each other." The Set It Off actress continued to state that she consistently declined Two Can Play That Game before signing on to play the lead role. "Because the script, when I first got it, I turned it down three times because it just wasn't a good representation of African-Americans, so I fought them on everything," she noted. "I want to make sure that the images of African-Americans are as positive and as true as they can possibly be."

In 2001, the romantic comedy debuted to fanfare, boasting an all-star cast of Morris Chestnut, Mo'Nique, Anthony Anderson, Bobby Brown, Gabrielle Union, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and more. Directed by Mark Brown (Barbershop, Iverson, How To Be A Player), Fox plays a career driven person named Shante Smith who navigates a curveball when her boyfriend Keith Fenton (Chestnut) cheats on her with a co-worker.

After its release, Two Can Play That Game raked in over $22 million at the box office.

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