2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals 2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals
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.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

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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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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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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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SZA Calls For Peace While Receiving 'Rule Breaker' Award At Billboard Women In Music

SZA called for peace and understanding at Billboard's Women In Music event Thursday (Dec. 6).

During her speech for the Rule Breaker award, singer-songwriter recalled today's climate, asking her peers and those watching at home for a little bit of peace.

"I'm sorry for the state of the world honestly, for everybody in this room and I pray that all of us just get through it a little bit easier and just try not to lash out at each other," she said.

The recurring theme of unity among women was also heard on the carpet from artists like Tierra Whack. In addition to her message of love, the "Broken Clocks" singer also thanked her TDE family for rocking with her creative process.

"I'm just so thankful for everybody having patience with me, " she said. Shouting out the key members of her family in attendance, the TDE affiliate gave praise to her mother, father, and grandma. In this brief speech centered around the artist's growth Solána Imani Rowe, known more commonly as her stage name, Rowe everyone for their trust in her.

"I'm grateful for everybody taking the time to have the patience to watch someone grow, it is painful and sometimes exciting but mostly boring. And I am thankful for Top (Top Dawg Entertainment's Anthony Tiffith) for not dropping me from that label. For Peter, who I change my ideas every day and he be like okay I like this," she continued.

Thanking the likes of musical powerhouses like Alicia Keys and Whack, "The Weekend" singer offered her appreciation and condolences to Ariana Grande.

Watch SZA accept the Rule Breaker award above.

READ MORE: Anderson .Paak, Tierra Whack And More Praise Female Artists At 2018 Billboard Women In Music

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Beyoncé, Rihanna, And J. Lo Make Forbes’ Highest-Paid Women In Music List

As November comes to a close, many publications will be crafting their year-end lists for all things pop culture. Forbes released a ranking of the world's highest-paid women in music on Monday (Nov. 19), with Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, and Rihanna holding it down for women of color.

Beyoncé comes in at No. 3 on the list with an earning of $60 million as she made most of her money through her historical Coachella performance, the joint album with husband JAY-Z, Everything is Love, and the Carters' On The Run II Tour in support of its release.

Jennifer Lopez made No. 6 for earnings tallying of over $47 million thanks to her lucrative Las Vegas residency, endorsements, and shows including World of Dance where she serves as a judge.

Rihanna follows behind the "Love Don't Cost A Thing" diva at No. 7 with earnings of over $37.5 million. Although she hasn't toured since 2016—thanks to her cosmetics and lingerie lines, Fenty Beauty and Savage Lingerie—the Bajan pop star has been keeping herself busy.

Forbes' annual list (which factors in pretax earnings from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018) has placed Katy Perry at the top with over $83 million in profits due to her gig as an American Idol judge and her 80-date Witness: The Tour that brought in an estimated $1 million per night.

Scroll down to see Forbes' full list below.

Katy Perry ($83 million) Taylor Swift ($80 million) Beyoncé ($60 million) P!nk ($52 million) Lady Gaga ($50 million) Jennifer Lopez ($47 million) Rihanna ($37.5 million) Helene Fischer ($32 million) Celine Dion ($31 million) Britney Spears ($30 million)


READ MORE: Nas Makes Forbes’ List Of ‘Hip-Hop Cash Kings’ For The First Time

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Kelly Rowland Hops In Her Bag With New Single "Kelly"

Kelly Rowland has it all and isn't afraid to brag about it on her new single, "Kelly."

Released Thursday (Nov. 22), the singer goes the clubby, confident route while rightfully dropping her attributes like her relationship with God, smoldering looks (a.k.a the drip) among other things. With "Kelly" being the first single since her 2013's Talk a Good Game, the singer comes out swinging, reminding everyone of her power in the game.

The mother of one has promised that her new tunes will be edgier and most honest than her past work that included vulnerable tracks like "Dirty Laundry" and massive hits like "Motivation" and "Commander." Speaking with Vogue over the summer, Ms. Kelly disclosed a few details behind the album.

“It’s about love, loss, and gain and whether it’s professional or with family or whatever, it’s just honest," she said. "I had no choice but to be honest and authentic with this record: it’s about friendship and marriage.”

She also explained a drop in confidence caused her hiatus. “I was thinking about pulling back from recording, but I couldn’t help myself: I still wanted to record. I still felt like I was missing something. The third year just came and left so fast. The fourth year I said: ‘I have to get to work’ and now I’m ready to release some music! I felt like I wasted so much time, and it was my husband who actually called me out on it. He said: ‘Babe, as great as those records were, I think you were nervous, you got gun-shy’, and when he said that it was like boom, a gong went off.”

Glad to have you back, Ms. Kelly. Listen to the eponymous record up top.

READ MORE: Kelly Rowland Debuts Smoke x Mirrors Eyewear Collection At Barneys New York

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