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-Air, Men 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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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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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.
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.
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.
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 Brothers, Idlewild alongside Paula Patton and the Jimi Hendrix biopic, All Is By My Side.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.