Rappers Turned Actors - The Good, The Bad, The Awful
Inspired by Jeannieinabottle’s Best or Worst actors that tried to be musicians, I've decided to turn the tables and take a look at the ever popular rapper turned actor.
There are an abundance of rappers who have ventured into cinema. For some, the transition is seamless and they never look back. For others however, it can be an awkward mess and a painful reminder that they should stick with what they do best.
Ever since the old Breakin' movies of the 80's, rappers have been dying to act. It started slowly, with a few crossing the lines here and there. By the 90's, more and more rappers were scrapping their rhymes and rehearsing their lines as Hollywood recognized the potential market for the large following hip hop had cultivated.
I’ve divided our rappers into three groups. The first group consists of rappers who have successfully made the transition. Major stars that play leading roles in blockbuster films and talented actors that have thrived onscreen.
In our second group, we have rappers that can pull it off at times, but shouldn't quit their day job. They have had success, but are not going to be winning any major acting awards.
The last group has no business acting; they make Keanu Reeves look like Sean Connery..
Wow, They Rap Too?
Will Smith – Ever since The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, it was obvious that Will Smith was a talented actor. With roles such as Independance Day, Men and Black and Ali, Mr. Smith became a household name and is one of Hollywood's most sought after leading men.
Mos Def – Mos Def, also known as Dante Smith, also know as Yasiliin Bey, was acting before rapping. He’s great at both. At one time he even played bass in his rock band Black Jack Johnson. He's an immensely talented guy who can pretty much do whatever he wants.
Mark Wahlberg– I’m not sure that younger people know that Marky Mark used to rap. I'm not so sure you would call what he used to do rapping either. But once you see it, it’s not hard to figure out that he made the right decision.
Ludacris – Ever since his performances in Crash and Hustle and Flow, I've been a fan of Christopher Bridges. I’ll even forgive him for The Fast and The Furious.
Queen Latifah – Although sometimes she can be over the top, there’s no arguing her success on the big screen. She's the only Oscar winner on our list, all hail the queen indeed.
Not Bad For A Rapper
Common - Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr, was known for his highly lyrical rapping abilities back in the early to mid-nineties. His breakout performance in Smoking Aces opened the door to mainstream roles in movies such as American Gangster, Wanted, and Terminator Salvation.
Andre Benjamin - I really wanted to put Andre 3000 in the 1st tier, but I just couldn't do it. I'm sure he will find his way there in time. After a wildly successful musical career with Outkast, his acting career looks to be just as bright.
DMX– DMX is not a bad actor, he’s just been in one too many Steven Seagal movies. The trouled star has many personal issues that have kept him from achieving mainstream success in the acting field.
Eminem– Mr. Mathers gave a moving performance in 8 mile, but let’s be honest, how hard is it to play yourself? Eminem does have an Oscar to his credit, but it is in the best song category.
Ice Cube – Are we there yet? Not quite, Friday was great, Anaconda, not so much. Ice Cube can be very good at times but I will always think of him from his days in NWA.
Ice T – Ice T has been acting for a long, long time. I remember watching him play a cop in New Jack City. 20 years later, he’s still playing a cop on Law & Order.
LL Cool J– I almost put LL in the last group, I've never been a big fan of anything he’s done. Any Given Sunday maybe, but I felt that he was overshadowed by Jamie Foxx. Perhaps it’s the incessant lip licking, I don’t know.
Wow, That's Pretty Bad...
Master P– A highly successful rapper and entrepreneur, Master P has done many great things, unfortunately acting is not one of them. I've only watched a Master P movie for the unintended comedic value.
Vanilla Ice – To Mr. Ice's credit, nobody could have survived Cool as Ice and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, nobody...I blame his agent.
Bow Wow– I shouldn't judge Mr. Bow Wow due to the fact that I've never sat through one of his movies, only brief moments. But still, I feel fairly confident putting him in the third tier.
50 Cent - I tried to watch Get Rich or Die Trying and I almost died trying. (Sorry, I couldn't resist) According to the almighty Wikipedia, 50, real name Curtis Jackson, has almost 20 film credits on his resume, so maybe it's just me.
Juvenile – His acting makes you wish you were watching a Master P movie...
Well there's my list. Rappers are turning into actors every day, and with reality tv flooding the channels, the lines are somewhat blurred. I’m sure I've missed a few. Some, such as Snoop Dogg, often play themselves so were left off the list. The late Tupac Shakur would have definitely been included in the first tier. In the end, there were just too many to name.
Between athletes rapping, actors singing, and rappers acting, it can be difficult to keep up with who's doing what. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes it leaves you scratching you head. So here's to you Tone Loc, Big Daddy Kane, The Fat Boys, and Kid N Play. As pioneers of the actor/rappers we have you to thank, and you to blame.
More by Weestro:
- One Guy's Top Ten Hip Hop Albums
One guy's list of his favorite hip hop records from the past. Some are more well known than others.
- Writing A Rap Song
The third installment in the How To Write A Song series.
- Why I'm Not A Successful Rapper
Here I present a list of reasons why I could never be a successful rapper, followed by my rap song.