Although many rappers have acting skills, finding phenomenal success in music, as well as in movies, is truly impressive.
Rappers, early in their careers, are revered for their raw, uncut lyrical content, often illustrating the harshness of the hand dealt to them in life. While some may support the glorification of violence, death, and ignorance that lives on in most mainstream rap, these are the attributes that make rappers stand out and dominate in their respective genre. Corn a large majority of mainstream rappers often become the unforgettable stars of the best hollywood movies. Classics like Poetic Justice, How High, Boys N The Hood and New Jack City show us just how versatile they are.
Here are some of the rappers who have made it big in the music and acting industry.
Tracy Lauren Marrow, better known as Ice-T, is considered one of the first creators of the “gangster rap” genre of rap music. Early in his career as a rap artist, he started out as a vocalist for American heavy metal band Body Count, which produced the controversial song, cop killer. Ironically, despite the obvious message of defiance of the police, one of Ice-T’s most iconic acting roles was as an undercover cop named Scotty Appleton in the 1992 crime thriller. Jack’s New Town. He also acted in other films like Ricochet, Intrusionand Survive the game, to name a few. Among many other roles, one of his most notable is that of Odafin Tutuola, an officer of the Special Victims Unit, in Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
9 Ice Cube
As another proponent of early gangster rap, O’Shea Jackson Sr., known professionally as Ice Cube, showcased his lyrical mastery in the much-criticized band, NWA Similar to Ice-T’s Cop Killer, NWA was formed as a result of the struggles facing urban youth and increasing police brutality. From there, Ice Cube launched his film career in 1992 with his superb performance in Boyz N The Hood. Then there was the movie franchise, Fridayin 1995, followed by the critically acclaimed three kings with Mark Wahlberg and George Clooney, as well as another successful film franchise in 2002 – “Barbershop”. Like Ice-T, Cube also landed police roles in Along and 21 jump street. Since his debut in 1992, he has acted in almost 40 films in total.
8 Tupac Shakur
Perhaps one of the most controversial and legendary rap artists of all time is the late Tupac Shakur, also known as 2Pac. Raised under similar conditions in urban America, Tupac found music and poetry as an outlet from an early age. His late mother, Afeni Shakur, was an activist in the Black Panther Party, where Tupac drew inspiration as a minority voice and advocate for social change. Besides his extraordinary career as a rapper, he has acted in numerous films, starting with his leading role as Bishop in the juice in 1992. A year later, he landed a lead role in poetic justice alongside Janet Jackson, and a year later, in 1994, he starred in Above the rim with Duan Martin. Tupac ironically played the role of a crooked detective in Bonded to a gangueas well as that of a heroin addict in Engorgement.
7 Will Smith
When we hear about Will Smith, we think of the box office record player he has become. However, this film industry was not his first career. Will actually started out as a rapper from Philadelphia and formed the rap duo ‘DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince.’ While his rap career is often underestimated, his music duo is actually the first to win a Grammy Award. But it’s obvious acting was Will’s passion. He is best known for his role in the 90s sitcom The prince of Bel-Air. Her first starring role in a film was in SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION. From there, he exploded with the comedy-thriller franchise Bad Boys as good as men in black sci-fi franchise. Will Smith has starred in a plethora of other films, making him one of richest actors in hollywood.
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, popularly known as Nas, Nasty Nas or Nas Escobar, started out as a rapper from Queens, New York in 1989. His debut album, Illmatic, was released in 1994 and was well received by the hip-hop community. To this day, it is considered the greatest album of all time. One of his best-known tracks was recorded with Lauren Hill, titled “If I Ruled The World.” His only known film was Stomach in which he performed alongside fire DMX. Other cast members include Method Man, Hassan Johnson, Louie Rankin, Taral Hicks, and Tionne Watkins. Stomach became an iconic depiction of crime, struggle, glory, and redemption through the eyes of young urban African American men.
“You’re going to drive me crazy! Up there, up there!” Anyone who knows these words knows that this artist needs no introduction. Born as Earl Simmons, DMX was a dynamic and versatile actor who dominated both the microphone and the movie screen. As an artist, he began recording under Def Jam Records before forming his own music group, Ruff Ryders. His rugged persona and electrifying rapping style achieved incredible success in music, and this image was perfect for movies. In 1998, he started in Stomach, and in 2000 starred alongside Jet Li in “Romeo Must Die”. Then in 2001, he joined Steven Seagal in exit wounds, followed by Cradle to grave and never die alone.
4 Queen Latifah
She’s one of the most feisty rappers to grace the microphone with her vocals, partnering with rap legends like Treach and KRS-One. Dana Elaine Owens, better known as Queen Latifah, began her career in 1989 after signing with Tommy Boy Records and subsequently releasing her debut album, “All Hail the Queen”. She continued to produce Nature of a sister, black reign, and a list of other albums. She did, however, achieve ultimate success as a Hollywood actress, starring in films like Taxi, The Bone Collector, Last holidays, Beauty salon, Just Wright, and more recently, The equalizer. In total, she made appearances in nearly 50 films.
3 50 cents
As the founder of hip-hop group G-Unit, Curtis James Jackson, known professionally as 50 Cent, always had his eyes on more than just a rap career. When 50 Cent took the music industry by storm in 2003 with his debut album, Get rich or die trying, it only took two years for the film to hit theaters. After getting a taste of the big screen, he went all out, starring in movies like Righteous Murder, den of thieves, Independentsand many more, totaling nearly 35. Besides acting, he also co-produced the compulsive vision drama series, Power starring Courtney A. Kemp, receiving huge success within 6 seasons of being televised.
2 method man
This East Coast rapper, songwriter and actor called Method Man, legally named Clifford Smith Jr., is a member of the abstract rap group The Wu-Tang Clan, which was formed in the 90s. imposed in the hip-hop industry with a unique style and sound. He is also one of the two of hip hop due, Method Man and Redman. The duo also appeared together in the famous movie, How highreleased in 2001. Before that, in 1999, Meth was cast in Stomach alongside DMX and Nas. His other acting roles included a stint on the HBO prison drama series Oz. His street persona also landed him the role of Melvin ‘Cheese’ Wagstaff on the HBO series.
Originally from Illinois, rapper-actor Ludacrisformerly known as Christopher Brian Bridges, achieved huge success in the late 1990s with his record label, disturb the peaceand in the early 2000s with hits like Area codes, Move ***** (get out of the way)and Yeah! (with Usher and T-Pain). After moving to Atlanta, he met famed producer Timbaland, who signed Luda to Def Jam Records. He embodied a new school of Dirty South rapping that paved the way for many other Atlanta rappers around this time. His acting career took off even further with his debut in 2 Fast 2 Furious, which led to roles in every subsequent part. Luda’s acting resume also includes award-winning movies like bustle and flow, The ball does not lie and crashto name a few.
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