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Top 10 Best Rappers Turned Actors
After hearing the news that popular rapper Common had been cast in the upcoming 4th Terminator movie, Terminator Salvation: The Future Begins, I started to think about all the other successful rappers that have tried their hand at acting. It became evident that some are pretty good at doing both. So here is my Top 10 List of the Best Rappers Turned Actors.
Marshall Mathers is a Grammy and Academy Award-winning rapper, record producer and actor. Having sold over seventy million albums worldwide, Eminem is one of the highest-selling rappers of all time. Turning to acting in 2002’s 8 Mile, Eminem hasn’t resurfaced since. His debut was loosely based on his own life, so that probably helped his critically praised performance. Can he hold his own in other projects? I’d like to find out.
Hit Songs: Forget about Dre, The Real Slim Shady
Clifford Joseph Harris, Jr. is an rapper, songwriter, producer, actor, philanthropist and co-CEO of Grand Hustle Records. With his 2006 performance in ATL and more recently his supporting role in American Gangster, T.I. holds his own on screen. Now if he can just stay out of trouble we might get to see more of him.
Hit Song: Be Easy
Chris Bridges is a Grammy Award-winning rapper. He is also the highest-selling Southern hip hop artist of all time with over 11 million records sold in the United States. Though not very seasoned in the acting profession, Ludacris was surprisingly well regarded in his supporting role in Crash and Hustle & Flow and also his guest role in an 2007 episode of Law & Order. As such, I’ll give him a pass for being involved in Fred Claus. He is cast in the upcoming movies Max Payne and RocknRolla.
Hit Songs: Yeah!, Stand Up.
Tracy Marrow is a Grammy Award winning rapper, actor, and author. He is credited with helping create gangsta rap in the late 1980s and created more controversy in 1993 with the release of the song Cop Killer. After well received performances in New Jack City, Surviving The Game and Trespass he did a stint of straight to DVD and low budget movies. In 2000 he settled into the role of a police officer on the hit TV series, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He is cast in the upcoming movie Thira.
Hit Songs: Colors, Cop Killer
Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr. is a Grammy Award Winning hip hop artist, model and actor. He starred in significant roles in such films as Smokin’ Aces, Street Kings, American Gangster, and Wanted. Not that I followed much of the guy’s music, but Common immediately piqued my interest as a bodyguard in Smokin’ Aces. There’s something about the guy’s voice and delivery that is so cool you can’t turn away. He was also cast as the Green Lantern/John Stewart character in the live adaptation of The Justice League.
Hit Song: Love of My Life
James Todd Smith III is a Grammy Award winning rapper and actor. LL Cool J stands for “Ladies Love Cool James.” He is one of a few hip-hop stars of his era to sustain a successful recording career for more than two decades. He has had starring roles in the movies Any Given Sunday, Deep Blue Sea, Rollerball and The Last Holiday as well as his own long running TV show In the House. As a seasoned actor, LL Cool J easily excels in both fields.
Hit Songs: Radio, Mama Said Knock You Out.
Dante Terrell Smith has been nominated for Golden Globe, Emmy, and Grammy Awards. This is a guy I enjoy in just about anything. In 2002, he played the role of Booth in Topdog/Underdog, a Tony-nominated and Pulitzer-winning Broadway play. He also starred in Monster’s Ball, 16 Blocks, The Italian Job,The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Be Kind Rewind. He won critical acclaim for his portrayal of Vivien Thomas in the HBO film Something The Lord Made. His next movie is Cadillac Records as the famed Chuck Berry.
Hit Song: Universal Magnetic.
Dana Elaine Owens is a rapper, singer and actress. Latifah’s work in music, film and television has earned her a Golden Globe award, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Image Awards, a Grammy Award, six additional Grammy nominations, an Emmy Award nomination and an Academy Award nomination for the hit movie Chicago.
She’s starred in Set it Off, Jungle Fever, Barbershop, The Bone Collector and The Last Holiday. She also starred in the long running TV series Living Single. She is currently a Cover Girl model and Jenny Craig spokesperson. Her latest movie was The Secret Life of Bees.
Hit Song: Ladies First.
O’Shea Jackson is a rapper, actor, screenwriter and producer. Regarded as one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time he began his career as a founding member of the rap group N.W.A. Much like Ice-T and LL Cool J, Ice Cube has been around for a while and certainly has credibility with fans. He had starring roles in smash hits Boys in the Hood and Friday as well as starring roles in Anaconda, The Players Club, (which he directed), Three Kings and Are We There Yet? He produces movies under his Cube Vision production company. His next movies are The A-Team and the title role in Welcome Back, Kotter which he is also producing.
Hit Songs: No Vaseline, Today was a Good Day
Willard Christopher Smith Jr. was half of the wildly successful hip-hop duo Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. He was the first rapper to win a Grammy Award. He then made the successful transition to TV in 1990 and starred in the slightly biopic hit sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He was also the first rapper to receive an Academy Award Nomination and the only rapper to receive 2 nominations.
This is a guy that keeps churning out great movies like Men in Black, Bad Boys, Independence Day, Ali, I,Robot, The Pursuit of Happiness and Hancock. The only bad choice he made in his acting career was turning down the role of Neo in the mega hit movie Matrix to accept the lead role in the flop Wild,Wild West. He is now considered one of the most powerful people in Hollywood and with his wife Jada Pinkett-Smith currently produce TV and movie projects.
Hit Songs: Parents Just Don’t Understand, Git Jigga Wit it.