DAR Films: Rappers Turned Actors

By @TrueGodImmortal 

In hip hop, one underrated aspect is acting. From the way rappers angrily posture themselves in videos to the images they create, acting is an underrated aspect. This makes acting in film and TV a natural transition for these artists, and while some of them transition very well, some don't. Method Man, Snoop, Nas and a number of other rappers have had minimal roles in films and TV, but there have been some who have remained consistent throughout their career. Today, we look at the best of the best, or at least those who made a nice transition.

(Key Roles: Juice, Above The Rim, Gridlocked)

-Pac is no longer here, but he was one of the most successful transitions and one of my top 3 favorite rapper turned actors. After his role in Juice, it seemed like Pac got wrapped up in the character so much that he became it in real life. His turn in Above The Rim was also entertaining, but I would love to have seen how Pac's career would have turned out film wise going into the 2000s.

*50 Cent 
(Key Roles: Things Fall Apart, Get Rich Or Die Tryin, Power)

-Starting out, 50 wasn't that good of an actor. He tends to play as himself it seems in his roles, aside from a few challenging ones. His best roles come in the form of his turn as a football player struck with sickness in "Things Fall Apart", his role in his own GRODT film, and his role as Kanan in the show he helped create, Power. 50 continues to improve as an actor and I'm sure there are more roles coming from him in the future.

(Key Roles: American Gangster, Takers, ATL) 

-This transition seemed to be virtually easy from jump for T.I., as he seemed like a natural actor, and his major role in ATL was pretty good. He would go on to have more roles, like the turn he had in Takers, playing as a member of the Lucas family in American Gangster, and more smaller film roles also. He's got more films on deck, and it seems as if his reality TV career will also continue as well. He's had one of the smoother transitions overall to the film and TV industry.

(Key Roles: Smokin Aces, Just Wright, Wanted)

-Common surprisingly enough works as an actor, and he's used his music success to transition to a film actor along with some roles in a TV series. He was even briefly featured in the blockbuster movie Suicide Squad, and his leading turns in films like Just Wright and Wanted showcased more dimensions of the rapper as an actor. He's really just getting started as an actor, so I expect more projects and roles from Common in the future.

(Key Roles: Belly, Cradle 2 The Grave)

-I don't think X is the greatest actor personally. I do think he's fun to watch in some of his roles, and there's a clouded darkness around all of his roles that hint at his own demons and vices. From his classic (depending on who you ask) role in Belly, along with his turns in Exit Wounds, Romeo Must Die and Cradle 2 The Grave, X managed to bring his flavor to every role and you never really felt like you were looking at him acting, but just him being himself and it worked very well.

(Key Roles: Crash, Fast Five)

-Luda has actually made a nice transition and seems to be a much better actor than I envisioned him being. Showing his trademark wit and humor in some of his roles, along with a bit of a serious side, Luda has had mostly supporting roles that allow him the freedom to be himself somewhat with an added dramatic flare.

*Andre 3000
(Key Roles: Idlewild, Four Brothers, Be Cool)

-I think Andre is a great actor, his roles are just a bit lacking in terms of quantity. He starred as Jimi Hendrix, and I enjoyed that role, and his turns in Be Cool, Four Brothers, Semi Pro and Idlewild were all highly entertaining. If only he had a few more roles to really speak of, I think Andre could become more of a force in the Hollywood film industry.

*Ice T
(Key Roles: Law and Order: SVU, New Jack City)

-Who would have ever thought the "Cop Killer" star would venture into acting and be so successful..... by playing a cop? His roles are mostly one dimensional, but it was such a stretch to see him as a cop that it made his roles stick out that much more. Though he isn't a big film actor or that frequently featured in multiple projects, Ice still deserves to be on this list.

*LL Cool J 
(Key Roles: In Too Deep, Deep Blue Sea, In The House)

-Another successful case, LL was able to transition easily to both movies and TV, but it sort of happened very lowkey. LL starred in films prior to having his own TV show In The House, but the show seemed to be the launching pad for more films and roles. He's survived horror movies, had romantic comedies like Deliver Us From Eva, and has managed to rack up a pretty decent filmography over the years at least.

*Mos Def
(Key Roles: 16 Blocks, Something The Lord Made, Be Kind Rewind)

-I can't lie, it's shocking that Mos is so good as an actor, though his roots are more in acting than hip hop if we are being honest. However, his roles in acting picked up after his music career took off, and he's shown the ability to play any type of role, from the serious to the comedic to the darker roles. Mos is probably the best actor on this list, as all of his performances are believable and entertaining at the same time.

*Queen Latifah
(Key Roles: Set It Off, Just Wright, The Secret Life of Bees)

-Well, to be fair, Queen has truly become a force in every aspect of entertainment, whether behind the scenes as producer and director, a TV show host, a jazz singer, and of course an actress. Some of her best roles are in television, with the strongest one being her sitcom Living Single. Her role in Set It Off is also a huge role for her and she seemed comfortable on the big screen regularly. Queen is probably a top 5 transition from music to film and TV, and she made sure to diversify her portfolio also.

*Ice Cube
(Key Roles: Friday, Ride Along, Next Friday, Boyz N The Hood, Three Kings)

-Cube is one of the greatest rappers from the West Coast, and he's also one of the more successful rappers who became an actor. With his legendary Friday trilogy, along with roles in the successful Ride Along movies, Higher Learning, Boyz N The Hood, and more, Cube has created one of the most successful and fun film careers that we've seen a rapper have. It's impossible to have this list without Cube.

*Will Smith
(Key Roles: The Pursuit Of Happyness, Bad Boys, Enemy Of The State)

-The ultimate transition. Will went from fun rapper to blockbuster movie star. You almost forget he used to be a rapper at times, but his humble beginnings came alongside DJ Jazzy Jeff making vital hip hop records. His transition was mostly easy, starting with his turn in the epic sitcom The Fresh Prince of Bel Air as Will was hilarious in this show and he would move on to huge films. Independence Day, Men In Black, Bad Boys, Enemy Of The State, Bad Boys 2, The Pursuit of Happyness, and many more roles truly solidified Will as a powerhouse and the most successful transition of them all.



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