As I was watching the repeat episode of Law and Order: SVU, the episode that Ludacris was on, I had to commend him on his acting skills. So this brought a topic to mind who are the Top Ten rappers turned actors? I decided to do a list and see if you agree or can add others to it. Keep in mind that I am only listing 10, although I can probably give you as many as 20 just off the top of my head!
Keep in mind that I do know there are some that are coming up now that could conceivably make and even top this list, but as of this writing, I stand by my choices! Prove me wrong!
In no particular order (or maybe it is ..)
1) Mark Wahlberg a.k.a. Marky Mark– Now you cant front, you couldnt stand Marky Mark or his damn Funky Bunch, but this Boston Beantown resident does his thing in the acting realm! I am quite sure that most of you didnt even realize that Mark Wahlberg was indeed Marky Mark. Check out Four Brothers, The Departed, The Italian Job, Fear and Three Kings.
2) Chris Bridges a.k.a. Ludacris – As I mentioned above, Luda did a great job on that Law and Order episode as Darius Parker, relative of another Top Ten entry, Ice T. Although he doesnt have an extensive acting resume, I think he will be one of the great rappers who is also a great actor in years to come. Check out Crash, Hustle and Flow and 2 Fast 2 Furious.
3) Tracey Morrow a.k.a. Ice T – For a man to be labeled a pimp and who was responsible for a group that made a song called Cop Killer, his most memorable roles are that of a cop. But thats the trademark of an actor, to play a character that isnt in your everyday being. Now, I have to admit, seeing him in New Jack City gave me pains, as I just knew this would be his last acting job (dont front, you thought the same thing!). But lo and behold, he is still around and has turned into a decent actor. Check out his stints on New York Undercover, Trespass and Ricochet, and keep in mind that Ice T is a regular cast member on one of the longest running television series in Law and Order.
4) OShea Jackson a.k.a. Ice Cube – Amerikkkas Most Wanted had a great start with his starring role in John Singletons debut movie Boyz N Da Hood. From Cubes performance in this movie, you knew he would continue on this path, but I didnt realize he would actually become a major player in Hollywood (both on and off screen). Check out Barbershop 1 and 2, Friday, Next Friday and Friday After Next, Are We There Yet? And the sequel, Are We Done Yet? and All About The Benjamins. He is also producing and starring in the film version of Welcome Back Kotter amongst other things.
5) Dana Owens a.k.a. Queen Latifah – Now I am sure that 99.4% of you will agree with me when I state that Queen Latifah is one of the best and most positive images Hip-Hop can lay claim to. This multi-talented woman has shown that the many hats she wears are worn well. Her body of work speaks for itself, even her brief appearances in Juice and Jungle Fever. Check out Beauty Shop, Chicago, Last Holiday, The Bone Collector and the HBO movie, Life Support.
6) Will Smith a.k.a. Fresh Prince – Who would have figured that a skinny, big-eared rapping kid from Philly would end up making more money per movie than a more accomplished and trained actor such as Denzel Washington? Yes, Hip-Hops own Fresh Prince (nominated twice for an Oscar), who admittedly went through his first million as fast as he made it, catapulted himself into Hollywoods stratosphere by being himself on his own self-titled TV show. He took that charm and character to the next level to make himself an unlikely movie star. Check out The Pursuit of Happyness, Hitch, Independence Day, Ali, Bad Boys 1 and 2, Wild Wild West, I Robot and Six Degrees of Separation.
7) James Todd Smith a.k.a. LL Cool Jay – In Krush Groove he couldnt live without his radio, but he has proven otherwise as he has risen to stay on top of his game in the cross section of Hollywood and HollyHood. The man who has been around (as a recording artist) longer than the likes of Public Enemy, EPMD and The Beastie Boys still has a grip on some roles in Hollywood. One of the very few recording artists to star in his own sitcom (In The House), he is still recording and filming. Talk about a legend! Check out In Too Deep, Halloween H2O and Deliver Us From Eva.
8) Darryl Mitchell a.k.a. Chill – I am quite positive you didnt know Chill was part of the Uptown group, Groove B. Chill – back when people were just finding out about Heavy D and The Boyz, Teddy Riley and Al B. Sure!. This rapper-turned-actor has starred in more TV series than any rapper alive (to my knowledge)! An unfortunate accident didnt stop him from acting either, which makes his feat an even more accomplished one! Check out House Party 1 and 2, The John Larroquette Show and Veronicas Closet.
9) Calvin Broadus a.k.a. Snoop Dogg – This man is another multi-talented, everywhere seen type of guy that exudes attention in whatever he is involved in! His laid-back persona and pimp talk is always ready to be displayed whether film, commercial, records or video! Check out Soul Plane (ok, maybe not Soul Plane), Starsky and Hutch, Baby Boy and The Wash.
10) Earl Simmons a.k.a. DMX – Dark Man X has made a transition from rapper to actor, though his recent driving and alleged drug use may have hampered his ability to directly compete for the jobs that some on this list are getting. Check out Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds and Belly.
I know most of you are screaming, “But what about Tupac?” I do agree, but since his death short-changed his career, I thought I would keep it to the ones I listed.
And for real fans of rappers/actors, I am sure a few of you will ask about Mos Def, who I feel is the second best rapper/actor behind Mark Wahlberg. For those who dont know, Mos Def was actually an actor (God Bless The Child– 1988) before he became a rapper, so he wasnt included on my list
On a sad note, I feel T.I. was next up on this list. Hopefully he has great lawyers, otherwise
Big Ced is the founder of www.TheIndustryCosign.com