Hip-Hop has official matured. The attire has grown from Adidas and baggy jeans to button ups and blazers. Benzes and Bentleys are the cars of choice.
Endorsements now range from clothing lines to beverages. The names and faces that were readily recognizable in the Hip-Hop community are now household names.
Tinsel town has also become the new home of Hip-Hop. Several stars have taken their success as actors a step further by moving into roles behind the scenes while still maintaining acting careers.
With Behind The Scenes we will give you the lowdown on key artists shaping the future of entertainment.
O Shea Ice Cube Jackson
Rapper, Composer, Actor, Producer, Writer, Director - Age 38
This West Coast rap pioneer has been enmeshed in Hollywood for quite some time now. We have seen him in some unforgettable films, beginning with his amazing performance in the 1991 smash Boyz N The Hood. He has been producing box office hits for quite some time now as well.
Ice Cube produced and starred in the now classic film Friday in 1995 through his own production company Cubevision. He then turned it into a trilogy, and gained about $118 million dollars. He also created and appeared in hits such as Players Club, Barbershop, and All About The Benajmins.
He currently has the comedy First Sunday in theatres now, featuring Katt Williams and Tracy Morgan,. It was second at the box office in its first weekend, raking in over 19 million dollars. Cubevision productions also currently working on a film called The Comeback, directed by Fred Durst (formerly of Limp Bizkit) and starring Ice Cube and David Banner.
Rapper, Actor, Producer, Director, Writer - Age 39
We will never forget this Fresh Princes time in Bel Air, or the universal hit Parents Just Dont Understand. His iconoclastic moments will forever be etched into our society. Turning to television initially is what makes him the most recognizable stand out in Hip-Hop entertainers. Without any formal training, he began honing his acting skills on the unforgettable show Fresh Prince of Bel Air.
Many people are unaware that he also began his production endeavors with the television show, executive producing several episodes. Will Smith took on leading roles in several box office hits, and alongside his high school friend and business partner James Lassiter, Will started Overbrook Entertainment.
The company is responsible for producing a number of films, most recently the record-setting I Am Legend. It debuted at number one and grossed over 76 million dollars in its first weekend. Overbrook has produced films such as Hitch, Ali, I Robot, ATL and Pursuit Of Happyness which have collectively earned $475.8 million dollars.
We can look forward to several films in 2008 from Overbrook Entertainment including He Comes, Sisters of Mercy, The Secret Life Of Bees and Time Share.
Dana Queen Latifah Owens
Rapper, Singer, Actress, Spokesmodel, Producer, Writer Age 37
Queen Latifah propelled onto the Hip-Hop scene with albums like All Hail The Queen and Black Reign, totaling in nearly two million copies sold. Her most noteworthy single U.N.I.T.Y. earned Dana Owens, her first Grammy in 1995.
She jumpstarted her acting career in 1991 with cameos in Spike Lees Jungle Fever and the movie Juice. She has now played in over 20 films, which have collectively brought in over $1 billion dollars. Her unforgettable performance in Chicago granted her an Academy Award nomination, and she has done some amazing work in films like Set It Off,Hairspray and the touching HBO film Life Support. And we can't forget her role as Khadijah James on the hilarious sitcom Living Single, which had a successful run from 1993 to 1998.
In conjunction with her business partner Shakim Compere and their company Flavor Unit Films, she is responsible for executive producing several films including The Cookout, Beauty Shop and Life Support. She recently got back into acting mode with The Perfect Holiday and Mad Money, and she is slated to appear in the upcoming movies What Happens In Vegas and The Secret Life of Bees.
Queen Latifah was the first Hip-Hop artist to be awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and is an active spokesmodel for Cover Girl cosmetics and Jenny Craig.
Percy Master P Miller
Rapper, Actor, Producer Age 40
Percy Millers groundbreaking work in the entertainment industry has been instrumental in showing ways to achieve success independently. He was responsible for producing several films that allowed many Hip-Hop artists and comedians an ability to display their acting skills. One of his most renowned films I Got the Hook Up, starring himself and comedian AJ Johnson, earned a little over $10 million in the box office.
Percy Miller is still producing and directing films, working with the likes of his son Romeo, Richard T. Jones, Sticky Fingaz and a host of others. His most recent film as writer and director was Black Supaman, a comedy released in 2007 starring Micheal Blackson. He will be back in front of the camera again in 08 as a football coach in the Brian De Palma-directed film Down and Distance.
Sean "Sean John" Combs
Rapper, Dancer, Fashion Executive, Actor, Producer, Director Age 38
Whether you know him as Puffy, Puff Daddy, Diddy or the newly mentioned Sean John, the mark that Sean Combs has made on the entertainment industry is undeniable. The business savvy bad boy has found a way to transcend successfully through various forms of business. He has worked with several artist ranging from the Notorious B.I.G., Mary J. Blige, 112, Young Jeezy, Danity Kane, Cheri Dennis and the list goes on.
Aside from his music and fashion accomplishments, he has as received a great deal of success acting and producing. Diddy has shown his wide array of talents acting in movies such as Monsters Ball and Carlitos Way: Rise To Power, and has starred on Broadway in A Raisin In The Sun.
Diddy is also rocking television with some major firepower. After starting with video direction, he created the still popular Making The Band series, and also produces the hit series Run's House. Most recently, the movie version of A Raisin In The Sun starring Combs was the first television movie ever to premiere at Sundance. We have a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg for the moguls TV career!
Tionne T-Boz Watkins
Singer, Actress, Producer - Age 37
Tionne Watkins is mainly known for her sensational singing career with TLC, the best selling female group of all time at over 18 million records worldwide. Aside from providing crucial creative vigor behind the group musically, T-Boz was also extremely alluring in front of the camera. This was apparent through the groups videos and in her roles in the films House Party 3 and Belly.
She also took on short roles on the sitcoms Living Single and Class of 3000. Tionne later moved behind the scenes to lend a production hand in the 2006 hit ATL starring T.I. and Lauren London.
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson
Rapper, Actor, Producer, Writer - Age 32
Another person to be on the look out for is Curtis 50 Cent Jackson, who is also beginning his conquest on the business side of the film industry. His 2005 award-winning film Get Rich Or Die Trying surprised critics, and the acting bug has taken hold for good as 50 is slated to star in three more films - Righteous Kill, The Dance and Live Bet - all currently in production. After producing DVD's within his G-Unit camp and writing the book and script for the movie Ski Mask Way, 50 is joining with his manager Chris Lighty and movie producer Randall Emmett to form a yet unnamed production company. According to Jackson he will have a great deal of creative control with their films.