Rappers Rep In Essence Mag's 25 Most Influential Of '08

Essence Magazine has released its list of the 25 Most Influential of 2008 and Hip-Hop artists hold 5 of the top ten spots, with Queen Latifah leading the pack.The list, which recognizes 25 distinguished African-Americans who have made a difference in 2008, features a cross section of politicians, journalists, activists and celebrities, with President-elect Barack Obama holding the top position.“President-elect Obama’s historic win was the pinnacle of an amazing year in African-American achievement,” said the magazine’s editor-in-chief Angela Burt-Murray. “Essence is so proud to acknowledge the top 25 African-Americans who followed suit with extraordinary steps in news, music, film, politics, activism and fashion and emerged as the game changers of 2008.Latifah landed at the number five position on the list, just four spots after the new Commander-in-Chief to be, and two spots behind journalist Gwen Ifill, whom she famously portrayed in Saturday Night Live’s spoof of the vice-presidential debate in October.The pioneering rapper/actress has had a busy year helping redefine the concepts of weight loss and healthy living as a spokesperson for Jenny Craig and continuing her role as celebrity spokesperson for Cover Girl cosmetics, Curvation ladies underwear and Pizza Hut.She also enjoyed the success of three hit films in 2008, including most recently the critically acclaimed The Secret Life of Bees, alongside Alicia Keys, Jennifer Hudson and Dakota Fanning.The list was released just days after Queen Latifah was announced as the host of the 35th Annual People’s Choice Awards, which will air on January 7, 2009.She is also reportedly working on a new album due out next year, which will be her first Hip-Hop release since 1998 despite two albums in between.The new offering will feature production by Dr. Dre and Swizz Beatz with appearances by Dr. Dre, Ludacris, and Missy Elliot.Immediately following Queen Latifah at the number six position is Will Smith, who has made his mark in the film industry both in front of the camera and behind the scenes.In addition to his starring role in this year’s anti-hero film Hancock, which grossed close to $620 million worldwide, Smith also produced the film as well as the Samuel L. Jackson crime thriller Lakeview Terrace and The Secret Life of Bees.Closing out the Hip-Hop representation on the 25 Most Influential List were Wyclef Jean, Kanye West, and will.i.am in the seventh, eighth and ninth positions respectively.Kanye West was recognized for his musical contribution and altruism especially since the death of his mother Dr. Donda West, while Wyclef and will.i.am were both heralded for their political and social activism.