12 Rappers Who Became Actors

12 Rappers Who Became Actors

Many rappers and actors find ways to keep themselves busy in their careers, and this often involves branching out into other avenues of generating income.

Take, for instance, Drake, who started as an actor, moved into rap and is now a skilled businessperson with a hand in producing music, developing a fashion label, and promoting online gambling (unsurprisingly since online casinos have become highly lucrative; there are a number of best player bonuses available, see more here).

While Drake started as an actor and became successful in music, rappers are generally more likely to try out acting than actors are to try out rapping. Interestingly, it seems that many skilled rappers aren’t willing to settle for simply making music, including these 12, who have successfully crossed the creative divide from rapping to acting.

1. Will Smith

Sometimes, it’s easy to forget that Will Smith’s career started with rapping, with the most popular of his songs being the theme song for The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air TV series that launched his career. Although he’s landed major acting roles and made this the center of his work since his Fresh Prince days, he’s made a musical comeback in recent years.

2. Ice Cube

O’Shea Jackson Sr., primarily known as Ice Cube, started with N.W.A., the group that brought us Straight Outta Compton, and he has since flourished as a solo artist and actor. His debut role was as Doughboy in Boyz n the Hood, which was named after the song he wrote. Since then, he’s starred in a wide range of movies, from comedies like Jump Street to action-adventure flicks like Anaconda.

3. Queen Latifah

Queen Latifah, born Dana Elaine Owens, is an award-winning actor credited for paving the way for female rappers in the traditionally male-dominated genre. Her acting debut was in the film Jungle Fever in 1991. In 2003, her role as Matron Mama Morton in Chicago earned her an Oscar nomination.

4. Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur is a rap icon who took on social issues and injustices in his music while at the same time delivering lyrics of violence that accelerated him into fame and infamy. His career was cut short by his early death at 25, but despite his short life, he became one of the biggest rappers in history. Beyond rapping, he also started to make waves as an actor, having played roles in multiple crime-drama films, including Juice (his debut movie) and Above the Rim.

5. Marky Mark

Marky Mark, now simply going by his name Mark Wahlberg, has made a big name for himself with his acting career with blockbuster hits like The Italian Job and The Other Guys. But acting wasn’t where he got his start. His career began in the rap group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, which brought us the hit song “Good Vibrations.”

6. Ludacris

Christopher Brian Bridges, better known as Ludacris, has created massive hits in the rap industry, including “Get the F*ck Back” and “Money Maker.” Alongside a successful music career, he’s also made a name for himself as an actor, particularly for his role in the Fast & Furious series.

7. Eminem

Even after over two decades of releasing LPs, Eminem has become a rap icon who is still making music and headlines — most recently for killing off his Slim Shady persona to promote an upcoming album. While rap has remained his primary work, he’s also tried out acting, with his most prominent film being 8 Mile.

8. 50 Cent

50 Cent, discovered and mentored by Eminem and Dr. Dre, is a top-selling rapper whose career has also brought him to the arts of acting and business. His acting debut was in 2005 with the movie Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Since then, he’s taken on many dramatic, action-packed roles in films like Den of Thieves.

9. Eve

Eve Cooper, simply known as Eve, is a rapper with several albums and a successful acting career. Today, she’s primarily known for acting, with her most well-known roles in the show Eve and movies Whip It and Barbershop.

10. Ice-T

Born Tracy Morrow, Ice-T has developed a name for himself for his rapping and acting capabilities. He started out rapping, but it didn’t take him long to move into acting. His most well-known role is in the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit TV series, where he’s played Odafin ‘Fin’ Tutuola for 23 seasons.

11. André 3000

As one part of the Outkast duo, André 3000 has made a name for himself beyond music by taking on acting roles like Jimi Hendrix in the biopic Jimi: All Is by My Side and Sunny in the TV show Class of 3000. Although André recently crushed the hopes of Outkast fans by revealing that he and Outkast’s other half, Big Boi, will not be recording together again, he’s still active in the music industry. He is currently on tour promoting his New Blue Sun album.

12. Kid Cudi

Best known for his song “Day ‘n’ Nite,” Kid Cudi launched his rap career in 2009. Since then, he’s worked with major artists like Kanye West and Travis Scott (just to name a few). His music reflects his struggles with alcohol, drugs, depression, and loneliness in a way that connects with many. Beyond his music, his career has also brought him to try out acting, taking on roles in the movies Need for Speed and Silent Night.

Final Thoughts

Something about the creativity of the rap industry creates a pipeline from music to acting, where rappers like the ones listed here have shone on the screen. For some, acting became their primary work, taking their careers to new levels of fame and success.

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