Meet the top 10 Rappers who are bringing the Game to Hollywood
By Quiban Salazar-Moreno
So, everyone was talking about 50 Cent being a great actor and all that, but once the film came out, all of that nonsense stopped. Acting isn’t an easy gig, so I give props to those who can do it well and can’t stand people who think they’re good and continue to try to do it; knowing fullly well they’re in the movie because they’re famous for something else, like singing or rapping.
So I put together a list of the best rapper actors in the game right. A couple of rules:
First, the rappers need to have a nice stock of films under their belts, so that takes out cats like Eminem, Method Man, Redman, Ja Rule etc.
They also have to play roles that are not extensions of themselves, meaning Snoop Dogg and Ludacris playing themselves in flicks like Training Day and Baby Boy for Snoop, he just really played himself.
Same with Ludacris in 2 Fast & 2 Furious, Crash and Hustle & Flow, maybe next time fellas. Oh yeah, Mark Wahlberg, aka Marky Mark doesn’t count because he doesn’t make music anymore.
Will Smith won plaudits for his role in the film 'Ali'
Anyway, here’s my Top 10 Rapper/Actors
10.) DMX – Yeah it seems like he plays the same character in every movie, but at times you can tell the difference. He outshined Nas in Belly (but how hard is that really?) and he made Romeo Must Die a bit more interesting. Plus, he’s in some good action sequences. He’s in jail right now, so we’ll see what he comes up with when he gets out.
9.) Eve – Now, I don’t watch Eve at all on UPN, but I have caught a few episodes and she’s doing a good job, I guess. Especially since she’s on season two and there’s no slowing down. She could blow up like Latifah here real soon.
8.) Sticky Fingaz – Over the summer he was in that TV show “Over There” on FX, and even though the show kind of dragged on, Sticky did a great job. The show got cancelled but it’s okay. This year he’ll be in the real cheesy looking House of the Dead 2 (yes, believe it or not he turns into a zombie…) and is currently filming a joint with Naomi Campbell.
7.) LL Cool J – His “In The House” show was cool, but LL was better in movies like “Any Given Sunday” and even though “Deep Blue Sea” was ehhh… he did a good job with his character. His stuff lately though, S.W.A.T. and Mindhunters? Not too sure about that. I’m looking forward to his flick, “Last Holiday” with Queen Latifah.
6.) Ice Cube – Man, even though it wasn’t a stretch, Ice Cube as Doughboy in Boyz in tha Hood is classic to me. But his Barbershop and Friday movies are fresh, especially the first ones. “Are We There Yet?” and “XXX: State of the Union” are bleh to me. He’s got a couple of joints coming out next year, “Teacher of the Year” and “The Extractors”, we’ll see how they do.
5.) Ice T – Yeah, he’s been in some really bad movies (Leprechaun in the Hood anyone?), most of them going straight to video, but he opened the door for rappers to get in the movie biz. When Ice played Scotty in New Jack City, cats realized that they don’t have to be stuck in a studio all hours of the night to be successful. While Ice admits he did all those B-Movies for the cash (I mean, its obvious homeboy isn’t trying for an Oscar), he’s reppin’ on a weekly basis on Law & Order: SVU. Do ya thing Ice!
4.) Queen Latifah – Who remembers Fox Thursday night? They showed Living Single, Martin, and then New York Undercover back to back to back. Those were the days, and Latifah playing Kadijah on Living Single was just a start for her. Sure she had small parts in Juice, Jungle Fever and House Party 2, but Set It Off was her coming out party and she hasn’t looked back since.
She got nominated for an Oscar for her role in Chicago and is the first female rapper to get films with starring roles (Taxi, Beauty Shop, Bringing Down the House) with a new one, Last Holiday, coming out next year. She needs to get into some dramatic roles though, so she can show off her acting chops a little bit more. Oh yeah, she’s in Ice Age 2 as well, coming out this year.
3.) Tupac Shakur – Yeah, Tupac is dead and his performance in Juice is still his best to me. Homeboy was scary in that flick. But even after that, Poetic Justice, Above the Rim, Gridlock’d… I think if he was alive he would have been the first rapper to win an Oscar. He had so much passion for his craft, you couldn’t help but admire it.
2.) Will Smith – The first rapper to probably win an Oscar will be Will Smith, if he can find a Denzel-type role to do. Lately he’s making money films like I, Robot, Hitch, Bad Boys II and etc. He needs to get his serious acting role game back, like he did with Ali and Six Degrees of Separation (which is one of his best performances ever). Still though, flicks like Independence Day, Enemy of he State and Bad Boys is what look forward to when the summer comes.
1.) Mos Def – The first rapper to win an Oscar should be Mos Def. For those who don’t know, the Mighty Mos was acting before he got his record deal (check old episodes of The Cosby Mysteries). I really think Mos has more talent than any other emcee in the acting game.
He was funny in Italian Job and Brown Sugar. He can do serious stuff (The Woodsman, Something the Lord Made) and he can do blockbuster joints (Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy). He’s got five flick coming out this 2006; Dreamgirls, The Brazilian Job, Bobby, Journey to the End of the Night and 16 Blocks. Really looking forward his work this year, but I think I want a Blackstar album more.
Here’s my list for the rappers with the biggest potential to be good actors:
Method Man: He was good in Belly and Garden State, but corny in How High and Soul Plane. Let’s see how he does this year in Other Side of Simple with real actors Don Cheadle and Vince Vaughn.
Bow Wow: He was decent in Roll Bounce and Johnson Family Vacation, he’s got a couple of flicks coming out next year, let’s see how he does. He’s got Mr. Prez and Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift next year.
Ludacris: He has the charisma to do something great. Just needs to get a real role.
Eminem: You all saw 8 Mile, I’d like to see him not playing himself.
Lauryn Hill: She was good in Sister Act 2…but has nothing in the works
Andre 3000: He was decent in Four Brothers and Be Cool. Next year he’ll be doing Sacry Movie 4, Charlotte’s Web and the long-awaited Idlewild.
Q is a hip-hop journalist. He writes regularly for Aol Blackvoices and Vibe magazine. He blogs at qsviews.com