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Posted Sep 1st, 2015 (5:11 pm) by James Hughes
Image by Eli Watson

Today, artists strive to develop the most diverse career and income as possible to stay relevant in the entertainment industry or to fulfill creative aspirations. Many of these attempts unfortunately end in failure.

For example, Eddie Murphy's "Party All the Time" or Joaquin Phoenix's I'm Still Here project. However, here are some rappers who made the transition seamlessly:

10.) Common


Since 2003 Common has been one of the most frequently featured faces on both the large and small screen. gaining himself 35 credits including the upcoming DC super-flick Suicide Squad. Common’s silky bravado gives him a rock solid delivery and you can’t help but want to hear him talk all film long. The Chicago MC won an Oscar for his collaboration with John Legend on the soundtrack for Best Picture Nominated, Selma. Though not the best movie, ever since his role in Wanted, I’ve been hooked. But I can’t help but wonder if he can handle a role that doesn’t involve a stern face and a smooth delivery.

9.) Yasiin Bey (fomerly known as Mos Def)


After gaining his first SAG credit in 1988 for his role in a small TV movie, God Bless The Child, Yasiin Bey established himself as one of the most respected members of the hip-hop community. His introspective lyricism, and complex musicality, has contributed to his ability to draw people into the theaters. Some of his movie appearances include; Monsters Ball, The Woodsman, The Italian Job, Be Kind Rewind, and The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy.

8.) Ludacris


Chris “Ludacris” Bridges is one of, if not the most underrated member of this list. His participation in one of the largest movie franchises, The Fast and the Furious, helped give the budding actor an early boost. The Atlanta native’s career evolved with his more complex role in CRASH which confronted larger societal issues such as race. A performance that showed us his potential as an actor.

7.) Queen Latifa


If you’re young enough, you may not even know that Queen Latifah used to rock the mic. But, the former leading lady of the hip-hop world has had a variety of success when it came to her on-screen career. With critically questionable movies like Beauty Shop to elevating performances such as in Chicago, Queen Latifah has proven her versatility across genres.

6.) Method Man


The unofficial frontman of the Wu-Tang Clan, Clifford “Method Man” Smith, may be a surprising member of the list. The amount of times I have found myself saying “oh hey it’s the Meth” while watching a movie has been astounding. Featured in movies like the Wackness, The Cobbler, and Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck, Method Man has been one of the best supporting actors of this list. He may not be the leading man in films, but he always plays his part as a solid role player. Think of Method Man as an NBA six man. He is not going to be in the starting five, but when he comes into the game he has an immediate impact.

5.) Ice Cube


As one of the founding members of the groundbreaking hip-hop group N.W.A, Ice Cube, born O’Shea Jackson, brought the world of South Central Los Angeles to the forefront of pop culture. His impact in the music industry is established, and at the height of his career Ice Cube began to branch out into the world of the silver screen. Jackson has had flops such as Are We There Yet and Are We Done Yet, but his performances in Friday, Boyz In The Hood, and Three Kings are classic. Jackson’s performance as Doughboy in Boyz In The Hood kicked off his career and captured the attention and hearts of many.

4.) Mark Wahlberg


Why the former frontman of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, Mark Wahlberg, is this high on the list is because he completely overhauled his image. Wahlberg has been in countless films since he first broke onto the scene with his role in Boogy Nights. The diversity of his acting career is nothing to shake a stick at either - Wahlberg has range. From serious roles like in the recent boxing film The Fighter to the lovable counterpart to a sassy teddy bear in Ted and Ted 2. Finally, one of the major reasons Wahlberg is this high on my list is the fact that no one remembers his music career. The fact that his acting career has been prolific enough to make you forgot all about his Funky Bunch days puts him high up on the list.

3.) Donald Glover


Childish Gambino’s cinematic repertoire is extensive and impressive. It includes but is not limited to: Derrick Comedy, Mystery Team, Community, Magic Mike XXL, The Lazarus Effect and upcoming film, The Martian. Being so multi-talented (Glover acts, raps, sings, produces, writes, does stand up, and more), he alternates between creative fields. His acting career took a backseat while he developed his music career, but recently the roles have flipped. With no recent music releases since STN MTN/Kauai, Glover has been seen popping up on the silver screen. Also, alongside his musical endeavours, Glover was engaging his screen talents with short films and cryptic music videos that displayed his acting chops. Donald Glover is a creative force of nature.

2.) Tupac Sakur


Another reason to add to the endless list of why Tupac was taken from us too soon. Tupac is one of the best and most influential MC’s of all time. Hell, he’s still releasing music. Pac only had ten credits as an actor, but his performance as Bishop in Juice was captivating. His performance as an MC is arguably unparalleled, and the character of Bishop embodied that persona perfectly. Tupac Shakur’s image is often reduced to West Coast Thug Life rapper, but the art school graduate proved his creative range and depth with his roles as an actor.

1.) Will Smith


This comes as no surprise. The Fresh Prince is Hollywood royalty. Will Smith needs no introduction when it comes to his roles on the big screen, but for all of you out there who are not familiar with his work as an MC - shame on you. The prolific Philadelphia rapper and DJ Jazzy Jeff made five albums together and made history as a dynamic hip-hop duo. Nowadays, we are just waiting to see when Will Smith is going to get his Oscar — maybe he will “Get Jiggy With It” in his acceptance speech. One can hope right?

If there’s anyone you don’t see on the list that you feel you should— please put them in the comments section below or hit me up on Twitter at @Jimbohughes4.

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