7 Hip-Hop Artists Who Are Also Actors
Tracey Lauren Marrow AKA Ice-T, is an American rapper turned actor. He became known locally in the LA underground rap scene in the early 1980’s. By 1987 he was signed to Sire Records which was distributed by Warner Bros. Records. Ice-T went on to start his own record company titled Rhyme $yndicate Records and released several albums that went Platinum and Gold. Ice-T started acting in 1984 when he appeared in two movies named Breakin’ and it’s sequel Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. These films were before his first LP but he doesn’t like them saying they were “wack”. In 1995 he landed a recurring role as a drug dealer seeking revenge in the TV show New York Undercover , co-created by Dick Wolf. He would work with Dick Wolf many more times leading to him playing “Fin” in Law & Order SVU since 2000. Ice-T has won many awards for the portrayal of this character. Since then Ice-T has starred in 2 reality TV series and has his own podcast.
LL Cool J
For those of you who didn’t know LL Cool J stands for Ladies Love Cool James. His real name is James Todd Smith. He is an iconic name in Hip-Hop, being one of the first rappers to gain mainstream success and help pioneer the genre. He has produced 13 studio albums and won 2 Grammy Awards. He has also acted in many films too, such as In Too Deep, Any Given Sunday, S.W.A.T. Deep Blue Sea, Mindhunters and Edison. He now currently acts as the character Sam Hanna, who is a NCIS special agent in the television series NCIS: Los Angeles. He also hosts the series Lip Sync Battle on the Paramount Network.
Ludacris is a Grammy winning “Dirty South” rapper from Atlanta, Georgia. His real name is Christopher Bridges. His musical career spans 20 years, turning out several hit songs like “Roll Out”, “Move Bitch”, “Southern Hospitality” and many more. Ludacris got his first acting gig was in The Wash where he had a very minor role. However, two years later in 2003 he was cast in the Hollywood franchise movie 2 Fast 2 Furious in the supporting role of Tej Parker. His character would go on to be in four more of the Fast and the Furious films. In 2005 he was cast in another supporting role of the Academy Award winning film Crash. In 2009 he acted in Gamer along side Gerard Butler. He has acted in 20 movies.
Justin Timberlake first rose into prominence being one of the main lead singers for the boy band NSYNC. He then became a very successful solo artist as well. Justin started acting in 2000 when he co-starred in a television movie called Model Behavior that aired on ABC’s The Wonderful World of Disney. Justin then started acting for a more mature audience in 2005 when he played a journalist trying to expose police corruption in the film Edison. He would go on to act in and star in several films, both comedy and drama, like Alpha Dog, Black Snake Moan, Southland Tales, The Love Guru, The Social Network, Bad Teacher, Friends With Benefits, In Time and many more.
Eminem’s first appearance on the big screen was a small role in a film called The Wash. The Wash stars Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre and DJ Pooh. It is about two roommates who have three days to come up with their rent money or face being evicted. In 2002 Eminem got his first lead role in the semi-autobiographical film about himself called 8 Mile, about a struggling rapper living in Detroit. The movie was a box office hit becoming the third highest grossing “Pop Star Debuts” ever made. Film critics gave 8 Mile generally positive reviews with an average of 7 out of 10, and liked Eminem’s performance. Eminem wrote the song “Lose Yourself” for the film’s score and won an Academy Award. Eminem has continued his acting career with him playing himself in the HBO series Entourage and making a cameo appearance in The Interview, where he says he’s gay to a talkshow host played by James Franco. Eminem was even offered the lead role in the sci-fi movie Elysium but turned it down because he wanted to shoot it in Detroit instead of LA.
Ice Cube gained mainstream recognition being the primary song-writer and rapper in the hip-hop group N.W.A. In the early 1990’s Ice Cube transitioned to film, starring in the critically acclaimed movie Boyz N The Hood, about life in South Central LA. Not long after that Ice Cube wrote and starred in the Friday film series which portrayed hood life in a different and more light hearted way. Since then Ice Cube has been featured in many more films like Barbershop, Ride Along, 21 Jump Street, 22 Jump Street and the Triple X series. He has also produced films like Straight Outta Compton, a movie about N.W.A.
Tapac Shakur is considered the be one of the greatest rappers and best selling musicians of all time but he is also a solid actor. In the 1992 film Juice, Tupac had his first starring role as Bishop, a violent, sociopathic, murderous thug. Tupac got the role while he was accompanying his friend and fellow rapper Money-B who himself was auditioning for the role of Bishop. Tupac was intrigued and asked the producer if he could read too. The film received positive reviews from critics and jumpstarted Tupac’s acting career. He went on to star in Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson and Above the Rim. After his death in 1996, three more of his films were released; Bullet, Gridlock’d and Gang Related. Reportedly, Tupac read for the role of Mace Windu with George Lucas for The Phantom Menace. Samuel L. Jackson ended up getting the role.