The Most Skilled Rappers Turned Actors

It’s one thing to have a successful music career and make small appearances in movies and TV shows.  It’s another to be able to parlay acting ability to an entirely new career if one was so inclined.

We’ve seen rappers perform in TV and movies for over 30 years now but not all of them should really be up on the silver screen.   What I mean is, not all are that skilled.

However, I think these 6 guys do just fine in their own right and don’t need a musical career at all….

Mos Def

Mos Def had me at the movie Something the Lord Made where he portayed Vivien Thomas.  But did you know that Def has been acting since 1988?  I didn’t.  He was only 15 when he made his first appearance in a TV movie.    These days you can find him on TV shows as well as movies.  While music is his primary avenue I still think he’s an awesome actor.

LL Cool J

While Ladies Love Cool James is now on a TV show which kind of sucks (CSI’s are getting overplayed) I still have to say I think he’s a very solid actor.  Personally I really enjoyed him in Toys and Any Given Sunday.    I’m curious if he’ll ever do another musical album again.

Marky Mark Wahlberg

It’s hard to think that Wahlberg’s career was launched by two things:  Calvin Klein and “Good Vibrations.”  If it weren’t for his physique, penchant for posing in underwear, and acting like a buffoon he’d never be where he is today.   Did you know he had a TV series in 1993?  Yup.  Anyway it was Renaissance Man that began his Hollywood career and I think people took him seriously after he did Fear.  Then Boogie Nights came calling and his career was forever changed.

Will Smith

Smith is another one where you have a hard time believing he was a rapper before any kind of acting gig.  But obviously Fresh Prince of Bel Air got him going and it was the movie Six Degrees of Separation that got him into the minds of producers everywhere.  P.S. I still think that was his best acting performance of his career.  The rest is history.


It seems like these days Chris Bridges is doing a lot more acting than music.    At first he was all “cool” roles like in 2 Fast 2 Furious.  But then he did Crash and Hustle and Flow.  Personally I think he’s got skills in the acting department.  Will he ever win an Oscar?  No.  But he’s good enough to be on this list.


RZA hasn’t been in a ton of movies but I really liked him in the ones I’ve seen.  In particular he was awesome in American Gangster as well as Derailed.   He’s got a great supporting character niche built up for himself.   He’s still going strong acting and I look forward to his future work.

*Credit to Ice-T, Ice Cube, and Snoop Dogg is very funny.  Also Common and Eminem are pretty decent.

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  1. Nick Cannon does NOT deserve an honorable mention. He’s an overrated assclown, and the fact that he hosts America’s Got Talent is the most goddamned ironic thing in American culture.

    AND HE GETS TO BONE MARIAH CAREY!!!!! ashdfjhgsdkfdhs

    (Good list though)

  2. Maybe you should do your research before you post a negative comment in regards to LL Cool J`s show. It is not CSI, nor is it remotely like CSI. Clearly you haven`t seen NCIS, which makes the fact you made a negative comment about it that much more ridiculous. I’m sorry to go off on a tangent, but there is nothing more irritating than someone making uninformed negative comments.

  3. Whether it’s CSI branded or not, NCIS (and believe me, I love the show) is still another in the formulaic:

    Intro: the crime
    Crime scene investigation
    Evidence Analysis
    Suspect interview
    Smoking Gun

    of investigation shows. And there really is just way too many of these. Much like the word “Kleenex” (the brand) sort of defines the object (facial tissue), the term “Crime Scene Investigation” pretty much defines the genre, since they all follow the same tired plot progression scheme. Also, sorry to extend the tangent 😛

  4. Victoria: “…there is nothing more irritating than someone making uninformed negative comments.”

    Um, you should get off the internet right now before you have an emotional breakdown.

  5. What about someone like T.I.? He’s been in a few films now and I thought he had a pretty good turn in “American Gangster” as Frank Lucas’ nephew.

  6. I’d put Common over Ludacris, personally. He was the first one who sprang to mind when I saw the post title, although that’s because I wasn’t thinking about Mos Def and Will Smith.

  7. What I wanna know is: anyone else notice that the competent rappers-turned-actors (Mos Def, Common, LL Cool J) have all chosen roles that have them pursuing Queen Latifah as a love interest?

    Is that some warped right-of-passage thing?

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