Rap music was once an underground phenomena. It soon took over the mainstream, and every pop song felt like it needed some type of rap or spoken-word section in the middle for the past 20 years.
But the music industry is finicky, and nobody lasts very long unless they’re willing to do whatever it takes to get their name and brand out there in front of audiences.
Acting is becoming more popular with today’s stars. Joey Bada$$, A$AP Rocky, Machine Gun Kelly, Kendrick Lamar, and more are all making the leap from music to acting.
These are the top 10 actors that came from hip-hop beginnings. They’re ranked according to their contributions to both mediums.
Also check out the top hip-hop and rap websites to learn more about the culture through 2020.
10. Andre 3000
Real Name: Andre Lauren Benjamin
Best Song: Da Art of Storytellin’
Best Movie: Idlewild
Outkast’s eccentric side is an accomplished actor with real chops. It’s a shame he goes for more serious roles, because we all love Andre 3000’s smile.
9. Marky Mark
Real Name: Mark Wahlberg
Best Song: Good Vibrations
Best Movie: Rock Star
His rap career was a joke, but his acting afterlife outshines his (at the time) more famous brother. Wahlberg can make you laugh, cry, swoon, and pretty much whatever he wants.
Real Name: Lonnie Corant Jaman Shuka Rashid Lynn
Best Song: Come Close
Best Movie: Just Wright
Common is a more than a rapper – he’s a spoken-word MC. He’s also the hottest leading man Queen Latifah ever caught on screen.
Real Name: Tupac Amaru Shakur
Best Song: Life Goes On
Best Movie: Poetic Justice
2Pac is an icon in the rap game, and he proved there are no limits to what a talented artist can do in the entertainment business. If I died at Pac’s age, I’d have nothing to show for it, but this man has a movie about his career. That’s because he is legend.
Real Name: Nora Lum
Best Song: My Vag
Best Movie: Crazy Rich Asians
Awkwafina is a relatively new name, but she’s a hot, young star that rose from YouTube obscurity. She’s great on the big screen or small, as showcased in Hulu’s Future Man and Crazy Rich Asians. Here’s hoping she has a long, illustrious career.
Real Name: Tracy Lauren Marrow
Best Song: 99 Problems
Best Movie: Surviving The Game
One of rap’s early gangsters, Ice-T is a pimp with the exact wife you think an old, veteran pimp would have. He’s also a business genius, and his run on Law & Order is epic.
4. Queen Latifah
Real Name: Dana Elaine Owens
Best Song: Ladies First
Best Movie: Last Holiday
Queen Latifah is just a loveable personality we hope to keep seeing until the day she dies. She’s not only one of rap’s early female leaders, she’s also one of the best leading ladies in Hollywood.
3. Ice Cube
Real Name: O’Shea Jackson Sr.
Best Song: It Was a Good Day
Best Movie: Friday
I’ll never forget a few years ago when Murs pointed out younger people know Ice Cube from family-friendly movies like Are We There Yet? and Barbershop. But he’s one of gangsta rap’s earliest pioneers too.
2. Mos Def
Real Name: Yasiin Bey
Best Song: Mathematics
Best Movie: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
Yasiin Bey is a genius songwriter, and he’s also the best character actor to rise out of the hip-hop community. Nothing can stop the man who should be the most famous musician/actor in the world.
1. Will Smith
Real Name: Willard Carroll Smith II
Best Song: Summertime
Best Movie: Aladdin (LOL)
Before internet hate made him blue, Will Smith graduated from Fresh Prince to King of the Box Office. His decades-long career is a model for any entertainer to follow. He’s an accomplished (and high-selling) musician, movie, and TV actor. Even his kids are famous just for looking like him.
Check out the top 10 Will Smith movies to see the wide range this man showed during his illustrious career.