Hip Hop artists are no strangers to being in the spotlight, but their talents go far beyond the recording studio. Find out which of your favorite rappers have also played roles in movies.
Ice Cube - Boys N The Hood (1991)
A well-known legend that went from the stage to big screen is Ice Cube. He began his music career as part of N.W.A. at 16, and his solo career in 1990. He released 10 albums before he started acting.
Ice Cube has appeared in 40+ films as an actor, producer, and director. His movie debut was the 1991 production, Boys N The Hood, at the age of 22. After raising a family in the industry, O'Shea, his son, portrayed him in 2015's Straight Outta Compton. Surprised? Get ready, because there's a whole lot more where that came from!
Tupac Shakur - Juice (1992)
Tupac, better known by his stage name, "2Pac" or his alias, Makaveli, was an American rapper and songwriter considered by many to be among the most influential rappers of all time. He began recording music in 1989 and released 5 albums throughout his life, focusing on contemporary social issues that plagued inner cities.
2Pac stood out for his unique and daring tracks, which were out to make a difference. This carried over to film when he appeared in his first cameo, Nothing But Trouble in 1991, and in 1992 when he starred in Juice. He became known by Rolling Stone's Peter Travers as, "The film's [Juice's] most magnetic figure."
Will Smith - Men In Black (1997)
In 1997, Will Smith began his solo music career with the release of Big Willie Style. The album included hits Men In Black and Just Crusin', and quickly reached the top 10 of U.S. Billboard 200. The 1988 song, Gettin' Jiggy wit It, became his first number 1 Billboard Hot 100. But this was just the beginning for the young star.
Will's music career kick-started him into acting when his song, Men In Black, became the theme song for the 1997 movie, Men In Black (MIB). He played Agent J and stood by as it became the 3rd highest-grossing film of 1997. The Jiggy star has since starred in and produced 46 films including MIB 2 in 2002 and MIB 3 in 2012!
DMX - Belly (1988)
NYC native, DMX, is no stranger to the rap game. He released his first album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, in 1998, selling 251,000 copies within the first week of release. His best-selling album, And Then There Was X, followed in 1999 including hit song, Party Up (Up in Here). DMX has graced us with 7 studio albums since then.
The American rapper and songwriter caught the acting bug in the late '90s when he starred in the 1998 film, Belly, as Tommy "Buns" Bundy. Since then, he has been in 17 films including Romeo Must Die, Exit Wounds, and Last Hour, with genres ranging from action to comedy to crime thrillers. We can't wait to see what he does next!
Cam'Ron - Paid in Full (2002)
Cam'Ron released 7 studio albums including S.D.E., Purple Haze, and Crime Pays between 1988 and 2019, with Purple Haze 2 being his most recent. In 2006, the rapper dipped his toe into screenwriting and directing when he filmed a movie for his album, Killa Season. This marked his return to acting after his 2002 appearance.
Cam'Ron's best-known role is in 2002's Paid in Full. As Rico, his character both built and destroyed a narcotics empire. Paid In Full is known as one of the most talked-about films in the hip-hop world. We'll leave finding out why to you. Our recommendation? Check out the rumored sequel to Paid In Full, reportedly coming out in 2020!
Eminem - 8 Mile (2002)
Eminem, the American rapper, songwriter, and record producer, is regarded as having broken many barriers for rappers in pop music. His album Recovery quickly became the best-selling album of 2010 worldwide. In his emotional newest album, 2017's Revival, he reflects on and admits to past wrongdoings.
As of last month, Eminem had global sales of over 220M records and was considered in the music industry as one of the best-selling musicians of all time. In 2002, the hip-hop mogul made his Hollywood debut. He starred as himself in 8 Mile; A semi-autobiographical film focused on the challenges of growing up in Detroit, Michigan.
Bow Wow - Like Mike (2002)
The 33-year-old American rapper, actor, and TV host, Bow Wow released his first album, Beware of Dog, in 2000 at only 13-years-old! At 14, he released Doggy Bag, and at 16, he released his 3rd album Unleashed. In 2015, he signed his first management deal with Diddy's Bad Boy Records. The kid proved he was a star from the start!
Bow Wow made his lead role acting debut in 2002 as a 13-year-old basketball protégé in the comedy, Like Mike. Since then, he has played lead and starring roles in 13 films including 2004's Johnson Family Vacation, 2009's Hurricane Season, and 2013's Allegiance. From his first role till now, he's shown he's got what it takes.
Ludacris - 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
American-Gabonese rapper, Ludacris, began his career at the age of 9 and formed his own label, Disturbing tha Peace, in the late '90s. He later signed with Def Jam South and became one of the first Southern rappers to win an MTV Video Music Award and 3 Grammy Awards. In 2015, he released his 9th studio album, Ludaversal.
This early-to-the-game player landed his first main role in 2003's 2 Fast 2 Furious, where he played Tej Parker, a man with a need for speed. Keeping up the fast pace, Ludacris landed roles in 27 films. 5 Of those films being part of the iconic Fast & Furious series.
Nelly- The Longest Yard (2005)
Hold on to your seats, it's Nelly! Under Universal Records in 2000, Nelly released the Billboard 200 #1 album, Country Grammar, with title-track Ride wit Me. He stayed at #1 for a while with his following releases. With 21M albums sold in the U.S., in 2009, Billboard ranked him the #3 Top Artist of the 2000s.
Nelly released 7 studio albums and won 2 Grammy Awards in 2003 and 2004. No stranger to the stage, he performed in the Super Bowl XXXVIII halftime show (for a second time). Nelly took up acting throughout the years as the lead role, Prolifk, in 2001's Snipes, and supporting roles in 2005's The Longest Yard and 2014's Reach Me.
T.I. - ATL (2006)
You may know T.I. as being one of the rappers to spearhead trap music, alongside Jeezy and Gucci Mane, but did you know he was the co-CEO of his own label, Grand Hustle Records? T.I.'s track record includes 3 Grammys and 11 studio albums; 7 of them reaching the top 5 of the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. But he wasn't done yet...
In 2006, T.I. joined the movie industry starring in his first film, ATL. It was loosely based on his life growing up in Atlanta and rose to #3 in the U.S. box office. He's been in a few titles throughout the years; American Gangster in 2017, Takers in 2010, and Get Hard in 2015. The man's gotta have a feather in his cap by now!
Big Boi - Idlewild (2006)
Big Boi is best known as a member of the hip hop duo Outkast, along with high school classmate André 3000. The singer-songwriter and record producer released 3 solo-studio albums from 2010 to 2017 and released 6 studio albums as part of Outkast with André 3000. The last album was created after co-starring in a movie together.
Big Boi and André 3000 are no outcasts to each other's creative flow, as they co-starred in the 2006 musical film Idlewood. The next year, they released their 6th and final album as Outkast. Big Boi played roles in 7 films between 2004 and 2019 and has since appeared in a 2020 episode of the TV show, Celebrity Family Feud.
LL Cool J - Last Holiday (2006)
Did you know that LL Cool J is short for Ladies Love Cool James? Now you do! The American rapper and record producer has released 13 studio albums and 2 Greatest Hits compilations in his career. He won 2 Grammys and is best known for his R&B hits that landed him on VH1's 100 Greatest Artists of All Time list in 2010.
The All I Have singer is no stranger to performing, but he's not limited to the recording studio. Remember Queen Latifa's salesman crush? That's right, all along, it was our very own LL Cool J! The hip hop star has made multiple appearances on the big screen throughout his career, including 2006's Last Holiday and 22 others.
Nicki Minaj - Barbershop: The Next Cut (2016)
Nicki Minaj, the Trinidadian-American rapper, singer-songwriter, and model became widely known for her colorful costumes and wigs, use of alter egos and accents. After releasing her first studio album Pink Friday in 2010, she peaked at #1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 chart and never looked back.
Nicki's music had people dancing all over the world. Her songs made her the second female rapper to debut a song that skyrocketed to the top of the charts since 1998. Minaj's film career began with a voiceover roll in 2012, and on-screen roles in Barbershop: The Next Cut in 2016, and even her own documentary in 2019.
Wiz Khalifa - Mac & Devin Go to High School (2012)
If there's anyone who knows how to hype up a crowd, it's Wiz Khalifa. Just look at that smile! After releasing his first 2 albums in 2006 and 2009, he signed with Atlantic Records in 2010. In 2015, his song See You Again, created for the film Furious 7, peaked at #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 for 12 non-consecutive weeks.
Although Wiz hasn't made as large of a splash in the film business as he has in music, in 2012, he played Devin in Mac & Devin Go to High School alongside Snoop Dogg. In the movie, a myriad of shenanigans take place, but with the 2 of them, how could it not? He has starred in 3 movies, with a 4th, High School 2, on the way soon.
Ice T - Crossed the Line (2014)
Did you know Ice-T served in the Army before making a name for himself as a DJ? He soon realized he was more fit to be a rapper and the rest is history. He gained popularity with the release of club-hit Body Rock, in 1983. He then landed Sire Records and released his first album, Rhyme Pays, in 1987, and he knew he was home.
Ice-T may be known for best landing Sire Records, or his 20 years (and counting) as "Fin" Tutuola on Law & Order: SVU. But, the rapper, actor, record producer, and author should also be known for his appearance in a monumental 84 films between 1984 and 2019 including 2014's crime film, Crossed the Line, and many (many) more.
André 3000 - Jimi: All Is by My Side (2014)
45-Year-old André 3000 is an American rapper, singer-songwriter, actor, and record producer with a hidden talent (but we'll keep that our secret for now). He's best known for being a part of the hip hop duo, Outkast, with Big Boi. André has been listed by Billboard and Showbiz Cheatsheet as one of the top 10 rappers of all time.
In 2018, André released a 17-minute instrumental track called Look Ma No Hands, which featured his (here we go) secret talent: jamming out on bass clarinet! André 3000 had starred in 15 films since 2003 and even showed off his guitar playing skills when he starred as Jimi Hendrix in the film, Jimi: All Is by My Side in 2014.
Kid Cudi - Need For Speed (2014)
Kid Cudi hit the ground running with his mixtape, A Kid Named Cudi, which led rapper, Kanye West to sign him to GOOD Music label in 2008. Cudi then released Day 'n' Nite and landed a Grammy in 2012. He sold 16M certified records in the U.S. since, but he wanted more. So, Cudi began his own label, Wicked Awesome Records, in 2011.
He first took to the screen with 2011's short film, Maniac. This was followed by 4 consecutive years of film, where he starred in 9 movies, including 2014's Need For Speed, Cudi's feature film debut. Since then, he has acted in 8 more films, bringing his total to 17 at only 36-years-old!
A$AP Rocky - Dope (2015)
A$AP Rocky has won many awards for his music throughout the years, including a BET Award, 2 BET Hip Hop Awards, an MTV Video Music Award, and that's not all. He's been nominated for 2 Grammy's, 6 World Music Awards, and more. The accomplished rapper has even directed and produced his own music videos!
Seemingly comfortable behind the camera, Rocky has been in front of the camera as well. His first non-music-video film was Dope in 2015. He then played himself in 4 films, including Zoolander 2 and Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping. Adding 6 films, 3 TV shows, and 11 music video appearances to his list must make Kanye proud.
50 Cent - Den of Thieves (2018)
50 Cent is known by many in the music industry as a "Master of the nuanced art of lyrical brevity." After founding G-Unit Records in 2003, he released 6 studio albums and sold over 30M albums worldwide. The rapper has won a Grammy, 13 Billboard Music Awards, 6 World Music Awards, and more. His music career soon extended to film.
50 Cent began his acting career in Get Rich or Die Tryin' in 2005. This led him to 28 more captivating roles throughout the years, including 2018's American action heist, Den of Thieves. And here's the inside scoop: Rumors are circulating about 50 Cent producing a Den of Thieves 2 supposedly coming out in 2021. Eeek!
Snoop Dogg - Baby Boy (2001)
Did you know Snoop Dogg's given name is Calvin Broadus Jr? The music mogul released his first solo album, Doggystyle, in 1993, which sold 800,000 copies in one week, and became quadruple-platinum certified. Since then, Snoop has sold over 23M albums in the U.S. and 35M albums worldwide. Soon people saw the face behind the music.
Snoop Dogg first starred in 2001's LA-based coming-of-age hood film, Baby Boy. He has since appeared in 40 feature films including Meet The Blacks, The Big Bang, and Scary Movie 5. If that wasn't enough, he has also starred in 7 animated movies and 14 documentaries so far, and doesn't seem to be slowing down anytime soon!
Fredro Starr - Save The Last Dance (2001)
Fredro Starr, a hardcore rapper and record producer is best known as a member of the multi-platinum rap group, Onyx. Starr was nominated as Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop New Artist at the 1994 AMA's, and won Best Rap Album at the Soul Train Music Awards the same year. After starring in Strapped in 1993, he left music behind in 1995.
In nearly 3 decades, Fredro played roles in 44 movies of all genres, including 2001's Save The Last Dance, 2011's Queen of Media, and 2018's Duke. In his most recent 2020 film, Equal Standard, the accomplished rapper and actor shares the screen with Executive Producer and fellow cast member, Ice-T, and we couldn't be happier.
Diddy - Made (2001)
Sean Combs, AKA Diddy, a rapper, singer-songwriter, record producer, and yes, an actor, has won 3 Grammy Awards and 2 MTV Video Music Awards. His music career began as an intern at NYC's Uptown Records, leading him to start his own label, Bad Boy Records, in 1993. After 6 studio albums, he hit the big screen.
Diddy has played roles in 8 films, including his debut role as Ruiz in 2001's Made. The film's name fits his career path well, as we're certain he feels he has truly made it with multiple Grammy's, MTV Awards, and several big-screen roles under his belt.
Lil' Kim - Juwanna Mann (2002)
Lil' Kim rose to fame as a freestyle rapper on the streets of NYC. Her 1996 studio album debut, Hard Core, was double platinum-certified. Kim's following 2 albums, The Notorious K.I.M. and La Bella Mafia were also certified platinum, making her only the 3rd female rapper to have at least 3 platinum-certified studio albums.
Lil' Kim hit the big screen in 1997, playing herself in the movie, Gangstresses. She went on to play roles in 13 more films between 1999 and 2017, starring as herself in over half of them. In 2002, Kim played Tina Parker in the romantic comedy-drama, Juwanna Mann, alongside producer, Vivica Fox, and comedian, Kevin Pollak.
Ja Rule - The Fast and the Furious (2001)
No stranger to show-biz, rapper Ja Rule had multiple hits make the top 20 of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart between 1999 and 2005, including Holla Holla and Ain't It Funny. During the 2000s, Rule was signed to Murder Inc. Records and won 2002's BET Best Male Hip-Hop Artist and GQ Men's Musician of the Year.
With his music career in the bag, Rule went on to set the film bar high for himself with his stand out role in 2001's The Fast and the Furious. It was only his 2nd movie appearance, but he seemed to enjoy the new venture, as he landed roles in 21 films since.
Mos Def - The Italian Job (2003)
Whether you know him as Mos Def or Yasiin Bey, what you may not know is, he got his start alongside his siblings in the rap group, Urban Thermo Dynamics. He later released his first studio album, Black on Both Sides, in 1999 under Rawkus Records. He is (mos)t (def) well known for his top hits, Oh No, Definition, and Respiration.
Mos Def was actually a child actor in TV roles, sitcoms, and theater before his music career began. At 14 in 1988, he appeared in the ABC TV movie, God Bless the Child, followed by 4 other gigs. Years later, he appeared in several films, including 2003's The Italian Job, 2004's Something the Lord Made, and 2009's Next Day Air.
Queen Latifah - Beauty Shop (2005)
Rapper, singer-songwriter, actress, and producer, Queen Latifah released 2 albums with Tommy Boy Records before releasing her 3rd album, Black Reign in 1993. The single U.N.I.T.Y. was an influential track that went on to win a Grammy Award and peak at #23 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Queen Latifah's music and acting careers overlapped throughout the years, as she has starred in 41 movies total between album releases. In 2005, she held the lead role in Beauty Shop, followed by Last Holiday in 2006, and Hairspray in 2007. After releasing her 7th and final album, Persona, in 2009, she appeared in 12 more films.
Mark Wahlberg - The Fighter (2010)
Yes, THIS is Marky Mark from the Funky Bunch! As part of the bunch, he released 2 albums, one of which was 1991's Music for the People featuring the popular song Good Vibrations. The hit became a platinum-certified single. Mark even opened for the New Kids on the Block during their last tour! His music stint didn't last long...
Wahlberg's transition into acting began with his first starring role in 1996's Fear. He ventured into big-budget films with 2000's The Perfect Storm, and the rest was history. Whalberg has since been in 50 films, including The Fighter in 2010, the 2nd film he both acted in and solo-produced.
Nas - Black Nativity (2013)
Nas, son of jazz musician Olu Dara, has released 12 studio albums since 1994, with 7 of them being certified platinum/multi-platinum in the U.S. He's regarded as 1 of the greatest rappers of all time and was featured on Billboard's 10 Best Rappers of All Time list in 2015. Nas even has his own record label, Mass Appeal Records.
The star juggled his music and film careers simultaneously throughout the years. He landed 12 big-screen roles between 1998 and 2020, including 2013's musical drama, Black Nativity. This was coupled with winning 2 BET Hip Hop Awards in 2006 and 2012. The man seems to have many talents (and a sparkly collection of necklaces)!
Common - Girls Trip (2017)
Common's career began in the underground rap scene. His rise to fame skyrocketed with his first major-label album in 2000, Like Water for Chocolate. In 2015, Common won a Golden Globe Award and Academy Award for Best Original Song for his hit Glory, which featured in the 2014 critically acclaimed film, Selma. But that's not all.
Common has made appearances in a whopping 40 movies between 2002 and 2020! In 1 of 3 movies where he has played himself, he received an overwhelmingly positive response from viewers in the 2017 American comedy film, Girls Trip. In 2015 he even started his own film company, Freedom Road Productions.
Method Man - The Sitter (2011)
It could very well be no shock to you that this Wu-Tang Clan member's real name is Clifford Smith Jr., but if it is, we'll give you a minute. Okay, here we go. Clifford, AKA Method Man's major winnings include his stage name, taken from the 1979 film Method Man, a shiny Grammy for Best Rap Performance, and various screen titles.
Method Man was no stranger to the big screen. He began his film career in 1995 with The Film, where he managed to play himself. Since then, he has tackled thrillers, action, comedies, and dramas, starring in 46 films already! This list includes 2011's The Sitter, 2016's Keanu, 2019's Shaft, and more with 2 on the way in 2021!