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Top 10 Rap-Tors (Rap Artists Turned Actors)
By Rob Paul

It wasn't too long ago that Samuel L. Jackson spoke out against the trend of Rap Artists turning into Actors. At first I agreed with him, they are not so much acting as playing a version of themselves. But really, is that the truth? There is a long history of musicians going on to a wide variety of appearances in film so this trend isn't really news. And while a few of our candidates here could be accused of playing little more than themselves, a select few have really stood out from the crowd and should be recognized for some great performances.



Will Smith
Will Smith
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Number 1 with a bullet. Will Smith: The man has had his up's and downs lately. Men in Black 2 didn't really pull in the big bucks one expected and Bad Boys 2 was a mess of a film, but on the up-swing he nominated for Best Actor in Ali and has a couple of interesting projects like I, Robot and Sharkslayer coming soon. Both of these should add a little lustre back to his star status. Not bad for a guy who was The Fresh Prince and often accused of doing nothing more than 'novelty' rap.



Bringing Down The House
Bringing Down The House
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#2. Queen Latifah: The Queen seems fitting here. Always a unique and calming presence in any scene she shows up in. Stylish, confidant and with a voice built to soothe or terrify she was wisely nominated for her role as Mama in Chicago (after the measly $325,000 she earned for the role at least there was some pay-off). Since her feature film debut in Jungle Fever she has starred in more than 20 films, most recently her teaming with Steve Martin brought Bringing Down The House $132 million in box-office. With Scary Movie 3, Taxi and Barbershop 2 added on to her resume she and Will are ruling the rap-artist turned actor roost.



Mark Wahlberg
Mark Wahlberg
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#3. Mark 'Marky Mark' Wahlberg: While Eminem may be 'the great white hope' for the rap music industry, it is Mark Wahlberg (in denial of his funky bunch days). Mark's music was more dance-rap than hardcore but still he parlayed his success into several hit movies including such titles as Boogie Nights, Three Kings and The Perfect Storm. Although he has yet to be nominated for an Oscar, the kind of scripts and roles he plays it seems only to be a matter of time. Speaking of Three Kings, director David O. Russell returns to directing after almost five years with I Heart Huckabee's starring Wahlberg. Keep your eye out for this one!



Ice Cube
Ice Cube
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#4. Ice Cube: Ice Cube may always be known as one of the members of N.W.A. with the extremely influential album "Straight Outta Compton" but is acting chops came to light in a little movie known as Boyz N The Hood. A few films later and he took a turn at producing and the result was the sleeper hit Friday. Ice Cube has managed to remain fresh for both film and music, recording tunes for his own productions like Barbershop and All About The Benjamins. On a more recent note he will be returning with Barbershop 2, co-starring #3 (Queen Latifah) and #8 (Eve) from this list.



Ice-t
Ice-t
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#5. Ice-T: It's the hyphen that makes all the difference. Ice-T (real name Tracy Marrow) chose his pseudonym as a reference to writer Iceberg Slim (pen name of Robert Maupin Beck III, 1918-1992), an ex-pimp turned author whose heavy-hitting novels detailed the hard life of the criminal underworld. Ice-T is considered a forerunner of such "gangsta rappers" as N.W.A., 2Pac, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and the Geto Boys. With around 50 movie credits (including Breakin' and Breakin'2 Electric Boogaloo) Ice-T's best performances have been for the T.V. show Law & Order - Special Victims Unit although I also liked Trespass.



#6. Vanilla Ice: Uh...Cool as Ice...wasn't....cancer causing. Ok...so this one is just here as a joke..really. I mean, come on...there isn't even a picture here for him!



LL Cool J
LL Cool J
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#7. L.L. Cool J: The real name is James Todd Smith but the Ladies Love Cool James is a pretty good moniker as well. While never the most influential of rappers he has his place, one that earned him a feature film debut in Wildcats with Goldie Hawn (a film to which he also provided the main theme song for). In 1992 he played opposite Robin Williams in a very unique movie called Toys (not for everyone though I love it). With 20 film credits including Any Given Sunday, a cameo in Charlie's Angels and the recent box-office success of S.W.A.T. means the ladies can love cool James for a little while longer.



Eve
Eve
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#8. Eve: Eve Jihan Jeffers (nicknamed Eve of Destruction) made some history as the only feamle signed to Ruff Ryders label. An ex-stripper turned rapper she took the music industry by storm and when she appeared in XXX no one really expected much, and then came her shockingly strong performance in Barbershop. Next she can be seen in Barbershop 2 followed by The Woodsman opposite Kevin Bacon and Benjamin Bratt.



Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg
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#9. Snoop Dog: Ok. admit it, as an actor, this guy is a loss. But when it comes to playing Snoop Dogg, no one does it better. Cordozar 'Snoop Dogg' Broadus earned the nickname from his own mother who claimed he resembled Snoopy from the Peanuts comic strip. Although he is often cast as either himself (see Old School) or playing a version of himself as a stoned man wandering through life he may yet have landed a role that will really boost him up the acting food chain. In the up-coming comedy Starsky and Hutch with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson Snoop will play Huggy Bear, and man, I have to say that is some pretty funny casting.



The Eminem Show
The Eminem Show
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#10. Eminem (Marshall Bruce Mathers III ): Always controversial and always a love him or hate him kind of guy, I have to say I am on the love it side...interesting music with attitude, amazing (sometimes stunningly cinematic) videos to back up the songs, and with his performance in 8 Mile we may yet have another artist turned actor who may have talent enough to earn a Best Actor nomination one day. As it is, he has already earned himself an Oscar for Best Original Song.



Like Mike
Like Mike
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#11. Lil' Bow Wow - Okay, after the mistake of listing Vanilla Ice I thought I would throw out a nod to Shad Gregory Moss aka Lil' Bow Wow. Sure, he's just a kid, but this kid started rapping at the age of 3, has already starred in a $51 million dollar hit called Like Mike. He has recently finished shooting Johnson Family Vacation scheduled for release in 2004. He was given his nickname by Snoop Dog, all before he even had his licence to drive.



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Copyright© Staffwriter: Rob Paul

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