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Role Play: 10 Surprisingly Good Acting Jobs By Rappers

Submitted by on June 4, 2010 – 12:39 pm12 Comments

In case your Twitter feed’s been down all week and you haven’t been able to catch Diddy‘s promotional tweets, today is the day his new movie, Get Him to the Greek, hits theaters. Normally, a flick featuring Diddy wouldn’t necessarily be anything to get too excited about. But we’ve heard nothing but good things about Diddy’s role in Greek, which also features Jonah Hill, Russell Brand and Aziz Ansari. Apparently, the guy’s plays a pretty mean record label executive (go figure?).

Rappers making the leap to the silver screen is nothing new, but it rarely works out as well as it has for Diddy in his latest role. Shaq in Kazaam? LL Cool J in Deep Blue Sea? Ja Rule in The Fast and the Furious? Two thumbs down! But there have been some surprisingly good acting jobs by rappers over the years. Check out these 10 rappers that landed the right roles and made Hollywood proud.

1. Eminem in 8 Mile

It wasn’t exactly a stretch for Em to play an up-and-coming rapper trying to make it in the city of Detroit, but it’s hard to fault him for making his debut in a film that offered him the chance to play a comfortable role. He also hasn’t taken on any major roles since playing “B-Rabbit” in 8 Mile, so he hasn’t given himself a chance to ruin his acting legacy. Win.

2. T.I. in ATL

In his first major film role, Tip played Rashad, an Atlanta native with an interest in art and roller-skating. It was a little difficult to believe Tip playing a guy getting his roll on down at the skating rink on Saturday nights, but the chemistry between himself and co-star Lauren London (as “New-New”) helped the flick snag positive reviews.

3. Ice Cube in Boyz n the Hood

Cube has enjoyed plenty of highs and lows during his influential film career. But his role as Doughboy in Boyz n the Hood helped make this movie an instant ‘hood classic.

4. Method Man and Redman in How High

Admittedly, Meth and Red weren’t shooting for Oscars when they decided to shoot How High. They were trying to create the perfect stoner flick. And they succeeded in doing just that by playing the roles of two guys who used a special brand of weed to get into Harvard University and wreak havoc.

5. Will Smith in Bad Boys

It wasn’t his first role—he actually gained his faithful following by filming the TV sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air—but when Will Smith played Detective Mike Lowrey in the first installment of Bad Boys, he established himself as a legitimate actor. It helped him secure blockbuster parts in future flicks like Independence Day, Men in Black and Wild Wild West.

6. Andre 3000 in Semi-Pro

3 Stacks has landed some strange roles in the past. But he did a nice job as Clarence Withers and played off the comedic energy of Will Ferrell in this movie about the ABA basketball organization. The film wasn’t a huge success but it’s easily Andre’s best role to date.

7. Ludacris in Crash

We’ll forget about his role in 2 Fast 2 Furious and instead focus on the great job Luda did as Anthony in Crash, a movie that took home the Best Picture Oscar in 2006.

8. DMX in Belly

We’re not saying the directorial debut of Hype Williams was a terrific movie. But DMX brought passion and intensity to the silver screen and helped Belly became a fan favorite amongst hip-hop heads.

9. Snoop Dogg in Training Day

From The Wash to Starsky & Hutch to Soul Plane, Snoop Dogg typically plays the role of Snoop Dogg whenever he’s in a movie. Part-pimp, part-hustler, he pretty much just dresses a little differently in each flick. Training Day is one of his only attempts at playing an actual character. And thanks to Denzel Washington’s lead, he didn’t look too bad doing it.

10. Mos Def in Be Kind Rewind

Mos hasn’t landed his breakout role yet, but in flicks like Be Kind Rewind he’s shown his propensity for stealing scenes and playing convincing roles. Was the movie a little weird? Yeah. But the Brooklyn rapper made the most of it. Nice job.

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  • ChiefRocka says:

    I guess you can add puff to this list at some point, he did it up in a raisin in the sun, but this role is better suited for him. I saw the movie last night and puff is crazy funny, “I’m eating my own head” lol.

  • Boss Lady says:

    Mos Def did a pretty incredible job in Something The Lord Made, too. I liked his small part in Cadillac Records also (as Chuck Berry). Definitely one of the better rapper turned actors :)

    ~Boss Lady

  • Scav says:

    Good point, Boss Lady. Mos has had a bunch of pretty good roles. He hasn’t really blown me away in anything he’s been in, but he’s been consistently good. He’s definitely one of the better ones.

  • ruther says:

    Mos Def is a truly talented actor who gaves many fine performances (The Woodsman & Something the Lord Made stand out).

  • cee says:

    Mos was pretty good in 16 blocks.

  • Frost says:

    T.I. was HORRIBLE in ATL. I didn’t see an ounce of talented acting because most of the cast was equally horrible.

  • [...] Role Play: 10 Surprisingly Excellent Acting Jobs By Rappers | DrJays … [...]

  • LZ says:

    I liked Andre in Four Brothers

  • kevin says:

    i would like to revise the reviews of what was listed above. get you some popcorn youll need it this might take a while:

    aside from the first one

    2.TI was good in his small role he had in american gangster so thats not the worst role he’s portrayed
    3. ice cube did a better job in the barbershop series of movies
    4.point taken and noted i wont get into the failed tv show lol
    5. Will Smith has done impecible work in hollywood he portrayed Ali better than Ali is in real life. Hancock was good as well as bagger vance and lets not get into how well his son is at acting in the new karate kid movie.
    6.I agree andre was better in 4 brothers he showed his range well between that and semi pro lol
    7.Lets give ‘Cris credit where credit is due for his first acting gig in 2F2F was good considering he showed up only 2-3 times in the movie
    8.DMX couldnt act his way out of a paper sack. Tyrese (tho not a raper even though he tried lol) is a better actor
    9.snoop plays himself in every movie. soul plane was his worst role
    10.im a huge Italian Job fan, so i have to say his role as left ear as well as being chuck in caddilac records were his two best roles to date.

    Im suprised nobody mentioned State property, which really was nothing more than one long Rocawear ad. Beans did his thing though.

    oh and Eve too lol last but not least

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