25 Rappers Who Went from the Stage to the Silver Screen

More and more rappers are going from hip-hop to Hollywood these days: Azealia Banks is set to star in a new film directed by RZA from Wu-Tang Clan. Nicki Minaj is set to co-star in Barbershop 3 alongside Ice Cube and Eve, and Queen Latifah's take on the iconic Bessie Smith made waves last week. Let's take a look at who else has made the leap.
ESSENCE.COM May, 28, 2015

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Rapper Azealia Banks is making her big screen debut in a new film directed by Wu-Tang Clan's RZA. Banks will play the title character in Coco, a drama about a twenty-something aspiring rapper who's working toward her goal while going to college. The film co-stars Common, Jill Scott, Lorraine Toussaint and more.

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Coming to HBO in 2015

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Lauryn Hill was the unforgettable lead in Sister Act 2 but before that, she was a recurring character on the soap opera As The World Turns.

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Nas made his feature film debut in Belly alongside DMX and T-Boz. He has since made appearances on TV in Hawaii Five-O and also in the musical film as Black Nativity as the Prophet Isaiah.

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You may remember Nelly as a prisoner in the comedy-drama The Longest Yard. He's expected to appear in the upcoming film, Fall From Grace.

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By far one of the most successful musician-turned-actor, Will Smith broke into acting in the 90s shortly after winning his first Grammy as The Fresh Prince. Over 20 movies later, he is considered one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, according to Forbes Magazine.

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Eve has come a long way from the girl who's apple juice was stolen in the first Barbershop movie. She's been in VH1's Single Ladies and the Lifetime film With This Ring. She's even had her own sitcom, Eve, on UPN

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Nicki Minaj made her big screen debut as the voice of a wooly mammoth in an Ice Age film. She's since appeared in The Other Woman and will co-star in the next Barbershop film. 

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Rapper-turned-actor and author, Common doesn’t believe in staying in any lane. The Grammy winner has over 10 movies under his belt, including “American Gangster” (2007) and “Smokin’ Aces” (2006). He won an Oscar for his musical contribution to the film Selma in which he also starred.

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Who can forget Tupac in Juice or Poetic Justice with Janet Jackson? Tupac was as talented an actor as he was a rapper and social commentator. 

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Is there anything Diddy doesn't do? You may remember Diddy from his role as Halle Berry's husband in the Oscar-winning film Monster's Ball. He also played the lead in "A Raisin in the Sun" and the latest Muppet movie. 

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The legendary rapper hung up his mic in the late 00s to pursue a career in acting. He currently stars in CBS’s “NCIS: Los Angeles.”

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David Banner is probably best known for his role in The Butler but he's also made appearances in This Christmas, Stomp The Yard 2, and Ride Along with Kevin Hart

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Busta burst onto the acting scene in Who's the Man? (the film debut of Terrence Howard as well). He's since been in numerous movies including Space Jam and Finding Forrester opposite Sean Connery. 

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The rapper has actively cultivated his acting along with his music career, starring in popular movies like “ATL” (2006) and “Takers” (2010).

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This veteran rapper can currently be seen playing detective Odafin ‘Fin’ Tutuola on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” after starring in classics like “New Jack City” and “Ricochet” (both in 1991).

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Ludacris made a name for himself outside of hip hop in movies like “Crash” (2003) and “Hustle and Flow” (2006). Most recently he starred in Furious 7, the latest installment of the Fast and Furious franchise.

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A talented emcee and actor Mos Def has cultivated a career in film that includes starring roles in “Monster’s Ball” (2001) and 2008’s “Cadillac Records” (where he played Chuck Berry). Most recently he had a recurring role on the Showtime thriller, “Dexter.”

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You can always count on rapper 50 Cent to go the extra mile. For the movie “All Things Fall Apart” (2011), 50 dropped 80 pounds to play a cancer-ridden football player. He also starred and produced his own biopic, “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” in 2005.

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A Hollywood power player, rapper Ice Cube (far right) has not only starred in but also produced movies like “Friday” (1995) and ’Lottery Ticket" (2010).

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The former child rapper has recently dedicated all his energy to acting, starring in movies like “Roll Bounce” (2005) and “Madea’s Big Happy Family” (2011). These days, you can find Bow Wow on CSI: Cyber

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Rapper Andre 3000 has chosen films as eclectic as his music, from the action-packed “Four Brothers” (2005) to the musical film, “Idlewild” (2006) and the lead role as Jimi Hendrix in the biopic Jimi: All Is By My Side.

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Big Boi appeared alongside Andre 3000 in the film Idlewild but before that, Big Boi was in ATL with T.I. 

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This music superstar has had minor roles in Set It Off and Training Day alongside some of Hollywood's biggest actors. 

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Since debuting in Belly, DMX has starred in Cradle 2 The Grave, South Park and Chris Rock's hit Top Five.