The 10 Greatest “Raptors” of All Time

Now I know what you’re thinking…”who cares about about a 75 million year old dinosaur, and what does that have to do with HGHR GRND?”
Well, au contraire mon ami.  This list is far too relevant.
While prehistoric theropods are interesting in their own right, the “raptors” that I am writing about are rappers.  But not only are they rappers, they’re also actors…hence the term…”raptors,” (see what i did there)
This trend is not recent.  Rappers have been crossing in the realm of acting for years.  Either rap money hasn’t been cutting it, or there is some underlying similarity between the two art forms.
Shall we begin.

#10: Ice-T (aka Tracy Marrow)

I would be remiss to not include Ice-T on this list. Although his acting skills will most likely earn him a “razzie” long before they earn him an oscar, Ice-T gets a major nod for his longevity. Somehow T’s managed to consitenty lock down acting roles since ’84, and has managed to appear in some classics mainly New Jack City, and Leprechaun: In the Hood (if you’ve watched enough BET).  Not to mention that Ice-T has been holding down his somewhat ironic role as Detective Fin on Law and Order: SVU  for the past 14 years.

Furthermore, people are quick to forget Ice-T’s illustrious rap career.  At a certain point in time Ice-T was the king of the West Coast.  Classic albums like The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech and O.G. Original Gangster solidified Ice-T’s top status in the world of gangsta rap.

Congratulations Tracy.

#9: Drake (aka Aubrey Graham)

He was wheelchair Jimmy for seven seasons of Digrassi.  Then became a rapper.

#8: Eminem (aka Marshall Mathers)

Eminem definitely deserves a spot on this list, despite the fact that he only starred in one film role.  However, we all know 8 Mile was a big deal f**kin’ deal. All things considered he basically played himself in a movie about himself.  But the film was sincere.  At least far more sincere that any of the subsequent “rapper on the come up” films *cough, cough* Get Rich or Die Tryin’ *cough, cough* Notorious. Eminem is part of an even more exclusive club of rappers who have won Oscar awards for their music soundtracks.

Em’s music career speaks for itself.  Since his debut in 1999, Eminem has  consistently cranked out platinum and diamond albums.  Not to mention his tremendous contributions to The Chronic: 2001 by Dr. Dre who everyone had apparently forgotten about at the time.  Even more, Eminem was instrumental in signing a young 50 Cent who was patiently wanting for a track explode on.

Congrats Slim.

#7: Ice Cube (aka O’Shea Jackson)

Ice Cube is without a doubt one of the GOATS.  The man came up as one of the stand out members of hip hop’s most influential and notorious groups.  Ditched ’em.  Then went on to have a fantastic solo career, with classic albums like  Amerikka’s Most Wanted  and The Predator.  But then again, what else should we expect from a man who “f**ked around an got a triple-double,” “got a beep from Kim,” and ate Fatburger at 2am ALL in the same day.

Cube made his big screen debut as Doughboy in John Singleton’s critically acclaimed Boyz in the Hood.  That jump started a film career that included classics like Friday and Next Friday.  And of course who could forget Friday After the Next. Admittedly, Cube is no where close to winning an award.  However, Cube does deserve kudos for his entrepreneurship.  Ice Cube heads his own movie production company, Cubevision, which was responsible for the TBS sitcom Are We There Yet.  Ice Cube may not be the best actor, but who needs to be if you’re the boss.

#6: Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover)

Although he’s relatively new to the scene, Childish Gambino definitely deserves a spot on this list.  Glover has proved himself as a hilarious actor and writer through his work with Derrick Comedy, NYU’s premier sketch comedy team.  Before gaining national recognition, Glover worked as writer for Tina Fey’s 30 Rock for six seasons.  Glover is probably most known for his role as Troy Barnes on NBC’s Community.

In the past few years Glover has proven his ability to rock the mic.  Operating under the name “Childish Gambino,” a name that he selected from a Wu-Tang name generator, Glover has released two album, Camp and Because the Internet.  Donald Glover’s work as both an actor and a rapper has been impressive, but he has yet to achieve superstar status in either field.  However, Donald Glover’s time to shine is quickly approaching.

#5: 2 Pac (aka Tupac Shakur)

I probably don’t have to go too far into depth regarding 2Pac’s contributions to Hip Hop to anybody reading this post. Pac helped popularize the west coast-” g-funk”- sound, while also promoting an introspective element within the genre that had come to be defined by flash and flare. There’s a reason that some consider Pac one of the greatest of all time, although he only lived til he was 25.

On top of selling 9 million copies of All Eyez on Me, Pac made serious attempts to launch his acting career. Unlike a lot of the other cats on this list, Pac deserves props for acting range.  Pac showed his darker, almost psychotic side in his menacing role as Bishop in Juice, and then flipped it the following year and took on  a lovable rough-around-the-edges role as Lucky in Poetic Justice. Pac held down 3 or 4 more roles before his murder in September ’96.  Pac’s roles were generally appluaded.  Who knows, had he lived longer perhaps he would have gone Hollywood.

#4: Vince Carter

Had to do it

#3: Marky Mark (of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, aka Mark Wahlberg)

Mark Wahlberg’s short stint in the rap game would probably be forgotten if it wasn’t for the tremendous commercial success of Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch’s “Good Vibrations,” which surprisingly still gets people going over 20 years after its release. And while some might consider his rap career a joke, Mark and Funky Bunch received a Grammy nomination in ’93 for their single “You Gotta Believe.”  Sadly they lost out to Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back.”

Wahleberg’s tremendous success in hollywood has completely overshadowed his musical career.  Probably for the better.  Films like Boogie Nights (1997), The Departed (2006), and The Fighter (2010) prove that acting is his greatest forte.

#2: Queen Latifah (aka Dana Owens)

Like Mark Wahlberg, Queen Latifah is one of the few celebrities who have been able to seamlessly transition music careers into successful acting careers.  

However, unlike like Marky Mark, Queen Latifah holds far more clout in the rap game.  Her debut album, All Hair the Queen, is considered a golden-age classic. The Queen was one of the first ladies in hip hop holding it down for the female gender, especially with her hit single “Ladies First.” In addition to rapping, Queen Latifah is a talented singer, which she showcased in 2004 with her jazz album, The Dana Owens Album.

Queen Latifah has also been acting for the past 20 years.  She can be seen in popular films such as Set It Off, Chicago, Brown Sugar, Bringing Down the House, Taxi, and Just Wright.  At this point I’m not even sure if people remember she used to rap.

#1: The Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith)

I really don’t need to say anything about Will Smith’s acting career.  I don’t think anyone thought that the skinny kid in the  Fresh Prince of BelAir  would become one of Hollywood’s premier actors.  But even before he was killing it on the big screen, Will Smith was shaking up the hip hop scene.  DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince were the first rappers to win a Grammy for best rap performance.  He’s also two Grammy awards a solo artist.  He’s the DJ, Im the Rapper is hit-packed classic. And “Summertime” is one of the most timeless rap songs.

Needless to say, Will Smith is the actual GOAT.

 

I know I left a bunch of raptors off this list.  Post whoever you think I should have included on this list in the comments below.

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