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Mirror Mirror On The Wall, Who's The Greatest Raptor Of Them All?

by Cynthia Reid
November 1, 2011 9:19 AM
16 Comments
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It seems whenever we mention certain raptors (rappers-turned-actors) on this blog, we seem to get a plethora of moans and groans from S&A readers. And yes, some of us have taken our own swipes regarding a few of them as well--rightfully so in my opinion. Considering the vast pool of talent one can pick from for a film, it's hard to believe that producers still resort to this practice. However, while ruminating over the directorial debut of The Man With The Iron Fist being helmed by RZA, I started to wonder...Who can be considered great raptors?

Of course, it's easy to pick out the most successful raptors which include Will Smith, Queen Latifah and Mark Wahlberg. Yet, so many variables come into play when you think of "the best." An easier list would be "the worst" raptors. That would be filled beyond capacity.

Some are smart enough to find a niche and stick with it, never venturing off into other territory (I'm looking at you Ice T). While others find particular genres that work and stay in their lane (waving to Ice Cube). Yet, there are a few who've shown a hopeful spark but haven't had a real chance to shine in any particular part (think Xzibit).

The most successful productions seem to have raptors playing parts that mirror their on-stage persona. Eminem in 8 Mile and TI in ATL comes to mind. Mos Def tends to be regarded as one of the best and, in my opinion, if Tupac were alive he quite possibly would have shared that distinction as well. Honorable mentions can go to Heavy D and Method Man.

Then you have the unexplainable...Sean "P Diddy" Combs and 50 Cent. Do I really need to say more? So the question I pose to you is...Who are the best raptors? And just for chuckles, who's the worst?

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16 Comments

  • Jug | November 2, 2011 7:40 AMReply

    @Tamara-Yeah I wanted SMOKIN' to be good too, but that was all Carnahan on that one. I ain't mad at you about LL, he was great in LAST HOLIDAY & I cracked up in DEEP BLUE SEA "Deepest Bluest My Hat is like a Shark's Fin!" LOL

    That whole movie was some mess

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMwmqp3GLMc

    The one thing I will say about Common, is that he gets chance after chance in movies the same way bad white actors do (bcuz we are repeatedly upset about seeing the crappy ones over & over wondering "How?!"). So I guess that's...fair?! :-P

    "LEFT CHEEK LEFT CHEEK" LOL Gotta love Michael Bay....uhh no

  • Tamara | November 2, 2011 7:24 AMReply

    @ Jug, so agree with you on Mos. He's 'extended' up, down, left, right with 'different' roles. And of LL Cool J...this is small, but big in my humble opinion; in Deep Blue Sea and also in Last Holiday...flame me all you want, but I loved him in that role. LOL And I wanted Common to be great but he's pretty much the same character all the time... I also wanted Smoking Aces to be great but *shrugs* there it is and here we are at the same pass again.

    Does Tyrese rap? Or just sing? I bet his character in Transformers franchise raps? Shen he isn't playing dialog-patty cake alongside Josh Duhamel's character:

    Captain Lennox: I need a credit card! Epps, where's your wallet?
    USAF Tech Sergeant Epps: Pocket!
    Captain Lennox: Which pocket?
    USAF Tech Sergeant Epps: MY BACK POCKET!
    Captain Lennox: You got like ten back pockets!
    USAF Tech Sergeant Epps: LEFT CHEEK! LEFT CHEEK! LEFT CHEEK!

    lol

  • Jug | November 2, 2011 6:50 AMReply

    I second Cynthia, JMac that was hilarious LMBAO

    I think Dre from Outkast is gonna be our generations Pac or Will Smith. He shocked me in FOUR BROTHERS, thought he was gonna be the weak link & instead he was pretty good. He was the best thing in IDLEWILD & whenever they get it funded, I'm looking forward to his Jimi Hendrix biopic.

    Interesting that nobody threw Tyrese in the mix? Is it because he's technically a singer or just that y'all think he sucks? LOL

  • Jug | November 2, 2011 6:42 AMReply

    Jokes aside, I think Latifah & Will have it. Primarily because they fought to get outside their rap persona (which most rappers are acting anyway, so why they can't "act" is beyond me). They didn't settle for what they did daily & took it seriously. If you're a rapper but you can make me think you have the chops to do a non-black period/genre piece, then I give you real credit. Otherwise, the sun shined on your ass that day.

    Latifah was in BONE COLLECTOR & SPHERE. Two small, thankless roles, but she was Dana & not "The Queen". Will, well, we all know the work he's put in to fight away from Big Willy & Fresh Prince. Most rappers get a pass (there's that phrase again) because they get hired to be angry-which let's be honest for most men it ain't that hard-so they just reash their video stuff (with someone off camera yelling "MORE ANGRY, MORE STREET!").

    I have Mos Def higher on my list behind Latifah & Will because he makes interesting choices, that are soooo removed from his rap persona-HITCHHIKER'S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. The comedy he was doing with the towel (the most formidable weapon in the Universe) was hilarious. And he was so normal & lovable in BE KIND REWIND, it was like a precursor to the while "Black nerd" stuff in hip hop right now. Average kid & all that.

    But when you get to the likes of a Cube or LL, who you'd think wouldn't be good but put it on the line with ARE WE THERE YET & DELIVER US FROM EVA, you have to say that they killed roles that would have gone to Dave Chappelle or Matthew McConaughey. That's some good shit.

    In rappers defense tho, they do get the bias from filmmakers & audiences when they try and do some "real" acting. Folks looked at Eve sideways when she tried to do THE WOODSMEN. I'm sure folks said WTF when Wahlberg did BOOGIE NIGHTS (and for me when he does a good movie like THREE KINGS & THE FIGHTER, he's Mark Walhberg, but when it's crap like THE HAPPENING & MAX PAYNE-he's back to Marky Mark LOL)

    Two people who should pack it up & go home-Common & Puffy. I could write a novel on how bad they are, but because we "like" them, they get a return invite to the party. I have all of Common's albums but he's still a ridiculously bad actor-watch his eyes, you can see him remembering his line like a dancer remembering steps. Puffy...well, he's just Puffy LOL

    And everybody in WHO'S THE MAN should have their SAG cards taken LOL

  • misha | November 2, 2011 6:25 AMReply

    Will is so corny to me most of the time but I have to give him his props...he's on of the best raptors. Mark W. and the Queen are up there as well, along with my boo Tupac (lol)..talk about limitless potential. Ice T and Ice Cube are both good/decent.

    Call me crazy but I'm not all that impressed with Mos Def's (whom I like) acting...he aight. I'll have to check out his performance on Dexter.

    @IJ Clinton I think Lauryn is a good actress as well. Wasn't she supposed to be in Charlie's Angels as the first "angel of color" instead of Lucy Liu but Lauryn turned down the role?

  • Jug | November 2, 2011 5:54 AMReply

    C'mon...what about the Fat Boys in DISORDERLIES?

  • Troy | November 2, 2011 4:54 AMReply

    Agree with some lists wont make my own.

    Big Boi in Idlewild and ATL. He will never get another role worth noting after Who's your Caddy? Note to self never work with anyone who has ever worked for BET!

  • IJ Clinton | November 2, 2011 1:25 AMReply

    I think Queen Latifah's and Will Smith are the best raptors. Actually, anyone remember her guest appearance on his show Fresh Prince of Bel Air. I swear the degrees of separation among blacks in Hollywood are so... well, there practically are none. lol.

    Lauryn Hill at 18 did her thing in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit. And T.I. was pretty good in ATL, I though.

    Word is Common delivers in the new AMC series Hell on Wheels.

    @lee I happened to like MC Lyte as Mona's wicked boss on the show Half & Half.

    Peace & love y'all

  • Tamara | November 2, 2011 1:18 AMReply

    Best: definitely Queen L.a.t.i.f.a.h., Will Smith,and Mark Wahlberg.

    Better: the Mighty Mos, Ice Cube, LL Cool J, Tupac.

    In the Middle: everybody else

    Worst: Sean Combs, T.I.

    The variables/a variable/and all things considered: what performances did they have to 'extend' themselves and were they successful? I think if they're playing someone similar to the persona they present in their rap careers, then is that greatness or 'just sufficing enoughness'? That's why I've got 'in the middle' because I think a lot of them have crossover appeal or have done solid work that 'suffices' and have been fairly successful making a name for themselves in the acting-realm. But who among them have gone above and beyond? Yeah. Of my 'great' selections, Will and Queen La reign supreme.

  • cruz777 | November 1, 2011 12:28 PMReply

    i haven't seen any of the new stuff 50 has been in, but is he really that bad? or just average?

    daryll "chill" mitchell is good, even after his accident.

    juries out on common.
    lord jamer has put in a few good performances

  • Cynthia | November 1, 2011 11:45 AMReply

    "Sean Combs - still don't know who he killed, blackmailed, or screwed to star in Raisin in the Sun"....

    HILARIOUS @Jmac!

  • Xi | November 1, 2011 11:43 AMReply

    For my number one spot, I'm listing:
    Will Smith and Mos Def together.
    Pac and Queen Latifah take the number two spot.

    Honorable mentions:
    LL Cool J - I don't hate him
    Common - He's got some growing to do, but he isn't horrible.
    Lil Bow Wow - yea I know, but I think he has potential
    Three Stacks - mainly bc I want his babies, but his main setback is that regional dialect.

    Worst:
    MC Lyte
    Eve
    Diddy

    I also agree with Troy. There are several actors who have no business in certain roles. See: Bank Heist.

  • JMac | November 1, 2011 11:18 AMReply

    Best Raptors:
    1) Will Smith - only raptor to make me cry in a tearjerker scene
    2) Queen Latifah - she pleasantly surprised me when Living Single came out and scared the #%$ out of me in Set It Off
    3) Mos Def (or whatever he's calling himself now)
    4) Agree about Tupac - I didn't like him or his music too much but when he did act, again, I was pleasantly surprised.

    Honorable mentions:
    1) Kid N Play - I know they aren't acting or rapping now but they did a pretty good job with House Party (I and II) and Class Act.
    2) Ice Cube - he does well in certain movies. I wouldn't watch a movie just because he's in it.

    Worst Raptors:
    1) Ice T - just can't stand him or his voice. Tried to watch the Planet Rock doc over the weekend but couldn't make it pass five minutes.
    2) Sean Combs - still don't know who he killed, blackmailed, or screwed to star in Raisin in the Sun; couldn't have just been the money

  • Shaun | November 1, 2011 10:31 AMReply

    1. Queen Latifah-One of the best, wish she will do more dramatic roles
    2. Will Smith-He knows what works for him and every once in awhile he will do something really dramatic that is hit or miss
    3. Mos Def-I knew him as actor before a rapper
    4. Ice-T--He knows what works for him
    Honorable Mention: Eve and MC Lyte--I like what they do when they do comedy. Eve goes small and indie when she does dramatic roles which is good.

  • Troy | November 1, 2011 10:27 AMReply

    I don't see the problem when we think about all the other no talent models and hack actors. When they don't sell the movie then they really shouldn't be in there. I prefer not to see professionally trained actors play thugs and street people, they are so inauthentic when they do. They also lack depth for the role, copying and not emoting.

  • lee | November 1, 2011 10:26 AMReply

    The Best

    1. Will Smith- his impact is undeniable
    2. Mos Def - great timing
    3. Mark Wahlberg- like him as an action hero
    4. Queen Latifah - strong female presence
    5. Tupac- A natural
    6. Kid Cudi - Just because I like him on How To Make it in America.

    The Worst
    1. Snoop Dogg - I cringe every time I see him act
    2. Nas' performance in Belly was atrocious
    3. MC Lyte- One of the best female MCs ever but her acting is quite wooden

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