Rappers are somewhere between ‘former Saturday Night Live cast member’ and ‘pro-wrestler’ on the credible actor scale. Ever since Fab 5 Freddy, Rock Steady Crew and Grandmaster Flash were first immortalised onscreen in 1983’s Wild Style, sticking a current hip-hop artist in a film has been a go-to method for lazy studio execs to make sure their latest piece of schlock appeals to da kidz. Sometimes we get an 8 Mile or a 2pac in Juice. More often than not though, it’s just Will.i.am. standing at the back of an X-Men spin-off or Fiddy literally sucking all the life out of scene through all nine of his gunshot wounds.
Being a great MC is all about showmanship, charisma and verbal dexterity. Those skills should be transferable to reading out some pre-written words on screen and being vaguely entertaining, right? Well, sometimes. This week (Friday 5th) we see the release of another film starring a rapper, Life Of Crime, a pretty good 70s crime caper, which sees Mos Def—the best rapper-turned-actor—star alongside Tim Robbins, Isla Fisher, and Jennifer Aniston (go figure). So to give Mos Def the props he deserves, here is our top, erm, sixteen rappers-turned-actors ranked worst to best (and Mos Def is best in case you hadn't realised).