Does Being An Actor Compromise Your Rap Career?

Some rappers happen to be thoughtful, intelligent people. Every Monday that isn't a national holiday, Rocks Off will have some of them discussing issues relevant to their culture.

This Week's Panel: Paul Wall, Damien Randle, Sam Sneed

Not Invited: Freekey Zeekey, for getting Dipset back together. Ack.

Photo illustration by John Seaborn Gray
This Week's Prompt: More and more rappers are looking to branch out into other fields of entertainment. Paul, last we spoke, you told us about a movie that you were working on. Will Smith did it. Andre 3000 did it. T.I. did it. Ice-T did it. Shit, even Mike Jones did it. But with the exception of T.I., nearly all of those guys abandoned their music career to do so ;Mike was already losing his grasp on relevancy, so that might not be the best example. So here's the question: Can a rapper focus on more than rapping and without it negatively affecting his music?

Paul Wall: That's tough to say. Ludacris has been doing both, and seems to be pretty successful at both. But a lot of other rappers seem to transition into acting toward the end of their careers. But maybe that's because they don't have anything left to prove in rap.

Some of our most successful actors used to be rappers. Will Smith, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube. They're some of the most successful actors that all used to be rappers. They dominated rap, and then transitioned to dominate movies and TV. Ice Cube still puts out some music occasionally (and is still successful with the music).

Almost every successful, well-known rapper has at one point or another been offered a TV show or movie role, whether it be a big role or small role, big-budget or low-budget. Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Andre 3000, TI, Xzibit, Ice T, Eve, Eminem, Dr Dre, Snoop Dogg, Diddy, Busta Rhymes, Tupac, Queen Latifah, way too many more to name.

For me, I realized that actors have much longer careers, and usually make way more money than rappers. So, of course, I became interested in acting. I've done a couple of small roles in lower-budget movies. But I still have a sincere love and passion for music.

Even though I'm not at the top of the totem pole anymore, I still really love making music and performing. But shit, believe me, if I was making the money Ice Cube or Will Smith was making on movies, I'd probably slow down on music, or just give it away for free [laughs].

It's not just rappers, but all types of musicians dabble in acting; Beyonce, Madonna, Jill Scott, Janet Jackson. But it seems to be mostly toward the later part in the artist's career. It's kinda like how athletes transition into commentators. But you rarely see somebody act and rap successfully at the same time.

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