Famous Male Actors That Would Make Awesome Rappers
What if famous male actors were to start rapping… Who do you think would be the best?
Show business is a largely interconnected industry full of big personalities. That interconnectedness is one of the major reasons that artists from different fields and backgrounds will try their hands in arenas they are not particularly known for, with varying results.
For example, when musical artists attempt to crossover into acting, the results range from Will Smith (good), to Ja Rule (bad).
Then there are the actors who try their hand at music, with pretty universally hilarious results.
Don’t get me started on athletes.
It’s somewhat rare that you’ll see a famous actor try their hand at rapping specifically. Have you ever been watching a movie about some world ending catastrophe and thought to yourself, “you know what; I bet that guy has bars.”
When you think about it, it’s not even that big of a stretch. Most famous rappers today are partially actors anyway.
Now if you feel yourself getting defensive about that claim, just know that I don’t mean that most famous rappers are entirely fake (though some of them are), I just mean that to be successful in the entertainment industry requires an aspect of theatricality.
There are thousands of people out there who can spit that you’ll never hear of, because they just don’t have that presence.
With that all in mind, let’s take a look at some of the famous male actors who could make good, decent, or entertaining rappers.
A word of context, as this is a purely hypothetical venture, most of these entries are going to be people I think would be hilarious to see rap.
If you’re looking for a scientific analysis you are in the wrong place. To keep things fair, I won’t be using any actors who are or were already established rappers, because what would be the point of that?
I’m going to try to keep the list to people relatively relevant to current pop culture, but I tend to break my own rules, so…we’ll see.
#25) Joaquin Phoenix: In 2008 people thought Joaquin Phoenix had lost his damn mind.
He looked like a bum, he sounded like a drunk, and nobody knew that it was all just a bit for a movie he was making called ‘I’m Still Here’ a mockumentary chronicling his exit from acting and attempt at a rap career.
While this whole thing turned out to be a hoax, I say he should double down and do it for real. Life imitating art, imitating life, imitating art.
#24) Tom Cruise: It’s fair to say that Tom Cruise isn’t the star he once was. There are several reasons for this, including the decline of the movie star archetype, his public devotion to scientology, jumping up and down on Oprah’s couch, and dancing like a lame on 106 and Park.
The dude still has charisma though. If you don’t think he could drop a Mission Impossible or Top Gun album, you’re kidding yourself. Besides, that unfortunate BET appearance aside, anyone who saw the end of Tropic Thunder knows he has rhythm.
#23) Ving Rhames: What does Marsellus Wallace look like? Ving Rhames had the affluent gangster persona down pat before a lot of the newer rappers out now were even born.
Add to that the fact that Rhames voice seems made to drop knowledge, and you got a perfect package. His talents are wasted on those (albeit entertaining) Arby’s commercials.
#22) Ron Perlman: Sticking with actors known for their voice, Ron Perlman could have a flow that speaks to the soul. Perhaps best known as badass biker Clay Morrow on ‘Sons of Anarchy’, Perlman has been adding gravitas to shows with his voice for decades.
If you’ve seen 1000 Ways to Die, that’s all him. You know good and well you can imagine that voice spontaneously bursting into rhyme.
#21) Edward Norton: The first of my more left field selections (certainly not the last). Now I understand that actors play roles that are not them.
While I know that on an intellectual level, it doesn’t change the fact that every time I see Ed Norton in any role he strikes me as a crazy person. Not the character he’s playing, but him.
Fight Club: crazy person, Primal Fear (spoilers): crazy person pretending not to be a crazy person, pretending to be a crazy person; American History X: crazy person to reformed crazy person; Incredible Hulk: super powered crazy person.
Now I haven’t watched any of his interviews or anything, he might be a regular guy. But from his cagey performances, I’d love to see him do some high speed rapping ala Mystikal.
#20) Joe Morton: Joe Morton has had a long, more or less successful career in both movies and on television. The name may not jump out at you but I can pretty much guarantee you’ve seen him before.
Remember the black guy from Terminator 2, that’s Joe. More recently, if you’ve ever watched Scandal, he’s arguably the main antagonist. It’s because of his performance on Scandal that he’s on this list.
Think what you will of the show itself; it’s difficult to argue that it hasn’t devolved into the main characters monologuing at each other. While some of them do it better than others, Joe is the master.
The only thing stopping his epic speeches from being raps anyway is that they don’t rhyme. They do however have a familiar cadence and flow. Imagine being scolded by your father in verse and that’s Joe Morton as a rapper. I’m betting there’d be a market for it.
#19) Will Ferrell: The crux of Will Ferrell’s shtick is that he’s the stereotypical boring white guy. By then end of all his movies he typically subverts this image in one way or another.
Picture this, an intro consisting of Ferrell’s whitest, borderline George W Bush impression bit…Then the beat drops and he starts spitting that straight fire.
One song would be all it would take. Or, in the entirely other direction, he could make an album of all the other personas he’s famous for affecting.
#18) Keanu Reeves: I for one, am a sucker for an emcee with a laid back flow. I can only assume that Reeves would have a hypnotically slow delivery. If John Wick is any indicator, the guy can go hard too.
Besides, who wouldn’t want to hear a sick track about the Matrix? (The first one, not the other two) On the other hand, what if he went against type and spit Twista fast? I’d pay to see that, repeatedly.
#17) Robert Downy Jr.: Now, there’s no reason to go into RDJ’s checkered past any farther than to mention that he has one and found a way to make it to the other side. If that isn’t the quintessential hip hop success story, I don’t know what is.
On top of that, the guy has charm leaking out of him, with a wit that would add intelligence and class to his rhymes…his rhymes that would hopefully be about Iron Man, might have to fight Ghost for the name though. Can you imagine that beef?
#16) James Earl Jones: James Earl Jones along with the #15 entry on this list have arguably the best voices on the planet. You could definitely say you don’t want to hear a Darth Vader mixtape, but you’d be lying, and everyone would know that you’re lying. Matter of fact, I would be happy with a Mufasa mixtape too.
The man has played kings and conquerors, evil wizards and whatever he was supposed to be in Meteor Man (if you’ve never seen that, do yourself a favor). I can only imagine how interesting his verses would be, even if he only pulled from his own 80 plus years of life.
#15) Morgan Freeman: I mean, to a generation of people he’s the voice of God. It doesn’t really get any more grandiose than that.
There’s the joke that people could listen to Morgan Freeman read the telephone book (how people found phone numbers before google) and find it entertaining.
If that’s the case, imagine how good it would be if he was actually flowing. I honestly can’t imagine what I would want his flow to sound like.
Something dignified to be sure, but I think it would have to be something equally unique as his voice. Morgan Freeman could legit change the game.
#14) Al Pacino: According to cribs, he’s a fixture in most rapper’s homes (circa 1998) anyway, why not make it official. More than that though, Pacino has a coolness about him that is undeniable.
It’s what made him the most sympathetic devils in film history in ‘The Devil’s Advocate’ and of course Michael Corleone in both Godfather movies (yes, I said both on purpose).
Pacino could write songs about anything, or even nothing, but with a Kool Keith delivery, the general public would eat it up. Or laugh, they’d probably laugh actually.
#13) Robert De Niro: Has De Niro’s last string of (frankly) embarrassing roles damaged his street cred? Maybe a little.
Is he still Robert De Niro?
Absolutely. After you’ve made ‘Raging Bull’ and ‘Taxi Driver’ you’re allowed as many ‘Bad Grandpa’s as you like.
A rap group with De Niro, Pacino, Freeman and Jones would (for better or worse) be the most entertaining live performance I can think of.
It’s kinda depressing that I’ll never actually get to see that. Then again, if you’ve seen ‘The Intern’ you know De Niro is pretty much down for whatever, never say never.
#12) Dwayne Johnson: The most electrifying man in sports entertainment to date, the Brahma Bull, The People’s Champion, ‘The Tooth fairy’…
The Rock is very possibly the most charismatic person on this list thus far. Where most of these people are well known and respected for their roles, the Rock is pretty universally known as a stand-up guy.
While not necessarily known for his clean image, for whatever reason I could see Johnson with a rap career in the vein of Will Smith, post Fresh Prince days.
It’s high time we got a new New Year’s Eve anthem without all the dated references; The Rock is the man to do it. This pick isn’t as out of left field as it may seem, The Rock has shown on numerous occasions that he has a talent for music.
He was even on a few of the WWF(E)’s albums in the late 90s early 00s. If anyone could successfully transition from athlete, to actor, to rapper, it’d be him. That said, it’s entirely possible that no one can transition from athlete, to actor, to rapper, so this could also be a horrible train-wreck.
#11) Vin Diesel: Let’s start with the name. Choosing a stage name like Vin Diesel guarantees one of two professions, pornstar or rapper, as far as I know, he’s not a pornstar.
Now to the voice. Close your eyes and picture Vin rapping in the style of DMX, ‘Vin gon give it to ya’ (that actually works for the whole pornstar thing too). Now the look. Look at Vin Diesel. Now the persona.
Vin Diesel has pretty much cemented his tough guy persona over the years. So much so that you might be surprised to find out that he’s kind of a huge nerd. He regularly plays Dungeons and Dragons and seems rather fond of Street Sharks toys.
That would actually work in his favor as nerd rappers have grown in popularity as nerd culture has become more mainstream. What’s more, the guy knows how to make a lot out of a little.
He had 4 words in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and made an emotionally compelling performance out of it.
Look at the ‘Fast and the Furious’ series, it started out about street racers; now they are basically car Special Forces super heroes. If Vin made the song for Fast 8, I wouldn’t be mad at him.
#10) Leonardo DiCaprio: In the past few years, Leo’s personal life has garnered almost as much attention as his film work. Whether or not that is fair, and whether or not it’s really any of our business is up for debate elsewhere.
The reason people seem so interested however, is because when he’s not eating buffalo hearts and sleeping in horse carcasses, he’s living a non-stop version of the ‘Big Pimpin’ video.
There is arguably no actor who lives a life closer to the aspirational one depicted in many rap songs, as Leonardo DiCaprio.
Plus, the dude is a straight up chameleon. If Nolan or Scorsese told him to become a rapper as research for a movie, you can bet he would be dropping banger after banger.
It’s hard to pin down what his flow would be like. As always I lean more towards what would be funny over what would actually be good, but I think DiCaprio could successfully pull off either. But just imagine his videos.
If his life is already like music video, imagine what his music videos would be like; definitely bar raising stuff. Top it off with the fact that the guy is heavy into helping the environment, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for conscientious rapper who still knows how to have a good time.
#9) Kevin Hart: Let’s get serious for a second. I would love to see Kevin Hart drop a 100% not a joke hardcore hip hop album. Everyone would think that it was a joke until they heard it and it goes hard. Real subject matter; no front, no gimmick, just Hart baring his soul.
That would be the funniest joke he could ever do. He wouldn’t have to ever perform it or tour with it. It would just be something that everyone knows exists and something that everyone knows he’s capable of. It would exist in a vacuum, which would make it all the funnier.
Just look at all his movies, he’s the wacky side kick to people like Ice Cube and The Rock, he could have track about how he doesn’t want to always play the clown, but his physique has forced him into those roles.
The best part is that no one would be able to tell if he was serious or not. It would make people look at his career in a whole new light. Kevin Hart, with a Kendrick flow, rapping 100% seriously (at least seemingly so) that sounds super funny to me, but I’m weird…
#8) Idris Elba: Were my finances in a better place, I would personally executive produce an album featuring Elba as Stringer Bell from The Wire, though randomly still with his British accent.
This one might be cheating, I know that Elba is already a DJ and also dabbled in producing for an album inspired by his show Luther (that would be the second rap album I’d executive produce), but I don’t know if he actually did any rhyming on any of the tracks.
I’m imagining a huskier sounding Slick Rick, suave but commanding. The guy is a frontrunner to be the next James Bond after all, I feel like rap music has lost that debonair quality over the years. I can see his concerts now, always performing in a tuxedo, with a cocktail like a member of the Rat Pack or something.
It would be a sound that people had never really heard before. I don’t think this one would be as funny as the others on the list, but I actually think it would be cool to hear.
Or he could go the more “street” route and be a more famous Funky DL (look him up if you’ve never heard of him, he’s dope).
#7) Ryan Reynolds: Ryan Reynolds has one last chance to jumpstart his career before everyone pronounced it dead, and boy did he hit it out of the motherlovin’ park with Deadpool.
While it may grow creatively stagnant, Reynolds could likely play Deadpool for the rest of his career and be golden.
Now it’s usually tacky and forced when an actor makes an album as a character as opposed to as themselves, (regardless of what I said in the last entry) but if there were ever a character that lent itself to that kind of thing it would be Deadpool.
He’s shameproof and made for self-promotion. If Deadpool were to make an album it would have to be something either entirely out of the box, like Mongolian Throat Singing, or rap. For the record, when I pitch these albums for laughs, they are predicated on the albums being good.
Lazy humor isn’t funny, the better the album is, aside from being a joke, the funnier the joke. Look at that hamburger helper mixtape that came out a few months ago, everyone was talking about it because it was fire.
I think on a more real level, Ryan Reynolds would be up for the challenge as well, most of wit and humor from the movie actually came from him as this was a passion project of his.
The highest grossing R rated passion project in history, with the exception (somewhat ironically) of the Passion of the Christ. Bottom line, D Piddy would probably drop bangers.
#6) Johnny Depp: Johnny Depp seems so bored with his own success. After linking up with Tim Burton he started doing pretty much only weird roles, playing caricatures more than characters. At this point he seems to have just gotten lost in the makeup.
Who is the real Johnny Depp; he seems to have a sense of humor, but also seems super serious all the time. I would use that same description for a lot of rappers these days.
I know he has/had a rock band, but what if he just dropped mixtape outta nowhere. Old-school Kanye soul beats backing him up. He wouldn’t be playing Jack Sparrow or the Mad Hatter, or whatever the hell he was in Tusk; just Johnny Depp, doing his thing with a Lupe flow. It might revitalize his career and push it into the next phase.
#5) Taylor Kitsch: Man oh man this guy has had a rough go of it in Hollywood. After being the breakout star of the hugely popular (critically, if not commercially) Friday Night Lights TV show, he seemed primed for movie stardom.
Sadly it was not to be, and certainly not for lack of trying. Every movie he was in seemed to flounder, no matter how good it seemed on paper.
The worst part is that he wasn’t even the worst part of these movies; in fact, he was usually the best part. John Carter of Mars was primed to be the start of a sci-fi/fantasy franchise, flop.
X – Men Origins: Wolverine, everybody loves Wolverine, and he’s playing Gambit, everyone loves Gambit, flop. Battleship…uh, flop.
Kitsch has become box office poison, and that should be his rap name. He’s known for the whole country Texan thing (despite being Canadian) so I suggest he runs with that, get a Paul Wall thing going on.
Come to think of it, he was even in the crappy season of True Detective, which was amazing before he got there. Honestly, I just feel bad for the dude, and hope that he finds success somewhere. Texas Forever (even though he’s Canadian)
#4) Neil Patrick Harris: This one is gonna seem like a major stretch unless you’ve seen all of the Harold and Kumar movies.
Hardcore, drug-riddled NPH is easily the best part of all of those movies, which is kind of amazing, since he dies in the second one.
Going against type is always a big hit with audiences. For reference, check out Natalie Portman’s digital short on SNL. An aggressive NPH rapping about hardcore nonsense would sell out like hotcakes.
This one wouldn’t have to be played as straight as the other comically against type albums on the list, just because the concept is so preposterous. I legitimately can’t imagine what the videos would be like, but I know they would be extravagant, and hilarious.
If somehow they let him open up the Tony awards with an explicit ass anthem or the joys of lean, it would be an event that people would talk about for years to come. He seems like the kinda guy who would get the joke. I’m kinda reaching with this one, I know.
#3) Daniel Craig: There’s already a (likely) future James Bond on the list, why not add the current one. Maybe I’m the only one who noticed, but in Quantum of Solace specifically, Craig’s Bond was the thuggest it has ever been and probably will ever be.
He watched his homie take a couple bullets for him, looted his corpse and then threw it in the garbage. It was some of the most coldblooded stuff I’ve seen committed to film, and James Bond regularly kills dozens of people in his movies.
I was never able to look at Craig’s Bond the same way. Also there just aren’t enough mainstream (read: popular in America) British rappers out there. Craig has gone on record saying he’s sick of being Bond, where do you go from there? To the studio that’s where.
Honorable Mention: Before I get to the last two, which were no joke, the first two names that came to me when I sat down to think about this; I have a last nonsensical entry.
Terry Crews: If you don’t know Terry Crews by name, where have you been?
He went from being the tough looking black guy in all kinds of movies, to carving out a decent spot for himself as a comedian in his own right.
He’s huge and can be intimidating when he wants to be…I’d love to see him make a Drake style album.
#2) Denzel Washington: Training Day. Do I really need to say any more than that?
I’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. Despite how it might end, for 3/4s of the movie Denzel is the smoothest baddest mofo to grace the screen.
He’s the epitome of a hustler and he’s supposed to be a Cop! Social commentary on police corruption aside, Detective Alonzo is the embodiment of the lifestyle most often portrayed in rap music.
All Denzel would have to do is channel it into rhyme form and he’d have a built in audience ready to eat it up. “He runs the rap game, ya’ll just live here.” I could keep going with the quotes, but I think you get the point.
#1) Samuel L Jackson: No question, Samuel L Jackson would make the best rapper.
Why, because while Sam Jackson definitely didn’t invent anger, he damn sure perfected it. He doesn’t even have to be angry to be angry, that’s how good at being angry he is.
He could say anything he wants and I’d buy his album, it doesn’t even have to rhyme. Sam Jackson is one of the only people on the planet who can be angry and cool at the same damn time.
It doesn’t even make sense, but he does it; because he’s Sam Jackson. Sam Jackson is the father you never wanted, but always enjoyed watching yell at his kids (jokes, I’m sure Sam Jackson would’ve been a lovely father (Unless his kids stepped out of line, then all hell would’ve broken loose)).
Aside from just being endlessly entertaining, Jackson has done just about everything under the Sun as far as acting goes, because he’s in pretty much every movie.
He’s been in more movies that you’ve never heard of than most other actors will ever be in period. The perspective his lyrics could have would be monumental. He’s just an all-around bad Motherf**ker.
Thank you for joining me on this journey of obnoxiousness. Some of these entries were more sincere than others but I think we can all agree that they would all be entertaining.
Which famous male actors do you think would make awesome rappers? Can any established actors make the transition from film to rap and be taken seriously? Aside from Sam Jackson, because of course he can.