Quick. Try to think of a rapper who dropped a bomb when he or she transitioned into acting. Tough, isn't it? Most have found at least moderate success as thespians. A few even have become cinematic superstars. Here are our magnificent seven.
Strength: An easygoing charm that allows him to be a bit of a bad boy while saving the day.
Signature role: Agent J, "Men in Black."
What's missing: With the exception of "Hitch," the Fresh Prince hasn't had much luck with on-screen romance. Somebody show him some love.
Strength: A brutal cockiness and an even more brutal Boston accent. Say hello to his mother -- at your own risk.
Signature role: Dignam, "The Departed."
What's missing: More straight-ahead dramas that don't require him to beat up everyone in sight.
Strength: The ability to bounce between comedy and drama, sometimes in the same movie.
Signature role: Cleopatra Sims, "Set It Off."
What's missing: A keener eye for material. Latifah hasn't had a sharp script since 2007's "Hairspray." Did you see her and Dolly Parton in "Joyful Noise"? Neither did anyone else.
Strength: A don't-mess-with-me attitude that makes him as dangerous as a hand grenade with a shaky pin.
Signature role: Scotty Appleton, "New Jack City."
What's missing: A sense of humor. We won't think of you as less than a man, Ice, if you crack a smile. Promise.
Strength: An almost poetic presence and intelligence in the smallest of roles.
Signature role: Brother Sam, "Dexter."
What's missing: Leading roles. His acclaimed performances on the New York stage haven't resulted in top billing at the movies -- yet.
Strength: Marketing smarts. Long before Tyler Perry, he was serving up urban comedies to largely ignored black audiences.
Signature role: Craig Jones, "Friday."
What's missing: True grit. Cube's focus on getting laughs almost makes us forget his emotional turn in "Boyz in the Hood."
Strength: Rat Pack cool.
Signature role: Walter Lee Younger, "A Raisin in the Sun."
What's missing: Experience. Combs has only done three major movies and his TV roles are often little more than cameos.