The Emmy Awards are typically reserved for the most accomplished thespians in Hollywood. However, some hip-hop stars have been able to infiltrate the fold.
Several rappers have expanded their creative pallets to focus on securing roles on the small screen. Here are six rap superstars who seamlessly transitioned from the mic to the Emmy stage.
Donald Glover (Childish Gambino)
Donald Glover is arguably one of the most talented entertainers of our generation. The multi-talented artist — known by his stage name, Childish Gambino — stands as a trailblazer in music and television. Donald made history by winning multiple Emmy Awards for his groundbreaking series Atlanta and Swarm, where his skills as a writer, actor, and producer were on full display.
Donald has 11 Emmy Award nominations and two wins. His Emmy victories include Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series and Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series.
Acclaimed rapper and actor Common has made significant strides in the television realm, earning praise for his contributions to several projects. C
Common won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for "Letter to the Free" from the documentary series "13th." The track highlighted his ability to use his lyrical prowess to address important social issues. His win at the 2017 ceremony made him the first rapper to win an Emmy, a Grammy, and an Oscar.
In recent years, 50 Cent’s music career has taken a back seat to his television ventures. His first Emmy win was for his involvement in the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI halftime show. 50 – along with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem, and Kendrick Lamar – took home the trophy for Outstanding Variety Special (Live) in 2022.
Dave Chappelle is known for his no-holds-barred stand-up comedy routines and the outlandish Chappelle's Show, but some might be surprised to learn that the funnyman has also been featured in several rap songs.
In 2023, Dave made his Billboard Hot 100 debut thanks to his feature on Travis Scott’s PARASAIL. A year earlier, Dave provided the foreword for Killer Mike’s song, Run, which featured Young Thug. Dave also provided a spoken word piece for Big Sean that was included on his 2020 album, Detroit 2.
RZA, a founding member of the legendary Wu-Tang Clan, has also left his mark on the television landscape.
The artist-turned-composer earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Original Main Title Theme Music for his work on the Hulu series Wu-Tang: An American Saga.
RZA did not take home the award, as the honor went to Nathan Barr, but the nomination was proof of the hip-hop icon’s creative abilities.
LL Cool J
Like RZA, LL Cool J did not secure an Emmy Award, but his contributions to Hollywood are undeniable.
From 2016 to 2018, he received three consecutive nominations for Outstanding Structured Reality Program thanks to his work on Lip Sync Battle. LL also received an Emmy nomination in 2012 for Outstanding Special Class Programs after serving as the host of the Grammys.
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