Like most of us, artists often dream of what life would be like if they’d pursued another career. On Monday (May 10) news broke that J. Cole, a lifelong basketball fanatic, was on the roster of an African Basketball League. The move makes sense: Just before the release of his 2014 album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, the rapper said he almost left music behind to try his hand at the NBA.
“The dream of playing professionally began to make its way back to the front of my mind,” Cole said in an essay for The Players’ Tribune. “I was approaching 31, four years older than I thought I would be, but still possessing most of the athleticism I had in my 20’s.” He told himself, “‘If you’re gonna do this, now is the time.”’”
Today, we’re looking at music stars who left the world of Hip-Hop behind to pursue other careers. While some may still drop a song or feature every so often, they’ve all carved a nice lane for themselves outside the studio.
1. Joe BuddenSource:Getty
The New Jersey rapper had early success in rap with his breakout single, “Pump It Up.” But what followed was years of bad deals, public feuds and brief run on Reality TV. Nowadays, Budden is the frontman of The Joe Budden Podcast. His show has built a huge following and secured deals reported to be in the millions.
2. Andre 3000Source:Getty
One half of the legendary Outkast duo, Andre 3000 can be heard on a guest verse here and there and he’s good for a single when the mood strikes, but for the most part Andre has left his run as 3 Stacks in the past. Now you can catch him on film and television. He played Jimi Hendrix in the film, All Is By My Side, and in 2020 he took on the role of Fredwynn on the AMC series, Dispatches from Elsewhere.
3. Mahershala AliSource:GlobalGrind
Many years before taking home the Oscar for Moonlight, Hollywood actor Mahershala Ali was a rapper who went by the name Prince Ali. Under the moniker, he two albums in the late 2000s before taking his talents to Hollywood. Not a bad choice: In addition to appearing in films alongside Brad Pitt, Ryan Gosling and Matthew McConaughey, Ali is set to take on the role of Blade in the big budget reboot.
When Houston took the national spotlight in the early 2000s, Chamillionaire capitalized on the opportunity and put his unique style of rap on the national radar. And while you may not hear his name in rap circles as much now, he’s kept himself very busy. Heavily invested in the future, Cham has earned big bucks in Silicon Valley, as he puts his time and efforts into the tech scene.
5. Master PSource:Getty
What hasn’t Master P done? The Rapper/CEO has sold clothes, cellphones, movies, snacks and even had a brief stint in the NBA. Though his time with the Charlotte Hornets was brief, his entrepreneur spirit possesses a seemingly infinite number of ways to earn a dollar.
6. Ice-TSource:(Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
One of Hip-Hop’s original “Gangstar Rappers,” Ice-T has been acting longer than he’s been rapping at this point. Though he has the classic film New Jack City under his belt, Ice-T’s run on the popular NBC series Law & Order has cemented him as one of television’s coolest detectives.
7. Mark Wahlberg (Marky Mark)Source:WENN
Remember Marky Mark & The Funky Bunch? Mark Wahlberg hopes not. Though he’s managed to distance himself from his early career as a Boston rapper, his big record “Good Vibrations,” still gets spins at funky Vegas nightclubs. Nowadays, he’s one of Hollywood’s biggest stars.
The internet never forgets, Mark.
8. Queen LatifahSource:WENN
After bursting on the rap scene in the 80s, Queen Latifah quickly proved she was as talented as she was confident. By the mid-90s, she’d taken on television courtesy of the popular series Living Single and conquered the big screen in Set It Off. The Queen will still spit a few bars every so often, but her main hustle now is Hollywood.
9. 50 CentSource:WENN
G-Unit’s run in the early 2000s was undeniable: Albums, clothes, worldwide tours and even a video game all helped make 50’s crew one of the biggest brands in Hip-Hop. Since then, Fif has fallen out with a few G-Unit members, but that hasn’t stopped him from success. His website, ThisIs50.com, remains a popular rap blog, and his business ventures include everything from sports drinks and liquor. When he’s not trolling on social media, he’s brainstorming ideas for television, as his series Power was a massive hit and has spawned several spinoffs.
10. MC HammerSource:Getty
Hammer’s rags-to-riches and then back to rags story has become the stuff of Hip-Hop legend. His music run led to millions is album sales and huge endorsement deals, but he managed to blow it all through bad money management. His story, however, ends on a high note: Now older and wiser, Hammer has re-emerged as a savvy businessman. He’s quietly been making a fortune in the tech world for years.