Few rappers have made the successful leap from music to the big screen, but Mos Def makes it look so easy. Born Dante Terrell Smith in Brooklyn, New York City on December 11, 1973, Mos has been rapping and acting since he was nine years old. He released his first single, 'Underground Magnetic' in 1996, which was a hit in the underground hip-hop scene. Mos paired up with Talib Kweli for the 1998 release Black Star, which is widely regarded as a hip-hop classic. Mos has since released four albums and has been nominated for three Grammy Awards for his music. The rapper was already acting before his music career geared up, beginning his acting career at age 14, in a made-for-TV movie, God Bless the Child. In 1994, he played Bill Cosby's crime-solving sidekick on the short-lived TV series The Cosby Mysteries. His film career really took off after he appeared in the 2002 romantic comedy Brown Sugar, receiving an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination for his role as Vivien Thomas, a man who helped pioneer modern heart surgery in the HBO biopic Something the Lord Made. In recent years, Mos has appeared in a wide variety of roles, from playing a hard-edged cop in The Woodsman with Kevin Bacon to 'Ford Prefect' in the film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He has also co-starred with Bruce Willis in 16 Blocks and made a number of appearances on Chappelle's Show and teamed up with Jack Black for the 2007 comedy Be Kind, Rewind. Any rappers that want to take on Hollywood should look no further for a role model than Mos Def.
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