Surprising Celebs Who Tried To Sing Or Rap Back In The Day
We may know them for their television or film roles or even as a star athlete but did you know these 15 celebrities actually pursued another career as rappers and singers before they achieved fame for their better known talents? Luckily, none of them quit their day job.
Romany Malco, Jr.
Before Romany Malco, Jr. became an actor, he tried his hand at rapping. After graduating from high school, the former “Weeds” star formed a rap group called College Boyz with his buddies and relocated from New York to California to follow his dreams to become a rap star. The group landed a record deal with Virgin Records and had a local hit with “Victim of the Ghetto.” Malco is falsely credited for doing the raps for animated MC Skat Cat in “Opposites Attract” with Paula Abdul. Malco did however pen the lyrics for the animated rapper.
Tika Sumpter is lighting up the small screen now as the devious and conniving Candace Young on Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots” on Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network. But before Sumpter was bit by the acting bug, the Queens native had a budding singing career as part of the group Twise. As the daughter of an opera singer, music has always been a part of Sumpter’s life. She even landed a record deal but after she joined the cast of ABC’s “One Life to Live” as Layla Williamson, singing took a backseat. Her background in singing came in handy for her role as Delores Anderson in the 2012 remake of Sparkle.
At the tender age of 11, Lindsay Lohan stole America’s hearts playing double duty in the 1998 film The Parent Trap. After starring in back to back commercially successful movies, Lohan decided to switch gears and she released her debut album in 2004. Speak was such a hit the album went platinum and Lohan dropped another one a year later. A Little More Personal (Raw) wasn’t as popular as her first album and Lohan refocused her sights back on her acting career. That is until her numerous run-ins with the law got in the way of that.
Kobe Bryant grew up idolizing and wanting to be just like Michael Jordan, but unlike Mike Bryant also wanted to be a rap star. In high school he was part of a rap group and soon after joining the NBA, Bryant was trying his hand at rap again. For three weeks during the summer of 1998, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar moved in with hip-hop executive Steve Stoute. By day he worked on his jump shot and by night lived in the studio. Enlisting the help of a very young Tyra Banks, Bryant dropped his first single “K.O.B.E.” The single did so poorly, his record label Sony decided to scrap the whole album.
Kobe isn’t the only NBA superstar who wanted to be a rapper. He may be having a hard time getting his team to win a game as the head coach of the Brooklyn Nets now, but in 1994, all Jason Kidd was concerned with was his rap album. Off of Basketball’s Best Kept Secret was his first single “What The Kidd Did,” where the future Hall of Fame point guard rapped he was “surrounded by rumors like a Timex social.” Despite his best efforts, Kidd’s album was a major flop. Luckily, he had basketball to fall back on.
Brian Austin Green
Brian Austin Green became a household name starring in the teen soap opera “Beverly Hills 90210” in the 90’s but during his ten-year stint on the show, Green decided to branch out into music as a rapper. Dropping his middle name and going by Brian Green, he dropped his one and only album in 1996. Titled One Stop Carnival, the 14-track album was produced by The Pharcyde’s Slimkid3. Realizing that rapping wasn’t his strong suit, Green returned to acting.
He was Bud Bundy, a loser that struggled to get laid on the hit sitcom “Married…with Children,” but in real life David Faustino was a successful actor. During the show’s ten-year run, Faustino’s alter rap ego D’Lil decided it was a great time to drop his debut album. In 1992, D’Lil released Balistyx with the single “I Told Ya” but few people heard what D’Lil was saying. Needless to say his album tanked and D’Lil’s short-lived rap career quickly fizzled out.
He pitied the fool as the hired muscle B. A. Baracus on the “A-Team,” and in real life the Mohawk-wearing actor had a soft spot for the youth. In 1984, Mr. T released Mr. T’s Commandments, his first rap album that encouraged children to stay in school, listen to their parents and just say no to drugs. That same year, he followed that up with Mr. T’s Be Somebody… Or Be Somebody’s Damn Fool. Apparently, never turning down a check, Mr. T also tried his hand at wrestling as Hulk Hogan’s tag team partner for 1985’s Wrestlemania. They won the match.
Like his “Diff’rent Strokes,” catch phrase was “What you talking about, Willis?” someone should’ve asked Gary Coleman “What you rapping about, Gary?” Teaming up with his best friend, Michael Jackson impersonator Dion Mial, the two appeared on “The Wil Shriner Show” in the 80’s to perform “The Outlaw and the Indian.” Dressed as a rapping cowboy, Coleman later explained why he decided to rock the mc. “I never had aspirations to be a rock star,” he said. “It was a performance to me, something different. I enjoyed it.”
Scarlett Johansson will be noticed on any red carpet, but fans may not recognize the blonde bombshell as a singer. Taking a break from acting in 2008, the Academy award-winning actress released three albums within a span of 18 months. While much of the albums consisted of cover songs, Johansson has recorded original songs, one of which landed on the soundtrack for a documentary. Johansson also teamed up with Pete Yorn for a joint album.
Bruce Willis is one of Hollywood’s leading action heroes but the 58-year-old has a softer side that he tapped into for his 1987 debut album. The Return of Bruno consisted of R&B songs with The Temptations, Booker T. Jones and Ruth Pointer providing background vocals. Peaking at the 14th slot on the Billboard charts, the Die Hard actor’s debut album was so success, he put out two more albums. Luckily Willis hung up the mic for good and returned to acting full time.
Jennifer Love Hewitt
Jennifer Love Hewitt got her start in acting at an early age by starring in commercials. By the age of 12, when most pre-teens were going through puberty, Hewitt was releasing her debut album in Japan. After landing a role in Fox’s “Party of Five,” Hewitt signed a deal with Atlantic Records and put out another album. Although she has been inactive in the music industry for almost a decade, Hewitt has put out four albums and is rumored to be trying her hand at country music.
Terrence Howard may be known for his long and extensive movie roles — and his messy personal life — but few people know about his singing career. In 2008, the “Hustle & Flow” star put out his debut album Shine Through It. Inspired by his past life experiences and his children, the 11-track album was written and produced by Howard himself. Recently, Howard tied the knot for the third time to a woman he dated for only a month. Maybe he’ll have some new experiences to sing about and put out another album.
Bill Cosby is known as America’s favorite television dad but long before creating the groundbreaking series “The Cosby Show,” the comedian was moonlighting as a singer. In 1967, Cosby released the musical album Silver Throat: Bill Cosby Sings. Backed by the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band, the album consists mostly of cover songs from Jimmy Reed and a revised version of Ray Charles’ “I Got A Woman” with new comedic lyrics. Silver Throat was Cosby’s first singing album but it wouldn’t be his last. Cosby released 15 albums that showcased his singing abilities.
Melissa Joan Hart
A four-year-old Melissa Joan Hart got her start in showbiz starring in commercials. By the time she was 15, Hart landed the starring role in Nickelodeon’s “Clarissa Explains It All.” As Clarissa, Hart recorded and released two albums. When she landed a role on “Sabrina The Teenage Witch,” Hart enlisted the help of her friend Britney Spears to remix “(You Drive Me) Crazy” and to thank her for helping the song crack the top ten list, Spears was given a walk on role on the hit sitcom.