Rappers’ Most Unexpected Non-Musical Side Projects

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If you find yourself asking, “Where is Ja Rule?” as often I do, you might be pleased to know he’s got a new movie out called I’m in Love With a Church Girl (it’s about exactly what you think). But wait! There’s more! During a recent interview with SiriusXM’s Food Talk, Ja revealed he’s interested in writing a microwave cookbook. Apparently, two years in prison did wonders for his microwaving technique, and this got me thinking about all the other weird side projects rappers have taken on in recent years. Click through to learn about some of hip hop stars’ most unexpected pastimes.

2 Chainz: Cookbook

In fact, Ja Rule is not the only rapper to publish a cookbook. In addition to his new album B.O.A.T.S 2 #Metime, 2 Chainz made a 28-page cookbook called #Mealtime, and the food honestly looks pretty great. Grub Street did a great roundup of the cookbook’s best excerpts when it came out last month.

Coolio: Cooking Show

2 Chainz is far from the first rapper to release a cookbook. In 2009, Grammy winner Coolio also released his own cookbook called Cookin’ With Coolio: 5-Star Meals at a 1-Star Price. The book eventually inspired a web series of the same name on My Damn Channel, and Coolio plans to make even more cookbooks. Watch the first episode of Cookin’ With Coolio above, where the rapper will teach you how to make caprese.

Flo Rida: Theremins

Forgotten techno rapper Flo Rida recently came out with a line of, um, theremins for the debt-riddled company Beamz. The CEOs hope that Flo Rida’s endorsement will keep them out of the red; it probably won’t, but hey, you never know.

T-Pain: Auto-Tune App

Sometime during the height of T-Pain’s popularity, he decided to cash in on the growing appeal of Auto-Tune by making an app to help you sing like T-Pain. For his demo video (above), T-Pain got Soulja Boy, Ludacris, and ton of other rappers to try out his app. You can still buy I Am T-Pain on iTunes for $2.99.

Birdman: Oil Rigs

In addition to his careers as rapper and co-founder of Cash Money Records, Birdman claims to be an honest-to-god oil tycoon. A few years ago, the rapper said he stumbled upon oil in Oklahoma, like some kind of old-timey prospector, and the company Bronald Oil & Gas was born. Bronald came under fire when oil officials from Texas and Oklahoma questioned its legitimacy, as no one could find any records of the company’s existence. RapRadar had a video of the oil rig a few years back, but it has since been deleted, and the status of Bronald Oil & Gas remains a mystery. Birdman used to have a tattoo of an oil rig on his head (pictured above), but he has since covered it up with a red star. Is this an admission that the oil rig never actually existed? Will we ever know?!?

Ludacris: Restaurants

Ludacris plans to open a restaurant in the Atlanta airport called Chicken-N-Beer, named after his 2003 album. It’s been in the works for awhile now, but it’s set to open in ATL’s Concourse D by the end of 2013. Ludacris previously owned a pan-Asian restaurant called Straits in midtown Atlanta, but he closed it to work on Chicken-N-Beer.

Styles P: Juice Bar

In 2011, Ruff Ryders member Styles P opened a juice bar called Juices for Life in the Bronx. Turns out Styles P has been an avid juicer for over a decade and apparently hangs out at juice bars, so opening his own place seemed to come pretty naturally. Juices for Life appears to still be in business, and it gets good Yelp reviews, so there’s no harm in trying it.

Snoop Dogg: Sticker App

A few months ago, the endlessly perplexing cartoon rapper Snoop Dogg released an app where you can buy Snoop Dogg-related stickers to put on your photos. Among the items available for purchase in the app is a $99.99 golden blunt. Somehow, the sticker has been purchased “at least 15 times,” presumably by rich kids on Instagram. Brand manager Nick Adler reacted to the sales: “There’s no poetry behind it, it’s just golden. I was shocked. But hey, this is a new world.” Snoopify is available for iOS and Android, so if you feel up for it, by all means, go ahead.

LL Cool J: Personal Trainer

Not one to do things half-assed, LL Cool J one-upped 2 Chainz and Coolio by creating a diet, exercise plan, and general guide to life. If you ever hoping to hire LL as a life coach, look no further than LL Cool J’s Platinum 360 Diet and Lifestyle. In addition to his more comprehensive lifestyle guide, LL Cool J has published multiple workout books.

DMX: “Urban Dogwear”

About ten years ago, Amusing Diversions, Inc. hired DMX to promote a dog clothing line called Boomer 129. This proved to be a disastrous investment for absolutely everyone involved, as Amusing Diversions had no idea DMX had plead guilty to animal cruelty charges when they chose him to be the face of Boomer 129. Amusing Diversions got in touch with DMX after they saw ads in which he encouraged people to be kind to dogs — ads that were, in fact, imposed upon him as punishment for the mistreatment of his 14 pit bulls. Sales for Boomer 129 predictably tanked, and Amusing Diversions sued DMX for his failure to promote the line. While such a lawsuit may have seemed a bit ill-advised considering the circumstances, DMX lost the case and was ordered to pay Amusing Diversions $242,000. The rapper filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, so it doesn’t look like this is ending well.

Wyclef Jean: Haitian Politics

In mid-2010, Haitian-born singer, rapper, and producer Wyclef Jean announced that he was running for president of earthquake-ravaged Haiti. Just weeks after his announcement, a group of Haitian election officials ruled that Jean was ineligible for the presidency. The committee didn’t say what inspired their ruling, but it seemed partly due to the fact that Jean hadn’t lived in Haiti for the five years required to run. In the meantime, Jean claimed to raise funds for Haiti with a charity called Yéle, but the organization was investigated for fraud in the years following Jean’s bid for presidency. Yéle allegedly spent millions of dollars worth of donations on their own offices, and many of Jean’s promises to Haiti were left unrealized. It seems fair to say Jean would absolutely not have made a good president, but then again, didn’t he write a song about that?

Kanye West: Clothing Design

Kanye’s always been incredibly enthusiastic about fashion, so it’s not at all surprising that he’s made forays into clothing design. It was a bit strange, however, when he released a $120 plain white T-shirt for his recent collaboration with A.P.C. Actually, never mind, that makes perfect sense.