As tipped here in December, rapper Mos Def will take over one of the lead roles in the Broadway play "Topdog/Underdog" beginning in April. The artist (real name: Dante Smith) replaces Don Cheadle in t

As tipped here in December, rapper Mos Def will take over one of the lead roles in the Broadway play "Topdog/Underdog" beginning in April. The artist (real name: Dante Smith) replaces Don Cheadle in the play, which is the story of two brothers named Lincoln and Booth (Mos Def plays Booth) who are haunted by their past. "This is one of my favorite plays ever. It's very modern and has a unique voice," the Brooklyn, N.Y., native says.

"A lot of people don't know I was acting before I started my music career," he continues. "It takes a lot less time to get recognized as musician than as an actor. When you're a musician, you're always the star. When you're an actor, you're part of a cast of many, and your first movie usually doesn't make you a star."

On the film front, Mos Def will be seen in the upcoming movies "Showtime" (with Robert De Niro and Eddie Murphy, due March 15 in U.S. theaters) and "Brown Sugar" (with Taye Diggs, Method Man, and Queen Latifah). He recently had a small role in "Monster's Ball" alongside Billy Bob Thornton and Halle Berry.

Mos Def continues to busy himself with the group Black Jack Johnson, whose members also include Living Colour's Will Calhoun and Doug Wimbish, Parliament Funkadelic's Bernie Worrell, and Doctor Know of Bad Brains. The group embarked on a short U.S. tour last month; its debut album is due sometime this year via Rawkus.