11. Michael Ealy
|where you know him from: the sexy chef with potential in Think Like a Man
Ealy approaches each oh his endeavours with an almost spell-binding quiet dominance. He’s not over-the-top but somehow you can’t take your eyes off him. And despite his recent mainstream popularity, I still don’t know much about this guy. The choices he’s made as an actor show that he takes his craft pretty seriously. Wiki says he’s from Silver Spring, MD. But that’s about as much information as I could find. So you’ll just have to live with the fact that he’s on this list because he’s forget-your-first-name-stammer-over-your-words sexy. And the mystery just enhances my attraction!
10. Idris Elba
|where you know him from: the captain with common sense in Prometheus
The only thing better than tall, dark, and handsome is tall, dark, and handsome with a British accent. This half Sierra Leonian half Ghanaian prince quickly captivated Hollywood’s eyes and mine too. It’s no wonder there’s talk that Elba will be the next James Bond–though that’s been a historically white role. Does Elba have enough swagger to break the color barriers? Barbara Broccoli sure thinks so. And I guess the rest of us will have to keep watching him to find out.
9. Young Jeezy
|where you know him from: as the tenured professor of Thug Motivation 101
Somewhere between “Soul Survivor” and “Lose My Mind”, I fell in like with Young Jeezy (née Jay Jenkins). There’s just something about this man. Jenkins carries himself differently than the average sellout rapper. Even his spat with Rick Ross was an actual fight as opposed to some long drawn out radio beef to sell albums. I’m no advocate for violence but if you’re going to talk about it, be about it. Jenkins seems to get that. So I still get regular-guy-off-the-street vibes from him despite his increasing celebrity. I’m not sure if that’s humility or just another rapper trying to “keep it real”. But it works for him. And it works for me.
|where you know him from: for coining the Year of the Gentleman
Ne-Yo, also known as Shaffer Smith, may have singlehandedly restored artistry to the R&B industry–particularly when it comes to songwriting. When he writes something, whether you like it or not, you know he worked hard on it. His content is refreshingly original and well thought out. And it’s resulted in some of the best Love (and baby-making) music of this new generation. Pair this crooner’s lyrics with his impeccable sense of fashion and you’ve got a class act. It gives me the sense that this self-proclaimed gentleman makes a great Lover and friend even outside the studio.
7. Justin Timberlake
|where you know him from: as the time poor fugitive Will Salas
There’s just something about a white boy who can successfully rock a fade. From his music to the big screen, Timberlake has always had a bit more soul than average. That cool might explain why GQ named him the “most stylish man in America”, he ended up lip locking with fifteen-years-his-elder diva Janet Jackson, and he landed his way into this post. But his boyish good looks don’t seem to interfere at all with his talent or his ability to commit! Timberlake recently married long-time girlfriend Jessica Biel. Kudos to Mrs. Timberlake for snagging “the most eligible bachelor in the world”.
6. Andre 3000
|where you know him from: as the other half of the aquemini duo Outkast
Andre Benjamin has managed to dabble in a little bit of it all. Conscious rapping? Check. Acting? Check. Creating his own cartoon series? Check. Always adding his finesse and quite a bit of creativity, Benjamin is often hip-hop’s voice of reason. In 2008, he was the spokesperson for the Declare Yourself campaign encouraging people to vote. And he was later named “The World’s Sexiest Vegetarian Celebrity”. Not to mention he has a child with fellow soulfully political crooner, Erykah Badu. But above all else, I love him for being such an individual. Benjamin is clearly a one-a-kind artist with a cause. So wherever he’s leading, I’m following.
5. Derek Luke
|where you know him from: the sailor with the sordid past in Antwone Fisher
You’ve got to be a pretty amazing actor and person when the real Antwone Fisher calls you up and personally asks you to audition for the role of him in a movie. Then you really know you’re something special when your audition catches the attention of Denzel Washington. Luke bursts unto the scene with the maturity and grit of a veteran. He’s got a likability both on-screen and off that makes you want to take him home to mama. Hell he even turned Diddy into a likable character! But what I find most attractive is Luke’s positive way of embracing life. Things never came easy for Luke–including breaking into the acting business. But he got where he is through sheer determination, faith, and fearlessness. Luke is just as much a looker as he is a role model for young men in bad situations. So he’s got my heart!
4. Don Cheadle
|where you know him from: as the British bomber in the Ocean’s series
Though he first caught my eye as a brazen family man in the Jim Crow south in Rosewood, acting talent is just the beginning for powerhouse Donald Cheadle, Jr. He’s also a heralded poker player and a world-renowned humanitarian. He’s won peace awards for his efforts to help the citizens of Rwanda and Darfur. But if that doesn’t hook you then maybe his long-time relationship with “wife” Bridgid Coulter will. They’ve been together 22 years despite the pressures and temptations of Hollywood. Now THAT’S skill.
3. Marvin Gaye
|where you know him from: as the Prince of Soul
Marvin Gaye, born Marvin Gay, Jr., is one of the most unforgettable voices and figures this world has conjured up. From rape to child abuse, Gay suffered through much of his life. And his resilience shows in the haunting power of his musical delivery. He could sing soul because he lived soul. So much so, I just wish I could wrap Gay in my arms and give him a big hug. Many of his songs are still played religiously to this day–proving that in the midst of all that pain was a legend. Though depressed and suicidal, Gay spent the last moments of his life in an altercation with his father valiantly defending his mother. Gay lived a hard life but died a hero. And who can resist a hero?
2. Malcolm X
|where you know him from: as one of the most influential African-Americans ever
Never was there, and maybe never will there be, such a man as Malcolm X. Both universally Loved and hated, X had a way with words. And the man knew how to shake up a crowd. So it makes perfect sense that he wanted to be a lawyer. He taught black people not to shy away from their own humanity or their blackness. He accepted himself before it was cool to do so. Though he was no ladies man in his later years, I admire his courage, his bravery, and his unadulterated honesty. I Love X for growing, changing, and hoping the world would grow and change right along with him. The epitome of fearlessness and black manhood, it would’ve been an honor to stand by his side. The world is a sadder place without him.
1. Mos Def (Yasiin Bey)
|where you know him from: voice of the downlow gangsta rapper Gangstalicious of Boondocks
Dante Smith, or Yasiin Bey, or Mos Def–depending on which day you read this–has the total package. He has class, a sense of humor, fashion sense, understated good looks, charm, talent, a great career, and concern for the world and its problems. Whether its hosting Def Poetry Jam or starring in a film, everything he touches turns to gold. He’s been a narrator, a poet, a rapper, a stage actor, a screen actor, a philanthropist, an activist, and even made an appearance on Yo Gabba Gabba. His multi-faceted resume may be as long as Samuel L. Jackson’s movie list. But he also has no problem championing a political cause–in his music, on screen, and in his spare time. He got arrested in 2005 for performing his record “Katrina Clap” speaking out about the Bush administration’s handling of the Hurricane Katrina disaster. He’s got just the right amount of everything you want in a man. I’d be rather proud to call him mine…if I were–you know–single.