It's really hard to become world famous for even one thing, so it feels like the universe is playing favorites when someone gets to be amazing in two completely unrelated fields. It just wouldn't be fair if Rihanna turned out to be a renowned chef, or if Benedict Cumberbatch could translate his height and neck-length into being the world's greatest giraffe impersonator.
But there are those who can become masters of all trades, making the rest of us look like a bunch of underachieving jackoffs. People like ...
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As one of the founding members of N.W.A., Ice Cube has enough street cred he doesn't even need to build four houses to put down a hotel. And that's not just a sweet Monopoly-based hype, either, because Ice Cube could actually build those houses for you.
Anita Bugge/WireImage/Getty Images
"I'll tear the roof off and design you a better one."
Before returning to Compton to revolutionize the rap game, Ice was melting away at the Phoenix Institute of Technology, studying architectural drafting. Architectural drafting, the art of figuring out angles, taught Ice that "everything starts with a plan." He credits this mentality of thinking ahead for his uncanny ability as an artist to jump from one great opportunity to the next -- like breaking up his crew to advance his rap game or getting hit in the crotch by a giant ax for a producer's credit. Figuring out the big picture has helped Ice immensely in becoming a superstar, but just because he was done with the architecture game didn't mean that the architecture game was done with him.
The New York Times
You don't fuck with architects; they'll bury you in a perfectly level foundation.
Los Angeles, despite its reputation as a sleeping smog monster, has some real beauty hidden around town, and we're not just talking about the street where Chris Evans' butt lives. In 2011, during a citywide exhibition of post-war artistry, The Getty wanted an L.A. native to celebrate its most iconic buildings. They looked no further than Ice Cube, who became their resident expert on Charles and Ray Eames, Hollywood architectural design legends. In the promo for the exhibit, Ice walks through one of the Eames buildings, explaining their iconic design choices with the ease of a tenured professor. "The Eames made structure and nature one," Professor Cube muses, adding: "This is going green 1949-style, bitch." If Ice Cube was in a classroom, everyone would be sitting on their chairs backwards.
"Michelle Pfeiffer ain't got shit on me."
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There's a long and proud history of musicians getting into martial arts because they think they look good in a kimono: Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger, even Frank Sinatra pretended he knew karate for that one movie. But in this pantheon of energetic music gods, the guy who could kick all of their asses is the laid-back, weed-smokin', country-singing octogenarian Willie Nelson.
And he wouldn't even break a sweat. Case in point:
"The 'Red Headed Stranger' came from all the opponents' blood
I'd have to wash out of my hair."
That's Nelson, at the tenderfoot age of 81, right around the time he got another black belt in the art of Gongkwon Yusul. In fact, "Shotgun Willie" has been hitting the mats for over half a century now, with several black belts to prove it. Back in the '60s, when he was a young up-and-comer in Nashville, Nelson got into Kung Fu -- which is a handy skill to have for anyone who's in charge of entertaining a bunch of drunken rednecks. But as his career picked up, Nelson let the fighting go for a little while. He returned to kicking people in the face in his 60s, when he enrolled his entire family in Taekwondo classes. Just like a dad, he got into it way more than his kids did, and when they dropped out after moving to Hawaii, Nelson kept at it. Hard.
Making him the most focused pothead in recorded history.
For over 20 years now, Nelson and Taekwondo master Sam Um have been training together, and have become the best of friends. Why best? Because a good friend would read your low-budget martial arts screenplay, but best friends will pay for and star in that junk. Nelson does owe a lot of his killer moves to Master Um. When Gongkwon Yusul, a Korean variant of Taekwondo, became a thing in 1996, Um was one of its first trainers stateside, and he gracefully accepted Nelson's pupilage. Initially, he was afraid to train Nelson, who was far older than any of his other pupils, but the country star had the kind of determination and underdog spirit you usually only find inside of a Karate Kid movie. To this day, Nelson trains almost every free moment that he has, even sending his tutor videos of him training when he's on tour. This dedication earned him a fifth-degree black belt in 2014 -- which means he now outranks even his former master, and he didn't even have to pull the guy's heart out or anything.
He'd later put those papers to good use.
One day, a scorned young woman will climb a thousand steps, hoping to train with the venerable grand master atop the hill. And when she reaches that top, she will find Willie Nelson, and he'll be high as balls.
There's a long-standing tradition of Americans taking a silly bit of Irish culture and pretending it's theirs just because one of their ancestors died in the potato famine. But what they never realize is that that kind of appropriation can cut both ways. Colin Farrell, the most Irish of Irish actors, can attest to that, because he spent a brief spell of his early life introducing the Emerald Isle to the joy of line dancing.
Line dancing, ironically the most square of all dances, actually traces its origin all the way back to European country dancing, but you can't look at Farrell in his sleeveless studded vest and black choker and think that he's taking line dancing back for the motherland. As a 19-year-old aspiring actor, Farrell basically had the choice between being a waiter and, strangely, a line dancer -- which paid a lot better. So until his big Irish break about two years later (which, fantastically, was in a movie called Falling For A Dancer) he earned a really good living touring nightclubs across Ireland and clutching his belt to some good ol' country and western music. And, much to Farrell's regret, someone got it on tape. Bless their heart.
"Eh, still less embarrassing than Winter's Tale."
The reason Farrell could make a nice living doing this was Ireland suffered a bit of a country craze back in the mid-'90s. Country Music Television, the U.S.'s one-stop channel for dancing white folks, was even broadcast by the RTE (think of the BBC but with more shamrocks). This allowed Farrell to not only get paid to strut his stuff in a linear fashion but to actually be a bona fide line dancing instructor. When asked about it in interviews, Farrell's eyes glaze over, and in a hushed tone he will tell stories of squeezing into a minivan with a dozen other leather-clad hotties and traveling the island to teach horny middle-aged ladies how to do a Texas two-step. And when we say "horny middle-aged ladies," we of course include Ellen DeGeneres, who, like every other talk show host, will never let Farrell forget that he used to jangle his boots and his booty for money.
Warner Bros. Television Distribution
"At least he has a safety net if the acting doesn't pan out" -Colin Farrell's mom.
It might have paid good money, but that video will haunt him for the rest of his life. And that guy has a sex tape.
From 1994 onward, the rap game didn't really pan out for poor Robert Matthew Van Winkle (yup), but he did manage to translate his flow into something he was better suited to, like becoming one of the fastest people on water.
"Water Water Baby"
For a brief period in the '90s, when the royalty checks for "Ice Ice Baby" started slowing down, Vanilla Ice turned to competitive jet ski racing as an outlet. This might seem a strange sideline for a milquetoast MC, but Vanilla was born in Miami, home of jet skis and meth-addled alligators. With the blood of a Florida man, he was able to climb the slippery, slightly douchey ladder of professional jet ski racing at an astonishing rate, becoming at one point the sixth-best jet ski racer in the world -- which even got him a sponsorship deal with Kawasaki.
This wasn't the first brush that Vanilla had with the racing world. It seems that going fast was more Van Winkle's bag than rapping ever was. At a young age, he was pretty amazing at motorbike racing, which he claimed earned him over a hundred trophies (it didn't). It did lead him to win three Grand National Championship trophies and a fourth place at the 1985 Florida Winter National Olympics, though, which is more than impressive enough for a guy who named himself after his favorite ice cream flavor. Since his glory days as a boy racer, Vanilla has gone fast in just about everything, from cars to bikes to jet skis to beds. Indeed, Van Winkle was able to translate his speedster success into becoming the Grand Master of Coconut Grove during their annual Bed Race.
And people probably said he would never amount to anything in his life.
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If there was one actor who epitomized cool in the 20th century, it was Paul Newman. This was a man who was so charming and sexy he made Robert Redford look like a classless bum every time they shared the screen. But under that calm, collected facade beat the heart of a speed freak. No, not the Breaking Bad kind. The "four-time champion race car driver" kind.
Bob Sharp via The New York Post
Though those trophies do look perfect for storing a lot of cocaine in.
His love affair with professional driving started in 1969, on set of the racing themed movie Winning. For the role, Newman had to take actual professional driving lessons (stunt doubles weren't exactly his thing back then), and he fell head over heels for the sport. In fact, after he received his license permitting him to race, Newman never again did movies that required shooting between April and October -- the peak racing months. It wasn't only his love that made him shift gears away from his acting; he was also just an amazing driver, winning four Sports Car Club of America national championships and placing second at the prestigious 24 Hours at Le Mans. The latter of which he never did again, because the event attracted a horde of paparazzi who distracted Newman so much it probably kept him from winning. Hopefully because he kept veering off track to try to run them over.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
"No, I think you're mistaking me for the other sexiest man in the world."
When he got even older (he started racing at 47), Newman could still drive circles around many professional drivers. Even in his 70s and 80s, Newman kept racing at nine-tenths of his peak times, which is a better efficiency rate than most pensioners have of going to the bathroom. He kept racing until the very end, winning his last race at the epic age of 81 -- which was also his racing number. A famous Hollywood actor and a champion race car driver, Newman is the hero to everyone who's ever been a 4-year-old boy. The only thing that would have improved him as a playground legend is if he had become a dinosaur, which he probably could've done if he had set his mind to it.
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Professional athletes often have a lot of downtime, which they need to rest their aching bones. But while most of us would spend that free time getting pathetically good at Xbox, basketball superstar Shaquille O'Neal used it to become a modern-day renaissance man. He has so many hidden talents, we actually have to rush through the more ordinary ones to get to the amazing parts: He created goddamn Shaq-Fu. He had a pretty decent rap career in the '90s and once used the power of rhyme to instruct Kobe Bryant to give him analingus.
Furthermore, he is a trained police officer and has been a deputy in just about every city he's played basketball for. Not only is Shaq a veteran volunteer deputy, he also became part of the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force to launch an iPhone app geared toward protecting children from pedophiles. That's not all. Now Shaq travels back and forth whenever he can to actually assist the task force with catching creeps. Oh, and he did this all while winning a championship with the Miami Heat.
"There's a net above the door, so when they enter the house, I dunk on their asses."
So now he's a trained police officer and cyber-crime-fighter who can jump over a man's head. What's next, becoming a world renowned electric dance music DJ? Yup. In 2015 Shaq coined his new EDM persona, DJ Diesel, and by the end of that same year he was already on the main stage of the EDM festival TomorrowWorld. Brace your loins for the greatest hype video of all time:
And those who still doubt his skills as a virtuoso: Here's him conducting the Boston Pops Orchestra, because clearly Shaquille O'Neal spent 20 years in a Groundhog Day loop becoming superhuman:
"When I punched Ned Ryerson, his ass stayed down."
Yes, Shaquille O'Neal is basically a giant Batman who also happens to be a musical genius and basketball MVP, but it's not like he's the leader of the free world or anything. Not yet, anyway. He did receive his education doctorate in human resource development with a thesis on leadership in 2012, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he's finally gearing up to evolve into the next stage of humanity and become our glorious but terrifying leader, right?
Deputy Dr. Shaquille O'Neal, aka DJ Diesel, Ed. D., SAG. Let's all take a minute
to feel deeply ashamed about that blog we're not updating often enough.
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