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Rapper, Poet, Actor, Thug, Legend, no matter what kind of vision you have of Tupac you cant deny that he would be applicable to all those titles mentioned above. Different people will always have different perceptions of the man who meant so many things to so many people.
Even to this day after the years that have passed I still speak to people who believe one day Tupac will return from hiding
In many ways the ideal East Coast hardcore rapper, 50 Cent endured substantial obstacles throughout his young yet remarkably dramatic life before becoming in early 2003 the most discussed figure in rap, if not pop music in general. Following an unsuccessful late-'90s run at mainstream success (foiled by an attempt on his life in 2000) and a successful run on the New York mixtape circuit (driven by
Building on the rapping style of eccentrics Kool Keith and Del tha Funkee Homosapien, Def Jux headliner Aesop Rock became one of the hottest MCs in the post-millennial underground. After a pair of self-released LPs (Appleseed, Music for Earthworms), he recorded Float for Mush in 2000. The former Ian Bavitz then issued a pair of singles -- "Coma" and "Boom Box" -- for another underground rap label
A seminal Bronx DJ during the 1970s, Afrika Bambaataa ascended to godfather status with Planet Rock, the 1982 hip-hop classic which blended the beats of hip-hop with techno-pop futurism inspired by German pioneers Kraftwerk. Even before he began recording in 1980, Bambaataa was hip-hop's foremost DJ, an organizer and promoter of the large block parties during the mid- to late '70s which presaged
Philadelphian rapper Beanie Sigel had a rapidly rising career, beginning with his appearance on one of underground rapper/producer DJ Clue's mix tapes, to his cameos on Jay-Z's Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life, to a consequent solo deal with Roc-A-Fella Records. His distinctive, slightly drawling delivery and his clever but hard-hitting rhymes were showcased on his debut album, 2000's The Truth, which
Emerging during hip-hop's massive creative expansion of the late '80s, Big Daddy Kane was the ultimate lover man of rap's first decade, yet there was more to him than the stylish wardrobe, gold jewelry, and sophisticated charisma. Kane possessed a prodigious rhyming technique honed from numerous B-boy battles; he could also be an Afrocentric consciousness-raiser versed in the philosophy of the
Raised in Harlem's uptown sector "Danger Zone"----139th Street and Lennox Avenue, Big L was faced with the temptation's of the streets. Instead of living the street life he chose rap as a way out. His first ever crack on wax came in 1992's "Yes You May (Remix)." Since then Big L has blessed the mic countless times with lyrics like no other.
In 1993 he signed with Columbia Records and released
Big Punisher was born Christopher Lee Rios in the bronx. Pun spent his earlier years living with his mother and stepfather, Who attempted to raise Chris in a military fashion. Pun actually grew up fairly athletic, Staying in shape while playing basketball. He was also an avid boxer, And would later begin to teach his own children how to box. While in eighth grade, Pun met Liza, The woman he would
The most idiosyncratic personality in rap and possessor of its most recognizable delivery, a halting, ragga-inspired style with incredible complexity, inventiveness, and humor, Busta Rhymes formed Leaders of the New School in 1990 and released two albums with the group before breaking out with a 1996 solo hit single, "Woo-Hah!! Got You All in Check."
Born in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, in 1972 of
Rapper Cam'ron was born and raised in Harlem, attending Manhattan Center High School, where one of his basketball teammates was Mason "Mase" Betha, who also became a successful rapper. Though his playing earned him scholarship offers from top colleges, Cam'ron was unable to take advantage of them because of his poor academic record, and he enrolled at a small college in Texas instead. He quickly
Though heralded as a prospective talent at the time of his major-label debut in 1998, Canibus nonetheless became little more than a momentary phenomenon as his subsequent work failed to match the hype surrounding him. Following some underground work and cameo appearances, most notably on Wyclef Jean's "Gone Till November" remix in 1997, Canibus feuded famously with LL Cool J. The resulting
Dubbed "the Mixtape Messiah," Houston's Chamillionaire arrived late as a major-label artist during his city's 2005 takeover of mainstream rap -- the Top Ten Sound of Revenge, released during November that year, followed albums from Mike Jones, Slim Thug, and former Color Changin' Click partner Paul Wall -- but he had already built a loyal following outside the South and received significant print
Hailing from East Orange, NJ, Chino released his debut album, Here to Save You All, in 1996 and has since had plenty of now famous appearances on DJ Sway and Tech's morning radio show called "The Wakeup Show." He's been called the king of metaphors and for good reason, everyone that likes their rhymes laden with punch lines should definitely check him out.
Brad Mills, All Music Guide
Common (originally Common Sense) was a highly influential figure in rap's underground during the '90s, keeping the sophisticated lyrical technique and flowing syncopations of jazz-rap alive in an era when commercial gangsta rap was threatening to obliterate everything in its path. His literate, intelligent, nimbly performed rhymes and political consciousness certainly didn't fit the fashions of
Cypress Hill were notable for being the first Latino hip-hop superstars, but they became notorious for their endorsement of marijuana, which actually isn't a trivial thing. Not only did the group campaign for its legalization, but their slow, rolling bass-and-drum loops pioneered a new, stoned funk that became extraordinary influential in '90s hip-hop -- it could be heard in everything from Dr.
Wherever rapper Eminem goes, controversy and headlines are sure to follow. With so many people unsure about whether to love him or hate him, five young rappers have decided to join him on his latest project, D12. Also known as the Dirty Dozen, D12 is a sextet of Detroit-based rappers -- all between the ages of 23 and 25. Members Bizarre, Swift, Kon Artis, Proof, and Kuniva claim they are "here to
For David Banner there is no alternative. The ambitious rap trailblazer continues to represent his beloved Mississippi with a pride and ferocity that has made the rapper/producer one of hip-hop's most intriguing and in-demand talents. Who would have guessed that a troubled yet energetic kid from Jackson, Mississippi would single-handedly carry a depressed state known as the epitome of Southern
The biggest hip-hop impresario of the mid-'90s, Sean Combs -- known as Puff Daddy both here and in the world of rap until his professional name change to P. Diddy, then just Diddy -- created a multi-million-dollar industry around Bad Boy Entertainment, with recordings by the Notorious B.I.G., Craig Mack, Faith Evans, 112, and Total all produced and master-minded by Combs himself. Responsible for
Following the deaths of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G., DMX took over as the reigning, undisputed king of hardcore rap. He was that rare commodity: a commercial powerhouse with artistic and street credibility to spare. His rapid ascent to stardom was actually almost a decade in the making, which gave him a chance to develop the theatrical image that made him one of rap's most distinctive
More than any other rapper, Dr. Dre was responsible for moving away from the avant-noise and political stance of Public Enemy and Boogie Down Productions as well as the party vibes of old-school rap. Instead, Dre pioneered gangsta rap and his own variation of the sound, G-funk. BDP's early albums were hardcore but cautionary tales of the criminal mind, but Dre's records with N.W.A. celebrated the
Whether as a member of N.W.A., a solo act, or a label head, Eazy-E was one of the most controversial figures in gangsta rap. While his technical skills as a rapper were never the greatest, his distinctive delivery (invariably described as a high-pitched whine), over-the-top lyrics, and undeniable charisma made him a star. Following N.W.A.'s breakup, E's street credibility took a major beating,
A protege of Dr. Dre, rapper Eminem emerged in 1999 as one of the most controversial rappers to ever grace the genre. Using his biting wit and incredible skills to vent on everything from his unhappy childhood to his contempt for the mainstream media, his success became the biggest crossover success the genre had seen since Dre's solo debut seven years earlier. The controversy over his lyrics was
Eve was one of a new breed of tough, talented, commercially viable female MCs to hit the rap scene during the late '90s. Though she could be sexy when she chose, she wasn't as over the top as Lil' Kim or Foxy Brown, and as part of the Ruff Ryders posse, her production was harder than Da Brat's early work with Jermaine Dupri. In the end, Eve came off as her own person; a strong, no-nonsense street
Right out of the gate in 2001, Fabolous scored a bit hit, "Can't Deny It," that established him as a rising East Coast rap star, and the song's combination of street-savvy toughness and pop-crossover appeal was representative of the rapper himself. Streetwise and hardened yet young and graced with poster-boy looks, the Brooklyn rapper (born John Jackson) was one of the first East Coast MCs to
Latino rapper Fat Joe (aka Fat Joe da Gangsta, Joey Crack, and his real name, Joe Cartagena) was raised in the South Bronx area of New York. It was through an older brother that Cartagena learned the ways of the street, as well as discovering rap music via the sounds of such groundbreaking artists as Theodore, Funky 4 + 1, and the Furious Five. Eventually going by the name of Fat Joe, the rapper
Before she had released any material at all, Foxy Brown appeared on several 1995-1996 platinum singles, including her first credit, LL Cool J's "I Shot Ya," as well as Total's "No One Else" remix of Jay-Z's "Ain't No...," Toni Braxton's "You're Makin' Me High" remix, and Case's "Touch Me, Tease Me." The incredible success led to a major-label bidding war at the beginning of 1996, and by March,
Practically every East Coast hardcore rapper has a posse to back him, and 50 Cent is no different, with G-Unit as his particular crew. The Unit began as a trio comprised of 50, Lloyd Banks, and Tony Yayo (often with the accompaniment of either DJ Whookid or Cutmaster C as their DJ), and this particular lineup resulted in a series of popular mixtapes: 50 Cent Is the Future, God's Plan, No Mercy, No
Compton's own the Game (born Jayceon Taylor) issued his debut LP, The Documentary, in 2004 through Aftermath/G Unit/Universal. With everyone from Dr. Dre and 50 Cent to Nate Dogg, Kanye West, and Just Blaze contributing to the album, The Documentary made it clear from the outset that geographic squabbles weren't a part of the Game's agenda. Rapping hadn't been at first, either. Having gotten
Ice Cube was the first member of the seminal Californian rap group N.W.A. to leave, and he quickly established himself as one of hip-hop's best and most controversial artists. From the outset of his career, he courted controversy, since his rhymes were profane and political. As a solo artist, his politics and social commentary sharpened substantially, and his first two records, AmeriKKKa's Most
As the flagship artist for producer Irv Gotti's Def Jam-affiliated Murder Inc. label, Ja Rule became the rap industry's most commercially successful artist during the early 2000s, working closely with the hitmaker and his stable of talent. Ja initially won over a sizable following with Venni Vetti Vecci (1999), his rather hardcore debut album modeled largely after the style of rugged thug rap then
Yonkers bred rap lyricist Jadakiss is in a hurry. As he preps to drop his sophomore album, Kiss of Death the follow up to his near platinum debut Kiss Tha Game Goodbye, he has his thoughts firmly placed on the business of delivering his new album, with an eye towards the future. ďThis is the one right here. I know everybody says that, but I donít plan on really doing this that much longer. Iím
To the admiration of a generation, Jay-Z led an incredibly storied career in the rap industry, pulling himself up by his bootstraps as a youth to one day become the reigning rapper of New York City and then a major-label executive following his retirement from music-making. More than anyone, Jay-Z embodied the ultimate rags-to-riches rap dream, advancing from poverty to power, largely on behalf of
New Orleans-based gangsta rapper Juvenile was born Terius Gray. After beginning his performing career while in his teens, he released a 1995 album on Warlock titled Being Myself. He eventually crossed paths with Cash Money label owners Ronald "Suga Slim" and Brian "Baby" Williams, who issued 1996's Solja Rags; the album became a major underground hit, and set the stage for the release of 1998's
In a short span of time, Kanye West went from hitmaking producer to just plain hitmaker, as his stellar production work earned him a solo record deal and soon his beats were accompanied by his own witty raps on a number of critically and commercially successful releases. His flamboyant personality also made a mark. West showcased a dapper fashion sense that set him apart from most of his rap
KRS-One (born Kris Parker) was the leader of Boogie Down Productions, one of the most influential hardcore hip-hop outfits of the '80s. At the height of his career, roughly 1987-1990, KRS-One was known for his furiously political and socially conscious raps, which is the source of his nickname, "the Teacher." Around the time of 1990's Edutainment, BDP's audience began to slip as many fans thought
Atlanta and the surrounding area had always been a hotbed for party rap and bass music throughout the '90s, and more than anyone else, Lil Jon & the Eastside Boyz took these styles to the masses with a cutting-edge Dirty South attitude perfect for the burgeoning club scene of the time. The Atlanta-based rapper/producer began as a club DJ before Jermaine Dupri invited him in 1993 to come work for
After making her presence known on Junior M.A.F.I.A.'s debut album, Conspiracy, Lil' Kim launched a solo career in 1996 with the release of her first record, Hard Core. As the album's title implies, Kim was a rarity among female rappers -- one who not only concentrated on edgy hardcore rap but also explicit sexuality, two territories that had long been the province of male rappers. Of course,
Although there has been much debate on the subject of who is or who isn't the "King of the South," Lil Wayne isn't worried about all the fuss as to who really lays claim to the title. As a veteran rap star, budding entrepreneur, and young scholar studying psychology at the University of Houston, Wayne's experience in the rap game, coupled with his amazing growth as an individual has placed him in
Hip-hop is notorious for short-lived careers, but LL Cool J is the inevitable exception that proves the rule. Releasing his first hit, "I Can't Live Without My Radio," in 1985 when he was just 17 years old, LL initially was a hard-hitting, streetwise b-boy with spare beats and ballistic rhymes. He quickly developed an alternate style, a romantic -- and occasionally sappy -- lover's rap epitomized
Ludacris rode the early-2000s Dirty South explosion to widespread popularity, as his songs enjoyed an enormous embrace, mainly by urban media outlets but also MTV and pop radio. The Atlanta-based rapper (born Christopher Bridges) went from local sensation to household name after Def Jam signed him to its Def Jam South subsidiary in 2000. In addition to connecting him with super-producers like
Hip-hop music, once a platform for creative expression and friendly competition, has, sadly, become a popularity contest. With record sales down and ringtone dollars up, rookies searching for that "one big hit" seem solely concerned with being deemed "cool." Lyrics have side-stepped, giving way to dance-instructing "rappers" more concerned with sparking the new "Macarena" than being hailed
Best known as Puff Daddy's favorite sidekick, Mase secured his place as a Bad Boy label favorite through a series of guest appearances on hit singles by other artists. By the time he issued his debut album, the Bad Boy promotional machine had effectively already made him a star. His flow was slow and relaxed, and his raps often unabashedly simple, which helped make him especially popular with the
Method Man was the first -- and biggest -- solo star to emerge from the groundbreaking Wu-Tang Clan. His mush-mouthed, sandpaper-rough bellow (at times recalling EPMD's Erick Sermon) and imaginative rhymes easily made him one of the most recognizable, unpredictable MCs in the group, yet his flow was more deliberate and laid-back than the Wu's resident loose cannon, Ol' Dirty Bastard. On his solo
No female rap artist paralleled the success of Missy Elliott, neither during her reign nor before, and none was more deserving. Unlike most of urban music's female superstars, Missy writes her own songs as well as performs them, and her creative wit in on a par with her stylish demeanor. In addition to her talent and showmanship, though, she established herself as a genuine hitmaker alongside her
As golden age rap suddenly gave way to West Coast gangsta in the early '90s, an East Coast variety of hardcore rap arose in turn, with Mobb Deep initially standing tall as one of New York's hardcore figureheads on the basis of their epochal Infamous album. Released in April 1995, The Infamous was released almost exactly a year after Illmatic and about a half year after Ready to Die -- the debut
Initially regarded as one of hip-hop's most promising newcomers in the late '90s, Mos Def expanded his reach in the years to come, establishing himself as a serious actor and also making a bid to reshape the rap-rock genre. His artistic career began in the late '80s as a television actor, a profession he began directly out of high school. By the mid-'90s though, Mos Def turned to rap music as his
Heralded instantly as one of New York's leading rap voices, Nas expressed an outspoken, self-empowered swagger that rallied the streets of his city and elsewhere. Whether proclaiming himself "Nasty Nas" or "Nas Escobar" or "Nastradamus" or "God's Son," the self-appointed King of New York battled numerous adversaries for his position atop the epicenter of East Coast rap, none more noteworthy than
Naughty By Nature pulled off the neat trick of landing big, instantly catchy anthems on the pop charts while maintaining their street-level credibility among the hardcore rap faithful; one of the first groups to successfully perform such a balancing act. The group was formed in East Orange, NJ, in 1986, while all three members -- MCs Treach (born Anthony Criss) and Vinnie (born Vincent Brown), and
When Nelly first debuted nationally in summer 2000, he seemed like a novelty, but it quickly became apparent that he was, in fact, an exceptional artist, a rapper with truly universal appeal. He wasn't from the East or West Coast, and wasn't really from the Dirty South, either. Rather, Nelly was from St. Louis, a Midwestern city halfway between Minneapolis and New Orleans. His locale certainly
In just a few short years, the Notorious B.I.G. went from a Brooklyn street hustler to the savior of East Coast hip-hop to a tragic victim of the culture of violence he depicted so realistically on his records. His all-too-brief odyssey almost immediately took on mythic proportions, especially since his murder followed the shooting of rival Tupac Shakur by only six months. In death, the man also
N.W.A, the unapologetically violent and sexist pioneers of gangsta rap, are in many ways the most notorious group in the history of rap. Emerging in the late '80s, when Public Enemy had rewritten the rules of hardcore rap by proving that it could be intelligent, revolutionary, and socially aware, N.W.A capitalized on PE's sonic breakthroughs while ignoring their message. Instead, the five-piece
Obie Trice went from no one to someone in the rap world quickly when Eminem signed him to Shady Records and executive produced his debut. Born on the west side of Detroit in the Schoolcraft and Greenfield area, Trice began his rap career humbly. He dropped out of Cooley High School in the early '90s and began making ends meet, which wasn't too easy in the cold, abandoned streets of Detroit. His
OutKast's blend of gritty Southern soul, fluid raps, and the rolling G-funk of their Organized Noize production crew epitomized the Atlanta wing of hip-hop's rising force, the Dirty South, during the late '90s. Along with Goodie Mob, OutKast took Southern hip-hop in bold, innovative new directions: less reliance on aggression, more positivity and melody, thicker arrangements, and intricate lyrics.
Born and raised in the notorious Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, Papoose took his first jabs at being a rapper at the young age of 11. Given the name by his grandmother meaning "Indian baby", whom he resembled as a child, Papoose is the true definition of a real MC. Inspired by rap legends Rakim, Kool-G-Rap and Big Daddy Kane, he has been well respected in the underground street circuit
After eight years as half of one of rap music's most revered and enduring underground duos, Organized Konfusion, and contributing two highlights ("WWIII" and "Mayor") to 1999's acclaimed 'official mix tape', Soundbombing II, the mighty Monch now delivers his inaugural solo album, Internal Affairs, on hip-hop skilltrade haven, Rawkus Records. Featuring guest appearances by an all-star cast of vocal
If nothing else, it has been an eventful and eye opening year for Barbados born songstress Rihanna. In addition to recording one of the most popular singles of 2005, the hypnotic "Pon De Replay" (which bass bumped out of more car windows while igniting a slew of barbeques last summer), she won over the masses with her charming Bajan persona.
"So much has happened in my life, I feel like I've
More than any other hip-hop group, Run-D.M.C. are responsible for the sound and style of the music. As the first hardcore rap outfit, the trio set the sound and style for the next decade of rap. With their spare beats and excursions into heavy metal samples, the trio were tougher and more menacing than their predecessors Grandmaster Flash and Whodini. In the process, they opened the door for both
As the embodiment of '90s gangsta rap, Snoop Dogg blurred the lines between reality and fiction. Introduced to the world through Dr. Dre's The Chronic, Snoop quickly became the most famous star in rap, partially because of his drawled, laconic rhyming and partially because the violence that his lyrics implied seemed real, especially after he was arrested on charges of being a murder accomplice.
"He's a genius, man. It's like catching Michael Jackson before he actually hit wax. It's that kind of talent." Strong words, words more likely attributable to an overzealous blogger than one of the game's rising impresarios. But Mr. Collipark, known best for his irrepressible production behind the Ying Yang Twins, uses those very superlatives in describing Atlanta-based phenom Soulja Boy Tell'em.
If skills sold, Talib Kweli would have been one of the most commercially successful rappers of his time. As it was, however, the earnest MC became one of the most critically successful rappers of his time, which dawned in the late '90s when he rapped alongside Mos Def and DJ Hi-Tek as part of the group Black Star. This trio of up-and-comers and their widely acclaimed self-titled 1998 album debut
You can call him the fastest MC in hip-hop history, the man with the flawless flow or simply the Chi-Town legend. Twista's earned all his accolades and can breathe one huge sigh of relief with 2004 behind him. After yearís of building one of rapís most loyal street following and accumulating immeasurable respect among his peers in the music industry, Twista finally was rewarded with the mainstream
Emerging in 1993, when Dr. Dre's G-funk had overtaken the hip-hop world, the Staten Island, NY-based Wu-Tang Clan proved to be the most revolutionary rap group of the mid-'90s -- and only partially because of their music. Turning the standard concept of a hip-hop crew inside out, the Wu-Tang Clan were assembled as a loose congregation of nine MCs, almost as a support group. Instead of releasing
West Coast heavyweight Xzibit expanded his following with a series of increasingly superstar-laced albums beginning in the late '90s, ultimately aligning himself with Cali kingpin Dr. Dre at the decade's end. Years before, Xzibit began as a member of the Likwit Crew, a loose collective of West Coast rappers including tha Alkaholiks and King T. After touring with them in 1995, Loud Records released
industry -- as a businessman, not as a rapper. Years before making his first Def Jam album -- Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101, released in July 2005 -- he set up Corporate Thugz Entertainment and promoted Cash Money releases.
From there, he branched out as a label boss and artist in his own right, releasing albums and mixtapes. Come Shop wit' Me, his independently distributed debut from
OutKast's blend of gritty Southern soul, fluid raps, and the rolling G-funk of their Organized Noize production crew epitomized the Atlanta wing of hip-hop's rising force, the Dirty South, during the late '90s. Along with Goodie Mob, OutKast took Southern hip-hop in bold,
Ice Cube was the first member of the seminal Californian rap group N.W.A. to leave, and he quickly established himself as one of hip-hop's best and most controversial artists. From the outset of his career, he courted controversy, since his rhymes were profane and political.
No female rap artist paralleled the success of Missy Elliott, neither during her reign nor before, and none was more deserving. Unlike most of urban music's female superstars, Missy writes her own songs as well as performs them, and her creative wit in on a par with her