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In hip-hop culture, lots of rappers have journeyed the bottom rungs of society to success and prosperity. These artists transformed their experiences of poverty, hardship, and daily grind into chart-topping hip-hop songs that have resonated with millions of people worldwide.
In this article, discover 25 rappers that came from nothing, creative artists who emerged from humble beginnings to craft their own remarkable success stories.
1. Post Malone
First on our list of rappers that came from nothing is one of the biggest superstars of our time, Post Malone. Before his hard-earned success, Post Malone faced financial struggles and challenges. In fact, at one point Post Malone lived inside a closet.
His talent and perseverance eventually led him to break into the mainstream, and he now sleeps in a $3 million mansion, achieving success through his albums, tours, and endorsements.
Eminem‘s encounters with poverty and family issues reflect deeply in the masterpieces he created.
In his song “Rock Bottom,” he shows his lyrical talent and shares his hardships, describing what it’s like to grow up without getting anything you want. “That’s rock bottom when you want something bad enough to steal.”
Eminem is now one of the wealthiest music artists in the world, with a net worth of $250 million. One of the most famous rappers that came from nothing, he persevered through tough times by passionately pursuing his love for rap.
Who would’ve thought that mega-billionaire Jay-Z is also one of the rappers that came from nothing?
Born and raised in Marcy Projects, a neighborhood filled with dangerous people and known for poverty and crime, the artist experienced the struggles that came with living in an economically disadvantaged area.
Jay-Z’s talent and ambition led him to remarkable success in the music industry, and his net worth is now over $2.5 billion.
4. 50 Cent
50 Cent also grew up in a challenging environment and faced poverty before his fame. He was born in South Jamaica, Queens, which was known for its economic hardships and crime.
His experience with dealing drugs at a young age and being involved in street life to survive manifested through the mixtapes he created. In “Crazy,” he raps about his days as a drug dealer and how he feels he is always being pushed over to the edge.
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5. Cardi B
Cardi B has always openly discussed her upbringing, detailing the difficulties her family faced and her experience growing up with limited resources and connections.
In one of her best songs, “Get Up 10,” Cardi B passionately bares her soul and discusses her journey from rags to riches: “Look they gave a [expletive] two options/strippin or lose/used to dance in a club right across from my school.”
She has talked about having to hustle between various jobs just to survive. Despite that, her talent and determination led her to break into the mainstream. Invasion of Privacy, her release won the Grammy for Best Rap Album.
6. Megan Thee Stallion
If there’s someone who knows what it’s like to struggle, it’s the queen of freestyle, Megan Thee Stallion, who has openly discussed her family’s financial struggles, especially after her father’s death.
Despite that, she remained focused, cementing herself as one of the prominent names in the game.
7. Dr. Dre
Like many rappers, the legendary Dr. Dre was also born into poverty. He mentioned in different interviews that he grew up in a working-class neighborhood and met a lot of difficulties growing up.
His love for hip-hop music helped him become a producer, rapper, and entrepreneur, cementing his place as one of the best rappers to make it out of the hood.
8. Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne is also one of the rappers that came from nothing. He was born and raised in a low-income neighborhood of Hollegrove, located in New Orleans, Louisiana, and even sold drugs in his neighborhood as an early teen.
The “Go DJ” singer eventually made his way to the top, even creating his own label, Young Money Entertainment, that features other great rappers like Drake and Nicki Minaj.
9. Lil Kim
Lil Kim has faced many trials. She was raised by a single mother in a tough environment, dealing with poverty and other hardships.
Despite those facts, she found a way to get to the top of the rap game with hits like “Get Money” and “Not Tonight.”
10. Snoop Dogg
Next on our list of rappers that came from nothing is Martha Stewart’s good buddy Snoop Dogg.
The path to legendary status wasn’t always so easy for Snoop Dogg. Known for his gangsta rap, the multi-millionaire was born in a challenging, gang-filled neighborhood. His childhood was tumultuous, and he was even arrested during his high school years for selling drugs.
Despite this, he found an outlet for rapping, landing him a feature on one of Dr. Dre’s mixtapes, which began his journey to mega-stardom.
Famous rapper Nelly did not always have it all. He was born in a working-class neighborhood and frequently had to move from one home of a family member to another.
Once he hit the big time with his 2000 album Country Grammar, he left his past behind to become one of the best rappers of his generation.
12. Ice Cube
Ice Cube also makes it to our list of rappers who went from rags to riches. At the young age of 15, he was kicked out of his home and had to work at McDonald’s to survive.
13. Tupac Shakur
Despite being one of the best and most influential rappers to represent the West Coast, Tupac‘s life was full of hardships. His family faced various challenges, including periods of homelessness and instability.
Tupac’s challenging upbringing inspired a lot of his music, including albums like Me Against The World, which addresses themes related to poverty, racism, and inequality.
14. Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj also deserves a shout-out on the list of rappers that came from nothing. Her early years were marked by financial struggles, and she openly discussed the many difficulties she faced while striving to make her mark in the music industry. She also shared that she worked as a waitress in different Red Lobster restaurants before her eventual rise as one of the best rappers in the game.
15. Travis Scott
Though he’s amassed huge success and become a celebrated rapper, producer, and fashion designer, Travis Scott had humble beginnings. He spent his early years in a low-income area in Texas. His journey to success was marked by hard work, determination, and talent.
16. Gucci Mane
Gucci Mane is another rapper who didn’t necessarily have it all growing up. His early years were spent in a challenging environment in Atlanta.
He has been candid about his past entanglement in illegal activities and stints in prison, using his music to share his personal journey and experiences.
17. J Cole
J Cole grew up in a working-class environment and often discusses his early struggles and financial difficulties in his music.
During one interview, J. Cole candidly reflected on his humble beginnings, sharing the experience of living in a trailer park following his parents’ divorce.
18. Meek Mill
Meek Mill also serves as an inspiration and a testament to what hard work and passion can bring. After his father was killed in an attempted robbery when he was five years old, his mother struggled to make ends meet.
In an interview, he discussed how he’s thankful for his music success and has since uplifted the people he loves the most.
“I’ve carried my family out of poverty,” he said. “I’m raising two sons. Those things make me happy. Nobody in my family ever went to college, I’m the first generation of people who even made it to a successful status of being past middle-class financials. That’s important to me, to be able to carry that weight. Obtaining that, manifesting that is my greatest achievement.”
19. Notorious B.I.G
Legendary Notorious B.I.G. also deserves a spot on this list of rappers that came from nothing. B.I.G. grew up in a poor part of Brooklyn and had many run-ins with the police.
His verses addressed themes related to poverty and a lot of the struggles he encountered growing up on the streets. Despite this, he grew to become one of the most iconic and successful rappers in the game.
20. Polo G
Raised in Chicago, Illinois, Polo G witnessed the harsh realities of violence and endured the heartache of losing friends to these circumstances. He has since become a successful and respected rapper.
DMX‘s upbringing was marked by poverty and adversity. His childhood in Mount Vernon and Yonkers, New York, was filled with hardships.
After enduring abuse from his mom, she abandoned him at an orphanage for over two years. He spent much of his time in group homes and juvenile institutions and was homeless at 14.
He didn’t let these circumstances hinder him from achieving success in the music industry, though, eventually becoming one of the most prominent figures in hip-hop, making him an essential entry on a list of rappers that came from nothing.
22. Bizzy Bone
Bizzy Bone had one of the most difficult childhoods of anyone on this list. He and two of his sisters endured a harrowing experience when they were abducted by their stepfather. During this traumatic period, they lived in various unstable environments, including apartments, cars, motels, and multiple homes, all while enduring abuse and molestation.
Fortunately, he managed to move past these hardships and achieve resounding success.
Cage also faced a challenging upbringing, enduring the hardship of living with an abusive father who once threatened his entire family with a shotgun. Consequently, Cage found himself entangled in a series of arrests and grappling with drug abuse.
He eventually found an outlet by becoming a rapper, making his way to New York’s underground hip-hop scene, and eventually becoming a successful artist.
24. Lupe Fiasco
Lupe Fiasco grew up in poor living conditions with his eight siblings. He has often spoken about his experience growing up navigating a tough environment and how it influenced his music and activism.
Last on our list of rappers that came from nothing is legendary rapper Diddy. He came of age in the housing projects of Harlem alongside his single mother following the loss of his father.
His journey took him from a life as a drug dealer to emerging as one of the most influential music moguls of his era.
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