When hip-hop was born in the late 1970s, it was an underground, hyper-localised scene thriving in New York City. Initially used as an umbrella term, hip-hop referred to four specific anti-establishment art forms rising in popularity across the city. The four disciplines that make up the culture are rapping, turntablism, breakdancing and graffiti art. However, over time, hip-hop became the defacto term people used to describe the art of rap music, and it is still that way today from New York to Louisiana it is loved by many.
While graffiti, breakdancing, and turntablism remained within the greater metropolitan area of New York City at first, rap music most certainly did not. After swiftly descending America’s East Coast, hitting cities such as Philadelphia, Washington DC and Baltimore along the way, rap music finally arrived in California. With the music spreading like wildfire, by the mid-’80s, every state in America had begun producing its own rap music.
The 1980s was when hip-hop began taking its various forms in various cities. Each region began to develop its own sub-genre of classic New York rap, adapting it and tailoring it to suit the vibe and demographic of the area. In the mid-’80s, the East Coast began experimenting with drum machines and European EDM samples. The result was electro-hip-hop; from Boston down to Baltimore, it was running the airwaves off the Atlantic. However, on the West Coast, (more specifically, South California), you were getting the emergence of Gangsta Rap with Ice-T and N.W.A. taking what Public Enemy had done to new heights.
The South’s relationship with hip-hop was always a very strange relationship with rap music. Although hip-hop has finally gained a new respect for the South, it was a long and tiresome struggle for cities such as Houston and Atlanta at first. Initially, the US, especially New Yorkers, did not take music from the South seriously. Even New York-based DJs wrote it off as rubbish. Historically, the south has always been an extremely toxic environment for African-Americans, and unlike cities such as New York and Philadelphia, there still exists a relatively segregated society.
However, in the 1990s, after artists such as Scarface, Bun B and UGK began to garner attention, slowly but surely, the US came to realise that actually the sub-genres of hip-hop coming from the south were actually quite good. Whether it was the ‘Chopped And Screwed’ mixtapes coming out of Houston or the Crunk being churned out in Atlanta, it was exciting. However, another state that does not get mentioned is Louisiana. Deep in the heart of the South, the state has two main cities, Baton Rouge and New Orleans, both of which have produced amazing rappers. Below you can see our pick for the five most legendary rappers from Louisiana.
The five most legendary rappers from Louisiana:
5. Boosie Badazz
Boosie Badazz (formerly Lil Boosie) is an underground artist from Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana state. Boosie began his career in the late 1990s as part of a group. However, the collective was highly unsuccessful, so Boosie pursued a solo career at the turn of the millennium. Based out of New Orleans, having penned a record deal with C-Loc, in 2000, the rapper (real name Torence Hatch) released his debut album, Youngest Of The Camp. In 2002 Hatch released his second album, For My Thugz. By this time, the musician had relocated and was officially on the Memphis-based record label Trill Entertainment roster.
Boosie’s studio albums could have performed better commercially, but his mixtapes were very popular in the south. The rapper has released over 44 mixtapes. Hatch has had a lot of run-ins with the law, which greatly affected his career. In 2009 he was sentenced to four years in prison on drug and gun charges. Upon his release, the Baton Rouge native re-offended and was sentenced to 10 years on another set of drug and gun charges. Of the ten years, he only ended up serving five years. Since 2014 he has been chiefly known as a regular feature on VLADTV.
The disgraced performer, Mystikal is not a technical rapper. However, you have heard one of his songs, which is legendary in hip-hop. Mystikal (real name Michael Tyler) gained fame in the 1990s as part of the No Limit crew alongside Master P. In 1994 as a solo artist, Mystikal signed with the independent New Orleans-based record label Big Boy. Here, he released his debut album Mystikal, the label’s highest-selling release ever.
As Mystikal progressed, he signed to Jive records in 2000, and for his fifth album, Let’s Get Ready, he released ‘Shake Ya Ass’. Promoted as the project’s lead single, the legendary producer duo The Neptunes produced the track and was a massive hit. The track peaked at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was the Louisiana rapper’s first top 20 song ever.
3. Master P
Master P (real name Percy Miller) has not only been successful as a rapper but from his humble Louisiana beginnings, has risen to become a highly prolific record producer, executive, actor, and entrepreneur. Miller grew up in New Orleans’ third ward and is the founder of No Limit Records. Master P was extremely popular across the south and, as a result, managed to become an opening act for 2pac during the 1990s and even went on tour with him. His fame continued to grow nationwide, and in 1997, for his album Ghetto D, Master P released ‘Make ‘Em Say Uhh!’, which went on to become a platinum-certified record. In 1998, the Louisiana artist had a number-one album on the Billboard 200 with MP Da Last Don.
Miller was featured on Forbes’ list of highest-paid entertainers in 1998 and was ranked at number 10. As the founder of No Limit, Master P built a business empire producing movies, clothing lines and a music management firm. The rapper has released over 14 albums.
2. Jay Electronica
Born and raised in New Orleans, Jay Electronica (real name Timothy Thedford) first burst onto the mainstream in 2007 due to his mixtape Act I: Eternal Sunshine (The Pledge). The rapper released the project via the social media website MySpace. The project’s success led to the artist getting asked to join the travelling hip-hop festival Rock The Bells. Through his networking, Electronica managed to get a studio session with Roc-A-Fella producer Just Blaze. Creating a track, ‘Exhibit C’. The song was previewed on Tony Touch’s Sirius Radio in 2009.
It then got played on HOT97. After its release, unofficial remixes were made by acts such as AZ, N.O.R.E, Saigon and Joell Ortiz. Following the attention, a bidding war between labels started and, in 2010, Thedford signed with Roc Nation. However, the rapper has only released two albums and mostly puts out non-album tracks and is always collaborating with other artists but is highly respected for his artistic creativity. You can listen to the track that put him on the map in the video below.
1. Lil Wayne
Undoubtedly the best rapper from Louisiana. Lil Wayne was born and raised in the Holly Grove neighbourhood of New Orleans, the rapper (real name Dwayne Carter) was discovered by Birdman when he was just a teenager. Cash Money had signed a distribution deal with Universal meaning that any music it produced would reach every record store in the US. As the Birdman’s prodigy child Lil Wayne released his debut album, Tha Block Is Hot, on the label in 1999. Having already built a buzz by touring on the underground across the south and with multiple tracks receiving local airplay throughout the ‘Dixies’, Tha Block Is Hot, pushed by Cash Money and Universal Music, debuted at number three on the Billboard 200.
From there, Wayne only grew, partnering up with DJ Drama and Don Cannon. Still, under Cash Money, the rapper flooded the South with his classic underground mixtape series Dedication. In the early and mid-2000s, Wayne had one of the most successful mixtape runs in rap history and, in his career, has released over 29 mixtapes. Carter was offered his own imprint under Atlantic, Young Money and, as the founder, signed now iconic acts such as Nicki Minaj, Drake and Tyga. Lil Wayne is undoubtedly the most legendary rapper from Louisiana ever.