Fame, according to many, is based on talent and hard work. For others, getting celebrity status is a result of luck. However, most people put it down to both. Every celebrity has a past, and in hip-hop, many rappers have interesting stories concerning how they managed to reach the position they did.
It is well-known that many male rappers used crime to raise funds prior to becoming famous. From selling drugs like crack to robbing and pawning valuable goods, even female MCs have admitted to working in the black economy as strippers and sex workers.
However, not all artists engaged solely in crime before fame, and many had regular jobs. In fact, some individuals have recalled working alongside those who are now considered icons. From working in hospitality and retail to working in the public sector, lyricists haven’t always spent their time in the booth.
It is known by many that before hitting the underground mixtape scene of Miami, Rick Ross was a correctional officer working for the South Florida police. Even the iconic Drake was an actor by trade prior to signing with Young Money. That said, below you can see the jobs five rappers had before fame.
Five jobs rappers had before fame:
5. Azealia Banks – Blue Note Jazz Club
Controversial Harlem rapper Azealia Banks broke onto the scene in 2011 when she released her catchy hip-house anthem ‘212’. When Banks first emerged she instantly became an icon, featuring on magazine covers, touring the world, and even performing at the Paris residence of Karl Lagerfeld.
However, prior to receiving fame, Banks held down various jobs and experienced turmoil. After getting kicked out by her mother, the lyricist lived with her sister in the Manhattan neighbourhood of Inwood and, due to living costs, ended up living in Montreal for six months. However, When she returned to the Big Apple, she found herself working at the city’s iconic Blue Note Jazz Club.
In a 2012 interview she gave to MTV News, Banks admitted she was forced to sell magnets, whistles and T-shirts to tourists at the club to make ends meet and even auditioned to become a stripper at a club in Queens but luckily achieved fame in time.
4. Method Man – Statue Of Liberty
Method Man is a legend and is only known by most for his work as a prolific musician and esteemed actor. However, to the surprise of many on The Late Late Show hosted by James Corden, the emcee (real name Clifford Smith) unveiled that aside from a bit of petty crime, he actually held down a real job.
Unveiling his job for the first time, Smith admitted that he used to be a tour guide at the Statue of Liberty. One of New York’s most visited tourist attractions. Speaking about his tenure there, Smith unveiled, “I have never been inside the statue, and I worked there for five to six years! You only get a half-hour break, and if I went up, I wouldn’t have any time to get back down and get back to work on time!” Smith confirmed that a number of celebrities visited the landmark while he worked there including Paul Shaffer.
3. Kid Cudi – BAPE
Beginning his career around 19 years ago in 2003, Kid Cudi is one of the most revered alternative hip-hop artists in music today. From early in his career, Kid Cudi set himself apart from other rappers by the way he presented himself and his music. However, it wasn’t an easy ride to get where he is now, and many would put his success down to luck.
Prior to fame, the Ohio native worked at the Manhattan branch of BAPE. A high-end streetwear brand created by Pharrell Williams and Nigo. It was here that he found success as on two occasions, he had seen Kanye West in New York. Once in an HMV and once when he was working, where he gave him a demo.
Opening up about his work there to Sean Evans on the Hot Ones podcast, Cudi stated, “When I worked at the BAPE store, that was the first time I was actually like, ‘This is actually some fresh shit!’ But I was so poor when I got that job, so I didn’t own any BAPE prior to working there.”
He admitted he liked working there, disclosing, “Working at that store was like, to me, at that time was bigger than having a record deal! I really wanted a record deal at that time, but it was like a major thing because of what it meant to the culture and what it was.”
2. Tyler, The Creator – Starbucks
Tyler, The Creator, is not only a prodigy but is slowly becoming one of hip-hop’s most ingenious figures. With albums such as Flower Boy and Call Me If You Get Lost, it is hard to imagine the talented LA native doing anything other than music. However, in an interview on The Jimmy Kimmel Show, the emcee (real name Tyler Okonma) disclosed he had two jobs before becoming a star.
According to Okonma, he worked for Starbucks and had another job at FedEx. Speaking to Kimmel, he revealed, “Starbucks was cool ’cause I stole cheese Danishes every day. FedEx was so depressing. It was just…the spirit there is older dudes pushing boxes but okay with it, and it scared the living hell out of me, so I quit after a week and four days!”
1. Nicki Minaj – Red Lobster
Before becoming a rapper, Nicki Minaj, fresh out of Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for performing arts, was desperate to become an actor. Minaj went straight into doing auditions and bagged the off-broadway play In Case You Forget in 2001. Performing in the evenings, during the day, Minaj held a hospitality job waitressing at the American restaurant chain Red Lobster.
Minaj has spoken about her job at the restaurant before and took Jimmy Kimmel to go with her to Red Lobster for a dinner date. When asked about the favourite drink she used to serve back in the day, Minaj explained, “I used to love this thing called a Red Passion Colada, but they don’t have red Alizé anymore. The other good thing is a Lobsterita.” Minaj unveiled that although she worked at three or four different branches of the company she eventually got fired from all of them.