1. Jay Z: From Slingin’ Crack To Tidal WavesSource:Getty
Jay grew up in crack-infested Brooklyn and ended up slinging the drug to the highest or lowest bidder. He learned his business acumen on the streets. We watched him rap his way into hip hop royalty, creating smart business moves along the way, not to mention marrying Beyonce! He owns basically everything and is now a husband, father and mogul. One of the best stories of success in hip hop to date.
2. T.I.: From The Hood To FatherhoodSource:Getty
From purchasing illegal firearms to carrying them illegally, T.I. has a long past of criminal activity. It all caught up with him in 2001 after violating his probation (from a drug charge). While in jail, T.I. developed a course that he hoped would “change criminal ways of thinking.” His life outside of jail has been just that–giving us a family show with real values. We’re proud of you Clifford!
3. Ice Cube: N. W. AmbitionSource:Getty
He started his career as a member of N.W.A.–one of the biggest gangster rap groups on the west coast. Now, he’s one of Hollywood’s biggest A-list actor, director, producer and filmmakers. Throughout the 80s, he put out successful music and eventually found acting. From Boyz In The Hood to Are We There Yet, we watched Ice Cube’s demeanor change from gangsta to gentleman. He’s touched every movie you love.
4. Nas: Taught By The School Of LifeSource:Getty
Nas was never really a gangster. However, his humble Queens upbringing placed him in the fast city life. He dropped out of school in the 8th grade & worked with majors like Rakin & Kool G Rap, the start of his music career was heavily consigned. Now, he’s as magazine mogul (Mass Appeal), a brand spokesman, business man (Rock The Bells & Proven tech co.) and philanthropist creating opportunities for urban youth.
5. Ice-T: From “Cop Killer” To “Law & Order: SVU”Source:Getty
Music saved Ice-T from gang life. He was introduced to ghetto high school crime rings early, but once all his friends starting going to jail, he knew he had to make a change. His girlfriend at the time got pregnant in his senior year and he joined the military. Writing helped him talk about the “life” and the pain and thrill of it. Now he’s a married TV star who still warns the youth about the “life.”
6. Paul Wall: Gone GrillzSource:Getty
While many may assume that he’s a make believe gangster, he’s far from it. Known for his grills, Paul Wall’s music aesthetic centered around a gangster lifestyle. With albums like, “Fast Life” and “Get Money, Stay True,” it’s obvious who he was. Now, Paul is a suit-wearing gentleman, husband and father who gives Tracee Ellis Ross her first grill. He’s so helped create the 1st mobile rap battle game–Battle Rap Stars.