As a general rule of thumb, a rapper is prone to give you more intimate details about his or her personal life in a rhyme than they will in an interview. For example, through his bars, listeners learned early on that Jay Z shot his brother and engaged in the street corner pharmaceutical trade in parts of Virginia and the District of Columbia. Ask those same questions in an interview—as CBS correspondent Bob Simon attempted to do in an Emmy nominated interview for 60 Minutes—and the average emcee isn’t as forthcoming.
“I wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about that on TV, it’s not cool,” ’Hov told Simon, when pressed to further explain some lyrics from “You Must Love Me.” “That’s a bit over the line,” Jay said.
Things haven’t completely changed in that regard, but technological advancements such as Instagram have helped provide more insight into the personal lives of your favorite artists. As expected, younger artists have been the most ardent and early adopters.
OnlyHipHopFacts—a brand birthed during the fourth quarter of 2012—has been there documenting and verifying the process. The collective comprised of Hassan Bargathi, Joel Johnson, Kevin Chard and Jamaal Bachelor, has leveraged obsessive research, in-house technology, relationships with artists, managers, labels, media, their families, their friends to get the inside scoop on interesting and obscure facts about artists from all over Hip Hop.
“Fans don’t just want to hear that their favorite team won the game; they want to see the dunk, see them train and hear the commentary,” explained Bargathi, who serves as OnlyHipHopFacts’ founder and CCO. “OHHF facts is giving fans every play in and out of the stadium. A large part of our facts are directly from artists. There’s a lot of facts that artists have told us that we haven’t posted, because they’re too sensitive.”
A great majority of them have been posted though. And as Hip Hop’s audience skews younger and younger, the good folks at OHHF are helping provide a glimpse into the life moments fueling those chart-topping rhymes. HipHopDX has partnered with OnlyHipHopFacts to present 15 facts about some of the most popular rappers under the age of 30.
Drake Graduated High School At Age 25
97% on my final exam. 88% in the course. One of the greatest feelings in my entire life. As of tonight I have graduated high school!
— Drizzy (@Drake) October 18, 2012
As a teenager, Aubrey “Drake” Graham opted to get an early start on his entertainment career by dropping out of high school. Most know how the man who would eventually become Drizzy landed a role on Degrassi: The Next Generation in 2001 despite his lack of any formal acting experience. By his own account, Drake went from essentially broke to netting around $40,000 annually before literally and figuratively flipping the script and launching a Rap career. The rest has been well chronicled on the charts, but Drake did hit the books again in 2012.
On October 17, 2014 Drake joyously tweeted, “97% on my final exam. 88% in the course. One of the greatest feelings in my entire life. As of tonight I have graduated high school!”
J. Cole Slept In Jail The Day He Signed To Roc Nation
There’s a good chance art imitated life twice in regards to J. Cole’s driving habits. On “Interlude” from Cole’s debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, “Young Simba” chronicled his atypical celebration of landing a deal with Jay Z’s Roc Nation imprint.
“I’m drivin’, nigga as soon as I get the text we all in the car like, ‘Ahh…Yeah nigga! We outta he,re nigga. Yeah, nigga!’ So we going crazy as fuck, and we like super excited. Dog, 10 seconds later, all I see in the back and hear is, ‘Woop woop’ blue lights. Right behind me, the fuckin’ undercover car, of all things. So I’m like, ‘Fuck.’ I knew right away what it was.”
It was a terrible mix of bad timing and Cole driving with a license that had been no good for years. Cole said he found out about the Roc Nation deal and got arrested pretty much at the same time, meaning that he celebrated in a holding cell. Cole called it the easiest night in jail he’s ever had to do, and judging by the reception of numerous mixtapes and two retail albums, it’s hard to argue with him.
Big Sean Says “Ass” Roughly 88 Times In “Dance (A$$)”
Remember when Jimmy Kimmel asked Big Sean’s mom to recite the lyrics from “Dance (A$$)?” Her interpretation of the song confirms 14 occurrences of the word “ass,” but rest assured her progeny is good for another 74 all by himself. At the very least we know Mrs. Myra Anderson is comfortable with her son’s chosen profession and his lyrics. But hey, the song is called “Dance,” and the parenthetical title is rather fitting given how most dancing requires the movement of your posterior.
Kendrick Lamar’s Real Parents Appear On “good kid, m.A.A.d city” Skits
Has anybody given Kenny back his damn dominoes? The fact that the majority of Hip Hop fans know of Kenny’s domino plight (along with his lovely singing voice), speaks to the impact good kid, m.A.A.D city had not only musically, but also culturally. Because interwoven between top-notch production and Kendrick Lamar metaphors, are skits integral to fully tying together a long day in Compton with young K.Dot. And to keep it as authentic as possible, Kendrick enlisted none other that his actual parents (including his father mentioned above) to help play out his vision of a good kid in a mad city.
“Those are the people I was raised by, so I decided to put them in the skits themselves,” Kendrick told Complex in a 2012 profile. “It ties the story line in perfect.”
From Age 15-22 Hopsin Performed In “That’s So Raven” & Other Shows
Hopsin steps into his videos, production and emceeing with a cinematic touch. There’s a natural flair for the dramatic and also an adherence to the narrative arc found in good storytelling. Can some of that be attributed to being an ardent student of Hip Hop? Most likely. Is it entirely possible these qualities are at least in part the byproduct of being on sets since the age of 15?
“I’ve done hundreds of shows,” Hopsin revealed during a January 2013 interview with Nardwuar for IAmOther. “That was my job—being an extra from age 15 up until 22-years-old. That was my job up until I got an income from rapping.”
From extra work to legit parts and even roles as a day player, Hop has appeared in Even Stevens, Lizzie McGuire, Fame and Max Keeble’s Big Move. If you doubt it, check out his IMDB entry under his government name, Marcus Hopson. As for the rumors of him doing a porno, Hopsin says technically he was on set, but the vibe was “too satanic” and he bounced before any filming commenced or before he could collect his $50 fee.
Ab-Soul Took AP/Honors English
It’s hard to listen to tracks like “Book of Soul” and not feel like everything in his life was preparing Ab-Soul to be a top-flight emcee with some of the most high-concept, diverse subject matter in recent memory. While trials and tribulations make songs like the aforementioned “Book of Soul” so heartfelt it’s actual books that provide the talking points for some of Soul-O’s denser material. The Carson, California spitter was enrolled in a magnet middle school and took AP/honors classes in high school. Add in what can only be assumed as a naturally inquisitive nature and desire to learn, and you get topics like the pineal gland and the Stop Online Piracy Act or S.O.P.A.
J. Cole’s “The Warm Up” Was Originally All Freestyles
Being an early signee to Jay Z’s Roc Nation back in 2009 gave J. Cole the biggest cosign in the game, but along with that cosign he felt more pressure than Nicki Minaj’s g-string felt on that “Anaconda” cover. His answer? Nothing too impressive, only one of the most critically acclaimed mixtapes of his generation. And although The Warm Up is celebrating its five-year anniversary in 2014, a recent interview with Noisey revealed it wouldn’t have been the same final product if it weren’t for Drake’s sudden takeover with his own mixtape.
“When Drake put out So Far Gone for free and took over the mainstream sound, then I had to compete against the wave that just happened…The Warm Up went from being freestyle based with a few dope songs that I love, to all songs that I love with a few freestyles,” Cole revealed. The Cole World appreciates you, Drizzy.
Tyler, The Creator Doesn’t Drink Alcohol Or Do Any Drugs.
If “high on life” ever becomes an official brand, Tyler, The Creator should definitely be first in line for that endorsement deal. While some of his statements and antics over the years might have hinted towards otherwise, Tyler steers clear of drugs and alcohol 100%. And seeing that he has become an accomplished rapper, producer, composer, designer, and director while doing so, D.A.R.E. can chalk this one up as a W. Although widely viewed as a commendable choice, especially in the music industry, the Odd Future frontman thought nothing of it when asked about his decision.
“I never had a sip of alcohol in my life, and I don’t smoke or do anything.” Tyler told Elliott Wilson during their 2013 #CRWN interview.
Some things just aren’t for everyone.
Casey Veggies’ Dad Was Jay Z’s & Dame Dash’s Bodyguard
Exposure to Hip Hop’s A-listers isn’t some new development for Casey Veggies’ family. Before his son was lacing tracks with Earl Sweatshirt and Juicy J, Casey Veggies’ father served as a bodyguard for Jay Z and Damon Dash. Scan Jay’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” video, and you can find the elder Veggies posted up. Of course, all of this was unbeknownst to “Young Veggies” until he had already made up his mind to pursue a Rap career.
“He began to tell me stories and what he was into when I was about seven or eight, and when I was seven this was what he was doing,” Veggies revealed in an interview with The Hundreds. “And I wasn’t even aware of what was going on. And I wasn’t even aware of Jay Z and stuff like that.”
Casey added that his dad’s early brushes with the Roc had no bearing on his career, so it’s a bit of a fortuitous twist that the founding member of Odd Future ended up being managed by Roc Nation.
Wale Was The First Mainstream Artist To Officially Crash Hulkshare
There are quite a few accolades Wale has garnered over the years, and although this one might not rank high on his personal list, crashing an entire website because too many people wanted your mixtape isn’t too shabby of an accomplishment. On August 18, 2014, Wale’s Eleven One Eleven was downloaded upwards of 350,000 times in the first hour of release alone, overwhelming Hulkshare’s file servers and shutting the site down. Crashing sites because of mixtapes seems to be a trend with MMG, with Meek Mill nearly breaking Datpiff.com with over 2 million downloads in the first 24 hours of releasing the Dreamchasers 2 mixtape. Imagine the possibilities if they did a joint mixtape? Oh, wait…nevermind.
One Of Dizzy Wright’s Teenage Jobs Was To Throw Parties
T.D.E., G.O.O.D. Music, A$AP Mob, MMG, Young Money…. Team Flashy? That last crew probably doesn’t ring a bell, probably because it was the name of Dizzy Wright’s party crew before he got on. Team Flashy started with just throwing parties, but as it grew in popularity Dizzy started to bring in rappers, dancers, and even photographers.
“I pretty much created that circle,” Dizzy said of Team Flashy in a 2013 interview with Complex. “We were into fashion and shoes, that was pretty much it. Then I started throwing parties…so with my crew, we would all show up to the party, flyer than everybody.” The crew eventually became more of a negative than a positive for Dizzy, so he stripped it down to the core members, renamed it Flashy Inc., and it still lives on to this day.
Machine Gun Kelly Secured A Jeezy Feature With Chicken & Fish
If you’re an upstart from Cleveland, Ohio how do you get Jeezy to appear on a single? Sometimes you have to just take matters into your own hands. Or the hands of a few compliant chefs. After failed attempts to secure the Snowman by going through his camp, Machine Gun Kelly ran into Jeezy when the pair co-headlined the Z107.9 Summer Jam in 2012. They struck an agreement to record “Hold On (Shut Up),” but there were two problems. MGK was obligated to go to an after party, and there was the small matter of Jeezy’s studio rider. While most artists reserve a rider, or list of accommodations and meals, strictly for touring, Jeezy gets one for certain studio sessions.
“He requested fuckin’ chicken, fish, Belvedere and Patron—at four in the morning on a Sunday in Cleveland, Ohio,” Machine Gun Kelly recalled, when talking to XXL.com in August of 2012. A local chicken spot obliged (after being paid extra and generously tipped), and all involved parties got what they needed from the exchange. MGK even managed to hit the after party while Jeezy laid down his verse.
Big K.R.I.T. Made His First Beats On “MTV Music Generator”
The acutely attuned ear behind tracks like “Mt. Olympus” and “Money On The Floor” wasn’t developed through the traditional methods such as the outboard equipment other Hip Hop producers use. Instead, Meridian Mississippi’s Big K.R.I.T. honed his early production skills on a 32-bit gaming console.
“I couldn’t afford to buy beats so I started producing,” K.R.I.T. revealed in a 2011 Village Voice interview. “First, I started with MTV Music Generator on Playstation. If you can make beats on that you can do it on anything.”
Don’t worry, K.R.I.T. has since moved on to Fruity Loops, Reason and bringing in session players as well as collaborating with the likes of DJ Dahi, 9th Wonder and B.B. King. It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish.
One Of Logic’s Childhood Rap Names Was “Skittles”
Even in 2014, race remains one of the easiest ways to make people uncomfortable. Gaithersburg, Maryland’s Logic knows a thing or two about the subject.
“Everybody I know is black,” Logic said in a May, 2013 interview with HipHopDX. “I’m fucking black. In my records, I never felt the need to [use the word]. One, I think it saves a lot of time from having conversations and discussions, racially, and that’s something my mentor once told me.”
Of course, you can flip that entire discussion on its head by injecting some humor into the discussion. Much earlier in his career, Logic’s friends did just that by linking him to a certain candy and a top-flight emcee who’s rhymed about race on occasion
“They used to call me ‘Skittles’ ‘cause they would clown me, like, ‘Eminem’s taken’ when I was a little kid—like seven or eight,” Logic joked, when explaining one of his early nicknames in an interview with HardKnockTV. It’s hilarious in hindsight, but on the mic ain’t nothin’ sweet.
A$AP Rocky Was Given A $200K Topaz Ring From Swizz Beatz
Few things say, “Job well done” like a $200,000 piece of jewelry. Earlier in his career, Swizz Beatz was graced with a yellow topaz stone from Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, the Prince of Dubai. When he saw another aspiring Hip Hop contributor on the come up, Swizz paid his gift forward.
“My boy Swizz Beatz gave it to me,” A$AP Rocky told MTV Hive in regards to his pricey ring. “It was like some, ‘I’m proud of you’ shit, ‘keep up the good work.’ The prince of Dubai gave it to him, and he gave it to me. It’s a yellow topaz stone.”
Additional reporting by Lawrence Maybir.