In honor of National Friendship Day, this past Sunday we decided to dig into ten of the hip hop industries most well-known friendships, specifically those that were strong even before the fame; friends that held the door open for their crew to storm through and eat with them.  Here are

10 Hip Hop artist who didn’t forget to put their team on when they made it.

Just to name a few…

 

10

A$AP Rocky, A$AP Yams and A$AP Bari

The late A$AP Yams’ is seen as quite an innovator and visionary in the hip hop community. Famed for the founding of the highly successful A$AP Mob, a group you can say put Harlem on the ‘Cloud Rap’ map. Yams began laying the foundation for the crew as early as 17, when he and friends A$AP Bari (Jabari Shelton) and A$AP Illz (Illijah Ulanga) came up with the name “A$AP” which is an acronym for “Always Strive and Prosper”. A name you can find the name tattooed proudly on their arms. As the group progressed Bari brought in his childhood friend A$AP Rocky who has now become the groups most well-known and successful member. In an interview with Complex Magazine, Yams explains how he met Rocky saying “ A$AP Bari told me, ‘Yo, I’ve got this kid. He’s rapping.’ He was telling me for months, and I kept putting it to the side until I was able to meet him. Then I was like, ‘This motherf—–‘s crazy.’ After that, it was on.” A$AP Rocky later added A$AP Ferg to the mix, a childhood friend of his who he began making music with around the age of 13. As the group grew, artist like A$AP Twlevyy were added along with  A$AP Nast, A$AP Ty Beats, and A$AP Ant.

 

9

Birdman & Lil Wayne

Artist Lil Wayne wrote his first verse at the age of eight, with no intent of it really making any waves; however, a year later in the summer of ‘91, he met Bryan “Birdman” Williams, rapper and owner of Cash Money Records. Shortly after  Carter recorded a freestyle rap on Williams’ answering machine, safe to say that message changed carters life for good. Leading to Willams’ decision to mentor young Carter as well as include him into the Cash Money family, making him the youngest member of the label. In 2006, the duo released Like Father, Like Son, an album which combined the talents of rapper Lil Wayne and his “adoptive father”.  The album did fairly well,  exposing Wayne at a level he wouldn’t have been able to alone. As his success progressed Wayne was able to start his own lucrative Young Money label. A label which propelled A list hip hop artist such as Drake and Nicki Minaj.

8

A Boogie & Don Q

Fairly new Bronx, New York born artist A Boogie began his career under a year ago when deciding to drop his first mixtape entitled “mixtape”. On the tape, A Boogie related to his listeners in a way that pushed him amongst not only the top mainstream artist of today but also the Freshman XXL class, a coveted stop for up-and-coming hip hop artists. Though  for him that was just the start  the now 21 year old rapper has also started his own record label named after his neighborhood High Bridge. The label began as a means for the young artist to“get out of the hood”, however as the label began to grow, A Boogie has been  able to bring on childhood friend and artist Don Q. Since his addition, the label has expanded beyond anything they could have imaged, and has even joined forces with well known label Atlantic Records. In a interview with DJ Envy for Sirius XM, Don Q mentions how surprised he was about how well the label has done in such a short amount of time, expressing how while at a performance in Atlanta he was impressed by how many people knew the lyrics to their songs, as well as how much they really respected what they were doing. While Don Q and A Boogie are currently the only artists on the label, it is clear that they are looking to keep expanding, and really building the High Bridge empire.

 

7

50 Cent and G-unit

Hip hop artist 50 Cent began his music career in 1996 when a friend introduced him to Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC, who at the time had just founded Jam Master Jay Records. Upon meeting him, Jay was intrigued by 50’s passion and skill level, deciding then to coach him on the in’s and out’s of rapping. Everything from counting bars, writing chorus’, structuring songs and essentially how to make a hit record. This lead to his first mainstream feature on “React” with Onyx. After 50 left Jam Master Jay,he signed to Columbia Records where he then produced a multitude of tracks he included on his 2000 album, Power of the Dollar;an album that really set the bar for the quickly rising rapper. Though it wasn’t until the popularity of his controversial underground single “How To Rob”, where rapped about “how he would rob famous artists” that his career really set off. With this feat, it allowed him to come up with the idea of forming a group with longtime friends, Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks  called G-UNIT. The group released their debut album Beg For Mercy in 2003, which went on to sell over 2 million copies in the US and was certified Double Platinum. Artist The Game was added to the mix following the success of the first album, a proposition made by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, however, due to The Game’s “disloyalty” in the eyes of 50 Cent, he was soon removed from the group. It’s safe to say that despite G-UNIT’s internal issues they have been one of the most highly successful groups to date  grossing millions in not only record sales but also in clothing revenue.

6

Dipset – Cam’ron, Juelz, and Jim Jones

Rapper, actor and entrepreneur Cam’ron began his career as a member of the group Children of the Corn, though after 1997 the group split leaving Cam’ron to figure out what he wanted to do next. Soon after the split, he got together with long time friends Jim Jones and Freekey Zekey to create the group Dipset. Since coming together, the group was doing fairly well, though they all felt as if there was something missing,  Months later, a childhood friend by the name of Tone introduced him to his cousin, hip hop new comer Juelz Santana. Upon meeting Juelz, Cam’ron asked him to spit on the spot. In an interview with world star hip hop Juelz mentioned, he  was initially shaken up but he knew the opportunity was his chance, so he went for it. Cam’ron was immediately impressed, knowing then that Juelz was the missing link. For the next few years, Dipset worked tirelessly to make it into the mainstream market. These efforts certainly didn’t go unnoticed, in 2001 the group secured a recording contract with Def Jam and subsequently began recording their debut album, Diplomatic Immunity. Following the success of the project, they later moved onto indie record label Koch Records to release their second album Diplomatic Immunity 2,and then in May 2013, they joined Interscope Records. While the group has moved around a lot, it’s safe to say that being in the right place at the right time could mean having the experience of a lifetime.

 

5

Master P, Sillk the Shocker, C Murder, Romeo

Former basketball player and a man of many talents, rightfully named Master P is best known as a rapper, actor, filmmaker, producer and businessman, founder of the record label No Limit Records. Master P gained his fame in the mid-1990s with his biggest single, “Make ‘Em Say Uhh!”, which went double platinum;followed by the 1998 release of his most successful album, “MP Da Last Don”, which hit number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 chart, selling over 400,000 copies in a week;  However, much like the other artist mentioned Master P didn’t let this fame cloud his judgment, he was still sure to make certain that his two brothers artist Corey “C-Murder” & Vyshonne “Silkk The Shocker” Miller made their way to the top as well. With this momentum Silkk was able to collaborate artist Mýa on the lead single , entitled “Somebody Like Me”from his album Made Man. The track became one of the year’s top-selling singles on the Billboard charts. followed by the track “That’s Cool” featuring rapper Trina which made it to #13 on the Hot R&B/Hip Hop Singles & Tracks. Both singles allowed Sillk to become a mainstream success in his own right. But Silkk was not alone, his brother C-Murder was right behind him with his 1998 release of his debut album Life or Death, which made it to number three on the US Billboard 200 with 197,000 copies sold the first week. The success of all three brothers,paved the way for Master P’s son Romeo and made it clear that these artists have a strong sense of family support, something the industry certainly needs more of. 

4

Fetty Wap and Monty

Fetty Wap and Monty have known each other for quite some; time long before the fame growing up in the same town of Paterson, New Jersey. “We met each other a chicken store in the hood”, according to Monty. However, it was Fetty that really set the duo on to new heights after his debut single “Trap Queen”, which reached number 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 charts. Allowing Fetty to secure a record deal with 300 Entertainment, whom he subsequently released his debut album with. An album that reached number 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 charts with  Top two singles “679” and “My Way”. Since then, Fetty was able to put together Remy Boyz 1738 with friend Monty. It’s amazing where eating some chicken can get you!

3

Fabolous and Paul Cain

Fabulous’ hip hop career began his senior year of his high school after a  live performance on DJ Clue’s radio show.  Following the success of this show, he was featured on Hot 97 and subsequently signed to DJ Clue’s  label Desert Storm, later securing a distribution deal with Elektra Records. Fab reached even more success with singles such as “Ghetto Fabolous” (2001), “Can’t Deny It” and “Young’n (Holla Back)”, “Can’t Let You Go” and “Into You”. In 2004, Jackson signed to Atlantic Records,setting his career to new highs. With Atlantic, he dropped an array of chart topping tracks such as “Nothin’ to Somethin”, as well as his fifth album, Loso’s Way. Luckily enough this new-found success, allowed Fab to start up Street Family Records which featured some of his closest friends such as Freck Billionaire, his brother Paul Cain, Broadway and Red Café. While the group was quickly dismantled because of some larger issues,it was still a great example of an artist who did not forget the rest of his team when he got on.

2

Biggie and Junior Mafia

The late, great Biggie Smalls essentially went through his Rolodex of childhood friends who he knew could rap, when deciding to put together the Brooklyn crew Junior M.A.F.I.A. Choosing from neighborhood homies, school friends or those who frequented his usual hang out spots. it is clear that Biggie and the Junior Mafia was the epitome of putting your friends on when you make it! The group started out with three separate smaller groups starting with the 6s, or 666, (Lil’ Cease, Bugsy, Capone, Chico, and Nino Brown), The Snakes (cousins Larceny and Trife), MC Klepto, and Lil’ Kim, (a.k.a. Big Momma or The Lieutenant) the only woman in the group. As things heated up , they began work on their debut album, Conspiracy released in 1995 under the NYC-based label Big Beat Records. While critics scrutinized the sound of the album saying it was far too similar to Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die. The album was still a success debuting at number 8 on the US Billboard 200 charts, selling 69,000 copies in its first week of release; and while Junior Mafia did have a multitude of internal conflicts, which lead to its inability to continue without Biggie the group was still a great example of what it means to put your whole team on.

                                                              

    1

  Eminem and D12

D12 also known as the Dirty Dozen, was a small hip hop  group of close childhood friends from Detroit, Michigan. While D12 did have some pretty solid chart topping hits as a unit, it wasn’t until group member Eminem rose to fame that D12 became a mainstream name. Though while Eminem was becoming very successful on his own, he never forgot to keep the members of D12 close, continuing to release albums like Devil’s Night in 2001 and D12 World in 2004 which consisted of hits such as “Fight Music”, “Purple Pills”, “My Band”, “How Come” and “Shit On You”. Sadly, after the death of member Proof, D12 became less active leading to the consequent end to the group and Eminem’s solo rise to success.

While these are only a hand full of artists who brought their team on when they made it, seeing this kind of love is a great reflection of the sense of unity the Hip Hop culture never fails to express.

Jocelyn Rivera

Special thanks to Keisha Kelly of the hiphopcloset.com