The Age Game: XXL Looks Back at Rappers’ Breakout Years

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  • lil-wayne-twist-gallery
    The Age Game: <em>XXL</em> Looks Back at Rappers' Breakout Years
    Hip-hop, like any other musical genre, is an extremely tough industry to break into. Some MCs start their careers off with a bang, becoming stars with their very first single. But for many it takes years of grinding, networking and honing their particular sound to finally get noticed. Once a rapper does get on, it may take even longer to score their first hit. With that in mind, XXLMag.com takes a look back at some of rap’s most prominent stars to see how old they were when they finally made it big, counting upwards from 17 all the way to 39-years-old. Who said age ain’t nuthin’ but a number? —<em>Jesse Gissen</em>
  • souljaboy
    17
    Souljah Boy’s was still a minor when he scored his biggest hit to-date, the No. 1 charting single on the <em>Billboard Hot 100</em>, “Crank That (Soulja Boy).”
  • ice-cube-gallery
    18
    Cube was barely legal when <em>N.W.A and the Posse</em> pissed off the Feds and turned hip-hop on its head.
  • 27_rakim
    19
    Rakim defined the essence of hip-hop while he was still only a teenager, with the release of his classic debut album, <em>Paid in Full</em>, along with his DJ, Eric B.
  • big-daddy-kane-gallery
    20
    Big Daddy Kane was still too young to buy a 40 oz of Olde English when he dropped his first album, the seminal LP, <em>Long Live the Kane</em>.
  • bob-gallery
    21
    Most rappers have nothin' on Bob. He was only 21 when he dropped his pop friendly, smash album, <em>B.o.B. Presents: The Adventures of Bobby Ray</em> in 2010. How does that make you feel?
  • the-notorious-big-gallery
    22
    The Notorious B.I.G. was only 22-years-old when his multi-platinum selling debut, <em>Ready to Die</em>, came out, but he sounded like he had already lived a lifetime.
  • wiz
    23
    After building a steady buzz touring the college circuit, Wiz Khalifa (who would have already graduated had he decided to attend school) began his relationship with major label Atlantic Records, by giving them a chart-topping hit and Pittsburg Steelers anthem, “Black & Yellow.”
  • lupe_obama_oreilly
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    Lupe Fiasco kick pushed his way onto the scene with a co-sign by Jay-Z and a catchy ode to skateboarding that helped the 24-year-old’s first solo LP, <em>Lupe Fiasco’s Food & Liquor</em>, comfortably roll into a slot on the Top 10 on <em>Billboard</em> album charts.
  • lil-wayne-breaks-itunes-record
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    While Lil Wayne has had his share of success before the release of <em>Tha Carter III</em>, the insane buzz leading up to the disc, which resulted in him selling over a million CDs in its first-week, catapulted the 25-years-young rap vet into the stratosphere.
  • 620-eminemlive-0215111
    26
    At 26, Eminem had already dealt with his fair share of life’s struggles, like raising a daughter with no money in a trailer park. But his remaining angst, “I Just Don’t Give A Fuck” attitude, shared skin complexion with his listeners and, of course, beats by Dr. Dre, made the Detroit lyricist’s major label debut, <em>The Slim Shady LP</em> an irresistible sell.
  • 50 cc
    27
    50 Cent had a second chance at life when he survived nine gunshots. But after a failed relationship with Columbia Records, Eminem gave him his second chance in the music business when he signed the G-Unit honcho to Shady Records. The young hustler from Queens took the opportunity and ran with it, dropping his seminal LP, <em>Get Rich or Die Trying</em> when he was only 27, which jump started both his career as a rapper and entrepreneur.
  • jayzfeatureproducers
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    Jay-Z wasn’t considered one of the big boys, until he scored his first No. 1 album, 1998’s <em>Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life</em> at 28. Thanks to a clever sample from the hit musical. <em>Annie</em>, on his breakthrough single, “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem),” Hov also racked up his first crossover hit that made its way to the Top 20 on the <em>Billboard Hot 100</em>, his highest ranking single up until that point.
  • guccimanecontagious
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    Gucci Mane flirted with popularity at 25 with his underground hit, “Icy,” but he really hit it big four-years later with “Wasted” off <em>The State vs. Radric Davis</em>. That same year, 2009, everyone from the Black Eyed Peas to Mario to Mariah Carey was knocking on his door for a guest verse.
  • jim-jones
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    Jim Jones might have been on the same court as the players, rollin’ with Cam’ron and the rest of Dipset since the 1990s, but it wasn’t until 2006 that he was truly Ballin’, thanks to his solo smash hit, “We Fly High (Ballin’).” Wavy!
  • FatJoe_JaekiCho
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    Some say three times is the charm, but for Fat Joe, the lucky number was four. The Bronx bomber finally went platinum with the release of his fourth album, 2001’s <em>Jealous One’s Still Envy (J.O.S.E)</em>, thanks to his collabo with Ashanti, “What’s Luv” the rapper’s biggest single to-date.
  • bun_b10282010
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    Uncle Bun was already a certified OG in the South when he released his debut solo effort, <em>Trill</em>. The album made the Texas legend a household name to rap fans around the world and earned him the only gold plaque that he didn’t have to share with his late UGK rap partner, Pimp C.
  • common-gets-release-date
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    Com didn’t reach his full potential as a star until he connected with fellow Chi-Town native Kanye West for 2005’s <em>Be</em>, the rapper’s most critically heralded and highest selling CD thus far.
  • rick-ross1
    34
    With more certified street bangers and radio hits under his belt in the last 12 months than over his entire five-year career—and arguably any other rapper in 2011—<em>XXL</em>’s October 2011 issue cover boy is undeniably having his best year ever. Only time will tell if Rozay’s <em>God Forgives, I Don’t</em> LP finally earns the 34-year-old MC membership into the platinum club.
  • guru-gallery
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    Guru has been one of hip-hop most respect MCs for years. Although he already dropped four albums as Gang Starr before, as well as his solo <em>Jazzmatazz</em> series, the DJ Premier and the Guru didn’t finally earn a well deserved first gold album until 1998’s <em>Moment of Truth</em>.
  • techn9nealbums
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    You couldn’t tell Tech N9ne fans he wasn’t the biggest star on the planet, but the rest of the world finally caught on this year, with even Lil Wayne giving the independent powerhouse a spot on <em>Tha Carter IV</em>. Who said hip-hop was a young man’s sport?
  • Cameron

    Hell yea Tech N9ne is that shit! Technician for fucking life!!!

  • Fuck LIL Wayne

    Lil Wayne is Garbage music!!! C’mon Tech liking him as a friend..okay cool but doing music with him…..fail

    • TRUE Tech9ician

      If Tech N9ne thinks Lil Wayne is dope enough to work with, I’m gonna take his word for it. Tech has done well for himself thus far with the decisions he’s made. I think true F.A.N.S. can trust in Tech that he’s making the right decisions right now and working with only the best, regardless of yours or mines opinions of the artist.

      That’s just me, I’m gonna support Tech and Strange Music from the beginning to the end.

      • NY

        wayne is the most popular rapper alive right now, i’m pretty sure tech saw it as a smart business move to collborate with him. regardless if he is a fan or not. judging by wayne’s music i would say not.

  • https://plus.google.com/106226028229979767754/ David Rodriguez

    Together we are a powerful force,
    As one mind, body and soul.
    Let no evil enter nor attempt
    To reduce us because of the beliefs we hold.
    And with this love combined with our strength,
    We ward off pain and stress.
    Technician I am wholeheartedly in life and in death!

  • Rayon Smith

    Tech N9ne been doin this rap s**t for a longtime, and it’s good to see more people recognize his hard work, and yeah u can’t forget, he is the most selling independent rapper. Strange Music iz Real Music. I Salute the big hommie

  • andro

    tech n9ne youre the best but dont make another song with lil wayne or t pain that fake shit isnt good whit them gay voices the real stuff are you number 1 for ever Technician i am !

  • tecca

    bottomline tech owns the game… just wait til he gets his hands all the way wet ;) you’ll be sayin Technician!! alot more!! bet <3Technician I am wholeheartedly

  • Darkdog

    Together we are a powerful force,
    As one mind, body and soul.
    Let no evil enter nor attempt
    To reduce us because of the beliefs we hold.
    And with this love combined with our strength,
    We ward off pain and stress.
    Technician I am wholeheartedly in life and in death!

  • LilWayneFagTrain

    Tech N9ne > Lil Wayne. All Lil Wayne has accomplished so far is being a repetitive little dickhead. Tech is the real fucking deal

  • Kevin

    Yo tech, iv been rocken your shit for 6 years and love your music. Nothing compares, I just want to say komain would be a grate member of strange music. I mean i rap, have been for 8 years and im not trying to say sing me. Yaadaa? I just think you should check out Komain. I dont even know him, but i herd his music and strange would be a good thing for him. Thanks tech, MadMan out.

  • MIA305

    TECH N9NE ALL DAY ALL FUCKING NIGHT BEST RAPPER ON THE LIST

    • Smitty

      HAhaha just cuz he spits fst yall dumb fucks like him guru is way deeper than tech ever could be jay rakim notorious and big daddy kane i mean have you listened to rap besides this year and even still watch the throne was better than all 6 and 7 i was dissappointed cuz all these niggas was giving him so much hype but he SSSSSSSSSSSUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKSSSSS

      • Jason

        Hey fast rappers are not just good at rapping fast,tech n9ne is more then a rapper, fuckin putting out some of the best music through his own label strange music bitch.

        Are u fucking kiddin me watch the throne is complete garbage gay z gay fish west suck. Tech n9ne all 6′s and 7′s is 100000x times better then piece of shit collaboration album. Listen to Worldwide Choppers,He’s a mental giant,Boogieman,Cult Leader,Love me tomorrow. You fail if you don’t see the hits those songs are dumbass.

      • Troy Johnson

        You sir know NOTHING about rap if you think Tech sucks. He is so much better than everybody you named PUT together All 6′s and 7′s is a fukin masterpiece just like EVEYTHNIG he gets on or has to do with

  • Martin

    TECHNICIANS!

  • RJII

    Where’s Nas?

  • ethan

    tech will be 40 nov. 8th same day hes new cd drops “welcome to strangeland”

  • Chris

    Tech N9ne is the best rapper alive, to me. He’s the absolute greatest. I buy everything that has anything to do remotely with Tech, except C4. lol i downloaded the album, it was fucking trash…. for the most part. Whatever, Tech N9ne is the best and he needs the cover to a XXL mag!

  • Cavz100

    Ross has 4 albums to date with 3 of them Landing Top of the charts on there 1st week of release an are Certified Platinum.the only 1 that didn’t go platinum is Teflon Don.the Tech n9ne dude is ok to me but I seriously dont see what the mad hype is about him.#MY OPINION!!!

  • Cavz100

    lol.Even ma nigga a hater.left my pc to get my lighter an look what he post.those Platinum’s should be gold.haha.MMG B*tch…An Ross gon get that Plat on this new album Zico.uugghhh.

  • RECK

    Tech N9ne is the GREATEST rapper ALIVE!

  • http://Facebook 361 Psyko

    I like tech, hes been true to his word, hes been puttin it down for years, but I think its sad to see him beginning his descent into being a sell out. You can flame me if you want, but we all know Lil Wayne has nothing in common with tech except for tha color of his skin, ya dig?

  • danny

    LOL. like someone said. Pple’s taste for rappers are different. you simply cannot classify someone that likes lil wayne or the dude who does not like tech 9ne as “someone who does have taste in music” you are being an arrogant stuck up dick if you think that way. You gotta remember that there are other pple in this world. and so therefore not only your own opinion matters. ok he doesn’t like tech 9ne. it is his opinion. what exactly does that do to you or to tech himself? NOTHING. just move on with ur life. you cannot agree on everything. stop behaving like children.

  • danny

    Not*

  • http://www.yahoo.com/ Gabrielle

    This is way better than a brick & moartr establishment.