Rappers Sound Better When They’re Broke…Except Kanye

Is it just me or do most rappers just sound waaay better when they’re broke? Think about it, Nas penned his greatest album Illmatic when he was still looking out his project window. The only time Wu-Tang was really able to form like Voltron musically was before C.R.E.A.M. came into the picture. 50 Cent was more exciting when he was out showing MFers how to rob, not teaching them how to stunt.

The only rapper I don’t think this applies to is Kanye. The fatter his wallet gets, the more interesting music he puts out. He’s throwing a 30-piece orchestra behind his beats, recruiting expensive producers like Jon Brion to help him co-produce, using samples that are known to cost a pretty penny (Steely Dan’s “Kid Charlemagne”) filming super over budget videos and putting on elaborate concert experiences.

Like most rappers he likes to spend dough on ridiculously pricey things, but unlike most he knows how to utilize his bank account for the fan’s enjoyment as well, not just to look fly.

Is Ye the only rapper that sounds better with money? Who am I missing? – Jesse Gissen

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  • billz

    jim jones

    • http://fuckyou.com Whatever

      Kid Kudi needs to stop making white emo trash and then people will stop talking shit about him. Wait, no thats not true he needs to cut that nasty fucking mark of buda off his mishapen head and realize that you just cant be so goddamn mainstream and gay and expect the real hood niggas to not talk shit about you. hes a little kanye fag and its easy too see, as soon as something doesnt go his way he will react just like gayass kanye you know say some fucking shit the rest of the monkeys need to hear. anyway black people, you are being judged by these morons, complain…..

    • zayzkidd

      Jim Jones is Shiity…But he alwayz have been, so I guess he never fell-off!!!

    • joe p

      first of all jim jones is TERRIBLE !! lol ?? does no one else see this ? and personal opinion on this article is that i think kanye west is a prime example of this college dropout is a classic top 5 hardest cds that came out in the last 10-12 years …. its gotten progressively gotten worse … anyone else see that ?

  • Pierzy

    While I think it’s tough to generalize that ALL artists (other than Mr. West) sound better when they’re broke, you’re probably right. But I don’t necessarily think it’s about being broke. It’s more about the hunger. If the artists came up middle-class but were determined to make it, they’re still hungry, even if they’re not broke. Michael Jordan said it’s harder to repeat than it is to win it, because you get complacent once you’re there.

    And it’s not just hip-hop. Very few musical artists put out better material when they’re older. No matter what McCartney does these days, he can’t match “The White Album.” Likewise, you’ll never get a “Godfather II” performance out of Pacino OR De Niro now because they’re (literally) older, more comfortable and, yes, rich.

    Once you achieve something, it’s hard to be motivated to achieve that again…

  • Arrogant_Al

    T.I. still makes good music….

    Ludacris Also

    Jadakiss too

    but i agree on everything else

    Hustler Jay>>>>> New Jay

    Nasty Nas>>>>>New Nas

    WOO HAH Busta>>>>>> New out of shape and fat Busta

    Old trailor park Em>>>>>>> New Em

    Old Fab>>>>>>>>> New Fab

    and finally

    Old Wayne>>>>>>>>> New Wayne ? or is it????

    • KSA1001

      Have to disagree on the wayne and Fab…
      Fab’s always been nice, but his guest verses lately are hot as hell. Can’t wait for the next album.

      • RDS

        Really @KSA1001? I think Fab’s verses are horrible lately…

    • Jonsey

      Thats all so true even that wayne one i hate new wayne his older stuff was much better but not too good. oh and busta is kind of shitty now..

    • Michelle S.

      I agree with Ludacris. I think old Lloyd Banks is better than the new Lloyd Banks. Maybe 50 needs to stop paying him for a while so he can get back at it (LOL). But to me, T.I. was good, then he started slacking, then he got arrested and came out with Paper Trail. So his is up (i.e. Urban Legend), down (i.e. T.I. VS T.I.P), and up (i.e. Paper Trail).

  • Hip Hop since 77

    The theory is rapper’s first album is always their best. They spend their entire life writting their first album everything after that is release dates, marketing, etc. As far as Kayne, as much as I love making fun of him he does continue to get better because he’s still learning to MC.

  • venemez

    The Game still makes good shit

  • http://www.incilin.blogspot.com Incilin

    Well, Eminem was dead broke and he put out Infinite where he pretty much bit off Nas/AZ. He went triple platinum and then came back with the Marshall Mathers LP.

    Jay’s best album may be Reasonable Doubt to many of his fans, but you can’t front that by the time he became “The 100 Million Dollar Man” he put out Blueprint, which is just as good as RD.

    Big had 4 million sold and still penned Life After. Pac was already platinum and went on to do All Eyez and Machiavelli.

    Also, Outkast put out a series of good records. And UGK hit their peak with Ridin Dirty, their 4th album. Wayne must have made some kind of money (“I seen a mil before 17″) before C2 and C3 rolled around.

    I think what your really trying to touch on is how rappers often sound best at their debut but fall apart over time. Hip hop’s need for the energy of youth prevails over dollar signs, well sometimes.

  • UARK83



    It is all about hunger and creativity real artists get better with age. Good hunger is the hunger to create something make it incedible not just for the world to consume but because you are driven to do that. The bad hunger that dominants hip-hop is the hunger to use the whole thing as a Job or hustle and create whatever folks want to get you out the hood. Usually rappers first album reflects them trying to be their dopest. If the first album is successful the second album usually determines if we are dealing with a true artist to the core or a hustler with artistic tendencies. Kanye is a true artist dude can even draw well, I still think his autotune shit is attrocious but it takes a dude on his on ish like artists tend to get to even risk losing his core audience on something like 808 and heart breaks. The hustlers keep it real safe which usual leads to the formula heavy albums that kill their career. Real artists keep it fresh and if they have nothing to say they simply fall back like 3 stacks but when they speak you know they are a problem like 3 stacks.

  • paychexx


  • http://blindiforthekids.com $ulaiman

    Outkast and Kanye are the exceptions to every hip-hop rule.

  • Emperor Doom

    Plenty of artists.

    I like new T.I more than old T.I

    Luda has always been great
    Chamillionaire has gotten better to me
    Game has consistently been very good to me.

    As for the Nas example? Illmatic is widely considered one of the greatest rap albums of all time so it’s not like he fell off.

  • zood

    Thinking a bit narrow with this. Eminem even when rich produced very good albums, Jay-Z when reasonable doubt came out wasn’t necesarily broke.
    But i think the argument applies to Nas. Illmatic was just classic, and he’s never quite matched it since….still better than most around though can’t deny.

  • LB

    No matter if they’re rich or broke, a rapper who can rap and stay true to the artform while remainin relevant to the consumers will be always be o.k. Also, dudes need to get their greater than and less than signs right. Pay attention in Math class.

  • http://www.myspace.com/youngmyke myke_Wayne

    Cam got better and Game too.
    Contrary to what ya’ll sayin-i’d say Nas and Quik too

    • opm509

      co-sing on quik good name drop

  • Curtis75Black

    I definitely Cosign LB !! It basically about what you are looking for in that particular artist. If a emcee came out Hardcore or introspective and you enjoy that type of music, you expecting them to do that same type of music every go round is quite silly. LL was 16 when his 1st cd dropped and he sounded that way. you heard it in his delivery and topics. I wouldn’t want to hear Radio coming from him today, Like I wouldn’t want to hear Reasonable doubt from Jay or Southerplayaistic from OutKast.

    • El Tico Loco

      I see your point but when you can’t give your fans the same energy each time you drop you will fall off. For example Ghostface he’s not gonna have another Supreme Caliente or Iron Man but he hasn’t lost his edge, he might jump on a R&B track but he still Ghost and you want your favorite rappers to be able to make their presence known on a track. Basically you don’t want to see them jump out of their lane but you do want to see them put their own twist on the current times the same way they did when they got put on

  • jester

    dmx still the same crazy motherfucker & xzibit dont give a shit he still gettin pissed off his face & we got luda still bein cris an how can we forget cube he still makin threats!

  • tensensi

    outkast stay evolving.

  • 619

    Nas, Jay, and B.I.G. definitely apply to the first album. Scarface is one of the only rappers that I can think of that continued to drop classics and stayed real. I think the difference is the surrondings and the hunger. Anybody who writes rhymes knows that the things you see on a a daily basis give you inspiration to write. If you go outside and see some wild shit, you’re gonna go back inside and grab whatever you can to write on, and make a raw verse out of it. The streets are gonna respect it because they are the only ones who fully understand the dynamics of what you’re talkin’ about, from the slanguage to the enviroment. Once that money comes in and the surrondings change, the streets are goin’ to be disconnected from the message. When cats start rappin’ about European designers, Maybachs, diamonds, and mansions, nobody from the streets is gonna understand it.

    • 619

      Like when I saw Raekwon doin’ an interview on T.V. at a pizza spot and he grabbed a paper plate and started writing, then folded the plate up when he was done and stuck it in his pocket. That’s hip-hop at its rawest form, that’s real emcee shit, a hungry rapper literally.

  • capcobra

    i actually think mc’s sound better after they get money..by the 2nd cd you can hear the confidence in thier delivery…the 1st cd they be an octave lower..cocky but not confident…then after they realize somebody actually listening then they step it up a notch..the material or topics may be better on the debut but the overall artists get better…that’s why the 2nd cd is the make or break.

  • FD

    Eminem sounded way better on the first album when he was broke if i had that song you could practically hear his stomich growl on that one

  • jmes

    chamillionaire just keeps getting better and t.i. keeps making better music luda kind of fell off with his last album eminems best album is the eminem show and that was after he had sold 10 million copies of the marshll matters lp. jay z sucks

  • LB

    619…Yea man, I definately like that last example of The Chef; writin on a paper plate…stickin it in his pocket. That’s the bizness. I bet he didn’t even eat all the crust! lol

    • 619

      Yeah, I used to write back in the day, and I would have a brainstorm at the oddest times. Start thinkin’ of somethin’ crazy to write when I was on the toilet or gettin’ sucked up or somethin’ haha. And sometimes I’d get writers block for a couple days at a time, so I would carry a sharpie with me everywhere and when I came up with some fire it did’nt matter if I was out somewhere, I’d go into the bathroom to get a paper towel to write on. I’d come home with a few folded up napkins in my pockets or like 10 post its back to back makin’ a whole 16 to copy into my composition book. That’s real hip-hop, love for the art and workin’ at the craft.

  • zayzkidd

    Me personally, feel like Kanye took a fall with this last album, but I won’t count it though because he went out of his comfort zone with that one, but on this next one, he better come with it again and leave behind all that gay sounding shiit!!!


    im just usin wayne as an example, theres a bunch more…


    wait but most of kanye’s best songs came off his first album. you are right the porduction got better but did the rhymes get better? also for the guys talking about wanye he got three levels. old wanye the carter 1 wanye then everything after that. i like carter 1 wanye the best.

    • http://tonygrands.blogspot.com tony grand$

      I think generally an artist sounds a little better when they’re hungry. Which doesn’t necessarily translate into a first or second album.

      That pay scale may not increase until they get to the third or fourth. In that case, they’re going to keep coming with it until success catches up to their work ethic.

      Then, @ that point is when it becomes apparent if the drive is based off the hunger or the hustle. True artists don’t care about the pay, it’s just a bonus to doing what they love.

  • oskamadison

    If you stay true to who you are as a person and as an artist and you still love what you do, as long as you keep going in, you can’t fall off. I understand where you’re going with the “hungry new MC” theory but here’s some MC’s who I think got better as time went on, regardless of paper:
    Andre 3000-Dre was always dope but can you seriously tell me that any of his old joints can fuck with his verse from “The Art Of Storytellin’ pt.4″ ? Mind you, this is AFTER “Speakerboxx/The Love Below”.
    Redman-”Whut Thee Album?” is a classic. “Dare Iz A Darkside” stepped it up about 4 notches.
    And from “Muddy Waters” on, dude’s been out of control. Now, dude might not be millionaire status but he’s further from broke than I am.
    Lil Wayne-Yeah,yeah, yeah, I know but would you rather hear “The Carter 3″ or “The Block is Hot”? Thought so…

  • latinpistol07

    i dont know. i’d take Jesus Walks over Love Lockdown anyday

  • Curtis75Black

    I want more progression than Hunger from an emcee. When it comes to an artist I let them be that artist. Their money staus has nothing to do with my feeling toward their music. If they come with I feel it, If they don’t, I won’t.

  • http://myspace.com/tragthabeast thabeastwithin

    I like what everybody sayin’ on tha comments. For once nobody with no dumbass satements! I think sometimes it’s out of the artists’ hands whether or not your sound changes. For example, look @ Nas & Jigga. Nas isn’t necessarily as commercially successful as Jay because he chose to do him and stay away from the pop singles. On the other hand, Jay switched it up and gave the people them radio-friendly singles to sell his albums. Jay had to compromise a little but, he stayed true to who he was. Most niggaz fall under heavy pressure from the labels to do commercial shit and they don’t really know how to do commercial shit and be them. End result they commercial shit is just WACK. Most rappers think like well shit, am I gonna starve ‘cuz a few muhfuckas I don’t even know want me to sound a certain way or am I gonna protect my career (keep the label from droopin’ them)and just conform to what the label wants?

  • amar

    totally disagree with u. College dropout can’t be matched. His mixtape before college dropout was crazy too

  • Golden Child

    Hell yeah rappers sound better when they’re broke. Ultimately Hip Hop is about being broke. This may be hard for younger folks to understand in 2009, but Hip Hop is based on a culture of poverty. Thats why rap dudes don’t wear suits and play instruments like Jazz musicians; because rap is about daily life on the block. Cats rhymed over beats sampled from Mom and Dad’s old dusty R&B records because they couldn’t afford to buy and play instruments.

    When rappers are broke, they pour their heart and souls into their poetry. And alot of regular people who go through these same situations can relate. This is why albums like Illmatic, The Infamous and Reasonable Doubt will never die. But once rappers get money, they start living big baller lifestyles and lose touch with the streets and their original fan base.

  • http://sstp1885.com sstp1885

    yea thats kinda true, but most rappers don’t have content anymore or new concepts. Kanye does because his controversial. I’m not feeling his new swag, just me, but his music is brilliant. and his pimping rite now too. So i’m feeling his game plan. his open minded. the average rapper just wants to be the biggest thug ever and thats so played out. and i think fifthy is banging rappers out rite now with the whole pimping curly ish, cuz he found a new way to entertain us, and get money through these recession. he has a new niche with that situation and the cartoons too. it’s the most entertaining thing in hip hop rite now. he is a entertainer not just a rapper, thats why he is ending other rappers careers rite now.

  • ShowTime

    Nah, Its not about being Broke. Its about when Artist faces Adversity, Struggle,Pressure etc.

    For example you said Kanye right? Well His mother just died, and his Girlfriend Broke up with him.

    2 Pac: When suge took him out of Jail. He made All Eyes On Me, and Makaveli, and a whole lot of other shit were hearing today.

    Nas.: After Jay dissed Nas he made Ether and Stillmattic

    Im an artist and my best analogy would be like how a Great Ball player like Jordan and Kobe respond when their in a Life or Death play off situation. They Play harder. They Play their Best. The Level of Game that B-Baller Play in Playoff games cant compare to when their palying an ordinary game.


    • james dean

      I agree with you on most of that. But I think that Jordan and Kobe play hard every single night no matter what the situation and thats what made them better than everyone else. They never took days off.

      I’m a Hov fan and I can say that doesn’t even apply to him anymore because you can see that he’s not in that Blueprint zone all the time. This only applies to the up – and – comers in the game (XXL Freshmen) who have to do it to stay relevant. So I wouldn’t say rappers sound better when they’re broke but they are more dedicated

  • Dre

    I think Snoop Dogg falls into that category, eversince The Chronic and Doggystyle his rhymes haven’t been close to what he used to be.

  • konvikt

    Jigga aka The God MC J-Hovva

  • james dean

    wtf this doesn’t make any sense….If you are a fan of say a Jay-z why would you want to hear REASONABLE DOUBT every time?? Guys trying to remake their first album end up sounding just like everybody else and showing no growth….that’s why kanye is the man because each album he has put out is waaaay different than the one before

  • http://xxl All Dae

    I disagree with KRS Ones stupid statement that only poor rappers can spit. KRS-One is rich so his dumb ass should retire.

    I agree that broke hungry m.c.s spit a bit more raw. There’s exceptions to every rule.

    I’ve heard classic material from rich and poor rappers.

    Kanye West does get better.

  • Curtis75Black

    That’s basically it. I might not feel Kanye but I definitely give him props for at least trying something new. I mean you have emcee’s doing remixes of songs that was off their 1st cd. You can tell they are trying too hard.Come on, it’s 2009 !! Leave that song where it was, in 1994, 15 years ago.

    If there’s no progression, If there’s no variety in production and diverse subject matter and different writing styles, whats the use of being an artist ?

  • http://xxl ryan

    only rapper i kno dat still spit lik he came out is ghostface killah, canibus, n crooked I. but 90s rappers stop using the fast flow thats they sound wack now. my fav rapper is cam but i have 2 admit he cant see his SDE self if they were 2 battle.

  • Michelle S.

    I disagree with it being about money. (See T.I. Paper Trail; it took him getting arrested and facing jail time to do something better than that T.I. VS. T.I.P BS.) If they have something to say or feel like they have something to prove, they’re gonna sound good whether their first and/or previous album went maple or uranium. It’s the hunger.

    I mean, I could make the arguement about how most rappers mixtapes are better than their albums… PAUSE.

  • FlapJack

    Jeezy has gotten A LOT better.

  • bluntsmoka

    jeezy has improved alot.

    z-ro is the most underrated rapper with money right now!