New York has spawned some of the biggest rap stars on the planet since the genre was born in the Bronx in the 1970s. But despite the wide-ranging success of groups like A Tribe Called Quest, Wu-Tang Clan, Beastie Boys and De La Soul—among a host of others—the city's most commercially successful artists have usually been solo rappers such as LL Cool J, Jay Z and 50 Cent, all of whom have enjoyed sustained careers into their late 30s, at least, and all of whom have claimed the status as the top rapper in the game at some point along the way.

XXL decided to dig a little deeper into the matter, taking a microscopic look at three of New York City's best MCs, letting the facts speak for themselves and running down the highlights of LL, Jay and 50's careers by the the time they turned 35, using age as a benchmark. The results are a lot closer than you'd expect. Suffering from success. —Miranda Johnson (@Randa_Writes)

Artist: LL Cool J
Borough: Queens
Age When First Album Dropped: 17
Turned 35: 2003
Years In The Game To That Point: 18
Number Of Albums: 9 (6 Platinum)
No. 1 Albums: 1
Top 40 Singles: 11
Labels: Def Jam, Violator, 429 Records, S-BRO, P.O.G.
Beefs: Kool Moe Dee, MC Shan, Ice-T, MC Hammer, Tupac, Canibus, Wyclef Jean, Jamie Foxx and Mike Tyson
Women: Simone Johnson
Other Ventures: Starred in 17 movies (such as Halloween H20: 20 Years Later, Any Given Sunday and Charlie's Angels) and had roles in three television series
Clothing lines like TROOP and Todd Smith
Authored 2 books: an autobiography titled I Make My Own Rules (1998) and a children's book called And The Winner Is... (2002)
Grammys: 9 nominations, 2 wins (1992, Best Rap Solo Performance, "Mama Said Knock You Out"; 1997, Best Rap Solo Performance, "Hey Lover")
Biggest Collaborations: Boyz II Men, Jennifer Lopez, Dr. Dre, Ne-Yo, DMX, Method Man, The Dream  
Albums (Billboard 200 Peak): Radio (46) 1985; Bigger and Deffer (3) 1987; Walking with a Panther (6) 1989; Mama Said Knock You Out (16) 1990; 14 Shots to the Dome (5) 1993; Mr. Smith (4) 1995; Phenomenon (7) 1997; G.O.A.T. (1) 2000; 10 (2) 2002
Singles: Top 40 Chart Success (Hot 100): "Paradise" (36); "Luv You Better" (4); "Father" (18); "Loungin'" (3); "Doin' It" (9); "Hey Lover" featuring Boyz II Men (3); "Mama Said Knock You Out" (17); "Around The Way Girl" (9); "I’m That Type Of Guy" (15); "Going Back To Cali" (31); "I Need Love" (14);

Artist: Jay Z
Borough: Brooklyn
Age When First Album Dropped: 25
Turned 35: 2004
Years In The Game To That Point: 15
Number Of Albums: 10 (10 platinum)
No. 1 Albums: 7
Top 40 Singles: 13
Labels: Def Jam, Roc-A-Fella, Roc Nation 
Beefs: Nas, Prodigy, DMX/Ruff Ryders, Dame Dash, Un Rivera, Stephon Marbury, Dipset, R. Kelly, Jaz-O
Women: Beyonce, Blu Cantrell, Free?, possibly Rosario Dawson, Amil and Foxy Brown, allegedly Carmen Bryan
Other Ventures: Roc-A-Fella Records
Rocawear
40/40 Club
Streets Is Watching, Backstage, State Property and Paper Soldiers films, as well as retirement documentary Fade To Black in 2004
Grammys: 15 nominations, 3 wins (Best Rap Album: Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life (1999); Best Rap/Sung Collaboration and Best R&B Song: "Crazy In Love" with Beyonce)
Biggest Collaborations: The Notorious B.I.G, R. Kelly, Mary J Blige, Beyonce, Kanye West, Eminem, Ja Rule
Albums (Billboard peak in parentheses): Reasonable Doubt (23) 1996; In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 (3) 1997; Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life (1) 1998; Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter (1) 1999; The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (1) 2000; The Blueprint (1) 2001; The Best of Both Worlds with R. Kelly (2) 2002; The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse (1) 2002; The Black Album (1) 2003; Unfinished Business with R. Kelly (1) 2004
Top 40 Chart Success (Hot 100): "99 Problems" (30); "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" (5); "Change Clothes" (10); "Excuse Me Miss" (8); "’03 Bonnie & Clyde" (4); "Girls, Girls, Girls" (17); "Izzo" (8); "I Just Wanna Love U" (11); "Big Pimpin’" (18); "Jigga My Nigga" (28); "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" (15); "Can I Get A..."(19); "Big Chips" (39) with R. Kelly

Artist: 50 Cent
Borough: Queens
Age When First Album Dropped: 27
Turned 35: 2010
Years In The Game To That Point: 12
Number Of Albums: 5 (4 platinum)
No. 1 Albums: 2
Top 40 Singles: 14
Labels: Aftermath, Shady, G-Unit, Interscope, Hollowpoint Entertainment
Beefs: Ja Rule and Murder IncThe Game, Fat Joe, Young Buck, Nas, Jadakiss, Diddy, Rick Ross, Kanye West, Master P, Chamillionaire, Cam'ron, Lil Wayne
Women: Ciara, Tatted Up HollyChelsea HandlerDaphne JoyShaniqua Tompkins
Other ventures: G-Unit Records and G-Unit Clothing
G-Unit Films
Cheetah Vision
Two video games, 50 Cent: Bulletproof and 50 Cent: Blood In The Sand
Vitamin Water
Right Guard
SK Energy
10 movie roles, including Get Rich Or Die Tryin' and Righteous Kill, and four television roles (EntourageThe Simpsons, 50 Cent: The Money And The Power)
Grammy Awards/Nominations: 14 Nominations, 1 Grammy (Best Rap Performance By A Duo Or Group: "Crack A Bottle" featuring Eminem and Dr. Dre)
Biggest Collaborations: Destiny’s Child, Eminem, Dr. Dre, Alicia Keys, Timbaland, G-Unit
Albums (Billboard peak in parentheses): Get Rich or Die Tryin' (1) 2003; The Massacre (1) 2005; Get Rich Or Die Tryin' Soundtrack (2) 2005; Curtis (2) 2007; Before I Self Destruct (5) 2009
Top 40 Chart Success (Hot 100): "Baby By Me" (28); "Ayo Technology" (5); "I Get Money" (20); "Straight To The Bank" (32); "Window Shopper" (20);"Outta Control" (6); "Just A Lil Bit" (3); "Candy Shop" (1); "Disco Inferno" (3); "P.I.M.P." (3); "21 Questions" (1); "In Da Club" (1); "Wanksta" (13); "Best Friend" (35)