Today, May 3, is the birthday of Hell Rell, an important cog in the machine that was mid-2000s Dipset. The rapper is now 39 years old.

A convicted felon (drug charges in 2003), Rell is known for his granite vocals and relentlessly street lyrics, Rell is, in more than a few ways, a living emblem of mid-2000s gangsta rap. He had the image, the charisma, the delivery and lyrical content and, most perhaps most importantly, the work ethic.

The rap world's first major exposure to Rell came on The Diplomats' eponymous debut album in 2003. On the project, the rapper delivered a pretty epic freestyle from behind bars. It's a fitting introduction for an artist defined by the streets.

From the time he dropped his 2004 mixtape, Fire & Ice, Rell unloaded at least 25 projects, including mixtapes like Streets Wanna Know and Top Gunna: The Ruga Edition and albums like For the Hell of It and Black Mask, Black Gloves. He also dropped off joint projects with Dipset's resident wordplay king, J.R. Writer (Double Trouble, Gun Clap). Clearly, this is a guy who plays for the love of the game.

Some 15 years or so into his career on rap's main stage, Rell remains active. In November 2017, he dropped off The Scale mixtape, an 18-track project that includes features from Smoke DZA, Dave East and more. Here's to hoping Rell continues his rapping ways.

Happy Birthday, Hell Rell! Here's to many, many more!

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