Today, Jan. 28, should be declared a hip-hop holiday, as it is Rakim, Rick Ross and J. Cole's birthdays!

New York native Rakim, born in 1968 as William Michael Griffin Jr., was part of the 1980s super duo, Eric B. & Rakim. Eric B. and Rakim’s classic album, Paid in Full, was released July 7, 1987. It spawned hits such as “Eric B. Is President,” “I Ain’t No Joke,” “I Know You Got Soul,” “Move the Crowd” and the title track, “Paid in Full.” The duo went on to record four more albums together. Rakim also recorded four solo albums and has released collaborative work with DMX and Linkin Park in recent years. Known for his calm, cool and collected vibe, and his methodical approach to delivering bars, the God MC is regarded as one of the top lyricists of all-time. Today is his 50th birthday.

Born in 1976, Rick Ross' debut album, Port of Miami, was released in 2006. It took the top spot on the Billboard 200, selling 187,000 records in its first week. The album eventually went gold. Not the one to rest on his laurels, Ross came out with three more albums in quick succession, including TrillaDeeper Than Rap and Teflon Don. In 2012 he dropped God Forgives, I Don't which debuted No. 1 on Billboard 200 and sold 218,000 copies in the first week. In 2014, Ross hit us all with a one-two punch, delivering two albums in the same calendar year.  Mastermind debuted on March 3, 2014 and once again dominated the Billboard charts, securing the No. 1 spot with first week sales. Hood Billionaire dropped Nov. 24, 2014 and featured guest appearances from K. Michelle, Big K.R.I.T. and JAY-Z. 2015's Black Market featured Nas, Mariah Carey and Mary J. Blige. Rozay's newest album Rather You Than Me dropped in 2017. Along the way, Ross has also built himself an army of artists under his own record label, Maybach Music Group. MMG is home to Meek Mill, Fat Trel, Rockie Fresh, Don Logan (formerly known as Gunplay) and Wale. Today, he turns 42.

German-born Jermaine Cole, a.k.a. J. Cole, rose to fame in 2009 as the first artist to sign to JAY-Z's Roc Nation label. Since the release of his debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story, the hip-hop star debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, Top R&B Albums and Top Rap Albums chart and received a Best New Artist nomination at the 2012 Grammy Awards. Cole followed up the success with his second studio album, Born Sinner, which went Gold in September of 2013. And at the end of 2014, Cole blessed his fans with an impressive third album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive on Dec. 9, 2014 after little to no promo. Although a risky move from a PR standpoint, the lack of lead singles and guest appearances on the project didn't hurt his sales one bit. 2014 Forest Hills Drive debuted at number one on the Billboard 200.  After taking time off to marry his college sweetheart, Cole dropped his fourth studio LP 4 Your Eyez Only last December, following the same formula of little to no promo. 4 Your Eyez Only is currently certified platinum in sales. Today is his 33rd birthday.

Happy Birthday to three of rap's greats, Rakim, Rick Ross and J. Cole!

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