2324Xclusive Update: Check Out Your Favorite American Rapper's Bars Before They Were Famous - Video


Have you ever wondered what your favorite rapper sounded like before they made it big? Rappers are humans, and it takes time to hone their skills into something the masses want to hear. Jay Z didn’t come out of the womb rapping “Cashmere Thoughts” through platinum teeth. Kendrick Lamar didn’t wake up at five-years-old and craft good kid, m.A.A.d city in between coloring and nap time. However, some rappers have natural talent, and showcased raw skills even before they made it big. Here are 15 displays of rappers on the mic before they were household names.
And just for fun, we rated each rappers potential from a hindsight point of view.



Kanye West

While in the car with Consequence, Kanye spits two freestyles here, and I do mean freestyles. Unlike many of the videos on this list, Kanye didn’t write his rhymes. You can tell by the fact that he screws up a few times (is that the punchline, ‘Ye?), and that in the first freestyle, he goes from content that could belong on “Drive Slow” to “Gold Digger” to “All of the Lights,” all in the span of about 30 seconds. The multisyllabic freestyling and his delivery is impressive, but rhyming about 10-inch rims? That’s like volunteering about your four-inch...toothbrush. Yeah, toothbrush.



Jay Z

“He can do it right...He’s smooth.”
No mention of Ja Z’s name, just that he’s on Rap City to kick a “funky freestyle.” It only lasts for 16 seconds, and Jay rhymes so fast it takes multiple listens to understand everything he’s saying. It was cool to hear him rap like he just inhaled a pound of adderall, but it’s better he slowed down and became the Jay we all know and revere.



This kid was the real-life Riley Freeman. I have no trouble imagining a young Dwayne Carter getting on Santa’s ass like he’s gon’ pay what he owe. The most striking thing is his comfortability on the track; the charisma that would make him a fan favorite for decades to come is already present.



Busta Rhymes/Ol’ Dirty Bastard

Busta’s freestyle wasn’t very impressive. His rhymes were pretty pedestrian and monosyllabic. For a rapper who would become renown for his liveliness, there wasn’t near enough wailing going on. And “eenie, meenie, miney, mo,” really?

Ol’ Dirty Bastard, on the other hand, was hilarious. Rhymes about Yahtzee, Richie, Joanie and Chachi had me cracking up. He might be the only rapper who can yell on a track like he’s the damn boogie monster and get away with it. Make no mistake, he still came with multisyllabic rhymes, proving he had bark and bite.



Eminem was a hyperactive, super-lyrical monster, attacking everything from his opponents’ rhymes to their outfits to even their menstrual cycles. I’m going to give this a high rating not only because it deserves it, but because I don’t want Eminem showing up at my job and dissing my words-per-minute typing skills in front of my coworkers.


Nicki Minaj

“I only rap because I’m good at it. It was a hobby for a minute. But then I was like damn, look at the state of Hip Hop, what’s going on?”
Listening to this stellar freestyle by Nicki Minaj, one can’t help but wonder what could have been had she signed to a different label. Was turning into a pop star/sex symbol inevitable, given the rough landscape for female rappers in Hip Hop today? Or could there have been a place where she could have stayed truer to her Queens self? Those are only hypotheticals to be pondered, nothing more at this point. But, the excellent freestyle is a reminder that Nicki was once an underground beast.


Kendrick Lamar

K. Dot didn’t need a beat to flow off the top like a true freestyle poet. Even if he was just rhyming hardcore, he still painted a picture: “If my pockets is something you tryna grab/I’ll pull out the rocket and peel you back like scab.” He had the wordplay “you astronaut niggas just crowding my space.” And eventually, ties it together: “Do he really fuck with President Carter/My reply is that I can’t stay away from the bosses/got the bidding war poppin’ like an auction/five or 10 labels like what he hatin’ for/seven zeros or more/Remember having Aftermath sitting on my door/Money in front of me I couldn’t open the door.” And that was just in the first freestyle. Eventually, K. Dot would give way to Kendrick Lamar, and the Aftermath was the birth of a king.



J. Cole
Back when he was “Therapist,” a teenage Jermaine Cole hit the video camera with confidence, rhyming some certainly pre-written rhymes strongly and even dropping a few one-liners (“I’m like a man with no legs, niggas can’t stand me”) like for which he’d later become known. The video features poor sound quality, so it’s hard to tell how much of the beat is of bad quality and how much of it is just...bad. Nevertheless, this video showcases a hungry young Simba taking steps on his path to greatness.



Wiz Khalifa

Yes, Wiz is reading the “freestyle” off his phone, but it’s not like he’s hiding it. He even said beforehand that he hears music, and he writes to it. With that in mind, it’s not as if faking it was a factor here. To the music; the beat was like one of those ear-candy Wiz beats from that you could just put on and ride to (or smoke to, if you’re TGOD) for hours. With that being said, Wiz could have rapped the alphabet and it probably would have sounded good. Young Khalifa doesn’t coast, though, delivering a sufficient verse for a preview of what would be to come when he was on point.
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