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Hip-Hop: Rags to Riches Vol. II



Rags to Riches Of Hip-Hop Vol. II
Eminem, Jay-Z, Snoop.

It’s no secret that there is much inequity between the rags and the riches. While some have been born with silver spoons and golden opportunities, others barely have boots to pull themselves up by. Thankfully, success is not predicated on what situation one is born into but on how one plays the cards they are dealt. And those who refuse to fold regardless of how many wrong hands they dealt with are the true inspirations. 

Hip hop is not without its success stories; those who took the filthy rags they were handed down and converted them to a life of riches. So, here are five more rappers who have managed to come from rags to riches. 

 Rag to Riches Artist #1: Eminem


Eminem. Image source: Getty Images.

Eminem’s life has been no cakewalk. But, like a rose that struggles through asphalt, he has come a long way to reach the level of success he has garnered. Eminem’s life story is no secret, as the feature film 8-mile was a loose interpretation of his life story. He grew up with a drug-addicted parent. His life at home was a persistent threat. Where he indeed found his home was on the streets, sharpening his lyrical skills.

If lyricism was a weapon and the wielder an expert, his experience transformed him into an assassin. Eminem’s lyrical skills became not only his comfort but the springboard that would take him from rags to riches, proving that it doesn’t matter what situation you were born in but what you did with the talents that were born within you.

 Rag to Riches Artist #2: Jay-Z 


Jay-Z. Image source: Shareif Ziyadat/Getty Images.

Jay-Z’s Hard Knock life is also no secret. Jay-Z grew up in the Brooklyn projects, as he aptly pens his opening verse of “Empire State of Mind.”

“Yeah, I’m out that Brooklyn, now I’m down in Tribeca. Right next to De Niro, but I’ll be hood forever.”

Poverty and crime were constant companions. However, Jay-Z would go on to become the storied dealer he went on to speak about in his earlier projects. While not an ideal lifestyle, it was a means of survival for him. Sadly, when trying to survive, you turn to the reachable things; at the time, dealing provided him with what he needed to make it.

When once asked if, at the time, he knew he was destroying lives with his choice, he stated, “No! No way. You just think people are buying your service, and it’s normal; you just think you’re coming of age. It’s everywhere. The smell, the stench in the hallway – that’s one of the things about the crack epidemic, people had lost their sense of pride.” Not only did Jay-Z sell drugs, but he once shot his brother at 12 years of age. However, his brother never filed charges.

In simple turns, Jay-Z is a hustler. And the same mentality has served him on the street and in his career. But, in 1996, after his first album, “Reasonable Doubt,” his life began to shift, and rap became his full-time hustle. Ultimately it was the bridge taking him straight to the top. 

 Rag to Riches Artist #3: Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg. Image source: Getty Images.

Much like Jay-Z, Snoop grew up impoverished. And he, too, has detailed his life in lyrics. Snoop started delving into the lyrical arts in his childhood. While he managed to stay out of trouble doing most of his formative years, his post-high school years told a different story.

According to, Snoop was arrested several times after graduating high school for drug possession and spent time in prison. Snoop embraced street life, also becoming a member of the notorious Crips.

Snoop’s family, alongside rap, would serve as outlets wherein he would pave a path to success. Pre-success, Snoop recorded demos with Warren G and Nate Dogg. Snoop’s style and talent were unmistakable and caught the ear of Dr. Dre. After hearing Snoop, Dre brought in a young Snoop to see what he was working with, and from then, that was all they wrote. As Biography notes,

“Snoop became the key rapper on Dre’s hugely successful first solo album, The Chronic, in 1992.”

From then on, Broadus not only solidified his name in hip-hop history but became a successful personality and serial entrepreneur. 

 Rag to Riches Artist #4: Sean Combs

Sean Diddy Combs

Sean Diddy Combs. Image source: Getty Images.

Diddy grew up in Harlem in what is known as one of the toughest neighborhoods. Even as a youngster, Diddy refused to let his situation get the best of him. As it is noted in Yahoo Finance,

“Combs got a paper route as a boy to earn money in his gritty Harlem neighborhood when his mother couldn’t afford to buy him sneakers.”

Combs had the heart of a lion. For him, like many, life hit back hard. Combs lost his father when he was only a boy. His father was gunned down, leaving him to be raised by a single mother. Yet, Combs let nothing hold him down or break his stride. After dropping out of Howard, he would start Bad Boy Records, an enterprise that would make a name for the young and hungry entrepreneur. According to Yahoo Finance, as of 2021, he had amassed a net worth of $885 million. 

 Rag to Riches Artist #5: A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky

A$AP Rocky. Image Source:

Like Diddy A$AP was born and raised in Harlem. Much like the artist above, his life was not without struggle. According to Hip Hop Scriptures, one of A$AP’s earlier memories was spending time in a shelter with his mom. Music also was an early outlet for the artist, who began rapping when he was only eight. However, later, he, too, would learn to live without his father’s presence as he went to jail when Rocky was only 12. However, it was a tragic event that would spurn Rocky’s turn towards rap.

As Hip Hop Scriptures notes,

“His brother was killed near his apartment at 13. This experience and his experiences growing up made him want to pursue rapping as a career.”

In 2007 Rocky was introduced to the world as a member of the A$AP Mob. After his track “Peso” was leaked, Rocky became the artist to watch. Following his debut mixtape “Live. Love. ASAP,” he signed to RCA Records and Polo Grounds Music. But that was only the start. Rocky continues to climb the ladder of success. 

Many make excuses for what they can’t do, but these five artists are living examples that there is no such thing as can’t. Although they are each talented, their talent was only part of what it took to climb out of their rags to riches.

Instead, what makes them extraordinary is the push to commit to doing whatever it takes to live a life far beyond the initial expectations. These artists prove true success stories exist; they come from the girt, grime, and filth of improbability. 

Written by Renae Richardson

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