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5 Valuable Life Lessons From Rappers About Tough Times

Published on April 6, 2020 8:54 AM EST
5 Valuable Life Lessons From Rappers About Tough Times

Many of rap’s greatest success stories have been through numerous obstacles to reach the pinnacle of fortune. Below are a few important life lessons I have learned from some of my favorite rappers. 

Do you enjoy rap music?

Ever since I was a baby mumbling along to the beat of Tupac’s California Love, I have been a fan of rap music. Since rap music first gained popularity in the 1970s, the genre has birthed many first-generation multi-millionaires as well as a billionaire.

5 Valuable Life Lessons From Rappers About Tough Times

The stories behind these success stories rival Hollywood blockbusters, and there’s a world of knowledge to take from the many problems that successful rappers have faced. 

Learn from the wisdom of some of my favorite rappers below. 

1. Jay-Z: Everyone Has the Ability to be Great

If there is one person that truly embodies the American dream, it’s Jay-Z. The legendary rapper went from selling crack in the streets of Brooklyn to becoming rap’s first billionaire.  Besides being a skillful rapper, Jay-Z has achieved success as an investor and entrepreneur.

Some of the many businesses he has invested in include Uber, the champagne company Armand de Brignac, and Tidal. Jay-Z has achieved success in multiple industries, bringing one of his most famous lyrics to fruition: “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.”

In an interview, Jay-Z once stated, “Every human has genius-level talent. There are no chosen ones. You just have to find what it is that you are great at and tap into it.” 

Everyone is great at something. Whether you are a great talker, researcher, or marketer, there is something out there you can flourish at. Life is all about finding one, special thing and transforming it into something that can benefit you. 

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Also check out these inspirational Jay-Z quotes.

2. Dr. Dre: Execution is Key

Dr. Dre is a multi-hyphenate rap superstar that has had a hand in bringing many talented musicians to superstardom. Some of the many artists Dr. Dre has produced for include Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, Anderson .Paak, and The Game. His eye for talent and sheer creativity has brought him both commercial and critical acclaim.

The Chronic, Dr. Dre’s debut solo album was even picked to be archived in the Library of Congress. But, like other successful rappers, Dr. Dre used his platform as a rapper to expand his brand into other businesses. Dr. Dre’s net worth is estimated to be $800 million. His most profitable venture is his headphones company Beats by Dr. Dre, which was bought by Apple in 2014 for $3 billion.  

Many may think of Dr. Dre as an idea factory, but even Dr. Dre has lapses in inspiration. Dr. Dre once said, “When the ideas are coming, I don’t stop until the ideas stop because that train doesn’t come along all the time.” 

When inspiration comes, take advantage of it. No matter how otherworldly, out of reach, or seemingly unoriginal your idea may be, what sets you apart is how you execute. Many celebrities, including Tim McGraw, 50 Cent, and Ludacris, have tried their hand at releasing headphones. Only Dr. Dre was able to execute so well that he was able to sell his brand to Apple for $3 billion. 

3. Nicki Minaj: Your Voice Matters

By many measures, Nicki Minaj is the most successful female rapper ever. She’s the first female rapper to sell 100 million units across her albums, singles, and features, the wealthiest female MC in history, and the first female artist with 100 appearances on the Billboard Hot 100.

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But throughout her decade-long career, Minaj has certainly received her fair share of adversity. In a male-dominated, often misogynistic industry, Minaj has been criticized at every step of her career. Yet, she doesn’t let the naysayers defeat her and remains an inspiration for many. 

In a 2013 interview with Elle magazine, Nicki Minaj advises women striving for success, “My advice to women in general: Even if you’re doing a nine-to-five job, treat yourself like a boss. Not arrogant, but be sure of what you want— and don’t allow people to run anything for you without your knowledge.” 

The first step to gaining respect is making your voice heard. Especially if you’re a part of an oppressed group, there may be many people who are focused on silencing you. Making your opinion known can only benefit you. Many have tried to take down Nicki Minaj’s empire, but she never forgot the power of her voice. That’s one of the many reasons why Nicki is still relevant today. 

Also check out these Nicki Minaj quotes that will boost your confidence.

4. Kendrick Lamar: You Are the Company You Keep

Kendrick Lamar has become one of the most awarded rappers in history, winning thirteen Grammys throughout his career. The quality of Lamar’s creative work is consistently recognized from many different walks of life.

For example, Kendrick Lamar’s album DAMN. was the 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner for music. This makes him the only non-jazz or classical artist to win the award, which has been awarded yearly since the 1940s. Lamar’s work has also made it to countless “Best Of” lists, including former President Barack Obama’s. 

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What plays a large part in Lamar’s creative process is the input of his team. In a 2011 BET interview, Lamar gave insight into the value of honesty, “The best thing is to always keep honest people around, because when you have a bunch of yes men around that know that you’re making a mistake but let you go on with it, that’s when it ruins your mind state as an artist.” 

If you want to grow, you have to be open to criticism. Successful people, despite their craft, are those who are always open to learning. They are comfortable with the fact that they don’t know it all. When you allow those around you to give their opinion, your work will only get better for it. Not even Kendrick Lamar can create great tracks like Humble and Alright all by himself. 

Also check out these Kendrick Lamar quotes that will uplift and inspire you.

5. Chance the Rapper: The Success of Others Doesn’t Dull Your Shine

Chance the Rapper struggled with drug addiction in early adulthood, as documented in his critically-acclaimed mixtape Acid Rap. But, as Chance grew older, he evolved into a father, Grammy-award winner, and a philanthropist.

Chance founded the non-profit organization, SocialWorks, in 2016. SocialWorks has established multiple initiatives throughout the Chicago community. They include My State of Mind, which works to revitalize mental health services in Chicago, and Open Mike, a series of free monthly events for the youth of Chicago. For his philanthropic efforts, Chance the Rapper won the BET Award for Humanitarian of the Year in 2017. 

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In a 2016 Complex interview, Chance commented on the competitiveness that resides in the rap industry, “I never really liked the idea of rap being a competitive thing. It’s not. I can’t gain anything off of anyone else not succeeding.” Having a sense of competitiveness, especially within your peers, can turn into motivation. But, it’s when that competitiveness turns into jealousy and vengeance that things can take an ugly turn.

The success of others doesn’t take away from the things you have accomplished. The only person you’re truly competing with is yourself: your self-doubt, your work ethic, your procrastination. If you have a chance to help someone in need, help them, just like Chance. 

Also check out these inspirational Chance the Rapper quotes and lyrics.

What life lessons have you learned from rappers? 

Rap often gets a bad reputation for its misogyny and glorification of violence and drugs. But those stereotypes don’t describe the entire rap genre and the values of each rapper within it. Many have transformed their craft into multimillion-dollar businesses and changed the lives of millions through philanthropy.  

The previously mentioned life lessons have helped me achieve my goals, shake off naysayers, and find what my true passion is. Whether you’re a college student, secretary, or accountant, incorporating these life lessons into your daily routine can change your life for the better. 

What life lesson do you connect with the most? Let us know your thoughts below!

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