Hip-hop and tattoos have a somewhat dodgy history. We've laughed at mistakes and occasionally danced to ink themed tunes (or cried listening to Atmosphere's "Girl With the Tattooed Hands"). We remember LL talking about his microphone and Gucci Mane filling the pages of gossip rags with his curious ice cream cone. And, we've seen members of the community memorialized through body art.
Tattoos, in the last two decades, have simply become part of the hip-hop aesthetic.
When good, hip-hop tattoos are explicit signifiers of identity. They match the style of the wearer and speak to personal values. Other times, common designs become linked to specific stars, giving those tattoos new power and incorporating them into hip-hop culture.
There are a few memorable tattoos that don't crack the top 10. Eminem's tribute to fallen homie Proof and Aesop Rock's "…MUST WARN OTHERS …MUST NOT SLEEP" are cool. So are some of the pieces on Jim Jones and Cory Gunz. Wayne and Wiz, we know, are well covered. Dame Dash has some nice ink. And, DJ Paul's barbed wire neck is brilliant in its brutality.
Keep all that in mind while moving through our list. Here are the 10 best tattoos in hip-hop history.