Time may be our most valuable currency in an era defined by immediacy. Here in 2014, we’re used to instant accessibility in our communications, transactions, and entertainment. It makes sense, then, that the rate at which relatively unknown artists skyrocket to success has seemed to accelerate in recent years; take Bobby Shmurda, who recently closed a deal with Epic Records off the strength of one catchy song and an even more addictive six-second Vine clip. It’s easy to forget that Shmurda’s speedy come-up is far from traditional, even by today’s standards. Even these guys will tell you that “I can make you a celebrity overnight” is a promise way easier said than done.

For most superstar rappers, the come-up involved corny day jobs, awkward name changes, forged and lost alliances, equal parts thirst and luck, and above all, years and years of hustle (not to mention patience). It’s bizarre to imagine a time when Nicki was Onika, snapping on her Red Lobster customers, or when Drake was Aubrey, nervous to set foot on Lil Wayne’s tour bus for the first time. However it’s a reminder that at one point, your favorite rapper wasn’t all that far off from the struggle MCs polluting your mentions. Confidential to struggle rappers: That tactic never works. Well, unless you’re Meek Mill.