A History Of Rappers' Infatuation With Seafood

From Rick Ross to Raekwon to Rakim, rappers love them some fish. Get hooked on your favorite MC's favorite food.

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Complex Original

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What is it with rappers and seafood? They don't just love to eat fish. They stay rapping about how much they love to eat fish. They're in love with the idea of fish. 

When it comes to kicking rhymes about their favorite grub, MCs have always opted for seafood as their meal of choice. Be it shrimp, lobster or tilapia—if it lives under the sea, cats are rhyming about it. 

With the holidays rolling around, it’s likely your diet and daily workout regimens are already shot to hell. Don't worry—we’re right there with you. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, there’s enough good food to go around to keep you full for your entire life. But Friday is fish day.

So we’ve done some digging and put together this History Of Rappers’ Infatuation With Seafood. You thought fish was just food? Nah, son. Seafood is aspirational. (Unless you're talking canned tuna or Filet O' Fish that is.) For all the shot callers, go getters, and up-and-comers, this is the stuff dreams are made of: nice cars, hot women, and yes... a nice big plate of fish.

Written by Julian Pereira (@Broadway_Jay) & Keenan Higgins (@HIGzILLMATIC).

25. Big Sean “I Do It” (2011)

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Album: Finally Famous: The Album
Label: Def Jam
Lyrics: "Cause I need a crib, a big estate, I need a boat and that need a lake/I need some salmon, that need a plate that need a chef so I feed my safe."

Big Sean actually takes seafood splendor a step up. See, while other rappers are dropping big money on fancy service at popular restaurants, Big Sean's planning to make that personal chef move. Daily seafood specials tailored to your tastebuds? Now that's balling.

24. Heavy D & The Boyz "Nuttin' But Love" (1994)

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Album: Nuttin' but Love
Label: Uptown
Lyrics: "I know you want lotsa jewels and stuff/Backyards with swimming pools, bar with stools and stuff/Fancy foods, lobster, sushi."

Heavy D was on that fancy seafood wave all the way back in the early nineties. This should come as no surprise since he was on Uptown, the label that birthed the whole concept of "Ghetto Fabulousness."

Before rappers listened to Coldplay and wore kilts onstage, who else was flexible enough to fuck with that seaweed-wrapped raw-fish goodness? Way before his time as usual, Heav kept us hip to all the latest snacks. R.I.P.

23. Cam'Ron "Killa Cam" (2004)

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Album: Purple Haze
Label: Roc-A-Fella
Lyrics: "Clack clack cooley ring/Bad rap cuties claim/Ascap put em in the river/I'm the sushi king/And I'm keep it fresh/Let the fish eat ya flesh."

Sushi's become a little too commonplace to be the heart of a really good aspirational seafood lyric these days. Cam's also already wearing the crown for most ignorant rapper of the past decade. Calling yourself the sushi king is disapointing. Worse though, is threatening to sick your fish on us. Stop it, 5.

22. Future "Tony Montana" (2011)

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Album: Pluto
Label: Sony
Lyrics: "Champagne spilling, crabcakes everywhere/My white bitch tripping, she saying I ain't playing fair."

We understand Future's commitment to a seafood reference, most especially when he's kicking that champagne rap, but let's be real. Crabcakes are like the bastard step-child of cool-guy seafood dishes. Next to Chicken of the Sea, that's the least aspirational seafood ever.

21. Ludacris f/ Pharrell "Southern Hospitality" (2000)

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Album: Back for the First Time
Label: Def Jam South
Lyrics: "Dirty South mind blowing Dirty South bread/Catfish fried up, Dirty South fed."

Luda knows that Atlanta does seafood differently. You've never really eaten like a king until you've had some dirty south fried catfish. Forget all those pretentious scallops and sashimi platters, or those heart-healthy dishes like grilled salmon. Luda kicks that artery-clogging goodness that can only come from southern seafood. It's not about responsible living. It's about disturbing the peace with some fried pesce. Bada Boom!

20. Ghostface Killah f/ Trife Diesel & Cappadonna "Black Tequila" (2010)

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Album: Apollo Kids
Label: Def Jam
Lyrics: "Got bitches in mi casa, boiling fresh lobsters/But I don't do the shellfish, I'ma just eat pasta." (Ghostface Killah)

Rarely do rappers shun seafood for a less ballerific dish. So when Ghostface switches up the game and opts for pasta, we have to assume he's saving his appetite because he prefers fishscales. But rest assured his ladies get all the crustaceans they can handle. 

19. Jeezy f/ USDA and Trick Daddy "Black Dreams" (2008)

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Album: Black Flag Mixtape
Label: N/A
Lyrics: "Speaking my language if you talkin bout tilapia."

Jeezy's always had his own venacular. This is the guy who rapped about drugs by referencing NBA player uniform numbers. Like Tony Starks, he's familiar with the fishscale in more than a few ways—fine seafood among them. If you want to talk to Jeezy, you've got to learn how to speak his language, and that language happens to be tilapia.

18. The Notorious B.I.G. f/ Jay-Z & Angela Winbush "I Love The Dough" (1997)

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Album: Life After Death
Label: Bad Boy
Lyrics: "Riding, deciding cracked crab or lobster." (The Notorious B.I.G.)

There's all-American cuisine and then there's that Bed-Stuy “always looking for my next meal” cuisine, which all-too-often consists of quarter waters and Ramen noodles. So it's not hard to figure out the origin of Big's obsession with seafood. We're just grateful that the one time that Big wasn't acutely aware of exactly what he wanted to eat was documented for posterity. Then again, maybe he just ordered both. 

17. Rick Ross "Fire Hazard" (2010)

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Album: The Albert Anastasia EP
Label: N/A
Lyrics: "Time to feed all my niggas this Columbian fish/Yellowtail, red snapper, wood chopper, gold yacht master."

Rozay is no stranger to importing mass amounts of whatever he needs—by land or by sea. So now that the boss is living that dream life, it's only right that his food be imported as well. From Yellowtail to red snapper, it's clear that Rozay is feeding the family well. Beats a trip to Wing Stop.

16. Joell Ortiz f/ Jim Jones - “Nissan, Honda, Chevy (Remix)”

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Album: N/A
Label: N/A
Lyrics: “Off that BQE near Mickey D's/And occasionally treat myself to a nice little fish and cheese/I'm really, really in the street." (Joell Ortiz)

For many culinary enthusiasts, there's no greater sin than having fish and cheese on the same plate. You know what's an even bigger sin? Telling a Brooklynite what he shouldn't do. In a rare anti-aspirational spin on seafood, Joell Ortiz proves he's still really, really in these streets. He stays gettin' that fish and cheese.

15. Raekwon “The Faster Blade” (1996)

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Album: Ironman
Label: Razor Sharp, Epic
Lyrics: “You know a kid Asiatic, holdin' power like a Craftmatic/You like your fish fried or battered, that day he ratted.”

The Chef knows how to thrown down in the kitchen as well as he does on the mic. (Criminals Have to Eat Food, ya know?) Fried fish, battered fish, enemies or rival crews—you name it, Raekwon was always cooking something up. Did it always make sense? Does it even matter?

14. Young Dro "Grand Hustle Mafia" (2006)

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Album: Grand Hustle Presents: In da Streetz Volume 4
Label: Grand Hustle/Atlantic
Lyrics: "Whatchu know bout shark meat, squid, tilapia?"

Dro's always been into exotic shit. Whether it was fruit-colored whips, vintage Polo gear or Tokyo diamonds—if it's hard to get, Dro is completely about that life. So it comes as no surprise that the wildest seafood references on this list belong to him. Forget shrimp and lobster, Dro is going for calamari and shark meats. This guy's entire life screams, “Step your game up.”

13. Lil Wayne "California Love" (2008)

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Album: N/A
Label: N/A
Lyrics: "And you deserve lobster, mommy/How about I make reservations at Crustaceans for now?" (Lil Wayne)

The way Wayne makes lobster out to be some sort of acceptable reward for being a bad chick is borderline comical. But not all lobsters are created equal. The name-drop of L.A. hot-spot Crustaceans halfway redeems the line with some commendable humblebrag. The reference flies over the head of all these halfway-balling counterfeit seafood rappers.

12. Drake f/ The Weeknd "The Ride" (2011)

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Album: Take Care
Label: Cash Money
Lyrics: "And you do dinners at French Laundry in Napa Valley/Scallops and glasses of Dolce/That shit's right up your alley." (Drake)

Drake was obviously taught how to do seafood the right way growing up. Being the first rapper to name-drop The French Laundry in a rhyme shows that he's on his own plane when it comes to rapping about fine dining. Some argue that he may have ruined Moscatto. Question is: Does Drake have the cultural clout to make scallops the new aspirational seafood of choice in the hood?

11. OutKast "ATLiens" (1996)

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Album: ATLiens
Label: LaFace
Lyrics: "And if you like fish and grits and all that pimp shit/Then everybody say O-Yea-yer." (Andre 3000)

More proof that the South is like another nation unto itself. Fish and grits may not be on the menu at your favorite breakfast spot in Manhattan, but in Atlanta, ordering this pimpishly delectable dish shows that you know what good eating really is. Pass the hot sauce please.

10. Rick Ross "I Love My Bitches" (2011)

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Album: God Forgives, I Don't
Label: Island Def Jam
Lyrics: "Am I really just a narcissist, 'cause I wake up to a bowl of lobster bisque?"

Rick Ross wakes up to a lot of things: stacks of cash money, ample transportation options, a burgeoning hip-hop empire. Most importantly though, he wakes up to some creamy crustacean soup. Maybe it's only one of the hundreds of incredible meals that Rozay eats on a daily basis. But does that make him narcissistic? No. But rapping about that bowl of bisque—now that's another matter.

9. Jay-Z f/ Foxy Brown "Ain't No Nigga" (1996)

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Album: Reasonable Doubt
Label: Priority, Freeze, Roc-A-Fella
Lyrics: "Don't give a fuck about how you move with them other mamis/I push the Z, eating shrimp scampi with rocks larger than life/Fuck them Reebok broads, you made it known who your wife was." (Foxy Brown)

Foxy had no problem being one of many, so long as she got the perks of being the main chick. Along with the cars and jewels, Foxy made it clear that shrimp scampi was a dish unsuitable for side pieces. It looks like Foxy's devoured her fair share of scampis over the years. She might have eaten the side pieces too...

8. Jadakiss f/ Styles P “We Gonna Make It” (2001)

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Album: Kiss Tha Game Goodbye
Label: Interscope
Lyrics: “A bad hoe and a plate of salmon/Smoking and drinking, nigga is you thinking/That our fate is violent?” (Jadakiss)

All throughout his career, Jada has been as gutter as they come. But here he makes it clear that his ideal lifestyle does not solely consist of street life. Like the rest of us, Jada's into relaxing with his favorite vices and some model females—but what's heaven for a G without some freshly cooked marine life?

7. G. Dep f/ Diddy & Black Rob "Let's Get It" (2001)

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Album: Child of the Ghetto
Label: Bad Boy, Arista
Lyrics: "What you gon' do when you ready? Shit, I was born ready/I was already on fish and spaghetti." (G. Dep)

G. Dep is possibly the most malnourished rapper ever. He once rapped about having cigarettes for breakfast and sleep for dinner. So although fish and spaghetti is obviously not a proper meal, nothing tastes better than survival.

6. The Notorious B.I.G. f/ D.M.C. "My Downfall" (1997)

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Album: Life After Death
Label: Bad Boy
Lyrics: "Eatin' shrimp A la Carte with some bitches from Brussels/Eatin' clams and mussels." (The Notorious B.I.G.)

Big may have kept a few classy Belgians in his rolodex, but if we're being completely honest—this was just the perfect storm. Foreign chicks will always sound more exotic than domestic ones, and snacking on seafood will always be more stuntastic than land animals. Plus the fact that Brussels rhymes with mussels is just way too tasty for Frank White to pass up. 

5. Three 6 Mafia f/ UGK "Sippin' on Some Syrup" (2000)

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Album: When the Smoke Clears
Label: Loud
Lyrics: "We eat so many shrimp, I got iodine poisoning/Fuck niggas make me sick with all that pinchin' and bargaining." (Pimp C)

The late, great Pimp C was always about that flashy lifestyle. Whether it was Ralph Lauren Polo attire or shrimp plates, the guy liked to ball at maximum volume. More of a trophy than an illness, Pimp wore his iodine poisoning with pride. Take it as proof positive that Pimp had reached health-compromising levels of hood-rich fabulousness. What really made him sick, you ask? Frugality.

4. Timbaland f/ Jay-Z "Lobster and Scrimp" (1998)

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Album: Tim's Bio: Life From Da Bassment
Label: Blackground
Lyrics: "Is you a pimp, nigga?/Yes, I'm a pimp nigga/Then spit the game, nigga/Lobster and shrimp, nigga." (Jay-Z and Timbaland)

Before he got booed up with Beyoncé, Jay-Z was often criticized for being misogynistic. Whether or not that's true, he's always been one to make sound business decisions. So It's not hard to believe that in his rudeboy heyday, Hov cut costs by bagging star-struck females on nothing but seafood promises.

3. Rick Ross "Mafia Music" (2009)

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Album: Deeper Than Rap

Label: Island Def Jam

Lyrics: "Used to run the street, young nigga bare feet/Now I'm in these suites and I'm eating crab meats."

Rick Ross has seemingly long left his life of poverty—and fitness—behind. No matter how hard he grinds, it never stunts his appetite for fine dining... especially seafood dishes. Who else gets this excited over crab meats? 

2. Kanye West & Jay-Z "Niggas In Paris" (2011)

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Album: Watch The Throne
Label: Roc-A-Fella
Lyrics: "(Ball so hard) That shit cray, ain't it Jay?/What she order, fish filet?" (Kanye West)

When you ball on Ye's level, fraternizing with women who eat classless meals is a huge no-no. Sure, Kanye's idea of a classy woman may be a peculiar one, but when a chick knows to opt for fish filet over fishsticks, she might just graduate to the next level. You know, the bathroom stall.

1. Eric B. & Rakim "Paid In Full" (1987)

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Album: Paid In Full
Label: 4th & Broadway
Lyrics: "A pen and a paper, a stereo, a tape of/Me and Eric B., and a nice big plate of/Fish, which is my favorite dish/But without the money it's still a wish."

The aspirations of today's rappers include exotic beach vacations and cars that cost a million-plus. Back in '87 though, if you could afford a stereo and a fish plate you were doing fucking phenomenal. Even though Rakim stayed draped in thick gold chains, he never forgot the days when there wasn't nothing but sweat inside his hand. As the first rapper in the game to put his love of seafood on wax, Rakim proved once again why he is the God MC. More than two decades after the fact, rappers are still following the leader.

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