12 Things About Your Favorite Rappers You Probably Don’t Know

What's the connection between Pac and Britney? Which critically acclaimed rapper appeared in 'The Color Purple'? Which word didn't Lil Wayne know?

Kendrick at coachella

Rapper Kendrick Lamar performs at the Coachella Valley Music And Arts Festival on April 16, 2017, in Indio, California.

Kendrick at coachella

We all hear trivia about our favorite rappers. But more than the standard facts about where they grew up or what their original rap name was (hello J. Cole—excuse me, Blaza), what really grabs us are those wild things that no one else seems to know. 

So we've decided to compile a dozen crazy, you'd-never-have-guessed facts about your favorite rappers to share with you. From Lil Wayne to Jay Z, Kendrick to Cardi B, we dug deep to find out a bunch of little-known information—including some things the artists would probably rather keep hidden. Sources are listed, so you can check our work. 

Kendrick Lamar Was Originally Signed to Def Jam

Kendrick Grammy live

The Notorious B.I.G. Wasn't the First Biggie Smalls

Biggie live 95

The Notorious B.I.G. referred to himself frequently as "Biggie Smalls." However, he never released an album under that name. The reason? There was already a Biggie Smalls. Or, more properly, a "Biggy Smallz." 

There was an L.A.-based rapper, real name Tim Bigelow—referred to as "white/Latino," though not much else is known about him—who had been using that name since 1991, when he started his career at the ripe old age of 12. He was still in his teens when the Notorious B.I.G. was releasing his debut album.

View this video on YouTube


When Christopher Wallace was first starting out in the rap world, he was still upset about having to change his rap moniker—you can hear him complain about the situation in some early interviews. "On the cover, it will say the Notorious B.I.G.," he told Funk Flex in a 1994 convo in response to a question about his name. "Because some lame little 14-year-old 'Cruisin'' calling himself Biggy Smallz. He don't know the true meaning, but it's all good—we trying to make some paper."

Strangely enough, the lesser-known Biggy actually knew 2Pac. In fact, he merits a shout-out at the beginning of Pac's "God Bless the Dead"—which would cause much confusion and become grist for many baseless conspiracy theories, since the much more famous Biggie was at that point very much alive.

View this video on YouTube



2Pac Inspired a Britney Spears Hit

2pac poses

Kanye West Was Supposed to Break His Jaw Again

Kanye at the Meadows

Migos Used to Have a Very Different Name

Migos staples center

Nas Almost Lost "Made You Look" to Ricky Martin

Nas Unbound party

Nas' 2002 banger "Made You Look" is one of his most popular songs. But it almost didn't happen. Producer Salaam Remi was actually working on a track for Ricky Martin, intending to use the most iconic of break beats, the Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache." 

View this video on YouTube


As he was slowing down the sample to check some details, he noticed that the beat sounded even better at a slower tempo. So he jettisoned the Ricky Martin idea, and "Made You Look" was born.


Lil Wayne Didn't Know the Word "Heir"

Lil Wayne Neiman Marcus

Phonte Coleman Appeared in 'The Color Purple'

Phonte in Williamsburg

Phonte Coleman is best known as a member of the beloved group Little Brother, one half of Foreign Exchange, a critically acclaimed solo artist, and as Drake's favorite rapper. But his introduction to show business came long before that. 

When he was six years old, Phonte auditioned for—and got—a role as an extra in a movie called The Color Purple—you may have heard of it.


Fat Joe Won Amateur Night at the Apollo Four Weeks in a Row—While Wearing a Top Hat

Fat Joe prudential

Cardi B Credits Bobby Shmurda for Blowing Her Up on Social Media

Cardi B grammy icons

Ice Cube Turned Down "Jump Around"

Ice Cube Baron Davis

Ice Cube has been involved in plenty of iconic songs, from "Fuck tha Police" to "It Was a Good Day." But in 1992, he missed the chance for another one. DJ Muggs offered him (and Special Ed, and the producer's own group Cypress Hill) a new beat. They all turned Muggs down, so instead he turned to his friends House of Pain. And—you guessed it—"Jump Around" was born. 

View this video on YouTube



Dr. Dre's Ghostwriter Shouted Himself Out on "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang"

defiant ones

Latest in Music