20 Rappers Who Used To Be Drug Dealers

Rap culture is all about rocking chains, venting your money, flexing your gang affiliations, and being hard to the core. This particular genre requires fat investments from the jump: the more money you put in, the higher the return. The amount of expensive material things directly determines your credibility as a rapper, and it translates into more media attention, radio play, spotify streams and so forth and so on. With that being said, some rappers work 9 to 5 jobs, while others get impatient and go into drug dealing. Here’s a list of 20 rappers who were drug dealers at one point in their lifetime.

Note: we have numbered the artists based off their top most viewed solo music videos.

20. Fat Joe

Photo by Eva Rinaldi

Fat Joe (real name: Joseph Antonio Cartagena) is internationally known for the major hit Lean Back. The American rapper, actor, and entrepreneur has a networth of 4 million dollars according to Celebrity Net Worth. Although very famous, he has made a name for himself mostly based off his collaborations with other artists: What’s Luv with Ashanti, Yes with Cardi B, Another Round ft. Chris Brown, etc. His top solo video is Flow Joe, with little over 1 million views. Joseph sold drugs temporarily, as he did not have other options to support himself, according to an interview with BET.

19. Ghostface Killah

Photo by Niklas Hellerstedt, Göteborg & Co

Ghostface Killah (real name: Dennis Coles), is a member of the Wu-Tang Clan with a networth of 17 million dollars according to Celebrity Net Worth. Dennis fortunately had a very successful solo career as well, having released his first project Ironman in 1996. He has many views on his collab videos, however his most famous solo music video is Cherchez, with almost 3 million views. While specific information about his drug dealing days can not be found, based off the Wu Tang Manual by RZA, Ghostface was one of the members who sold drugs and even got shot by rival dealers.

18. Killer Mike

Killer Mike playing at the Cosmopol stage. Roskilde Festival 2013.

Killer Mike (real name: Michael Santiago Render), is known for his connection to the Outkast group, having been featured on two of their major projects, 1st one being the Snappin and Trappin song off the 2000 LP Stankonia, and the 2nd being the Grammy-winning hit The Whole World. His top music video is Reagan, having gathered almost 8 million views. Although he currently is heavily involved in politics and activism, Michael admitted in an interview with Vlad TV, that he used to deal crack cocaine as early as 14 years old, and moved to selling canabbis when he went to college. His networth is reportedly 5 million dollars.

17. Gucci Mane

Photo by Justin Persse/Wikimedia

Gucci Mane (real name: Radric Delantic Davis), is best known for being one of the founders of trap music, and for having pushed a lot of new artists. Both Wealthy Gorilla and Celebrity Net Worth estimate Gucci’s networth to be at 12 million dollars. Unfortunately, Radric can not carry a major hit on his own. Very much like Fat Joe, his biggest songs are features with other artists. Nonetheless, his notable solo music video, Bucket List, racks a decent 17 million views. He is also most probably, the top famous drug dealer-turned-rapper artist, right along with Jay Z. Funnily enough, this is the only rapper, that Wikipedia decided to explicitly share his timeline of drug dealing: 1993-2001. He also had plenty of close calls and yet, always fortunate to have survived everything.

16. Method Man

Courtesy of Wikimedia

Method Man (real name: Clifford Smith Jr.), widely famous for being a member of the Wu-Tang Clan, and more recently for having loved on Wendy Williams back in her ‘coke days’, saw himself forced to sell drugs due to poverty. He’s not doing bad currently though, with a reported networth of 14 million dollars. Even though the hip hop group was starting to get recognition, they still did not have enough financial independence for Clifford not to turn to other ventures. His top viewed solo music video is Bring the Pain, having gathered over 19 million views.

15. Jadakiss

Photo from Jadakiss’ instagram posted on January 16, 2020

Jadakiss (real name: Jason Terrance Phillips), is mostly known for being a member of the Ruff Ryders label, and a member of The Lox. His most popular music video is Why, standing at almost 20 million views as of Feb 2020. Jason jumped into selling drugs at the very young age of 12, when his parents told him to get his own money. As of 2021, his net worth is estimated to be at 6 million dollars.

14. The Game

Photo by Elvir Omerbegovic

The Game (real name: Jayceon Terrell Taylor), is mostly known for being Dr. Dre’s signee under Aftermath Records. Jayceon used to sell drugs along with his older brother Big Fase 100. Their ‘business’ led to him being shot on October 1st, 2001. However, this very incident, forced him to start looking for another career path. The Game’s most well-known solo music video is Dreams, standing at 23 million views, and his networth is reportedly 25 million dollars.

13. Pusha T

Photo by Simon Abrams

Pusha T (real name: Terrence LeVarr Thornton), is notorius for his friendship with Kanye West, and that Drake feud in which he revealed to the world that he had a son with a porn star. A ‘sublime’ hint would be the stage name he picked for himself. He also famously admitted in the song Drug Dealers Anyonymous, that he “sold more dope than records.” It also does not help his image the fact that his former manager went down for running a drug trafficking ring, getting 32 years in jail. One must wonder about scape goats in this scenario. His most acclaimed music video is Sweet Serenade, with over 34 million views. His networth, according to CNW, stands at 15 million dollars.

12. Jeezy

Courtesy of Wikimedia

Young Jeezy (real name: Jay Wayne Jenkins), is famous mostly within US, and recently heavily involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. Jeezy’s most viewed solo music video is Me OK, with over 40 million views as of February 2020. His drug dealing past is very much documented and spoken about. He financed his own career as a cocaine dealer, befriended Black Mafia Family, and had a whole repertoire dedicated to cocaine. CNW estimates his networth at 10 million dollars.

11. P. Diddy

Courtesy of The Cable Show

Diddy (full name: Sean John Combs), is famous for his networth of 885 million dollars, Ciroc endorsement, his songs, and the artists he signed and never launched into a successful career of their own. His most famous solo music video is I Need a Girl Part 2, with 44 milion views. He used to sell drugs in his university days. But then, he had to face consequences which made him rethink the chosen path and proceeded to focus on music, entertainment, and business ventures.

10. Busta Rhymes

Courtesy of Wikimedia

Busta Rhymes (real name: Trevor George Smith Jr.) is an international rapper with an estimated networth of 20 million dollars, that has songs with the likes of Mariah Carey, Chris Brown, Ciara, Janet Jackson, and others. Until he got his record deal, he chose to ‘hustle’ so he could afford buying essentials like clothes and cars. This comes from another interview with Vlad TV. Someone give Vlad a cookie! We can see now why many think Vlad is an undercover agent. He gets these rappers admitting to selling drugs on video, publicly, officially, in front of the whole world. Back to Busta, his top solo music video is Touch It, having accumulated over 51 million views.

9. Jay-Z

Photo by Joella Marano/Wikimedia

Jay-Z (real name: Shawn Corey Carter), is the world’s greatest rapper alive. Or so they say. If lyrically not the absolute best, he just might be the absolute richest one with a networth reportedly standing at 1 billion dollars. He has won over 22 Grammys, sold over 100 million records worldwide, and is married to Queen B! That alone rightfully places Hov in a lane of his own. Jay has openly spoken about his drug dealer days, saying that it has prepared him for the music industry. He is very honest about it though and never romanticized the idea of selling drugs. He actually advises against it as one might either die, or go to jail. His most famous viewed music video to this day, is The Story of O.J., with over 104 million views, and almost 70k comments.

8. A$AP Rocky

Courtesy of The Come Up Show

A$AP Rocky (real name: Rakim Athelaston Mayers) has managed to record 13 Hot 100 Songs. Accordingly, CNW places his networth at 10 million dollars. His most viewed solo music video on YouTube is L$D, standing at 131 million views, as of February 2020. He used to sell cannabis and crack during the times when he, his mother, and his sister, were homeless. In 2004, Rakim served two weeks in Rikers Island for drug dealing. His cellmate was the rapper Casanova.

7. Snoop Dogg

Photo by Kim Erlandsen

Snoop Dogg (real name: Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr.), is one of the top rappers in the world, who reinvented himself over and over again, and managed to make his persona relevant on multiple occasions, having had records with countless foreign artists. He has managed to sell over 23 million albums in US, and 35 million globally. CNW reports his net worth to be 150 million dollars. Ironically, his most famous music video is for a DANCE song (music by David Guetta), called Sweat, having gathered almost 165 million views. Calvin was never jailed for drugs per se, however he did jail time for the intention of selling drugs, and had Cameron Diaz admit on TV she used to buy weed from him. Call him cool weed dealer?!

6. T.I.

Courtesy of Wikimedia

T.I. (real name: Clifford Joseph Harris Jr.), is globally known for his collaborations with the likes of Rihanna, Justin Timberlake, Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar, and many others. He is also hugely respected by his peers, as he too is one of the founding fathers of trap music. His most viewed solo music video is Whatever You Like, at 196 million views. T.I. dealt drugs as young as 14 years old, getting arrested multiple times. He successfully overcame his humble beginnings with a networth of allegedly 50 million dollars.

5. Eazy-E

Eazy-E (real name: Eric Lynn Wright), is famous for having been a member of the N.W.A rap group, which in the last few years had a crazy resurgence in popularity after the biographical documentary Straight Outta Compton. Eazy-E’s top viewed music video is Real Muthaphuckkin G’s, with over 211 million views. He dealt so many drugs that by the age of 22, 1986, Eric had allegedly saved about $250,000 (equivalent to $600,000 in 2021.) His reported networth at the moment of his death was 8 million dollars, which would be over 13 million dollars in 2021 after inflation.

4. Notorious B.I.G.

Biggie Smalls (real name: Christopher George Latore Wallace), was best known for his auto-biographical, raw lyrics, loose flow, and the post-mortem conspiracy theories between him and Tupac Shakur. Biggie was dealing drugs while he was in the process of making Ready To Die. Notorious B.I.G.’s fan favorite music video is Juicy, with over 257 million views. A very notable achievement, as most modern rappers are far behind his numbers. His networth was estimated to be around 10 million dollars when he was murdered in 1997. An equivalent of 16 million dollars in 2021.

3. Tekashi 6ix9ine

Courtesy of Instagram

Tekashi 6ix9ine (real name: Daniel Hernandez), is unquestionably the most controversial rapper to have ever existed. From colored hair, face tattoos, public threats directed towards rivals, unlawful public conduct, using illegal materials for music videos, famously outing his fellow gang members, and finally, his incredibly charged rap songs. You might dislike him with all your might, but Daniel makes catchier songs than 99% of fellow rappers of the same age, and even older ones. His top most viewed music video is Gotti, with 408 million views. We all know by now he did everything wrong someone in the public eye could possibly do. What’s surprising is this guy’s power of conviction. Having NYPD sergeants running drug rings for you??? read here at your discretion. His current networth is reportedly 8 million dollars.

2. Bobby Shmurda

Bobby Shmurda (real name: Ackquille Jean Pollard), is currently famous for both his music, that went globally viral (it led to the shmoney dance phenomenon), and his legal case. He is currently in jail serving his 7 years sentence (reduced to 5, due to the 2 years he awaited trial). Ackquille was the leader of the GS9s, renown for heavy drug dealing and murderous tactics. Suprisingly, out of the whole list, Bobby has the 2nd most popular music video for a solo song. The hit song he carried out by himself, Hot N*gga, stands at 621 million views. His networth is supposedly 400 thousand dollars.

1. 50 Cent

Photo by Alex Const/Flickr

50 Cent (real name: Curtis James Jackson III), has gained notoriety for his 30 million+ sold records, an insane survival story (how does getting shot 9 times sound to you?), and multiple successful business ventures (Power anyone?) He is another very famous, very acclaimed former drug dealer who went the wrong path at the age of 12 during the American drug epidemic of the ’80s. 50 boasts a huge stand-alone music video, In Da Club, with almost 900 million views! He is one of the few rappers who can carry a hit song easily with no help from other artists. As for his networth, he must have one hell of an accountant and lawyer, as his networth is always fluctuating, going from $30 million to $100 million, to a cumulative $260 million. Which one is it Fi’ty??

 Please support the independent artists we’ve discovered across the world by streaming the playlist below. A little of your time is one step closer for at least 20 artists in the direction of their dreams.

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