You can find rap mixtapes just about anywhere these days. You can browse through the internet, and find thousands of them floating around or you can even stop in your local liquor store to see them sitting on the front counter for sale. A lot of these mixtapes go unheard, and the rappers that made them never achieve the fame that they desire. The rappers themselves might also stand around on the streets of busy cities, handing them out until somebody important enough to hear it can sign them to their first big break.
There are a lot of jokes about mixtapes these days (especially on Twitter), about how nobody wants to listen to them. Still, rappers keep putting them out because once in a while some find success by releasing these mixtapes. That’s the case with some of the most famous names in rap music today, as it all started with a mixtape that got noticed.
But which rappers are living the highlife now because the right person heard their first songs? We found 10 that are still blazing up the charts, and had to start their careers by handing out mixtapes on the streets. From the East coast, to Texas, to Michigan, there are rappers that started out the same way. We start the list with the singer of “Lost Ones”.
J. Cole is an interesting story, as he was actually born in Frankfurt, West Germany. That’s not really a hip hop hotbed, but Cole ended up growing up mainly in Fayetteville, North Carolina. J. Cole is a member of the Roc Nation record label, and has released three studio albums with them. Each of the albums has gone to the number one spot in the overall, R&B, and rap categories: so J. Cole is shooting 100 percent right now.
Cole was not a well-known name back in 2007 when he first started rapping. This is when he released his first mixtape, “The Come Up Mixtape Vol. 1” in May of that year, and it caught the attention of rap icon Jay Z. Jay Z was so impressed that he signed J. Cole to a record deal, which has ended up being very beneficial for both of them. We’re still waiting on volume two, by the way.
Big Sean is a rapper from Detroit, Michigan, and has had a lot of hits with a lot of different record labels over the past eight years. While attending Cass Tech High School in Detroit, he formed a good bond with a local rap radio station. When there was a rap battle held live on the radio, Big Sean ended up winning the competition. The station tipped off Sean back in 2005 that producer, and rapper Kanye West was coming in for an interview.
Big Sean headed down to the station to get his big break, even though Kanye didn’t really want to hear it. West asked for a demo tape from Big Sean, and he ended up releasing his mixtape two years later after being signed to the GOOD Music record label. The first single, “Get’cha Some” was a big hit in the Detroit area, and the internet took off with it. Big Sean is currently a member of the Roc Nation label.
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