There isn’t a whole lot of room for shrinking violets in hip-hop. Rappers have to have supreme confidence in themselves. Even the earliest hip-hop records feature emcees bragging on everything from their mic skills to the car they drive to how often they get laid. Over the years, hip-hop has evolved into many different points of view and approaches; but confidence remains high currency in the rap game.
With the introspective J. Cole, the socially aware Kendrick Lamar and the navel-gazing that Drake has become famous for; it might be tempting to suggest that hip-hop isn’t as cocky as it once was. But make no mistake–the game is still the game.
So in that spirit, we decided to list 10 rappers with unshakeable self-confidence–regardless of how great (or not-so-great) their careers have been.
He’s been one of the most arrogant rappers to ever touch a mic since the mid-80s. All those battles built his ego, but then you add the sanctimony of being a hip-hop elder who won’t ever let you forget that he’s a hip-hop elder and you have one of the cockiest people in the game.
He’s a genius. He’ll let you know, too. Yeezy has never downplayed how much he loves himself or dismissed his own reputation. He loves playing up his sense of self-importance and he seems to love it more when people criticize him for it. Just Ye being Ye.
When Jay Z emerged in the mid-90s, lots of fans scoffed at how cocky he was even before he’d earned a platinum plaque. The dude also declared “The City Is Mine” just months after Biggie died. But by the 2000s, it all started to look like self-actualization. But man–he had to have some serious self-confidence to pull it all off.
Shad really, really believes in himself. Think about this: for the most part, child stars in hip-hop fall into the “Where Are They Now?” dustbin of history pretty quickly; Bow Wow kept himself in the public eye mostly by never letting anyone see him doubt himself. Even as corny as his image became, he stayed celebrating himself like no one else ever would.
Cam just does not care. He doesn’t care what you think. His confidence is on 1000 at all times. He rocked pink in the uber-macho hip-hop climate of the early 00s, sparred with stars who had more clout even before his career stabilized and has delivered a litany of memorable quotes over the years that prove he’s the most “I don’t give a f—” people in rap.
For a guy whose music often feels like an afterthought, French Montana never seems to be even a little bothered by his spotty track record as a recording artist. And why should he? Regardless of his track record, he’s more famous than a lot of rappers with more hits.
The guy never let’s his facade down ever. He’s one of the cockiest guys to ever rhyme and he rarely lets you see behind the shades and the weirdo metaphors and punchlines that made him famous. Weezy’s belief in himself should be an inspiration to a generation.
She will start a feud with literally anybody. And regardless of how many digs anyone fires back at her (“You’re only famous for beefing with people” seems to be the standard slam) she has yet to let it stop her from being Azealia Banks.
LL Cool J
Let’s be honest–how many people really call James Todd Smith the G.O.A.T. in hip-hop? Doesn’t seem like very many do–but it doesn’t matter. Because LL Cool J declared himself that and even named an album that to “cement” it. He’s consistently been one of the cockiest rappers since he burst onto the scene as a brash teenager who didn’t care about respecting his elders. Ask Kool Moe Dee.
She’s been criticized for being too sexy, for being too pop, for being too much like Lil Kim. But Nicki Minaj has remained supremely unflappable ever since she rose to fame. She’s proven that she can rhyme, but she’s also proven that she is impervious to haters. She never seems to be sweatin’ any of it–even a little bit. And if you ever want to get real, she’s quick to respond. “Miley–what’s good?!”