Whilst hip hop and rap are not exclusively about fast living, money and excitement, many of the stars involved in the industry do like to showcase their wealth to the wider world.
Not all artists are quite as ostentatious as Kodak Black, who recently threw $100 bills into the sea, but overt displays of wealth and material means are not unusual in rap and hip hop. 50 Cent sang ‘I Get Money’, whilst Lil Wayne released a track called ‘Got Money’. Continuing on the theme, The Lox track ‘Money, Power and Respect’ perhaps summed up some of the themes regularly explored in hip hop.
Another theme that has been apparent in some songs is placing that money at risk in a game of chance. It is a carefree attitude to wealth as if it comes and goes at will, although not always over the side of a boat. ‘Mo Money Mo Problems’ by The Notorious B.I.G featured the lyric ‘We Don’t Play Around, It’s A Bet, Lay It Down’ and explores the theme of getting too greedy when money does come your way. That might be the basis of a great old-school hip-hop song, but it also reflects on the game of poker.
With high stakes, plenty of risk and the huge prizes on offer, there’s little surprise that poker and hip hop have become entwined at times. Some tracks have poker themes and poker lyrics, whilst some artists have found themselves around poker tables, looking for some thrills. Again, there is no surprise that hip hop artists looking for excitement have used their extensive means to game around the felt of Las Vegas tables or high stakes online games, where they can live their lyrics and build upon their personas.
With that in mind, here are three massive stars of the hip hop and rap scene who have taken the connections between their music and gaming to a whole new level, with some degree of success.
It’s been more than 25 years since the Wu-Tang Clan, featuring the likes of Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, and RZA, released their seminal album ‘Enter The Wu-Tang’. Since then, they have all gone on to achieve plenty in the world of hip hop, with Ghostface Killah enjoying poker success. He is not only a successful part-time player, but he even launched his own hip-hop specific poker site called GFK Poker in 2007, although it has since folded. He even retold Kenny Rogers famous song ‘The Gambler’ on his 2014 album More Fish in a track called ‘Pokerface’.
If the Wu-Tang Clan are old school, then who knows what to label Coolio, who burst onto the worldwide rap scene with his 1995 hit ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’, featuring on the Michelle Pfeiffer film Dangerous Minds. Coolio is also something of a dab hand around a poker table. He is reported to have played poker with friends from a young age and has featured in several tournaments, including the LG All-Star Poker Showdown. He even had some celebrity opponents on Celebrity Poker Showdown but was beaten by Paul Rudd. It was an impressive victory for the actor, considering Shannon Elizabeth, another keen poker player, was at the same table.
Nelly got his breakthrough chance in 2000 with the release of Country Grammar and has since dropped another six studio albums. His first US Billboard Number One was ‘Hot in Herre’, released in 2002. He is still recording, albeit with a distinctly country flavor, releasing the song ‘Lil Bit’ from the EP ‘The Heartland’. The 44-year-old might find it a ‘Lil Bit Hot in Here’ when he’s around a poker table, which he is quite often. He’s played the Poker Stars European Tour and Caribbean Adventure and competed at the World Series of Poker in the City of Lights.