Listen to Your Favorite Rappers’ First Stimulus Package
When thinking of hip-hop’s respected rappers, one thing they tend to have in common is a goal to make good music. An added bonus is to hopefully have a moment where they really get to shine, whether that’s on the charts or gaining recognition at awards shows. Those moments can come as a result of a solo song catching on or because they collaborated with another big-name artist and rose to the occasion. The world of hip-hop really isn’t that predictable; some of rap’s biggest names made it to the charts without a cosign. But then there are others who got a boost by linking up with others. Here, XXL highlights the rappers who locked down their first big feature from another artist that ended up giving them the bump they needed to get to the Billboard charts and rise to the next level. This is the hip-hop stimulus package.
Now, there could be rappers who linked with another big rhymer on a song earlier in their career, but if it didn’t chart, it doesn’t fit into the kind of stimulus package we’re talking about here. However, every artist doesn’t cash in on their connections when they first get in the game; some wait a while for the timing to be better while others strike while the iron is hot. The rappers who chose one of the two routes are showcased here, and the songs featuring another artist or more solidified their place on the Billboard Hot 100. In some cases, like with Lil Durk and his 2020 track “3 Headed Goat” featuring Polo G and Lil Baby, even six years after they first made a name for themselves. The song earned Durkio a No. 43 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 last year, his first highest-charting song as a solo artist.
The idea of the stimulus package signifies when a rapper taps a more established artist for a feature. It’s nothing new, but some artists have success in doing so than others. The beginning of Jeezy’s ascent, then known as Young Jeezy, came in 2005, as a result of teaming up with Akon for their hit song “Soul Survivor.” A year prior, Akon’s 2004 single “Locked Up” was everywhere. His honesty about the streets fit well with Jeezy’s handbook for surviving the block. “Soul Survivor” was an obvious hit as it showcased the rapper’s rhymes about “livin’ in hell” and the singer’s melodic delivery as a “rider,” and becoming the No. 4 song on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2005 cemented that.
Lil Baby‘s stimulus package came out of left field when he got Drake on his 2018 single “Yes Indeed.” Before that, Lil Baby had plenty of promise, and was one of the more buzzworthy street rappers out. Once he released “Yes Indeed” three years ago, all of that seemingly changed overnight. He held his own alongside Drake, and got the visibility that comes with getting The Boy to rap on your track. From the time it became the No. 4 song in the country in 2018, Lil Baby never really stopped winning.
Lil Durk, Lil Baby and Jeezy aren’t the only rappers who experienced a hit with the help of another artist by their side on the collab tip. Take a look below to listen to your favorite rappers’ first stimulus package on the charts.