1. Jay Z
Even at 46 — and with more than 12 albums in his discography — Jay Z is still the most popular rapper in hip-hop. He’s also one of the richest: According to Forbes, Hov is worth over $550 million.
2. Dame Dash
For the most part, Dame Dash has left the music business, focusing his time on other ventures like art and fashion. (Dame has numerous art galleries, and he has joined forces with Cam’ron for a Dipset clothing line.)
3. Kareem “Biggs” Burke
Biggs, one of the founding members of Roc-A-Fella records, has had a tough couple of years. In 2012, Biggs was sentenced to five years in prison for conspiring to distribute over 100 keys of marijuana. He was released early, however, and is once again a free man.
4. Mary J. Blige
Singer on “Can’t Knock the Hustle”
Tweeny years later, and Mary J. Blige is still one of the major forces in R&B. While she’s been focusing on acting as of late, we can be sure that when she does choose to enter the booth again, she’ll create even more classics.
5. The Notorious B.I.G.
Rapper on “Brooklyn’s Finest”
On March 9th, 1997, Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in Los Angeles, just two weeks before the release of his masterpiece “Life After Death.” To this day, he is still considered to be one of the greatest rappers of all time.
Producer and Rapper on “Ain’t No Nigga” and “Bring it On”
Jay-O was the rapper that brought Jay Z into the game. The two rappers famously fell out in the early 2000s. Last we hear of him, Twitter poked fun at him in 2013 when a picture of Jaz-O looking sad on the train hit the ‘Net.
7. Memphis Bleek
Rapper on “Coming of Age” and “Can I Live II”
Memphis Bleek hasn’t released an album in eleven years. Most recently, the Brooklyn-rapper put out the mixtape “The Movement 2” in 2014, and has been working on an unreleased album called “The Process” for years.
Producer of “Politics as Usual,” “Dead Presidents II,” “Feelin’ It” and “22 Two’s”
Ski has become one of the most popular producers for underground MCs like Action Bronson, Jay Electronica, Smoke DZA, Curren$y and Mos Def. Four years ago, he released a compilation album called “24 Hour Karate School Presents Twilight.”
9. Foxy Brown
Rapper on “Ain’t No Nigga”
Foxy Brown has recently been in the news for all the wrong reasons. She recently came out in support of republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump, and even teased that she may make new music to tribute him.
10. Sean C
Producer on “Can’t Knock the Hustle”
Sean C and his partner LV are still two of the more notable producers in hip-hop, working with luminaries such as Ghostface Killah, Talib Kweli, The Roots, and Nas.
11. Sauce Money
Rapper on “Bring It On”
Every once in a while, Sauce Money, a childhood friend of Jay Z, will drop a new a track. The MC doesn’t have a steady stream of music being released, though. Fun fact: he won a Grammy for writing Puff Daddy’s “I’ll Be Missing You” in 1998.
12. Irv Gotti
Producer of “Can’t Knock the Hustle”
Musically, it’s been a slow couple of years for Irv Gotti, one of hip-hop’s biggest pop music makers in the early 2000s. Most recently, Nicki Minaj thanks Gotti for inspiring her hit 2010 track, “Moment for Life.”
13. DJ Clark Kent
Producer of “Brooklyn’s Finest,” “Coming of Age” and “Cashmere Thoughts”
Other than hip-hop, Clark Kent’s major passion is sneakers. And he built up quite the career being an ambassador for the sneaker game. You can currently catch Clark Kent on Quickstrike, his sneaker show on Complex TV.
14. DJ Premier
Producer of “D’Evils,” “Friend or Foe” and “Bring It On”
DJ Premier doesn’t get the A-list names like he did in the ’90s, but the producer is still one of the most respected names in the game. You can still find him producing for underground cats like Papoose, Spesh and Skyzoo and Torae. He has also worked with A-listers like Kanye, Game, and D’angelo.
Singer on “Feelin’ It”
Mecca has had a steady career as a songwriter over the years. In 2010, she wrote Kim Zolciak’s minor hit “Google Me.”
16. Pain in Da Ass
The voice on “Can’t Knock the Hustle” and “Brooklyn’s Finest”
The first voice you hear is Pain in Da Ass, who recreates one of the famous scenes from “Scarface.” We’re not sure what he’s up to now, but Pain in Da Ass has been featured on numerous albums from Jay Z to Memphis Bleek to Fabolous.