Rappers who haven't figured out they aren't famous anymore

It's not always easy for hip-hop stars to stay on top of the rap game. For starters, there's the always tricky balance of keeping it real versus keeping it so real they end up behind bars for actually living the glorified gangster life featured in so many rap songs. Then there's the simple fact that hip-hop has endured through the years by remaining one of the most rapidly-changing music genres. By the time you're down with the latest Southern trap, there's a slew of Chicago drill mix tapes to contend with. 

If you think that's tough to keep up with as a fan, imagine how difficult it is for a content creator. This list is full of such hip-hop has-beens, rappers relegated to the dustbin of pop culture for a variety of reasons, including everything from unsettling criminal behavior to creative flameout. 

From Flavor Flav to Da Brat and Foxy Brown to Coolio, these lyrical gangsters are clinging to a tiny speck of fame. Keep reading to find out who needs to spit some truth about their fading place in the rap game. 

Soulja Boy

Soulja Boy hasn't scored a victory on the charts since his 2007 breakout hit "Crank That (Soulja Boy)." He achieved moderate success with follow-up singles, including "Turn My Swag On" in 2008, but the rapper's personal life sabotaged his music career.

In January 2017, Soulja Boy (real name DeAndre Cortez Way) was hit with two felony weapons possession charges and a misdemeanor count of receiving stolen property, reported Rolling Stone. He took a plea deal, agreeing to five years of probation and 240 days of community service, according to TMZ. "He's not allowed to threaten anyone or possess any deadly weapons, not even [a] replica or toy gun," said TMZ.

Shortly after that snafu, the "Pretty Boy Swag" rapper faced another public issue with fellow bad boy Chris Brown. The pair reportedly agreed to duke it out in a boxing match, but the deal crumbled. Brown claimed "all the wrong people got in the way," reported Billboard. The event would have been Soulja Boy's biggest audience in years.

Khia

Does anyone remember one-hit wonder Khia? Her claim to fame is the freak-nasty song "My Neck, My Back" from 2002's Thug Misses, but since then, she's better known for her loose lips and penchant for starting drama. 

In March 2017, she inserted herself into the Nicki Minaj-Remy Ma feud by taking to social media to express her interest in Remy Ma's husband, Papoose. "It's something about that Papoose," she said in a steamy and raunchy Instagram video. "I got so much respect for that Papoose, you know. Mmm… that's a black king right there." She added, "And since I have so much respect, Papoose, I think it's best for me to keep my comments to myself, so I can keep him happy at all times." Khia didn't stop there, she added several sexual hashtags to the post. Oh. Yes. She. Did.

Instead of promoting new music, Khia also found time to dish on Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian's never ending drama. "All I wanted her to do… when she got with Rob, was to be a real b**ch," Khia said in a video. "All she had to do was to make those ni**as respect that ni**a. You didn't even try to heal [him]." Then she went after the Kardashian family as a whole, saying, "If it was me and my five sisters, we wouldn't have let her get that close to my one brother."

If we were her, we'd focus on trying to become a two-hit wonder.

Bow Wow

Bow Wow embarrassed himself in 2017 when he was caught lying about his lavish lifestyle. According to People, the former child star posted a picture on Instagram of a private jet and two Mercedes with the caption "Travel day. NYC press run for Growing Up Hip Hop. Lets gooo. I promise to bring yall the hottest show EVER." The problem: Bow Wow (real name Shad Moss) used a stock photo. He was later photographed on a commercial plane with all of us regular folks. 

The rapper's faux fame sparked an embarrassing new game dubbed the #BowWowChallenge. Participants share snaps of false scenarios to try to boost their images.

Just weeks later, Bow Wow was caught allegedly feigning fame and fortune again. This time, he posted a video of him running down a street in Charlotte, N.C. because he's being pursued by "fans." The caption said, "30 yrs old and still getting chased. This s**t will never stop." Other Twitter users claimed Bow Wow paid people to chase him, reported People.

It has stopped, Bow Wow. It has stopped.

Azealia Banks

If you have a problem with everyone, perhaps the problem is you. Azealia Banks produces more beefs than beats of late. According to Complex, she's traded virtual jabs with Iggy Azalea, T.I., Lil Kim, Lady Gaga, Nicki Minaj, Jim Jones, Pharrell, Rita Ora, and on and on. 

She even got into it with acclaimed actor Russell Crowe at a party in his hotel room in October 2016. According to E! News, Banks claimed the Oscar-winner choked her, called her the n-word, threw her out of the suite, and spit on her. "Last night was one of the hardest nights of sleep I've had in a long time," she wrote on Facebook. Crowe was not charged with anything; authorities reportedly determined Banks was the aggressor, according to UPI

It seems Banks' best known album, Broke With Expensive Taste, could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Ja Rule

There was a time in the 2000s when Ja Rule's music was inescapable, but he's since fallen off the radar and hasn't released an album since 2012. That could have something to do with his legal troubles. Ja Rule (real name Jeffrey Atkins) was slapped with a 2-year prison sentence in 2011 after pleading guilty to three counts of tax evasion. He also agreed to pay the government $1.1 million in back taxes, reported Billboard.

In an attempt to revive his career, Ja Rule and others put on the ill-fated Fyre Festival in April 2017. Instead of welcoming millennials to a weekend of living like stars in the Bahamas for a cool price of nearly $13,000 for a four-ticket pass, the event disintegrated into chaos. Ticket holders likened the experience to the The Hunger Games and refugee camps, according to The Guardian. Ja Rule, who was one of the more notable names attached to the event, felt the brunt of the backlash. In a message to fans he said he was "heartbroken" about how the event turned out. Ja Rule and festival co-founder Billy McFarland were slapped with a $100 million class-action suit in May 2017, so it may be time to either crank out another album or sail off into the sunset. 

Chingy

In the early 2000s, Chingy was changing the scene with his fresh lyrics and catchy hooks. His debut album, Jackpot, went triple platinum, bolstered by hit singles "Right Thurr" and "Holidae Inn," but a high-profile feud with label-mate Ludacris and Disturbing Tha Peace records was the beginning of the end. 

In recent years, Chingy (real name Howard Bailey, Jr.) has been trying to keep his name afloat. "I'm performing on the road and working on a new project called Dead Rose," he told HotNewHipHop.com in July 2017. "I've been traveling and making this new music. That's what it's been about for me… I was put here to make music and paint my vision through art of speech. So that's what I do."

Charli Baltimore

Charli Baltimore was one of the few female rappers who set the charts on fire in the late '90s and early 2000s. She was often seen alongside Ja Rule and Ashanti as she spit bars on popular tracks "Down 4 You" and "Down A** Chick." As of 2013, Jet magazine reported that she was still making music and had released a mixtape called Hard2Kill, but apparently it was also hard to listen to because it failed to make a splash.

"I write all of my music. I've always considered myself a better writer than rapper," she told the magazine. "Poetry segued into writing rhymes. Writing is actual therapy for me." When quizzed about today's current crop of rappers, she didn't drum up any beef about the new crop of leading femcees. "I think it's great," she said. "There are so many genres of hip-hop, lyricists and entertainers that there's something for everybody." Snooze.

Twista

Speed was the name of the game and it was Twista's claim to fame back in the '90s and 2000's. According to the Chicago Tribune, Twista (real name Carl Terrell Mitchell) was awarded the fastest rapper alive title by the Guinness Book of World Records in 1992. At the time, he was able to spit out a stunning 598 syllables per minute. His quick lips produced songs such as "Overnight Celebrity" and "Slow Jamz." Today, his career takes after the latter. 

"The memory of the youth today is amazing. I would walk around ready to battle anybody, with about 30, 40, 50 verses in my head to just shatter your world," he told the Tribune. "Now I'm walking around, and it's just harder to remember certain verses. I find it easier to memorize my lyrics with less syllables in 'em."

Twista also faced trouble with the law. He was arrested in March 2016 for possession of marijuana, but those charges were dropped.

Tyga

It's amazing what the power of the Kardashian-Jenner family can do for a rapper. Tyga made a mark when "Rack City" blew up, but he became truly famous after hooking up with Kylie Jenner of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, and then he became truly infamous.

Their relationship came under fire because Jenner may not have been 18 when she started dating Tyga. Adding to the bad press, Tyga (real name Michael Ray Nguyen-Stevenson) built up a heap of financial problems. According to People, he's been accused of dodging child support payments, failing to make car payments, not paying overdue jewelry bills, and not paying his rent. 

When the rapper and Jenner split in 2017, what little notoriety he had left fizzled quickly, though he seems to be fruitlessly mining for attention. In June 2017, Tyga posted (and then deleted) a photo on social media of Jenner sitting on a bed with the cryptic message, "They always come back…

If you're referring to your career, Tyga, we wouldn't bank on it.

Vanilla Ice

Since his huge hit, "Ice, Ice Baby," Vanilla Ice's rap career has been put on ice. 

In 2011, he tried to reemerge on the scene flipping houses on a show for the DIY network called The Vanilla Ice Project. "I've had a great success in real estate, that's how I've made my investments, how I've held on to my money, that's how I didn't end up like MC Hammer," he told HuffPost.

Vanilla Ice (real name Robert Matthew Van Winkle) did end up like a lot of other rappers on this list when he landed in legal trouble in 2015. According to Deadline, police discovered stolen property — bicycles, a pool heater, furniture — on one of Ice's properties. He was reportedly charged with burglary and grand theft, but the charges were later dismissed in exchange for nine months of good behavior, reported TMZ.

Ice reportedly had no chill in August 2016 when he threw a tantrum after missing a flight. The meltdown was broadcast by TMZ and shows the rapper serving up an earful of frustration after missing the boarding call, despite being at the terminal well in advance of the flight. It sounds to us like a certain someone did not collaborate and listen.

Mystikal

Mystikal (real name Michael Lawrence Tyler), was well on his way to being one of the most recognized rappers of our time in the late '90s and early 2000s. According to Billboard, his fourth album, Let's Get Ready, sold 2.2 million copies, and he also moved bodies with hits "Danger (Been So Long)" and "Shake Ya A**." But Mystikal's steamy career came to a grinding halt in 2004 when he was sentenced to six years in prison for sexual battery. In 2012, he faced another 81 days in jail for violating his probation with a misdemeanor domestic battery charge.

"Disappointed isn't the word for it — ashamed," he told Billboard, addressing his second trip behind bars. "I can tell myself all kinds of things, I can sit there and mope, or I can get out and thank those fans the way I'm supposed to, the way they deserve to be thanked." 

Alas, when he attempted to release new music, few people cared. Fast forward to 2017, and Mystikal is once again facing legal trouble, this time charged with first-degree rape. According to TMZ, the rapper turned himself into Louisiana authorities after a woman claimed she was assaulted by him at a casino in 2016. At the time of publication, he was being held on $2 million bond.

Chamillionaire

Chamillionaire is best known for his hip-hop songs "Ridin'" and "Good Morning," which were huge during the ringtone era, but today he's put music aside to become a venture capitalist. 

In 2015, big-name businessman Mark Suster announced Chamillionaire (real name Hakeem Seriki) would be joining investment firm Upfront Ventures, according to the Business Insider. The financially savvy rapper reportedly owns a tour bus company, launched a modeling business, and is invested in a car dealership. "Chamillionaire has a way more refined sense of what customer behavior is like than most ivy league graduates with nice Powerpoint slides that I meet," Suster said in his blog.

When Chamillionaire was spotted courtside at the NBA finals in 2017, it which momentarily set the internet ablaze with questions and jokes. How did this has-been score tickets to the hottest sports event of the season? Though he may not be making waves in the music biz, this guy's other investments are apparently paying off. In this case, maybe we're the ones who need to realize that Chamillionaire is doing just fine sans fame.

Paul Wall

Houston-based rapper Paul Wall (real name Paul Michael Slayton) has kept a low profile of late. Sure, he released some new music, including 2017's "Somebody Lied," but for the most part, no one lent an ear until Wall was arrested in late 2016 on felony drug charges. 

According to USA Today, Wall and several other men were charged with possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell. Wall's attorney released a statement: "We are confident that after a thorough investigation of these allegations Mr. Slayton [Paul Wall] will be proven not guilty." Indeed, a grand jury decided not to indict in March 2017. 

Another sign that this rapper's notoriety is not what it once was? No one batted an eye when he dropped 130 pounds following gastric sleeve surgery in 2010.

M.C. Hammer

In the '90s, M.C. Hammer was everywhere with his massive hits "U Can't Touch This" and "2 Legit 2 Quit." According to Forbes, his net worth at the time was a staggering $33 million, but by 1996, Hammer (real name Stanley Kirk Burrell) was broke and filed for bankruptcy, claiming more than $13 million in debt.

"I didn't just take the money and say, 'I want to be a blessing to myself,'" Hammer said (via HuffPost). "I took my money and employed 200 people in my community. I had a payroll of a million dollars a month at times." He also said he wouldn't change a thing. "I really believe in the butterfly effect. Meaning that if I change one thing, everything else changes. I lose the kids I have now. I lose the relationships I have now. I lose the peace I have now. So I'm very happy with my decision."

Though we don't predict a comeback in the rap game, this former mega millionaire did land a self-deprecating gig starring in a commercial for Command picture hanging strips.

Da Brat

Da Brat (real name Shawntae Harris) didn't do herself any favors when she landed behind bars in 2008. According to CNN, the "Funkdafied" star was sentenced to three years in prison for attacking a woman in an Atlanta night club. She didn't produce any music while incarcerated, but she did pen a book loosely based on her life, reportedly with the hopes of turning it into a feature film. Meh.

She joined Dish Nation in 2016, and talked about the fresh opportunity with Vibe. "Like 20 years ago people would say 'you should do radio, you should do radio, have you ever thought about doing radio?' I always said no, but it just came natural every time I went on, with whomever, at whatever station! I would always take over and ask them questions because it was fun for me," she said. "I just didn't think that I would be doing it later down the line."

That's wonderful, but here comes the part in the interview where Da Brat clearly doesn't understand her current place in the music biz. "There are a lot of artists that fell off, and no one cares about where they are, or what they're doing so I am blessed in a major way. God is great!" And so is her self-confidence.

Foxy Brown

Brooklyn-based rapper Foxy Brown hasn't put out an album since 2008, but that didn't stop her from inserting herself into a beef between Nicki Minaj and Remy Ma in the spring of 2017. After Ma slammed Minaj on the track "ShETHER," Brown stepped in and released a short diss track in response. It was a valiant effort, but no one cared. Brown (real name Inga DeCarlo Fung Marchand) appeared to be drumming up attention in a battle she wasn't invited to. (We've got a hunch Minaj can take care of herself.)

Adding to the embarrassment, Brown was blocked from getting into a Brooklyn party in June 2017. She'd reportedly been scheduled to perform but showed up really, really, really late — like, five minutes before the end. 

Coolio

When Coolio burst onto the music scene in the mid '90s, his unique style was a breath of fresh air. He won the 1996 Grammy for best rap solo performance for Gangsta's Paradise, but Coolio hasn't been, well, that cool in a long time. Sure he's put out some music and done some acting appearances and voice-over cartoon work, but he's failed to make a splash. Also, he's still sporting the same hairstyle he rocked decades ago.

In recent years, Coolio (real name Artis Leon Ivey Jr.) is better known for misbehavior than beats. According to the Los Angeles Times, the rapper was charged with one felony count of possessing a firearm in 2016 after a gun was found in his carry-on bag at the Los Angeles International Airport. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 45 days of community service and three years of probation. Coolio said the whole gun thing was a misunderstanding. "I do not condone the use of firearms legal or illegal… I don't do crime and I am not into anything illegal," he said (via the Los Angeles Times). 

Flavor Flav

Let's face it, Flavor Flav hasn't been famous since his ridiculous reality show Flavor of Love went off the air in 2008. Although he's done some other reality TV work, he's better known for failed business ventures and drama with the law than he is for fresh music. 

Remember that time Flav (real name William Jonathan Drayton Jr.) tried his hand at the fried-chicken restaurant biz? Despite some initial success in Iowa in 2011, the budding chain shuttered just months after launching for alleged bounced paychecks and management drama. He opened another chicken joint called House of Flavor in Las Vegas in 2012, but that venture went belly up within six months. 

Though his culinary dreams failed to take flight, Flav did make headlines in Vegas for all the wrong reasons. According to CNN, he pleaded guilty to misdemeanor domestic violence charges in 2014, accepting a plea deal that kept him out of jail. He added to his rap sheet in 2015 when he was charged with driving under the influence of cocaine in Vegas, and he was back in the news again in the summer of 2017 for trying to unload a bronze statue of O.J. Simpson for six figures. Yep, it's time to walk away quietly, Flav.