Hip-Pop's Big Three
Ayiana Davis Polen & Tyria Gilmore
Who are the Big Three?
Young Money Entertainment is a label that is responsible for serving as a platform for many hip-pop artists during the 2000s. Three of their most famous rapper are Lil Wayne (the founder), Nicki Minaj, and Drake. Often known as the “Big Three”, these artists have not only had successful careers, but they have earned their spot to be considered legendary artists and figures in hip-pop that aspiring rappers look up to today. Through their work at the label, they have come out with songs together as a Young Money “acts”, they have all been successful in solo careers, and to this day, they still collaborate as the Big Three. In addition to their work, they all brought influences from their hometown which worked in their favor as collaborators.
Lil’ Wayne: Dirty South Influence on the Big Three
Dwayne Michael Carter Jr., famously known as, Lil’ Wayne, was born September 27, 1982, in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the age of eight years old, he began his journey as a rapper. One of his most impactful contributions to hip-pop is him being a co-founder of Cash Money Record and the founder of Young Money Entertainment. Through Cash Money Record, Wayne founded Young Money Entertainment in 2005. Young Money Entertainment is the label in which Drake and Nicki Minaj were directly signed under. Due to legal issues, Cash Money Record and Young Money Entertainment ended their relationship and Lil Wayne’s signed artist followed. This resulted in a new era in hip-pop where the Big Three began to make a mark in hip-pop.
Drake: The Lover Boy of the Big Three
Aubrey Drake Graham, commonly known as Drake, was born on October 24, 1986, in Toronto, Canada. Drake became interested in acting while in high school which led him to a lead role in Degrassi. While on the show, he was also starting his rap career, but it came to a point where he had to choose one path. As we now know, he chose the path of being a hip-pop artist and released his first mixtape in 2006, called “Room for Improvement.” A couple of years later after releasing more music, he received a call from Lil Wayne to go on tour. Drake eventually signed on to Young Money Entertainment and was an artist on the label for several years. After years of success, he ended up leaving the label to pursue a solo career as well as having some legal issues with the label. However, this did not end his artistic relationship with both Lil’ Wayne Nicki Minaj.
Nicki Minaj: The Queen of the Big Three
Onika Tanya Maraj (Petty), known as Nicki Minaj was born on December 8, 1982, in Trinidad and Tobago but grew up in Queens, New York City. Nicki Minaj studied singing and acting while in high school and although she showed talent in acting, she chose the pathway of being a hip-pop artist. Her rap career began when she was discovered by the CEO of Dirty Money on MySpace. By August 2009, Minaj signed to Young Money Entertainment with distribution from Universal Motown. One of her most famous mixtapes while under Young Money was “Beam Me Up Scotty,” which is the mixtape most responsible for the start of her fame. The next year she released her debut studio album, Pink Friday, in 2010. Since then with multiple albums and hit singles, she has grown to be one of the most influential hip-pop female rappers of all time.
The Big Three’s Work Together
Young Money released their debut album in 2009 titled “We are Young Money.” With the artistic curation led by Lil’ Wayne, Young Money has been impactful on the hip-hop industry and has molded some of the most influential rappers that we know today. After both Drake and Nicki Minaj started their career with Lil Wayne, they have both paved their own way on their road to becoming legends in hip-pop. To this day, with Lil’ Wayne’s southern flow, Drake’s melodic raps, and Nick Minaj’s NYC hard-core style, they still release great music together and will always be known as the Big Three.