Breakout Hip-Hop Songs That Took Rappers to the Next Level
In early 1999, a little-known, bleach-blond White guy popped out in a music video, sitting in Brady Bunch squares as he performed the song that would make him a rap star within just a couple of months. That guy is Eminem, and the song that zany video was made for is “My Name Is,” an introductory tune that became his breakout Slim Shady LP single and first Billboard Hot 100 chart hit.
Em’s breakout moment was preceded by countless other star-making tunes that had hit the airwaves in the years prior. As any rap fan knows, one song can be the difference between legit rap stardom and respected underground staple. Artists can spend years trying to break out to the mainstream, but it usually comes down to having just the right alignment of beat, flow, lyrics and overall song structure for one particular track. Then they take the next step toward success in their careers.
After signing to a major label, Em’s breakout moment didn’t take too long to happen. For others, the wait time can be a lot longer, and the rise can be way more multifaceted.
Lizzo had been known as a dynamic songstress for at least a few years when “Truth Hurts” first hit the Billboard Hot 100 in the spring of 2019. The song had actually been released in September of 2017, and it didn’t hit the chart until it appeared in the Netflix film, Someone Great. That platform made people realize how dope the song was. By September of 2019, two years after its original release, “Truth Hurts” hit No. 1 on the Hot 100, and Lizzo was a certified star.
Breakout songs come in all different sizes and shapes, and today, it’s time to revisit some notable breakout tracks over the last 20-something years.
XXL takes a look at the breakout songs for 20 rappers. Check out the list below.