The Real Reason You Don't Hear From These Rappers Anymore

Throughout the history of popular music, artists have come and gone. Very few performers have had the staying power of, say, Fleetwood Mac or the Eagles, and most performers, if they have any lasting success at all, only manage to stay big for a comparatively brief period of time. And though rap is a relative newcomer to pop music — it became a thing in the late 1970s and early 1980s (per NPR) — the same thing can be said of its artists: most have come and gone, a few have endured. 

Of course, the reasons for the ends of various rap/hip-hop artists' careers are varied. Some simply failed to resonate with audiences and faded into obscurity. Others battled personal demons and died at a young age or disappeared into the shadows as they lost their battles. Some have died in violence, some have gone to prison, and more than one rapper has made and lost several fortunes due to their inability to manage money.

Coolio became a chef

Using the phrase "one-hit wonder" to describe an artist is perhaps a bit unfair, since it's possible to achieve success in music without necessarily having popular hits; just ask the Grateful Dead or Phish. By some measures, Coolio (born Artis Leon Ivey, Jr.) was a "one-hit wonder," with his only song to hit No. 1 on the pop charts being 1995's "Gangster's Paradise," according to Official Charts.

Though he peaked in the 1990s, Coolio never went away as an entertainer. According to a 2016 Brooklyn Magazine report, Ivey reinvented himself as a "ghetto gourmet" cook and made a name for himself in cuisine. He has a cookbook, "Cookin' with Coolio," in which he instructs his readers on using less-expensive ingredients, drawing from his years in poverty when he didn't have access to high-quality food (via Cook Backstage). He's also appeared on the Food Network, and in late 2021 he told FoodSided that one of his favorite cooking ingredients is bacon.

MC Hammer went broke, found God

Few rap songs have reached No. 1 on the pop charts, and that was particularly true in 1990 when rap was considered a niche genre. However, MC Hammer's 1990 hit "U Can't Touch This" smashed through those barriers and paved the way for pop-oriented rap (or rap-oriented pop, depending on your point of view), as Songfacts explains, including his follow-up hit, "2 Legit 2 Quit." Hammer (born Stanley Kirk Burrell) became an icon, complete with cartoon tie-ins, merchandising, the whole bit. He made tens of millions, and he spent it as fast as he made it. As the Daily Mirror explains, Hammer spent so much money on anything and everything that he effectively went broke and was forced to declare bankruptcy.

After his rap career fizzled, Burrell found God and went into the ministry, according to Believer's Portal. He maintains an active Instagram account, and it appears as though he's still involved in pastoral work, including distributing food to the poor in Oakland, California.

Chamillionaire is a businessman

By some measures, being spoofed by "Weird Al" Yankovic is proof that you've made it as an artist. Houston rapper Chamillionaire (born Hakeem Temidayo Seriki) is one such artist — his 2005 hit "Ridin' Dirty" was parodied as "White & Nerdy." Indeed, according to Vulture, Seriki had naught but praise for Weird Al's spoof of his one and only hit song, saying, "It's really an honor when [Weird Al] does that. Weird Al is not gonna do a parody of your song if you're not doing it big."

After his big hit in the early aughts, Cahmillionaire's career dimmed, with follow-up projects failing to reach his earlier heights. However, he invested his earnings into various businesses, including a Texas auto customization shop (according to Swamplot) and his own record label, Chamilitary Entertainment. In 2010, it looked as if Seriki had some financial difficulties, as he was forced to sell a mansion for less than he paid for it. However, he brushed it off by saying that he was cutting back on expenses since he needed to spend his money on caring for his son and ailing mother.

Kelis is a farmer

New York-born Kelis Rogers, who performed mononymously under her first name, had a lengthy career in rap beginning in the late 1990s, according to Musician Guide. However, she reached her peak, celebrity-wise, in the early aughts, with the release of her 2003 hit "Milkshake" (she doesn't actually like milkshakes, according to the Daily Mirror) and her tumultuous and toxic marriage to fellow rapper Nas (per Hollywood Unlocked).

After her marriage ended and her music career ended, Kelis took a step back, according to The Guardian. She enrolled in one of the world's most prestigious culinary schools, France's Le Cordon Bleu, and then bought a farm outside of L.A. "It's pretty much my husband and me looking after the farm. You get up in the morning and do what you gotta do, and then you look around, and you're like: Why does it still look like this? Oh my God!" she said of the realities of daily life as a farmer.

Lauryn Hill is still around, kind of

Sometimes a musician will forge a career in acting as a sort of follow-up to their music career (witness LL Cool J and Ice Cube, among multiple others). Lauryn Hill took the opposite approach — she was an actress, appearing in "Sister Act 2" before making it big as a rapper with the seminal '90s act the Fugees. After the Fugees, Lauryn struck out on her own, releasing "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" in 1998. According to Insider, the album is one of the seminal works in the history of rap, not just in the 1990s but of all time. 

Unfortunately for Hill, she failed to follow up the success of "Miseducation" with subsequent projects. However, she still tours, although if you're thinking about purchasing a ticket to a Lauryn Hill concert, you might want to consider putting that money into the slot machine. That's because your odds of getting any value for your money aren't great, as Hill reportedly has a habit of showing up late to concerts or not showing up at all.