Videos don’t just serve as to promote singles and artists. They can also be an unsuspecting look into the future— a portal of sorts. Some of the biggest names in hip-hop today didn’t just magically appear from nowhere. In a lot of cases they were here all along, lurking in the background of music videos just waiting for their moment in the sun.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane and go back to a time when the biggest names in the business were just another face on a crowded music video set.
“What You Need” – Stacy Latisaw (1989)
Pre-Fame Cameo By: Diddy
Talk about starting from the bottom. Before conquering the world of entertainment as a mogul, producer, and artist, Diddy—better yet Puffy—was trying to fit in. In this case, it was as a background dancer in this piece of gold from 1989.
“Teenage Love” – Slick Rick (1988)
Pre-Fame Cameo By: Lil Kim
Big Daddy Kane wasn’t the only Brooklyn rap royal to make a cameo in this classic video. With a quick enough eye, the future Queen of BK can be spotted in Ricky D’s vintage ode.
“All My Life (Ghetto)” – Jay Rock featuring Lil Wayne (2011)
Pre-Fame Cameo By: Kendrick Lamar
Top Dog Entertainment bet all their chips on Jay Rock at the time, but it would be Kendrick (known as “K. Dot”) who would unexpectedly ascend to the top of the rap ranks.
“Callin’ Me” – Consequence (2007)
Pre-Fame Cameo By: J. Cole
2007 wasn’t only the year J. Cole graduated magna cum laude from St Johns University, but it’s also the year he made a super quick appearance in this video.
“Break Ups 2 Make Ups” – Method Man featuring D’Angelo (1998)
Pre-Fame Cameo By: 50 Cent
As his many foes can attest, 50 Cent has always been a troublemaker. It was only right that a pre-Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ Curtis would make an appearance in this Method Man clip as reinforcement in a club scuffle.
“Don’t Sweat The Technique” – Eric B. & Rakim (1992)
Pre-Fame Cameo By: Wyclef Jean
Way before he would tear down stages as a member of The Fugees or run for President of his native Haiti, Wyclef was just another up-and-coming rapper trying to get on any way he possibly could.
“Izzo” – Jay Z (2001)
Pre-Fame Cameo By: Kanye West
Beanie Sigel’s “The Truth” was Kanye’s first Rocafella beat, but “Izzo” is the track that launched him as a go-to producer in hip-hop. After years of paying dues as a ghost producer, Ye got some brief shine in the video for one of the biggest songs of that year.
“Freaks Come Out At Night” – Whodini (1984)
Pre-Fame Cameo By: Jermaine Dupri
Even at a early age, Jermaine Dupri was already infiltrating music videos. In an ironic twist, he would go on to sign Whoodini to his very own So So Def imprint in the mid ’90s. Just another case of things coming full circle.
“Wonder Woman” – Trey Songz (2007)
Pre-Fame Cameo By: Drake
Drake wasn’t really an unknown at the time of this video’s release. Degrassi was still poppin, so he could’ve still had the capability of shutting down a suburban mall. Either way, nobody predicted that the guy from the “Wonder Woman” video would one day become a rap king.
“Strictly For The Ladies” – Lord Finesse & DJ Mike Smooth (1990)
Pre-Fame Cameo By: Fat Joe
Before Joe Crack taught the world how to “Lean Back,” he was a heavyweight enforcer known throughout his hometown of the Bronx. Three years later he would release his debut album Represent and never look back.