Camouflage was a big deal back in the olden days of hip-hop. Master P and his tank of No Limit soldiers heavily adopted the military look. He had no connection to the military, other than one of his artists being in the army, but it looked and was deemed cool. But there are a lot of hip-hop greats who were actually in the military.
Every year, we show appreciation to those who fight for our country. But did you know that some of your favorite rappers also went to war on our behalf? From enlisting in the Navy to making ends meet, or dodging death every day on the battle field just to get a new set of wheels, these rappers served in the military.
Nate Dogg, Marine Corps
Before becoming Nate Dogg, 17-year-old Nathaniel Hale dropped out of high school in Long Beach and joined the United States Marine Corps, where he served as an Ammunition Specialist for three years.
No Malice, Army
Would you believe that one-half of The Clipse was moving weight before moving weight? Believe it. In 1992, 18-year-old Gene Elliott Thornton, Jr. just finished high school and was going to be a teen father. To make ends meet quickly, he joined the army, serving the shortest time of 2 years and 23 weeks.
In his book Wretched, Pitiful, Poor, Blind and Naked,, he recalled that time in his life:
“After high school, Tonya became pregnant with our first child. Instantly, I knew I had to step up and be responsible. We went for a walk and came to a huge tree in my neighborhood where we stopped and professed our love for one another. I asked for her hand in marriage. She readily accepted without hesitancy, and I placed a ring on her finger. I then joined the Army, did my basic training in Ft. Dix, New Jersey, and after that I went to Advanced Individual Training (AIT) school in Ft. Belvoir, VA. This allowed me to travel home every weekend; until eventually we were stationed at Ft. Bragg, N.C., where she, I, and new born son Marcus, lived together as a family. My father’s example showed me how to be a man, and with the example my parents showed me, I knew exactly what to do.”
Straight out of high school, Mystikal signed up for the army in 1988. But he apparently did it for an interesting reason. He joined to get a new car, but once he was in, he got more than he bargained for. In a 1995 interview with New Orleans-based magazine Offbeat, he explained why he chose his position, clearing land mines in a war zone, and how scary it was:
“My cousin was that. I asked him, ‘Man, what you did in the Army?’ ‘Combat engineer.’ When it was my turn, I said, ‘I’m familiar with combat engineer—give me that. Boy, I was scaaarrrred. But once you out there, you out there. Suck it up.”