You’d be hard pressed to find a hip-hop artist out there whose body is a clean slate when it comes to tattoos. Ink has always been an inherent part of hip-hop, with iconic tattoos such as Tupac’s classic ‘Thug Life’ through to 21 Savage’s notorious knife and Gucci’s ice cream cone all signifying the genre’s close association and affinity with body art. While those tattoos go down in the folklore of the genre, there’s a slew of distinctly less tasteful – and much more regrettable – ink out there, with each piece having its own tragic back story. After sifting (and laughing) through the web, here is our list of the worst hip-hop tattoos of all time.
Ja Rule’s ‘Loki’
This piece was originally #triggered by using an image of Ja Rule on a piece detailing his Fyre Festival fiasco. The Music team here at Highsnobiety believed that it looked a lot like he had his own name tatted on his neck, but unfortunately upon closer inspection, this proved to be false. What we did discover however, was the fact that he has a Norse god’s son / famous Marvel character’s name tattooed above his navel. A Complex article points out that he got this done as he was planning to change his name to Loki for an album. Ja then scrapped plans to release the album under that moniker, after a rapper of the same name called him out for trying it. But the Loki tattoo still presumably remains anything but low-key – much like his now infamous festival.
Iggy Azalea’s ‘Live Love A$AP’
Whether or not Iggy Azalea should be categorized as hip-hop is about as debatable as her decision to get “Live Love A$AP” tatted on her fingers. Inking the piece when she first dated New York’s A$AP Rocky for a brief period around 2011, Iggy said that the pair was so into each other that they got matching tats signifying their affection. But unlike Rocky’s non-visible (perhaps non-existing?) tattoo, the “Fancy” singer got “Live Love A$AP” tattooed along three of her fingers. Since she stopped dating Rocky in 2012, she put a big “X” through the “A$AP” on her fingers over her ex’s crew name, before getting ASAP permanently removed after they split. Fair to say it didn’t live long.
Stitches’… Whole Face
This guy has one gnarly face. It’s not just his stitches (see what he did there?) coursing the entirety of his mouth that are so bad – it’s more just words randomly planted on his skull such as “SEX,” “FUCK A JOB” and “COCAINE” that are the most cringe-worthy. May your rapping career be fruitful, Stitches, as any other future employment prospect looks as bleak as these will in 30 years time.
RIFF RAFF’s TV Network Tattoos
Riff Raff’s obsession with TV-related tattoos originally came from him making the cast of MTV’s reality show From G’s to Gents. Before the show started, Raff got a giant MTV logo tattooed on his neck and adjusted his stage name to “MTV Riff Raff”. He also has a Worldstar Hip Hop and BET tattoo, the latter of which he’s had covered up with a tattoo of a Husky, his favorite breed of dog. Whilst the tattoos are downright naff, there can be no doubt Riff Raff can pull them off. Never change, Jody.
Poor Tyga. The G.O.O.D Music rapper recently split up with Kylie again, but this time it could be permanent – as Travis Scott has recently been pictured with Tyga’s long-standing on-off partner. A tattoo that pretty much summarizes his rap career.
Drake has a few cringe tattoos, from his BBK ode to Skepta, to the Drakkar Noir deodorant bottle on his arm. But this tribute to his uncle and grandmother is inked in between the singer’s infamous tattoo of the late singer Aaliyah – whom he never met – and his OVO owl tattoo takes the biscuit for the most unruly ting. Despite being well-intended, the sheer size of it – as well as that disconcertingly eternal gaze from the pair – is just really fucking creepy.
BONUS: Drake’s dad’s follow-up
In response to Drake’s inked family love, and clearly full of fatherly pride, Drake’s dad – Dennis Graham – received a tattoo of his son on his right arm. Administered by Money Mike for free, the tat depicts Drake circa 2010, an era that we can all fondly look back on.
Birdman’s 5 Red Stars
Talking about his body art fetish to UK hip-hop icon Tim Westwood, Baby said, “It became a hobby… I love that pain. I love to feel that.” If you needed any further evidence that Birdman is a massive masochist, just look at the state of his head. Presumably inked to mark his album 5 * Stunna, the 5 stars are pretty difficult to put any sort of respek’ on.
T Pain’s ‘You Don’t Have to LIKE Me’
“I get a tat every time I come to Hawaii,” Pain said on Twitter back in 2011 when he posted a photo of the tat on his arm. “I think this one’s pretty sweet, unless Facebook shuts down soon.” Facebook recently redesigned their ‘like’ button to include “reactions” to posts; if they had a “react” feature when T-Pain got this inked, there’s no doubt what the overwhelming response would be – an absolute shit ton of ‘HAHA’s’.
Nick Cannon’s ‘Mariah’
Once one of the “hottest celebrity couples on the planet,” Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon both got tattoos of each other to solidify their love for one another. Sadly, the pair got divorced back in December 2014, leading to Cannon getting one of the largest back piece cover-ups of all time. Ouch.
The Game’s Evolving Face Tattoo
The Game’s experience with his face tattoo acts as a cautionary tale to anyone thinking of getting ink in the future. What was once a butterfly tattoo after an artist in New York “didn’t do it right.” It has since metamorphosed into an LA Dodger’s tattoo cover up ending up on Game’s face. “Know what you’re gonna get and know what it’s gonna do for you.” Real talk, especially if you don’t want to end up with what he desribed to VladTV as “a motherfucking moth” on your face.
Jhené Aiko’s serious love for Big Sean
Jhené Aiko and Big Sean have a pretty intense relationship. They are engaged both romantically and artistically, sharing homes and collaborative albums alike. So naturally Jhené would want to honor their union in the form of ink on her body – but few could have expected the end result. It is Big Sean’s face, resting atop a tuxedo collar, depicted a bit too life-like to be comfortable, a bit too illustrative to be taken seriously. Jury’s out on whether Sean will get one of Jhené to match.
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