YouTube is perhaps most useful as a historical archive. When it comes to hip hop, the site is a veritable treasure trove of videos of rappers as they were before the fame, back when their music video budgets hovered in the single digits.

These clips are not pretty, but grainier is almost better -- intense pixellation gives these videos the character of artifacts rather than modern footage, even if they are only a few years old. 

We have assemble a list of 19 rappers rapping before the fame. Click through the gallery to watch artists like Kanye West, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, & Chance the Rapper spitting their hearts out in attempt to prove their worth to camera, to a small crowd, to themselves.