Family is everything.  The odds are uncontrollable, and blood binds a family together, creating an inseparable bond. Hip-hop artists are no different than the rest of us when it comes to family, and entire waves of cousins, brothers, sisters, and parents have shared success in the rap game. Sometimes it’s difficult to discern who’s related for real, and who’s just a close friend or mentor that has earned the title of “cousin” or “uncle.” For the purpose of this family tree, blood or marriage are the only determining factors of relation.

The Golden Era of hip-hop came to a close following the deaths of Biggie Smalls and 2Pac. The two hip-hop legends missed The New Millennium by just a few years. Imagine what ‘Pac could’ve done with the internet at his fingertips, we would have had a new album every week. The year 2000 was fabled to usher in the end of the world. The apocalypse theory centered around the idea that computers were unable to process the numerical representation of 2-0-0-0. As the fairytale goes, all the computers were supposed to malfunction, causing all types of chaos from nuclear missile launches to electrical grid failures. While none of those apocalyptic events happened on Earth, one cataclysmic event shifted the direction of the music industry for eternity. The creation of digital music.

Bootlegging was the biggest threat to album security in the 90’s, but with the creation of mp3’s, rappers found themselves losing millions of sales to illegal sharing sites like Napster. Families that dominated the 90’s, like the Millers, saw their empires lose steam and fade into the background. For the first time in hip-hop history, artist were putting themselves on. Although the family hook-up was still an important device, the internet became the most monumental tool for up and coming stars. Independence became the name of the game after the 90’s offered several lessons in ownership and contractual obligations to musicians who were not business savvy. The independent route of the industry also led to the spread of talent. Aspiring artist’s who had no relatives in the industry were making a name for themselves on Myspace and YouTube.

The least amount of relatives flourished during The New Millennium. It was a rare moment where the floodgates were opened, and everyone who was smart enough to take advantage of the internet while it was growing gained success. The gates are completely saturated at this point, but there once was a time where gaining plays and likes were actual hustles. - nnow you can gather both for $10.99 with a simple Google search. Although this segment may be the smallest of the four-part series, there are five prominent families that helped define a generation. During rap’s digital evolution, these are the relatives that rocked the game.