No one ever said rap names had to be literal. That’s why you can call yourself Ice Cube, and not actually be a frozen block of water. It’s why you can call yourself Snoop Dogg even if you have only two legs. And it’s why not having any military experience doesn’t mean you can’t call yourself Soulja Boy. Just ask DeAndre Way. The kid’s a self-proclaimed “Soulja” and he’s never even sniffed a combat zone. In honor of Soulja Boy’s new mixtape Skate Boy, we’ve compiled a list of five rappers who have military experience (and we’re not talking about the South Central war zone).
Before he was rapping about cop killers or playing a cop on “Law and Order: SVU,” Ice-T was an Army Ranger. Growing up with the name Tracy, Ice surely had the toughness needed to make it in the military. After serving four years, ol’ Tracy left the Army to try to make it as a rapper and find a big booty white girl. Check and check.
After high school, Mystikal, who would later becomes famous for encouraging people to “Shake Ya Ass,” joined the U.S. Army. The year was 1988 and the Middle East would explode very soon. Mystikal saw action in Desert Storm as a combat engineer, but watching people get shot all day couldn’t even stop this man from keeping his eye on the prize. “Even when I was in the Army, I was still an entertainer. I wanted to be the best rapper in the Army,” he once said.
The late great Nate Dogg dropped out of high school as a teenager and joined the Marines. “I wanted to see if I was a man. So I joined the service as a litmus test,” he later said. Unfortunately for him, his job in the Marines was even more boring than school. He was a munitions specialist, tasked with counting and keeping track of every bullet, grenade and ammunition they were using in the Marines. So like school, he dropped out of the Marines, going AWOL and heading back to Long Beach to practice crooning. That third career choice worked out just fine.
After trying and failing to become a pro baseball player and toying with becoming a drug dealer, Stanley Kirk Burrell, better known as MC Hammer, decided to see the world. So he joined the Navy, where he remained for three years working as an Aviation Storekeeper 3rd Class. We don’t know what that is, but much like Hammer lately, it sounds uninteresting.
Unlike the other esteemed veterans on this list, Canibus joined the military after already making it in the rap game. Probably best known for his high-profile beef with LL Cool J, Canibus put out a few albums before enlisting in 2001. “I enlisted because I wanted to get away from the music…. I wanted to do something that gave me a separate definition from what I had done all through my teens and twenties,” he said a few years after making it through boot camp. Unfortunately for him, his military career came crashing down in 2004 when he was discharged for, what else, smoking cannabis. Really?! No one saw that coming?