1. Mystikal, Army
Mystikal signed for the army in 1988, as soon as he finished high school. His position was clearing land mines in a war zone, position that he asked for. In an interview, he said: “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.”
2. Nate Dogg, Marine Corps
When Nathaniel Hale was 17, he dropped out of high school. He joined the United States Marine Corps, where he served as an Ammunition Specialist for three years.
3. Donnis, Army
Dennis needed to fund his artist career, so he joined the army. He was based in Tokyo. That turned out to be a great advantage for him, because he would connect with artists who visited. He worked during the day, and performed at night.
“I did my thing in Japan and I did it on big stages. I was out there for two and a half years. Opening for T.I., Chingy, 112, Erykah Badu, whoever was out there killing at the time. I was working on base. After work I would be in the studio, or rehearsing for the show that night. I used to pass out CDs around the base. I had a dope buzz on the underground hip-hop scene in Tokyo. That’s where my grind took place,” he said.
4. Ice-T, Army
Tracey L. Morrow moved to Hawaii as an Army recruit when he graduated from Crenshaw High.
“My plan was to become Ranger-certified, and then get assigned to the 25th Infantry Division out in Hawaii, Schofield Barracks—I’d heard some of the old-time cats in South Central talking about the famous Tropic Lightning outfit, which had some history and glory. I signed up to be a paratrooper—you got an extra $2,500 bonus pay for being Airborne—which sounded exciting as hell to me.”
5. MC Hammer, Navy
Petty Officer Burrell, Third Class, was honorably discharged after serving three years in the United States Navy as an Aviation Store Keeper at Moffett Airfield in Mountain View, California.
6. Freddie Gibbs, Army
He was forced to join the army when he was 19 to avoid jail time.
“I caught a theft charge around the same time my [first] gun charge was still pending and the lawyer I was messing with at the time knew this Army recruiter. So they talked to the judge and the judge granted me this thing called ‘pre-trial diversion’ and what that is, is they make your ass go to boot camp and upon the completion of Army boot camp, your charges are pretty much lifted and you are on probation.” He was caught with marijuana shorly after, and was kicked out.
7. Canibus, Army
Canibus went the other way round. He enlisted after his success in the music industry. At 28, he joined the army to escape the music industry. “I wanted to do something that gave me a separate definition from what I had done all through my teens and twenties. I was 28 when I enlisted,” he said in an interview with SOHH.
In 2004, he was discharged for smoking marijuana.
8. No Malice, Army
In 1992, future one half of The Clipse was18-years-old. Gene Elliott Thornton, Jr.had just finished high school and was going to be a teen father. He needed the money, so he joined the army. He served for 2 years and 23 weeks.
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