Lil Wayne wears multi-colored track jacket and hat and holds microphone; Tupac wears white bandana and holds up his shirt to expose his thug life tattoo; Rick Ross wears a black suit and chains at the GRAMMYs.
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Tatted Up! Exploring the Profound Meanings Behind Your Favorite Rappers' Tattoos

Rappers are not just known for their lyrics — many rappers are also known for their tattoos. Here is what some of your favorite rappers tats mean!


Dec. 7 2023, Published 2:13 p.m. ET

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Some of our favorite rappers are known for their brilliant lyricism and punchlines, but many times, their tattoos are also just as profound. In fact, rap and tattoos have shared a symbiotic relationship for years.

Artists use their skin as a canvases to express their personal stories, struggles, and triumphs. Here are some rappers who have fascinating tattoos and what those tattoos mean!

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Lil Wayne

lil wayne tattoo
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Lil Wayne poses in the press room at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Aside from his evergrowing locs, one of Lil Wayne's aesthetic appeals over the years has been his tattoos.

The rapper has branded himself through his talent, but his tattoos are also a poignant part of his artistic journey. Wayne reportedly has over 80 tattoos, including a symbol of the African continent on his forehead.

It is no secret that celebs love to dig into their ancestry and Lil Wayne went viral last year when he told the hosts of Drink Champs that he is 53% Nigerian. Needless to say, his love for Africa goes deep.

“Shout out to Nigeria, I did my 23andMe,, and my s--t came back like 53% Nigerian,” Wayne said at the time.

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Rick Ross

rick ross tattoos
Source: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Rick Ross attends the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards at Madison Square Garden.

Maybach Music CEO Rick Ross is the biggest boss — his distinct selection of inked tattoos prove it.

With over 60 tattoos in total, the Port of Miami rapper is definitely one of the most tatted rappers out there. One of his standout tattoos is the Maybach logo on his face. Fans of Ross know that he is a big fan of foreign, high-end cars — and face tats — so this piece of ink is no surprise.

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Rapper Drake at the NBA In-Season Tournament game at the Scotiabank Arena on November 17, 2023
Source: Cole Burston/Getty Images

Drake is known for a lot of things, including back-to-back hits and his vast selection of inked tattoos — some of which are flat-out puzzling. His most recent tattoo is no exception.

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Miskeen, the word tatted on the Canadian Certified Lover Boy's face, could mean two things: "hopeless" and "poor" or "sweet" and "innocent." The term was reportedly coined by the Somalian community in Toronto.

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Tupac Shakur

Source: Raymond Boyd/Getty Images

Tupac Shakur performs at the Regal Theater in Chicago, Illinois.

Posthumously, Tupac Shakur is still an iconic figure in the rap community. The rapper left an imprint on the culture that will live on for years to come. Tupac was introspective and prolific and his tattoos were an extension of his artistry.

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One of the most poignant tattoos he rocked said Thug Life, which stands for: "The hate u give f--ks everybody." Later, a bestselling novel and adaptive film of the same name were released.

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Nicki Minaj

nicki best selling hip hop

Nicki Minaj attends The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

When she first got her big break in the mid-2000s, fans were fascinated by Nicki Minaj's lyrical delivery and cadence. As time went on, the Chinese tattoo on her left upper arm became an object of fascination.

The tattoo says: “上帝與你常在," or, "God is with me always."

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The "Last Time I Saw You" rapper has been pretty vocal about her struggles in the music industry and the impact of a higher power in her life through it all, so the tattoo is definitely one that carries a deeper meaning for her.

The author’s content and opinions have not been pre-reviewed, approved or endorsed by Discover.

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