Mase perfoms at Pitbull's New Years Eve Revolution 2016; Rapper Drake performs onstage during "Lil Baby & Friends Birthday Celebration Concert" at State Farm Arena; Lauryn Hill performs during the 2022 Essence Festival of Culture at the Louisiana Superdome
Source: Erika Goldring, Johnny Louis/Getty Images; Prince Williams/Wireimage

Artists Who Took a Hiatus From Hip Hop: Five Rappers Who “Retired” and Returned Better Than Ever

Drake announced that he might be taking a hiatus from music — but he's not the only one. Meet the rappers who retired and returned better than ever!


Oct. 30 2023, Published 7:02 p.m. ET

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Multifaceted artist Drake is known for his global appeal and has been a fixture in the hip-hop industry since his 2006 debut single, Thank Me Later.

Collaborating with music titans like Travis Scott, Rihanna, and Jay-Z (among others), the Canadian MC has solidified his place in the music pantheon.

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Despite the many highs of his career, in 2023, the multi-award-winning artist dropped a bomb that no one saw coming.

The rapper suggested that he may be retiring from music following the release of his 2023 album, For All the Dogs. History proves that his decision to take a step back isn't uncommon in the ever-changing music industry.

In fact, many artists, for various reasons, have taken temporary hiatuses, leading to fresh inspiration and growth or a pivot in their career altogether.

Keep reading for five such musicians who stepped out of the limelight and returned with renewed creativity and purpose!


Drake attends "Lil Baby & Friends Birthday Celebration Concert" at State Farm Arena on December 9, 2022 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Source: Prince Williams/Wireimage

In a conversation with fellow rapper Lil Yachty in a February episode of Moody Conversations, Drake hinted at making a "graceful exit" from the rap game. This begs the question, is Drake really taking a hiatus from the music? To be determined.

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“I think I’m at the point now where I just wanna like — I feel like maybe we talked about this the other day. I feel like I’m kinda introducing the concept in my mind of a graceful exit,” the Certified Lover Boy shared. Months later, Drizzy revisited the revelation.

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"I probably won't make music for a little bit. I'm going to be real with you. I need to focus on my health, first and foremost," he shared in a late 2023 interview with Table For One. But don't worry fans — Drake clarified that his health issues are "nothing crazy."

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The rapper continued: "I want people to be healthy in life, and I've been having the craziest problems for years with my stomach — so I need to focus on my health and I need to get right."

Drake disclosed that his hiatus won't be an extended one, though. "Maybe a year or something, maybe a little longer," he added.

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Lauryn Hill

American musician Lauryn Hill performs an acoustic, solo set during the JVC Jazz Festival at Carnegie Hall, New York, New York, June 23, 2002.
Source: Jack Vartoogian/Getty Images

Unlike many recording artists who've cried retirement only to return what felt like the next day, Lauryn Hill's hiatus was felt by the music industry and the world at large. The sultry-voiced crooner distanced herself from the music scene for a considerable chunk of the 2000s.

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Before she went off the radar, she expressed claims that she had been exploited by the music industry. Her gradual return was marked by a one-night performance at New York City's Highline Ballroom (2012). These days, you can even catch her on tour.

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If we've learned anything from Logic, it's that retirement isn’t so cut-and-dry for rappers. Point in case — in 2020, following the release of his seventh album, No Pressure, the Maryland MC announced he was stepping away from the mic.

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However, his exit from the industry was short-lived as he made a comeback in early 2021 with Bobby Tarantino III. And he's still gaining momentum! In 2023, he released his ninth studio album, College Park.

In other words, there's likely much more to come.

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Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj at the World Premiere of "Barbie."
Source: Getty Images

In September 2019, Nicki Minaj revealed that she was retiring in a since-deleted message on Twitter.

“I’ve decided to retire and have my family. I know you guys are happy now,” she wrote. The same year, she married her husband, Kenneth Petty. They later welcomed their son, whom Nicki affectionately nicknamed "Papa Bear."

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Fortunately for fans, her long-awaited fifth album, Pink Friday 2, is close on our heels. The project is slated to be released on her birthday, Nov. 17.

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MC Hammer

In the early 1990s, MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" and his album, Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em, were iconic on the hip-hop scene, with the latter being one of the best-selling rap albums of all time.

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However, in 1997, Hammer transitioned to a new career in television ministry, hosting M.C. Hammer and Friends. He also appeared on shows like Praise the Lord, where he openly discussed his journey as an ordained minister.

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Jay-Z attends The Shawn Carter Foundation's 20th Anniversary Black Tie Gala at Pier 60 on July 14, 2023 in New York City.
Source: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Roc Nation

Jay-Z's brief hiatus from music after releasing The Black Album in 2003 has since been dubbed a strategic move.

Whether he truly intended to retire at the time is debatable, but he recognized the significance of framing his potential retirement as a crucial part of his narrative.

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In the decades since his "retirement," Hov has released multiple albums including, 4:44, The Blueprint 3, and Magna Carta Holy Grail, among many others.

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Vanilla Ice

In 1990, Vanilla Ice (real name Rob Van Winkle) achieved ultra stardom with his crossover hit, "Ice Ice Baby." The single made the South Florida-based rapper one of the most recognizable stars of the era.

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However, as he entered his early twenties, he ventured into real estate, investing in and flipping properties.

Today, he's best known for his successful TV show, The Vanilla Ice Project, which focuses on renovation and home improvement.

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mase record deal
Source: Getty Images

Mase wears gold-brimmed glasses, a black blazer, and a black button down shirt and smiles at the Tribeca Film Festival.

The artist formerly known as Murda Mase made a significant mark in the post-Biggie Bad Boy era with his 1997 debut album, Harlem World, which spawned three platinum certifications.

Despite what felt like overnight success, in 1999, Mase announced his retirement from music to pursue a higher calling as a pastor.

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

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