Here’s a turn-up for the books – a hip hop star insisting they’re not from a gangsta background.
One Belcalis Marlenis Almánzar, better known to your playlist curator as Cardi B, hit the tweet button when word got around that fellow-rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine had claimed she was a member of New York’s Nine Trey Bloods gang.
And that she joined the gang to further her music career, just as he’d done.
6ix9ine was in a court room testifying against two Bloods hauled up before the beak on federal racketeering and firearms charges.
Turns out he actually didn’t say it, but Cardi was seemingly making sure that at this stage of her career, there were no homie squad allusions to her past.
Unlike Rick Ross and Tyga, for instance, who put it out there that they lived in gangsta’s paradise.
The Spin: Hardass maverick Rick Ross named himself after famed drug trafficker ‘Freeway’ Rick Ross and called his debut single ‘Hustlin’.
The Rub: In July 2008, The Smoking Gun whistleblew he had been a corrections officer in Florida for 18 months (December 1995 to June 1997).
Naturally he denied it and lamely claimed his face had been posted on someone else’s body.
When the site responded with photos of him in his uniform, the next sound we heard was William Leonard Roberts II doing a rubber-burning U-turn and confessing all.
He moaned to Don Diva magazine: “Yes, it’s me. I never tried to hide my past. I put my name inside my CDs.
“My company has my [social security number]. I done been up and I done been down and that’s what makes me what I am.”
In 2014 he was still brooding about it. On the Mastermind album’s first track ‘Rich Is Gangsta’ he said he’d be a prison guard again to feed his family.
He rapped: “Feds tore apart the squad n—a, that’s why I had to play the part n—a/That wasn’t me, it was a job n—a.”
To which the world barked back, “We’re so over it!”
The Spin: Born Michael Ray Stevenson to a Jamaican father and Vietnamese mother, he grew up in rough-ass Compton.
We’re talking serious street credibility plus here.
The name Tyga either came, depending on what he’d had for breakfast that day, from his mum calling him Tiger Woods or it was a backronym for Thank You God Always.
The Rub: In 2012, leaked footage from unaired television show Bustas featured him tell the host that he grew up in a “well-to-do” home in the Valley, where his parents drove a Range Rover.
He claimed the TV appearance was satirical, later tweeting, “When u 14 an ambitious u don’t give a fuk about anything. Scripted tv isn’t that what we all live for.Hahahaha.”
Check out Tyga on Bustas:
The Spin: When Jim Morrison met the rest of The Doors, he told then he was an “orphan”, a claim which extended to interviews and consolidated his image as a loner.
The Rub: His father George was a naval admiral – not a cool thing for a rock icon to admit to in those days of anti-Vietnam war rallies and bringing down the establishment — who expected his eldest son to follow into the forces.
George was away a lot on overseas duty and the boy was brought up by his mother Clara.
When The Doors hit big in the mid-’60s, Jimbo invited his mum to a Washington show and put her in the front row.
At the climatic end of their show, called ‘The End’ he screamed “Mother I want to…. (put on snarly face) …”fuck you!”
While he refused to ever see her again, Clara got her revenge a few years later.
When he died of a heart attack in Paris, where he went while awaiting a trial on exposing himself on stage in Miami, a reporter rang her for a comment.
“He stopped being my son the day he pulled his pants down in public” she said and hung up.
The Spin: Angus Young was 16 and still at school when AC/DC started, hence the school uniform onstage.
The Rub: In February 2019, original singer Dave Evans told Canada’s The Metal Voice that Ang was actually 19 and already working a 9—5 day job (as an apprentice printer at a company which published sex magazines) and that elder brother and co-producer George Young came up with the “school’s in forever” concept.
Evans said, “George Young wanted us to look different from the other bands in Australia.
“So they told us Angus was going to wear a school boy outfit, put his age down to 16 to relate to the kids, as we had lots of school gigs at the time.
“We put his age down to 16 years old because he was so little. The school boy uniform was made for him by his sister.”
Evans also pooh-poohed that Bon Scott had previously been AC/DC’s driver.
“It was nothing like that. He was just a friend of George Young, he used to hang around with us.
“Another myth, he was never the band’s driver. Also, Bon Scott was never the drummer of the band. They are just myths.”
Check out ‘Thunderstruck’ by AC/DC:
The Spin: Bob Dylan ran away from home and hitch-hiked to New York to visit his idol, folk singer Woody Guthrie.
In March 1966 he told the New York Times he had a heroin addiction after moving to New York.
“I got very, very strung out for a while. I had a $25 a day habit (approx. $215 today) and I kicked it.”
He claimed he survived in those early days as a hooker.
“Sometimes we would make one hundred a night ($855 in today’s money), really, from four in the afternoon until three or four in the morning,” he said.
“Cats would pick us up and chicks would pick us up. And we would do anything you wanted, as long as it was paid…I almost got killed…
“I didn’t come down to the Village (Greenwich) until two months later. Nobody knew that I had been hustling uptown.”
The Rub: He came from a boring middle class Jewish family.
His father ran an electrical appliance store in Duluth, Minnesota (not considered cool when you’re moving in bohemian circles in New York), and his real name was Robert Allen Zimmerman.
When he started playing folk clubs, he considered calling himself Dillon. Then he came across the poetry of Dylan Thomas.
In a 2004 interview, Dylan claimed, “You’re born, you know, the wrong names, wrong parents. I mean, that happens.
“You call yourself what you want to call yourself. This is the land of the free.”
Lana Del Rey
The Spin: In 2011, Lana Del Rey co-wrote a song called ‘Video Games’ and posted it on YouTube with a cheapo video she directed herself.
It went viral and notched up 20 million YouTube views, making her an overnight success.
In January 2012, the Born to Die album went on to sell 3.4 million globally, including 150,000 in Australia where it went to #1. It also reached top spot in the UK and #2 in the US.
She won the Next Big Thing at the Q awards.
The Rub: Fan backlash was particularly nasty when it came to light that her real name was Lizzy Grant. She’d released music under that name and May Jailer.
Her management company gave her name Lana Del Ray (initially not Rey). Her career was said to be paid for by her rich daddy.
There was an attempt to eradicate all traces of her earlier music but a video dated June 8, 2009 attributed to Lizzy Grant in t-shirt and jeans shyly singing on a New York show called The Variety Box.
Unforgiving fans even scoffed her pout is down to collagen.
She denied that. “I haven’t had anything done at all… I’m quite pouty. That’s just how I look when I sing.”
Check out ‘Video Games’ by Lana Del Rey:
The Spin: Alanis Morissette came marching out in 1995 as a fresh-faced newcomer toting the voice of the angst-ridden banner.
Everyone loved her. Jagged Little Pill topped the charts in 13 countries (including Australia) and sold 33 million copies, 1.2 million of those in Australia.
The Rub: She’d been a child TV star and later made two awful bubblegum-pop albums released in her native Canada only.
But with lyrics like these, would you have brought attention to them?
My name is Alanis, I’m a white chick singer
The drums are a-smokin’ and so’s the bass
Shake your thing (chika chika chika, cha)
When you sing (chika chika chika, ooh yeah)
Just sixteen (chika chika chika, cha)
No disco queen (chika chika chika, oh yeah)
The White Stripes
The Spin: Brother and sister duo, Jack and Meg White emerged in Detroit in 1997 as The White Stripes; Jack played guitar and Meg the drums.
The Rub: In 2001, the Detroit Free Press revealed they were in fact husband and wife (married in 1996, divorced in 2000).
Glorious Noise posted their marriage certificate online in 2002, revealing that Jack was born Jack Gillis and took Meg’s family name when they got hitched.
He explained to Rolling Stone in 2005: “When you see a band that is two pieces, husband and wife, boyfriend and girlfriend, you think, ‘Oh, I see…’
“When they’re brother and sister, you go, ‘Oh, that’s interesting.’
“You care more about the music, not the relationship – whether they’re trying to save their relationship by being in a band.”
The Spin: ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill and beardless drummer Frank Beard met at a facial hair festival.
The Rub: They met while playing in a fake Zombies band.
They’d pretend to be the British band who had a hit in the US with ‘Time Of The Season’ even though fans were puzzled as to why the “Brits” spoke with Texas drawls.
Check out ‘La Grange’ by ZZ Top:
The Spin: Ms True Brit kept up the whitebread innocent image and insisted she was a virgin. Part Snow White and part-Mother Teresa.
The Rub: After her relationship with Justin Timberlake collapsed (she had an affair with a choreographer), the Trousersnake got back at her by telling anyone who would listen that it was a load of cow cookies and they’d indeed “done it”.
Spears exacted her own revenge. When Timberlake began dating actress Alyssa Milano, Brit made sure she was seen walking around in a T-shirt with the giant message “Dump him!”
She shoved the knife in deeper by hanging out with one of The Backstreet Boys, his rivals,
The Spin: US bluesman Seasick Steve, born Steven Wold in 1941, ran away from home escaping an abusive stepfather.
He travelled around the US Deep South for 14 years “looking for the blues”, as a hobo and jumping freight trains seeking seasonable work at carnivals and farms.
He played with Lightnin’ Hopkins, Son House, John Lee Hooker, Albert King, and Joni Mitchell.
From the ‘70s he busked in Paris, was a studio hand in Hawaii, ran a studio in Seattle just as grunge hit and where 50 albums were cut, and in 2006 found himself a star in the UK.
He cut a series of albums which featured Nick Cave’s Ginderman, Jack White and Led Zep’s John Paul Jones.
The BBC made a documentary on his life, revisiting his early days in the South.
The Rub: He was born in 1951, his real name was Steve Leach, and he was no hobo who got lucky.
Instead he’d been digging away trying to make a dent in music industry since the 1960s.
These included fronting a disco outfit, sitting cross-legged onstage with Indian-US band and producing the debut album for Mighty Mouse.
He defended himself saying he was misrepresented by the media. “If I write about sitting under a tree, drinking Thunderbird wine, that’s because I did it.”
The Spin: Born Anna Mae Bullock on November 26, 1939 in Nutbush, Tennessee, Tina Turner came to attention in the ‘60s with first husband Ike Turner, whom she divorced in the mid-’70s after an abusive relationship.
She became a Buddhist, relaunched a solo career and sold 200 million records worldwide, became a Swiss citizen and is currently in semi-retirement
The Rub: She actually lived in ancient Egypt and in her 1986 autobiography I, Tina reckoned she was once the pharaoh Hathsepsut.
Imagine MTV trying to pronounce that little doozie.
The mummy’s girl confessed, “I spent holidays there because I felt so strongly connected to Egypt.
“That strange feeling of recognition became very strong when I was in Egypt at excavations and saw images of Amenhotep, a pharaoh from the 18th dynasty.
“Something strange happened to me. I knew that I was one of the portrayed figures, that I had lived there in that time!”