Drake: Drake’s critically acclaimed mixtape, So Far Gone, made him hip-hop’s number one free agent. When he signed with Lil’ Wayne’s Young Money Records, the chemistry on their tracks was infectious and undeniable. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Eminem: One of the greatest lyricists to ever grab a mic, Eminem was discovered by the one of the greatest producers of all time, Dr. Dre. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
Pharrell Williams: One half of the legendary production team The Neptunes, Pharrell was originally signed to an R&B group by New Jack Swing pioneer, Teddy Riley. You can hear an early Pharrell rap on Wreckx-N-Effect’s “Rump Shaker” (Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)
Usher: The crooner and former child star was given a mentor by his label, LaFace Records. He moved to New York to record and to develop his personal style by then Puff Daddy aka Diddy. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
Ludacris: Another successful independent artist., the Atlanta representer was The Ghetto Boyz’ rapper and then Def Jam South President, Scarface, first signee. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Waka Flocka Flame: Gucci Mane had a protégé before Waka (Whats up OJ? Ay!), but Gucci’s and Waka’s joint success make them the south’s Batman and Robin.
Juelz Santana: The youngest member of the Harlem rap group The Diplomats (Dipset), Santana is known for his rapid fire lyrics and braggadocio voice that is certainly a reflection of the Dipset leader, Cam’ron. (Photo by Neilson Barnard/Getty Images)
Kanye West: A well known producer prior to being signed to Rocafella Records, Kanye’s star continued shine when Jay-Z took him underneath his wing. (Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for VEVO)
Lil Kim:The lone female and standout of the 90s rap group, Junior M.A.F.I.A., Lil Kim’ was taken underneath The Notorious B.I.G.’s wing and became one of hip-hop’s most iconic female presences. (Photo by Dave Hogan/Getty Images)
Bone Thugs-n-Harmony: Known for their high speed and melodic delivery, Bone Thugs were signed to the late Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records in 1994. Originally, known for songs about weed and gangsta life, their subject matter began to have a religious, political feel to it after their mentor Eazy passed away due to complications from AIDS. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
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Within the realm of rap and R&B, a mentor makes it easier to open doors and to grab mainstream appeal. The well-deserved success of Jay-Z and Kanye’s Watch The Throne album is a direct reflection of what a successful in-house partnership can do for the hip-hop culture. Here at theGrio, we decided to look back at other mentees that stood strong to become bonafide stars on their own. Check em out.