As a way to keep your name cycling in the constantly overturning news cycle, incite beef, stir up promotion for your upcoming project, get your name on the map, or try to remain relevant, you could do worse than trolling.
Call it a cry for attention or a smart way to grow your personal brand but hip-hop trolls seem to be at an all-time high these days. With fans having more listening options at their disposal, some artists feel pressure to do something—anything—to stick out from the pack.
And the impact of a smartly executed troll can win over fresh ears or further endear an already establish personality. “Trollin’, trollin’, trollin’ these niggas/Rick Rolling these niggas,” Childish Gambino raps on the appropriately titled “III. Life: The Biggest Troll [Andrew Auernheimer].” On the flip side, trolling can go horribly wrong. (As Rick Ross raps on Smif-N-Wessun’s new “Let Me Tell Ya,” “I miss the old Kanye, can’t fuck with new lames.”)
But subtly or overtly poking the bear is nothing new for rap artists. It just used to take a little more effort than flexing some Twitter fingers and tapping send.
To coincide with April Fool’s Day—the troll’s international holiday—XXL looks back at 10 of the greatest hip-hop trolls of all-time. Salute. You’re blocked. —Luke Fox
Here Are 10 of Hip-Hop’s Biggest Trolls of All Time