Backstory: Known as MGK to fans, Richard Baker started rhyming in seventh grade after seeing the video for DMX’s “We Right Here,” using his new skills as an MC as a defense against middle-school bullies. It paid off: his rapid-fire delivery earned him his nickname at 15, and he became the first rapper to win the Apollo’s talent show when he was 19.
Sore Throat: A polyp on his vocal cord in 2010 nearly sidelined MGK, who didn’t have health insurance and couldn’t afford surgery to remove it. Instead, he worked through the polyp with a series of vocal exercises, then returned to releasing a flurry of mixtapes before signing with Diddy in 2011.
Hot Clip: Watch exclusive footage of MGK on tour above.