Hip-hop tattoos are those that celebrate aspects of the hip-hop lifestyle or are similar to the tattoos of hip-hop and rap artists. Lloyd Banks, 50 Cent and Tupac Shakur are a few hip-hop artists known for their prominent tattoos.
According to Tattoo-Art, rap and hip-hop music from the 1970s to the present has been heavily influenced by hip-hop art. Popular imagery includes gold teeth, firearms, expensive tennis shoes and gold chains. For instance, a skull tattoo can incorporate a gold tooth or chains, include a baggy jersey and rap lyrics to become a custom hip-hop tattoo. According to Hot New Hip Hop, area codes, tear drops, playing cards, crosses, crowns and spider webs are also common in hip-hop tattoo designs. Area codes and tear drops often relate to gang culture. However, playing cards may portray crime or luck, and the rings on a spider web might indicate years spent in prison.
Rapper Lloyd Banks had his entire back tattooed in the hip-hop style for the reality TV show "Miami Ink." It incorporates city images, including the Statue of Liberty wielding a gun and the words "Rotten Apple" across the top of the image. Deceased rapper Tupac Shakur was well-recognized by his "Thug Life" stomach tattoo. Acting as an homage to himself, 50 Cent's whole-back tattoo includes his nickname "50," various hip-hop imagery and the word "gangsta."