#TBT — Remembering the Era of the Lyrical Child Rapper

Believe it or not, there was a time when being young was no excuse for coming up short lyrically.

In the early 90s, rappers like A+, Shyheim, Da Youngstas and Lil’ Vicious proved that no matter the age, if you wanted to be an emcee, you had to come with it.

In 1995, a 14-year-old Hempstead, New York, native broke onto the scene with his debut album The Latch Key Child. Buoyed by the first single “All I See,” the album showed moderate success. However, what most heads remember about A+ was that he was a founding member of the Group Home crew, which featured Lost Boyz and Canibus.


In 1992, Philly’s own Da Youngsta’s dropped their debut album Something 4 Da Youngsta’s. Brothers 13-year-old Qu’ran and 14-year-old Taji Goodman joined forces with 15-year-old Tarik Dawson, finding little initial success. It wasn’t until their followup album The Aftermath that the group broke through with the single “Crewz Pop.”


A perfect example of lost potential, the Wu Tang Clan affiliate Shyheim always seemed poised to blow. In 1994, the then 14-year-old New York native dropped his debut album on the same day as Nas’ Illmatic. Rather than be completely outshined, the album, AKA the Rugged Child, was received well by many critics, with others predicting the young rapper would change the game. Unfortunately, due to a continuously traumatic and troubled life, Shyheim’s career went off the rails. He’s currently serving 14 years in prison for a hit-and-run conviction.


Discovered by hip hop legend Doug E. Fresh when he was only 14, Lil’ Vicious (now just Vicious) dropped his album Destination Brooklyn, along with his bona fide hip hop and dancehall classic titled “Freaks.” Destination charted on several Billboard charts, peaking at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Reggae Albums.

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