Jay-Z (born December 4, 1969)

Artistic output: After announcing a second retirement, Hov relaxes by churning out two more albums (one being a Blueprint sequel called Sketches), numerous cameo appearances and a deal with Live Nation to perform at Sarah Palin's inauguration.

Typical audience: Dudes from Bed-Stuy who prematurely inscribed themselves with Brooklyn Nets tattoos and slow-moving marketers seeking to capitalize off "this hip-hop fad.”

Additional business ventures: Reflecting his maturing fan base, Rocawear begins producing bulletproof cardigans; baggy, denim adult diapers; and the "Movin' 'Caine” walking stick.

Retro appeal: Accountants who wear "button-ups” to work credit Jigga's dismissal of throwback jerseys as the bar mitzvah moment in urban couture.

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Snoop Dogg (born October 20, 1971)

Artistic output: No trip to Las Vegas is complete without seeing Doggystyle: The Musical at the Bellagio (role of Snoop played by Bow Wow on Tuesdays and the Brat on Thursdays).

Typical audience: Desperate guidance counselors who believe "izzle” is crucial for communicating with youngsters. Example: "For shizzle, you should applizzy to Tufts as your sizzafe schizzool.”

Additional business ventures: Infomercials for "Up in Smoke,” Snoop's portable grilling apparatus, are suspended after Humboldt Marinade gives audiences bloodshot eyes and makes them question the meaning of nachos.

Retro appeal: Many stoner parents forget if their cherished childhood cartoon character was a dancing beagle or the guy who sang "Bitches Ain't Shit.”

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Eminem (born October 17, 1972)

Artistic output: To promote his long-delayed fifth album, Slim joins Tom Green to cohost VH1's Those Loco 00s, a program that gently skewers boy bands of yesteryear (no Lou Pearlman-o).

Typical audience: His core crowd of angry teenagers ages gracelessly into adults who ironically look like testier, less vegan versions of Moby.

Additional business ventures: Reflecting his domestication, Shady Clothing transforms into Shades & Awnings. Slogan: "Don't let the world see you throttling your wife!”

Retro appeal: For a brief, shining moment, people forget Detroit's reputation as a burned-out urban husk and remember that it also had upstanding, old-fashioned trailer parks.

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Ghostface (born May 9, 1970)

Artistic output: Unwilling to let the "fish” motif go, Ghost drops Subsequent Fish, A Whole Different Kettle of Fish, Red Fish/Wu-Fish and Only Build for Hunan Carp.

Typical audience: Wu-Tang's popularity surges when the offspring of Ol' Dirty Bastard come of ticket-buying age.

Additional business ventures: Tony Starks Enterprises converts its Wallabee factory into a manufacturer of suede tents, thereby solving the subprime-housing crisis.

Retro appeal: When falconry overtakes baseball as America's "national pastime,” Ghostface's bronze, wrist-mounted bird of prey is finally acknowledged as a prophetic fashion statement. —Ben Detrick

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See Also:

Kanye West is bigger than hip-hop

50 Cent outlines how he'll stay filthy rich and not die tryin'