When it comes to hip-hop tattoos, one of the names that most frequently comes to mind is Mister Cartoon. Today, the artist responsible for inking Eminem, 50 Cent, Kobe Bryant, Xzibit, Dr. Dre, Method Man, Prodigy, Snoop Dogg, Redman, DJ Premier, and more, has caught up with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 for a conversation.
One of the notable moments arrives when Cartoon is asked about his most memorable tattoos, prompting the longtime artist to take a stroll back to simpler times.
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“I probably have to keep going back to Eminem,” recalls Cartoon, reflecting one of his most high-profile clients. “He went beyond anything that we ever expected. We knew he was dope, we hadn’t seen him at the beginning, but when I started tattooing him, I really seen him go out of control and be on the cover of Rolling Stone, Entertainment Weekly. Magazines that were, I don’t know, A-list celebrity magazines, you got this tattooed rapper on there.”
“And 50 Cent’s back, he used his back piece tattoo as his promotion for his album and his movie,” continues Cartoon. “So after then, I kind of didn’t need my portfolio. We used to lug around these big portfolios and show you pictures of my work, and then I can reference those guys. Made it a lot easier.”
“50 wanted other tattoos,” he continues, circling back to his work crafting Fif’s tattoos. “And he didn’t have anything on his back. I go, “I want to do the back piece.” He goes, “I’m cool. I don’t want that right now.” I go, “Okay, when you’re ready, let me know what’s up.” And he goes, “All right.” Because I was tattooing Lloyd Banks or something and long story short, he left. I was like, damn, I could have tattooed 50 Cent. But he came back and he got that back piece.”
Mister Cartoon with LeBron James and JAY-Z. Brian To/FilmMagic/Getty Images
“Halfway through, he told me, “I got a meeting with Jimmy Iovine. I’ll be back.” And I was like, I’ll be back and he split for six hours. And his mixtapes were exploding on the streets so we waited and it’s a good thing because he showed back up. But it’s those types of things that people don’t see — they just see his back on the cover. They don’t know he left through the session, everything that it took to get to that point, you know?”
Clearly, Cartoon values his experience working with two of the game’s biggest superstars — a process that ultimately immortalized him in the hip-hop hall of fame. For more from Cartoon, be sure to check out his entire Apple Music interview below. You can also peep our own interview with Cartoon right here.