Where does make it rain come from?
Make it rain originates as a slang term for throwing out lots of cash to dancers in strip clubs, as if money is raining down on them.
The phrase, with its imagery of showering an abundance of cash, draws from its roots in the term rainmaker. Recorded in the late 18th-century, a rainmaker is an individual in Native American culture believed to have the power to make it rain (and so aid agricultural bounty). By the end of the following century, rainmaker was applied to professionals would could successfully bring in business.
While Urban Dictionary’s first entry for make it rain was in 2005, the term was popularized by “Make It Rain,” a hit 2006 single by rapper Fat Joe, featuring fellow artist Lil Wayne. This song is about making it rain in a strip club. In the video, Lil Wayne swipes off bills from a stack of cash resting on his palm, an imitation of which is often accompanied by the use of make it rain in conversation.
Other hip-hop tracks, such as Lil Jon’s 2010 “Act A Fool” and Travis Porter’s “Make It Rain,” released in the same year helped further spread the expression. As making it rain in a strip club is seen as a way of showing off how much money one has to spend indulgently, the expression has become a metaphor for wealth and prosperity. To make it rain, then, has come to mean popularly “to earn lots of money” or “to make something very successful.”
Who uses make it rain?
The image of money, in the form of bills, “raining” down in a strip club can be extended to refer to an abundance of any sort of object falling (literally or metaphorically) in various scenarios.
Beyond cash, make it rain can be applied to an assortment of items, e.g., business cards, if a person passes them out willy-nilly, university degrees, if an institution is seen to too easily confer them, or even non-paper items like cookies, if someone really values baked goods or just made a batch.
“This tells me everything re: timing of Comey's firing. Make it RAIN subpoenas!”
@AZFerrer77 Twitter (May 9, 2017)
“Meanwhile, the woodwinds, begin to chant ‘TAKE IT ALL OFF’. Then my section, percussion, stands up and begin to make motions with our hands suggesting that we are making it rain dollar bills all over him.”
greyblob Tumblr (December 10, 2013)
“Minaj said she’d wire the promised money through on Sunday and make it rain for more scholars in a month or two.”
Ruth Brown, “Nicki Minaj pays college expenses for lucky fans,” Page Six (May 7, 2017)