Been having great conversations about hip-hop and the emcees in it the last week and a very interesting topic popped back in my head. I think there are quite a few artist/emcees that would have greater careers 20 years ago although they are doing very well for themselves right now.
In 1996, There was no social media, the video mattered just as much as the bars and The Source was an undisputed credible platform to rank albums. Scandalous news traveled very slow, personal life was rarely asked and being “different” made you special and stand out amongst your counterparts.
I have a short list of emcees here that I want to turn back the clock for. That time is 20 years ago.
Wale: Nobody can ever say Wale is not a skilled emcee. Bar for bar he is definitely in the Top 5 of conversation if we just based it on lyrics today. The problem is, Wale gets too much bad press to win on a mainstream level. Too many people and publications call him “sensitive” and some try to paint him as “someone who always attacks women” and it’s hard to shake those stigmas in 2016 where everything a person does is casted out into the world wide web.
I admit, I am not the biggest fan of Wale and at first, I didn’t like him at all. It was all music based for me though. I turned the corner on “Folarin” “The Gifted” and “The Album About Nothing”. If those projects drop between 1996 to 1999, the hip-hop community would be caping for Wale as one of the best and if he did turn up on a radio host or a critic, it would be “Wale don’t play around” vs “Wale’s a b***h”.
Remember, record execs, DJ’s, emcees and haters were getting screamed on and beat up 20 years ago and it was respected.
Uncle Murda: Murda is personally one of my favorite rappers of the 2000’s. Murda’s not the best emcee, but some of his songs and projects might have been regarded as classics 20 years ago. Uncle Murda is talking that violent New York ish every project. People are getting killed, B***hes are getting f**ked and it’s F the Police throughout his projects and there is no way he wouldn’t have a Platinum plaque in the same year Reasonable Doubt, It Was Written, Firing Squad and Hell on Earth dropped. He definitely would have been on a couple of those albums.
Joe Budden: Joey is one of my favorite rappers ever. From 2003-2008, I feel he was unquestionably in the Top 5 of emcees, excluding nobody and over time, he’s one of the only emcees left with no asterisk by his name when it comes to his hit records or his bars. If Joe was doing his radio freestyles in 1994 and dropped his first album in 1996, I feel him along with Redman and Treach would have stamped Jersey as a hotbed of talent. This is year Muddy Waters dropped too, so I think just off cause and effect, Red and Joey’s albums double in sales and Joey went gold and “Pump It Up” played during the 2004 NBA Finals.
Also putting Joe Budden in an era, where girlfriends don’t get famous for being pretty and where models and vixens are getting paid in penis and hotel stays and I think many start throwing him in the Top 5 conversations of the golden era, because it’s all about the music first.
Nipsey Hussle: I feel Nipsey Hussle is the Snoop Dogg of this era. That’s not a bad thing at all. What I mean with that is he’s the guy that could really be the face of the west coast even if another person may sell more than him for 1 year.
Nipsey’s marketing strategies and “Marathon Hustling” is honestly the most remarkable plan of this era. The music is good, but Nipsey isn’t “bigger” because he doesn’t do the extra ish. He’s not out here acting foolish or trying to stunt and be seen. He just out here trying to move product and get money. 20 years ago, I think Hussle would just be talked about more in regards to cultural impact. Literally nobody does what he’s doing in rap, but it really doesn’t get enough praise. That’s crazy considering the majority will tell you “Labels are like banks now” “go independent for more money” “These 360 deals are killing artist”. Nipsey is the new “rap success blueprint”. He would do more videos too.
Big Sean: Big Sean may not be the leader of the new school, but you personally can’t tell me Bar for Bar, it’s 3 emcees of this current era that are better than him. In 1996, if Big Sean drops the Detroit mixtape as an album or Dark Sky Paradise, he becomes the Eminem of Detroit before Dre finds Em and that’s major. Add that to him rhyming over Dilla beats and you could argue that Detroit’s rap legacy increases with having a major emcee at the forefront verses a major producer. The “Play No Games” video dropping in the Martin show hey day, would have set the game on fire.
I know. So many other elements change for all this to be factual. Certain people helped these artist to success who also weren’t in the game in 1996. The one thing that is for sure is Def Jam, Death Row, Bad Boy and Priority would have been great homes for any of these artist and they still would be hard to ignore just off of that word called talent.
What artist are on your list for being in the wrong era? What album would you have like to see drop 10 or 20 years ago?