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What if Tupac Shakur had never Died: The Notorious B.I.G.

26 Feb

Arguably, the person affected the most by the death of Tupac Shakur was The Notorious B.I.G. Both rappers died in the same fashion and both of their deaths are unsolved. The death of Biggie was a knee-jerk reaction to the death of Tupac. Whoever was behind the murder of Biggie felt that Biggie was behind the death of Tupac. Sadly enough, that was not the case. There are plenty of rumors about why The Notorious B.I.G. was assassinated, but it all winds back up to the fact that he is gone.

When The Notorious B.I.G. first debuted, East Coast hip hop was struggling. Because of his friendship with Tupac Shakur, he was accepted by hip hop fans from all over. Tupac would show the ropes to Biggie and he became a star. His style was unique because he was a big person that portrayed the role of a playboy. In many ways, his style was similar to that of Tupac’s. Over time, Biggie would become the biggest rapper in the game. His only competition was Tupac.

In 1994, both The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac were recording at the Hit Factory in New York, but they were in different rooms. Biggie was said to be a few floors higher than Tupac, who would end up being shot while at the studio. It had been two years since the rappers had the chance to hang out. Because he turned Puff Daddy down when he offered to sign him to Bad Boy, Tupac felt that Biggie was in on his shooting.

Despite denials from Biggie and the Bad Boy camp, Tupac declared war and he signed with the infamous Death Row Records in response. Death Row was the first hip hop dynasty and Bad Boy had quickly become the second one. Never before had rappers come together to dominate the music industry the way that Suge Knight was with Death Row. When Bad Boy rose to become another hip hop dynasty, he felt as if they were infringing on his territory.

Because Puff Daddy had moved in on his turf, Suge Knight had a personal vendetta against the entire Bad Boy camp. When he discovered that Tupac Shakur was also upset with the camp, he used this to his advantage. Suge Knight would soon sign Shakur to Death Row and they declared an all-out war on Bad Boy Records. While Tupac had a conscience, Knight simply wanted to remove Bad Boy from the top spot and he did not care how it happened.

Tupac would soon become consumed with feuding with The Notorious B.I.G. and his crew. Biggie, on the other hand, was hoping that the feud would blow over. But, Tupac felt that the entire Bad Boy crew, including Biggie, had tried to take his life. Had there not been so many people in the middle, the truth could have been revealed. But, Suge Knight was constantly in his ear talking about his issues with Bad Boy.

While Biggie had hoped that the feud would die down, his wife, Faith Evans, who was separated from him, at the time, decided to help smooth things out. She went out to Los Angeles, where she met Tupac Shakur. They were said to have hung out and became fast friends. At the time, Tupac was recording a new album and he invited Evans to sing the hook for one of his songs. An agreement was reached and she recorded with Tupac.

However, once the song was released, Tupac claimed to have had sex with Faith Evans, while she was still married to The Notorious B.I.G. He boasted about this on his infamous diss record, “Hit Em Up.” In the first verse, Shakur raps, “you claim to be a playa, but I f*cked your wife.” This is something that Faith Evans denies to this day. It was then that she realized that in those types of situations that it is best to just stay out of it. At the time, she could not see that Tupac had used her for the publicity.

Later that year, Tupac Shakur would be shot to death in Las Vegas, Nevada after watching a Mike Tyson fight with Suge Knight. Immediately, the hip hop world looked to Bad Boy Records. After all, they were the sworn enemies of Tupac Shakur. A direct response never did come from their camp, but surely; Biggie was not a happy camper when he heard “Hit Em Up.” After his death, Biggie was one of the first rappers to send out condolences. He said that he could never be mad enough to wish death on anyone.

Only five months after Tupac Shakur was gunned down in Las Vegas, The Notorious B.I.G. was gunned down in Los Angeles. Following the death of Tupac, Biggie began receiving random calls from people who said that they were going to kill him. He had received many warnings from the Blood gang in Los Angeles to stay out of their city. As a result, Biggie reached out to the Crips gang in Los Angeles for protection. It is said that either of these gangs were behind the death of B.I.G.

But, had Tupac Shakur survived those shots in Las Vegas, or had the situation never happened, things for Biggie would have been very different. Perhaps had Tupac been shot and had gone into the coma, Biggie would have reached out to Tupac. Had he eventually pulled out and returned to the music industry, he and Biggie may have collaborated. With Tupac and Biggie on the same side, eventually Suge Knight would have been convinced to end his issues with the personnel of Bad Boy Records.

At the time, Biggie was just preparing his album, Life After Death. Both he and Tupac often rapped about death and he would have been the perfect match for the album. Many people do not know about the other minor feuds that Tupac had with other New York rappers. If Biggie was able to convince Tupac to chill out, he may have let a few rappers off of the hook. Biggie was said to have wanted to retire in the year 2000. Tupac, on the other hand, planned to rap as long as he was breathing.

Perhaps, Tupac Shakur could have convinced The Notorious B.I.G. to continue rapping and a collaboration album may have been born from their strong chemistry. But, there is also a chance that Tupac would have continued his feud with Biggie and the entire Bad Boy empire would have crumbled with Tupac becoming a lot like 50 Cent and Biggie becoming a lot like Ja Rule with a G-Unit/Murder Inc.-type feud that the people would eventually become tired of.

One thing that can be said without any doubt is that had Tupac Shakur had not died on September 13, 1996 is that The Notorious B.I.G. would have not have died on February 9, 1997.

Was T.I. ever King of the South?

26 Feb

Until he re-emerged in 2003, not too many people knew who T.I. was. He released his debut album in 2001, but the album flopped. At the time, he was signed to Arista Records, but they soon removed him from their roster. With no label deal, T.I. returned to the streets and back to hustling. Along the way, he also appeared on various mixtapes in hopes of being signed by a major label. His big break came in 2003, when he was featured on BoneCrusher’s “Neva Scared.”

The song became a hit during the summer of 2003 and T.I. landed a deal with Atlantic Records, but he also negotiated a deal that allowed him to have his own label under Atlantic. To this day, he credits the creation of Grand Hustle Records as the smartest move that he has ever made. Once he got everything in place, T.I. began recording his second album, Trap Muzik. The album caught on with fans after the release of “Rubberband Man.”

It would be on his breakthrough album, Trap Muzik, which T.I. would begin referring to himself as the King of the South. But, taking a closer look a hip hop in 2003 proves that this may not have been the case. While T.I. was notable, he was far from the most popular rapper from the South in 2003. At that time, Ludacris still had a stranglehold on the Southern game. When T.I. was just getting started good, Luda was promoting Chicken N Beer, his crowning achievement.

The following year, T.I. began feuding with Ludacris and Houston rapper, Lil’ Flip. Flip often stated that T.I. was not even the King of Atlanta, let alone the King of the South. He said that both titles belonged to Ludacris. In 2004, both Ludacris and Lil’ Flip had higher charting singles and higher-selling albums. Again, T.I. was notable, but his numbers were unlike the numbers of a king. Still, the region was dominated by other artists.

Because of his prison sentence, people are saying that T.I. lost his crown of King of the South, but being fair, he probably never held the title. In 2006, he set records with the release of King, but he was overshadowed by Chamillionaire. His album, The Sound of Revenge, was released in late 2005 and it would end up selling in 2006. The second single, “Ridin’,” would become the anthem of 2006, while T.I. posted a big hit with “What U Know” and “Why U Wanna.”

The following year, T.I. was still relevant, while Chamillionaire’s wave blew over, but T.I. was still overshadowed by Yung Joc. His sophomore album, Hustlenomics did not sell as much as T.I.’s 2007 release, T.I. vs. T.I.P., but his singles generated more buzz than T.I.’s music. In 2008, he emerged as a hitmaker and his album, Paper Trail sold well. Many people view that album as the defining album of T.I.’s career, but it was overshadowed by Lil Wayne’s Tha Carter III.

A lot of people have jumped on the T.I. bandwagon and agree with him being King of the South, but each year there is always someone doing better than him. Lyrically, the only Southern rapper that can compete is Lil Wayne, but as far as popularity goes (which does count), T.I. loses every year. Still, he is a force in the game and is in the top five, regardless of geographic region. But, even at his peak, T.I. was still number two to Lil Wayne.

Perhaps, T.I. was never King of the South; maybe he was a prince that may one day inherit the throne. With a new album coming later this year, he may finally earn that title.

What if Tupac Shakur had never Died?

25 Feb

What if Tupac Shakur had never died is a question that is frequently asked by fans of hip hop music. While Jay-Z receives credit for being the best rapper alive, a lot of people would dub Tupac as the best rapper of all-time. He had tremendous influence on the rap game and he was known for his long list of hits. A lot of people would agree that Tupac was taken before his prime.

At the time of his death, Tupac Shakur was only 25 years old. His mic skills had just reached impressive and he almost led on to knowing something about a plot to end his life. There is a man who claims to know who ended his life. There is another man who said that he would still be alive had he tagged along with Tupac and Suge Knight for the Mike Tyson fight.

For the next week, Hip Hop Vibe will take an in-depth look at the impact that Tupac Shakur had on the hip hop game. This series of articles will look at how things could possibly be for The Notorious B.I.G., Dr. Dre, Suge Knight, Mobb Deep, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, DMX, 50 Cent, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Ja Rule, and Eminem. If the life of Tupac Shakur had never ended, things in hip hop would be different. The artists and hip hop figures mentioned above would have never been as big, or would be bigger had Tupac Shakur been alive,

Will “Rebirth” be a flop?

9 Feb

Lil Wayne is one of the most popular rappers in the game, but this was not always the case. Before Lil Wayne went on his hot streak, 50 Cent was on top of the game. Now, 50 Cent struggles to sell 500,000 copies on his latest album. Despite Lil Wayne being on top of the game, since the release of Tha Carter III, he has struggled to duplicate those numbers. He has released two albums since that time and each one has struggled.

The follow-up to Wayne’s triple platinum release was last year’s We Are Young Money. Due to the fact that he was working with new artists on the album, there was not much interest in it. But, still it was the follow-up to Tha Carter III. Two months since the album’s release and it has yet to even cross the 300,000 mark. His previous release sold 1 million album copies right off of the bat. Understandably, this is not the album he wanted to release, but it was his album.

Rebirth was the album that Lil Wayne wanted to release after Tha Carter III. Instead, it comes after an album that he created to promote his crew. When he first announced the album one year and a half ago, Lil Wayne knew that he was taking a risk. For the album, Wayne was moving away from his traditional rap music into creating rock music.

After many push-backs, Lil Wayne decided to create an experimental album that would feature elements of every musical genre. Because most of Lil Wayne’s fans are hardcore hip hop fans, there was a chance that he would turn a lot of listeners off. This was a risk that Wayne was willing to take and a risk that Universal Motown has done their best to avoid. But, the inevitable can only be delayed never avoided.

Since Rebirth is following-up a weak album, the music of the album will have to speak for itself. There are not too many fans that will purchase this album because of We Are Young Money. The first week sales of the album are modest, at best, at 150,000 copies. Lil Wayne has already followed up his masterpiece with a flop. Will his second album since Tha Carter III be another flop under Lil Wayne’s belt?

Is Slip-N-Slide Records in Trouble?

6 Feb

In the late 1990s, Slip-N-Slide Records was one of the many crews from the Dirty South to catch on. Led by Trick Daddy, the label secured a distribution deal with Atlantic Records. Starting in the year of 1997 and running until 2006, Slip-N-Slide/Atlantic enjoyed many hits. Despite their success, when they decided to introduce Rick Ross, they chose to work with Def Jam.

The final artist to record with Atlantic Records from Slip-N-Slide was Plies. In 2008, Trick Daddy would leave the label. He was the first artist signed to the label, but they were placing him behind Plies and Rick Ross. Convinced that he would receive better treatment elsewhere, Trick left the label for a new deal with Cash Money Records.

Rick Ross has risen to unexpected success with Def Jam. Because of this success, they moved him off of Slip-N-Slide and into his own label, Maybach Music Group. From 2006 until 2008, the label’s highest-selling act was Rick Ross and now he has left the label. They have tried to develop a few artists, but they end up leaving the label. In 2007, they began working with Brisco, but he would leave for Young Money.

Not only have they lost Trick Daddy and Rick Ross, but Slip-N-Slide is also on the verge of losing Plies. As it stands, he is the most popular artist on the label and they need him if they want to remain relevant. Because he was the flagship artist of Big Gates Records, it is possible that when they renegotiate with Atlantic, Slip-N-Slide will be left out. This is how Rick Ross ended up leaving the label.

The only other artist on Slip-N-Slide that is relevant is Trina and she may also be leaving, too. After she had a dispute with Atlantic Records, she brokered a deal of her own with EMI Music for her own label, DP Entertainment. For the time being, she is still signed to Slip-N-Slide, but she is probably halfway out of the door, too. With the way things are looking, Slip-N-Slide will be taken to the house.

Can Game take Knoc-Turn’ Al out?

6 Feb

There is not too much history between Game and Knoc-Turn’ Al. The position that Game currently holds was created for Knoc. Game is one of the biggest rappers in the world; meanwhile Knoc remains a local-level rapper from Long Beach. Eight years ago, he was supposed to have taken the rap game over, but he did not. Instead, three years later, Game did.

Obviously, this has made Knoc-Turn’ Al jealous. A world that was created for him is being inhabited by another rapper. There was a short period of time when both Game and Knoc were residents in the Aftermath house. Dr. Dre had tried to introduce Knoc-Turn’ Al to the hip hop world in January 2002. He scored a minor hit, but there was not enough interest to create an album to follow.

Willing to give him a second chance, Dr. Dre again helped him out in 2004. Knoc-Turn’ Al was able to release his debut album, but it was not on Aftermath. Had the album been a success, Dre would have gladly signed him, but he failed, twice. To avoid any further losses with Knoc, the focus shifted to Game. He had been on the label since 2002, but the emergence of 50 Cent put everything on hold.

The plan was to cross-promote G-Unit and Game by having them work together. Beautiful music was created, but Game and 50 Cent could not stand each other. It did not take long for the two rappers to begin a bitter feud. The feud always existed behind the scenes, but when 50 Cent took credit for doing most of Game’s album, Game took offense and dissed him. Using his power as the head of G-Unit, 50 Cent kicked him out of the group and off of the label.

After being ousted from G-Unit and later Aftermath, Game established himself outside of his hit-makers and remained a star. In October 2009, Game was reunited with Dr. Dre and they began working with each other on their new albums. Again, they began making beautiful music, which led to disses from 50 Cent. Now, with Game preparing to release his next album, Knoc-Turn’ Al has decided to speak on the feud.

Knoc-Turn’ Al went as far as to say that 50 Cent taught Game how to write hooks. With Game declaring himself the victor of the feud with 50, he does not need this type of press. The comments that Knoc made hurt Game’s pride, so he issued a challenge to Knoc. Unsurprisingly, he accepted it and the feud is on. Game told Knoc-Turn’ Al to record a diss record for him to respond to.

For years, Game has been hailed as the king of the West Coast, but he has never been challenged until now. In his feud with 50 Cent, they have only sent light jabs back and forth. The only exception is Game’s “300 Bars and Runnin,” but their feud has been mainly through interviews. This would be the first true lyrical feud for Game and his first major feud with another artist from the West Coast. Can Game successfully defend his title and take Knoc-Turn’ Al out.

Which Mase will show up on New Album?

6 Feb

Before his days with Bad Boy Records, Mase was a gangsta rapper from Harlem. He was a fixture on the mixtape scene and his rhymes dealt with money, drugs, and murder. Looking for a way to get away from the rough life in Harlem, Mase went to Atlanta. His search was for fledgling label executive, Jermaine Dupri, but he found Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs. Mase, at the time called Murda Mase, hoped to sign with So So Def.

Murda Mase’s hopes did not come true. The trip that he took to Atlanta gained him connections with the Bad Boy family. In a short period of time, Mase became associates with Jadakiss and other members of The L.O.X., along with Craig Mack, and The Notorious B.I.G. He did not actually sign with Bad Boy until early 1996. Once he was signed, Combs spent most of the year transforming him into a pop rapper.

By the fall of 1996, the transformation was complete and Mase was providing rap bridges and hooks for many remixes of popular R&B songs. The next year was more of the same from the former gangsta rapper until his own time came. Late in 1997, Mase’ debut album, Harlem World, was released and it was a favorite among fans. Since the album came after the tragic death of The Notorious B.I.G., Mase became the new flagship artist of Bad Boy.

The sales of Harlem World exceeded 4 million in the United States, alone, and Mase was the most-notable name in rap. Even outside of album sales, he had become friends with many of hip hop’s big figures. It was not uncommon to see Mase hanging around with Busta Rhymes, Jay-Z, or DMX. While he had a lot of friends in the game, he did make some enemies. Despite their strong relationship with B.I.G., the Wu-Tang Clan was not very fond of Sean Combs.

Their dislike of Combs ended up becoming a dislike towards Mase. A bitter feud would soon be created between Wu-Tang member, Ghostface Killah and Mase. It was said that he threatened the Bad Boy rapper if he did not leave New York. The rumors seemed to be false as Mase went about his business. But, when he began promoting his sophomore album, Double Up, Mase made an announcement that shook up the entire hip hop world. He was retiring to become a minister.

Mase told the hip hop world that he had found God and that he was no longer going to rap about money, selling drugs, and seducing women. For five years, Mase did just that, he kept to himself, but he returned in 2004. Upon his return, Mase recorded a clean rap album. He was making music for the mainstream, but he did not curse in a single rhyme. While he appeared to be happy to be back in the game, Mase appeared to be unhappy with Sean Combs.

These appearances became true when he returned to his hardcore roots and began associating himself with 50 Cent. He had tried to sign with G-Unit Records, but the move was blocked by the Bad Boy honcho. This ended up sparking a feud between 50 Cent and Combs, but in the end the situation left Mase on Bad Boy Records. Despite being a Bad Boy artist, he and Combs feuded from 2004 until September of 2009, when they finally reached a truce.

The result of this truce will be a new album from Mase coming later this year. Despite his return to creating music with strong language, he has remained as a pastor. But, his last album that he released was a clean album. When Mase returns with his next album, which version of Mase will show up for the album?

Eve will save Female Rappers with New Album

27 Jan

Aside from a few successful female rappers in the early days of hip hop, female rappers were never quite taken seriously. During the 1990s, an influx of lyrical female rappers took over the game. Among those female rappers was Eve. She was probably best-known for her looks and her outfits, but her lyrical prowess soon captivated fans.

When people think of female rappers, they usually think of Lil Kim. But, when Eve was doing her thing, her name was thought of first. Eve was the only female member of the Ruff Ryders and the second artist to hit it big, with the first being DMX. Her appearances on his music and music from the rest of the crew turned heads. She became one of the highest-selling female rap acts of all-time.

Because of her success and her growing brand, Eve soon created her own clothing line and she became the star of her own sitcom. For Eve, this was extra income and it began to take all of her time. The demand of her show, “Eve,” led to her taking a break from the music industry. The show became a hit and lasted three seasons for UPN. Despite the success, the network cancelled the program in 2006.

Now, finding herself without a consistent income, Eve ended up preparing for a comeback in the game. As soon as her series was ended, she began recording new music. Early in 2007, she teamed up with Kelly Rowland for the hit, “Like This.” Early in the spring of the same year, she struck her own hit with “Tambourine.” The song was a hit, but the record label did not expect her to sell.

Initially planned for release in 2007, her album never came and Eve was dropped by Geffen Records. Following being dropped by Geffen, she left Interscope and is rumored to be working out a deal with Ruff Ryders Indy. Her new album is now Lip Lock. It has been eight years since the last album from Eve. At the time, the female rap game was stable, but since she has been gone, the genre has struggled.

More than likely, it will be the new album from Eve to revive the entire female rap game.

Snoop Dogg is breathing life into West Coast hip hop

25 Jan

From the early to mid-1990s, the West Coast dominated the music scene. But, after the surprising demise of Death Row Records, the genre began to fall off. For over five years, the only consistent artist from the West was Snoop Dogg. Years later, Game would rise to become another consistent act, but the East and the South have much more than the two artists featured out West.

There have been times in the past where Snoop Dogg has spoken on the state of his area of hip hop. Given his time in the game and his success, many look at Snoop Dogg as the unofficial leader of the West. As close as he is to Dr. Dre, he criticized him when he chose to begin pushing 50 Cent as opposed to introducing Game, as planned. He said that people like his close friend are in a position to help the West Coast, but they choose not to.

Snoop Dogg, as the head of his own label, signed many West Coast artists to his Doggystyle imprint. However, Doggystyle was a label under Geffen Records, which is a label that is under the big label of Interscope Records. Not having the pull of Dr. Dre, whose Aftermath label was directly under Interscope, there was not much that Snoop could do to get their music out there.

By 2009, the West Coast hip hop scene was still comprised of Snoop Dogg, Game, and Dr. Dre holding off on Detox. Right at the beginning of the fall season, big news came, though. The label that was responsible for the early gangsta rap era of Ruthless Records and NWA, Priority Records was being re-launched. Making a name for itself in distributing independent West Coast hip hop labels, they signed Snoop Dogg on to run the label.

Aside from having Snoop Dogg as an executive, they also signed him on to become one of the new artists on the label. Priority Records agreed to release all new albums from both Snoop and his Doggystyle Records from this point on. After the release of Snoop Dogg’s most-recent album, Malice n Wonderland, the focus shifted to adding more acts to the label. Already using his role effectively, Snoop Dogg has signed quite a few acts.

In only four months time, he has signed 213, Cypress Hill, and Mac Dre 100. He is also rumored to be prepared to sign Warren G. When Snoop Dogg first spoke of his new role at the acclaimed label, he said that he was going to use his position to rebuild West Coast hip hop. Not only can he sign new artists with his role as Creative Chairman of Priority Records, but Snoop Dogg also decides when an album is going to be released.

The artists from the West Coast do not have a problem getting signed to a major label. The problem comes in trying to get their albums released. This is why more and more artists from the West Coast began signing to Koch Records. Now, with Snoop Dogg keeping an ear to the streets, he can sign an artist to either Priority Records or his own Doggystyle Records and an artist can finally see their albums released.

Snoop Dogg has hit a Creative Peak

23 Jan

Ten years ago, Snoop Dogg had teamed up with No Limit and he had risen to become a household name. During that period of time, any song released by Snoop Dogg would quickly land into the top ten. For three years of his career, Snoop enjoyed this type of success, but it would not last long. While he did score a solid hit with “Beautiful,” he did not come to dominate radio again until he signed with Geffen Records.

Even when he was scoring his, such as “Drop It Like Its Hot,” his albums were lacking. They were among the longest albums, usually between 18 and 20 tracks, but he seemed as if his heart was no longer into making music. His 2008 album, Ego Trippin’, was meant to be his response to people thinking that he was no longer taking music seriously. All on one track, he showed that he was a great lyricist and was very creative. Still, it appeared that he was lacking something.

Snoop Dogg returned in 2009 with his follow-up album, Malice n Wonderland, and he has put all of that type of talk to rest. Since he moved from the well-known Interscope label to record for the long-forgotten Capitol Records, his album sales have suffered. Most people think that the only single released from the album was his lead single, “Gangsta Luv.” But, he has released two other singles from the album, but they have yet to catch on.

Despite the lack of commercial success, with this album, it was clear that Snoop Dogg put a whole lot into making the best album he possibly could. The final result was a classic album. Like what he says on “2 Minute Warning,” he is pushing 40 years of age and he is still a big deal. Some would like to argue this, but Malice n Wonderland is probably the best album that has ever come from Snoop Dogg. From a creative standpoint, Snoop did not outreach himself like he did with Ego Trippin’.

Snoop Dogg stayed in his lane and was still able to push the creative envelope. It is evident that he has raised his lyrical ability on such tracks as “2 Minute Warning” and on such tracks as “I Wanna Rock.” He proves his point without going too far out there with it. Now, Snoop Dogg is wearing two hats, first and foremost, he is a rap artist. But, he also holds down the role of the creative chairman for Priority Records. Snoop Dogg plans to use this role to revive the West Coast hip hop scene.