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.

Birdman speaks on Drake’s success

26 Feb

A few years ago, it would have been thought of as a joke had Cash Money Records signed an artist like Drake. The image that was built behind Birdman and the rest of the crew just did not match up with Drake. But, in 2006, Birdman handed the label over to Lil Wayne and he changed the image. For years, Wayne was viewed as a “gangsta,” but he quickly evolved into a lyricist.

The evolution of Lil Wayne was key in the unique development of Young Money. When he was given the CEO title of Cash Money Records, Wayne also created a label of his own. Before he decided to develop his label, Lil Wayne established himself. He would release Tha Carter III and then he signed a plethora of artists to the label.

The most notable signing came almost one year ago, when Lil Wayne signed former “Degrassi” star, Drake. His mixtape, So Far Gone, was just beginning to generate buzz and people were just starting to see how great he was. Once it was clear that Drake was going to be big, he was also added to the lagging roster of Cash Money Records. In the time since he signed to Cash Money, Drake has become a favorite of Birdman’s.

Birdman credited the quick success of Drake on his swagger. Unlike other newcomers in the game, Drake came in knowing that he was going to be big. Even before the release of his debut album, he was able to record with such powerplayers as Eminem, Jay-Z, and Kanye West. Because of his swagger and his influence, people simply cannot turn Drake down.

Fabolous wants Shyne on New Album

25 Feb

With all of the mixtape talk surrounding Fabolous, people seem to have forgotten about the album he plans to release. The new mixtape is supposed to be the preview to his album, Loso’s Way 2. This is the album that Fabolous hopes will end up making him a household name. He said this in the past about other albums, but he wants this one to be special.

With everyone leaving Def Jam, left and right, Fabolous is one of the only remaining New York rappers on the label. Looking to rebuild what the label was created on, Def Jam went out and signed Shyne to a multi-album deal. In the past, Shyne and Fab have worked together on the mixtape scene. When Shyne was released from prison, Fabolous was one of his biggest supporters.

Now that Shyne is out of prison and is on his label, Fabolous hopes to land a high-profile collaboration for Loso’s Way 2. His album sales have dropped significantly since his debut album and he feels that working with Shyne could improve his fortunes. Even though they are on the same label, the chances of them recording together are very slim. Shyne cannot get into the U.S. or the U.K.

Diddy stands by Rick Ross, Biggie comparisons

25 Feb

Recently, Diddy has been working with Rick Ross. When they first began recording together, Diddy compared the rapper to The Notorious B.I.G. By many, he is hailed as one of the best rappers ever, while Rick Ross is seen as average. But, the compliment coming from such a high place has led people to think twice about Rick Ross.

As Rick Ross works more with Diddy, he has started working more with the team of Bad Boy Records. Not only has Ross accepted the comparisons, but other members of the team agree with Diddy. While Diddy says that he does not have anything planned for Rick Ross, he said that he can sense something in him that was in B.I.G. while he lived.

Diddy said that D-Roc, one of the Hitmen, also said that there are a lot of similarities, lyrically, between the two rappers. D-Roc worked closer than Diddy with The Notorious B.I.G. So, a statement coming from him like that means a whole lot more. A lot of Rick Ross’ critics feel that he has been trying to steal Biggie’s style. But, the people who worked closest to him feel that it is coming natural, as some sort of inheritance.

Even as some people have questioned Diddy, he is strongly standing by his comparisons of Rick Ross to The Notorious B.I.G. Despite their strong working relationship, Diddy will not be working on Ross’ upcoming album, Teflon Don.

Ja Rule wants Memphis Bleek for New Album

25 Feb

With Ja Rule on the comeback trail, a lot of his diehard fans want him to reunite with Jay-Z and DMX. He teamed up with those three to form Murder Inc. They were the terrible three, but Rule was also great alongside Memphis Bleek. At one point, they were even going to do an album together.

However, Ja Rule rose to superstardom so fast that this album never came to be. Sensing the money that he could make, the head of Murder Inc., Irv Gotti, had him in the studio at every possible moment. For five years straight, Ja did nothing but drop albums. It was not until he met his match that they gave him a break.

Ja Rule says that this break was the best thing that had ever happened to him. Despite what he said, he was on a roll, even after the 50 Cent feud. Once his music stopped hitting the radio, the people stopped mentioning him. Now, six years have passed since Ja Rule was relevant. He is working hard to get back into the good graces with the fans. For 2010, he plans to release two new albums. He wants to release one early in the year and one late in the year.

For his upcoming album, Venni Vetti Vecci 2010, Ja Rule wants to reunite with DMX. It is said that he has been talking with Jay-Z, but DMX has signed on to be on the album. Plus, he is feuding with Jay-Z and shows no signs of letting go of his animosity. But, Ja Rule never lost contact with Memphis Bleek. But, at the time, Bleek had to focus on establishing himself before he could go out and defend Ja Rule. This was understood by Ja Rule and he has always wanted to reunite with his partner.

Now that he is working independently, Memphis Bleek wants to work with hungry artists like Ja Rule. The guest list for The Process is full, but there is a possibility that Bleek may appear on Venni Vetti Vecci 2010 or Ja Rule’s follow-up album. Either way, Ja Rule does plan to do something with his former partner in rhyme.

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,

DJ Khaled explains dropping Shyne from “Victory”

25 Feb

When the official track listing for the new DJ Khaled album, Victory, was released, a track featuring Shyne and Kanye West was notably missing. Some assumed that the controversy surrounding both rappers led to Khaled deciding against having them on his album. After all, Kanye West was rumored to have beaten up another person at the airport and Shyne was denied entry into England.

The music that DJ Khaled makes is drama free. Khaled often says that he represents unity and fun. One thing that he never represents is confusion, which is what their situations were. If that was truly the case of why they were removed from DJ Khaled’s album, he had cost himself a lot of fans. There are some people already tired of Khaled, so a backlash was building.

Just as things were starting to look bad for the Def Jam South CEO, he has come out to explain himself. DJ Khaled said that the reason that the track that featured Shyne and Kanye West was left off of the album was because it was leaked to the internet. He had wanted the track to be classic, so it could not be leaked ahead of schedule. But, the fact that it was ruined everything, so he left it off of the album. DJ Khaled says that he has no problems with either Shyne or Kanye West.

DJ Khaled is supposed to release Victory on March 2, 2010 on Terror Squad and E1 Music.

Snoop Dogg releases Compilation Album

25 Feb

Last fall, Snoop Dogg was given the reigns of Priority Records. He has been the creative chairman of the label for only five months, but he has changed things. In his short time with the label, he has them buzzing with his album, Malice n Wonderland, and he is signing new artists to the label, left and right.

As this year moves along, Snoop Dogg wants to go ahead and release new albums from the now-loaded roster of the label. But, before he gets into all of that, Snoop will release a compilation album that consists of old classics from past Priority albums. He has titled this new release West Coast Blueprint and the album features records from Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and other old school West Coast rappers.

In addition to the classic tracks, it also features two new tracks from Snoop Dogg. Following the release of West Coast Blueprint will be his next album, a sequel to Malice n Wonderland titled More Malice.

Jay-Z waits on New Album

25 Feb

During his heyday, Jay-Z released an album every year. The only time that he took a break was when he retired. But, when he returned, he appeared to be back to the Jay-Z of old. His first two albums out of retirement came on the heels of each other. Fans of Jay-Z expected him to release another album in 2008. But, he did not like his 2008 album, so it was scrapped and pushed back until 2009.

That album ended up being his award winning critically-acclaimed album, The Blueprint 3. In the end, his decision to hold off on the album may have been one of the wisest decisions of his career. But, the creative energy that surrounded him on that album has trickled over to his work even after the album. During the promotion of his last album, Jay boasted that he may end up releasing an album before the end of 2009.

Of course, that was only his bravado because the year was coming to a close when Jay-Z had released The Blueprint 3. But, talk of his 2010 album has not died down. Longtime collaborator, Swizz Beatz spoke on recording with Jay-Z and he said that the next album from Jay will be his best yet. Even Jay had spoke on his recording process with the new album. Many times, sources close to Jay-Z have said that he will be releasing a new album before the end of 2010.

Now, Jay-Z has decided to change things up. With everything going on, he has a full plate. Jay-Z is working on The Blueprint 3 tour and he is still building Roc Nation. He has a few more months left on his tour and after that, he will take some time off to work on his next album. There is no release date or title for this album. Also, Jay-Z does not have a specific timeframe for this album.

Suge Knight wants to revive the West Coast

25 Feb

With all of the recent struggles, Suge Knight is trying to rebuild himself. He has lost everything he had because he failed to pay his child support. Once upon a time, he was one of the most-feared men in hip hop. Now, he is nothing more than a common joke. While Suge Knight does not want to be feared, he does want to be taken seriously.

Nearly twenty years ago, Suge Knight used his connections to get Dr. Dre away from Eazy-E and Ruthless Records. Immediately, they came together and created Death Row Records. The creation of Death Row led to one of the first hip hop dynasties. Artists on Death Row consisted of Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and many other popular acts. Before their untimely demise, the label even had Tupac Shakur on the roster.

Growing up, it was said that Suge Knight often dreamed of being a mob boss and when he created Death Row, they acted as if they were a criminal organization. Dr. Dre, on the other hand, simply wanted to create music and go about his business. He and Knight often clashed about the way that they felt was best to handle business. Dr. Dre felt that things could be talked out, while Suge Knight felt that they should use force.

Sadly, a resolution could not be reached and their dynasty fell apart. But, this is not the last blow to Suge Knight. For eleven years after Dr. Dre left the label, he signed many acts to the label. Knight hoped that they could secure a solid distribution deal, again, and take the game over one more time. But, his reputation cost him a lot of business. Soon, the label stopped profiting and was eventually taken away from Knight.

In 2008, Suge Knight announced that he was going to create a new label, Black Ball Records. The status of that label is unknown, but Suge Knight does intend on creating another label. With the current state of West Coast hip hop, Suge Knight hopes that he can sign some artists from the Los Angeles area and secure another distribution deal. If everything goes as planned, he hopes to indeed revive West Coast hip hop.