Surprises : Wha Happened?
What's more? Grand re-opening, grand closing? Mase returned with some gusto and a reminder of why 1997 wasn't a complete wash in Rap music. Still, just as things got cozy and Mase started to make moves, did the Dipset ruin his party? It's hard to believe so much can happen in a year, but it did. Remember when Magic came back for half a year? Enough with the Laker analogies. We were surprised to see Mason, and less that he found his way back to the top.
The Fugees/Chapelle Block Party
Time hasn't treated any of the three Fugees well. So perhaps it was time to reunite. While no tracks are in order yet, the group rejoined to create a wave of media attention this summer at Chapelle's Block Party (where AllHipHop was in full effect mind ya). We were so hung up on that Tribe stuff last year, please deliver! The Fugees can heal a lot of the wounds Hip-Hop has endured since '96. Wyclef also righted things with Canibus. You Sausage Award winners need to take notes from 'Clef.
The New Danger was probably the most under-promoted major album since the new millenium. Fans went to the store for that Kweli, and stumbled upon Mos' new creation. Some were appalled by the lack of information; others were pleasantly surprised to still be surprised. In any case, there were some joints on there that coulda created a lot of buzz as singles. Hopefully, this slept-on gem isn't through finding new fans.
Revolving Def Jam Doors
We all knew Jigga man had big things in the works. But after so much work to bring in LA Reid, nobody thought Jay-Z would really bring The Takeover. Well, he did. Just as single releases carried Def Jam over some rough waters, 2004 wasn't DJ's biggest year. But expect huge, unpredictable things with Sean Carter at the big leather chair. It feels like just yesterday when Jay was a new artist. Look what hard work can do... that's what we keep telling the kids.
Vibe Awards/ Dre Fights Back/ Young Buck
Never, ever, ever ever promote violence. But for everybody's who knocked the fake gangsterism surrounding Dr. Dre they need to step back like Luda said. Young Buck and Dr. Dre fought the good fight, when a dude started punching the good Doctor. G-Unit is mainly known for getting shot, but this situation proved that they've got certified street skills. We heard Banks and 50 swarmed the scene like killer bees to honey. Hip-Hop award shows and big events have magnetized violence the last five years. But this is the first time the little guys got dirty and stood up for themselves.
Biggest Moments : Remember When It Was All So Simple?
R.I.P. Russell Jones. The Wu-Tang Clan will never be the same. The news was so surreal that it was believed to be a rumor for days after it happened. But sadly, the news was very true. As with so many of Hip-Hop's premature deaths, ODB has left behind unheard music that will still change lives and keep the legacy as grimy and stinky as Dirt McGirt would've wanted it.
Rick James' Death
In a year that opened with, "I'm Rick James, bitch" echoing the halls everywhere - this was Rick's big comeback. That comeback was sadly cut short. Rick James leaves behind a legacy in Rock, Soul, Funk, and Hip-Hop as a pioneer all the way around. He was candid and kind to AllHipHop, and Rick gave us our best interview EVER. We dearly miss you, Super Freak.
Roc for Sale
All those hand-signs, medallions, record shouts, etc. were finally cremated. Dame Dash walks away from the child he had a huge hand in, to a Def Jam merger. While it's still unclear who, some artists stayed, others went with Dame. In any case, the Roc had too quiet of a year. Despite acquiring N.O.R.E. and Joe Budden, Jay-Z's departure froze the building. Will this be a decline in the vein of No Limit or Death Row? Or is the Roc in transition? Time tells all.
Stop the fight! Dr. Dre was attacked at this year's Vibe Awards sparked a lot of talk. Probably because Dre, and Young Buck fought (and stabbed-ouch) back. The lawsuits and red-tape are still coming in on this. Suge Knight has publicly denied involvement, though the streets have connected the hitman to Knight and Death Row. In any case, we've passed off the big man - Quincy Jones. The nonsense needs to stop, and this is one of the worst cases of publicized violence in years.
After anti-climactic hype throughout 2003, '04 delivered the “racist” Em tape. While Last Emperor and a few others took offense, Benzino's projected master-plan of dethroning the pale skinned MC did not happen. In any case, for all the hype... Eminem and Benzino are working towards a truce as we speak, which is getting no media attention.
Comeback Artists : Welcome Me Back!
After 13 years, the world finally caught up and discovered Twista. With his rapid-fire style, it was as if he was ahead of the pack all along. Well, the Chi-town native took that which was underground and made Kamikaze a commercial smash with joints like “So Sexy,” “Slow Jamz,” and “Overnight Celebrity.” Real heads know this isn’t a comeback in the truest form, but Twista’s last solo album was in 1997 – let him slide!
Fat Joe/Terror Squad
Fat Joe's status is so massive. All those haters got the muzzle when Fat Joe proved that he could not only bring himself back, but fix his greatest flub - The Terror Squad. Fat Joe has always made stars out of those around him - Big Pun, Cuban, and now Terror Squad & especially Remy got the respect they've so long deserved. The guest shots and forthcoming solo's have a lot of promise. King of New York '04? Put your bid in people.
Did you really think you'd ever hear Petey on the radio again? "Raise Up" was all fine and good, but 'come on now!' Well, Petey surprised us all with a verse on of "Goodies", "Freak-A-Leek" and then, going over to Tha Row. Well it could be Ray J hype, Petey may get the publicity he's fought so hard to never get under Suge's watchful arm. In any case, Petey Pablo came back strong, and Miss Cleo could've have predicted that.
Ten years ago, Kwame was a joke thanks to THAT Notorious B.I.G. line. This year, his production merits earned him a trip back to the good life. Nobody expected to see Kwame on the Billboard charts again, but did we doubt too early? Still a lover of his era, Kwame not only turned in gems to Lloyd Banks and LL, but continues to update the sound behind other comebackers like G Rap, Kane, Will Smith and Dana Dane. Kwame, we salute you... that beat was fiyah!
Ja Rule had a horrible '03. Many of the people sticking it to Ja then, love dude now. While the sirloin may have disguised itself, Ja Rule has tried to come back using all his ability to be the antithesis of 50 Cent and G-Unit. The classic Inc one-two punch of Ja and Ashanti struck for the third time to put the artists, the sound, and everything back at the top. Blood in My Eye may be the gulliest album Rule ever did, but R.U.L.E. is definitely the smartest. If poker is the game of choice in the '04, Ja is smart with his...'cause people wanted him to cash in his fame last year. That stuff doubled!
Albums Anticipating for ’05 : Patiently Waiting!
After a string of insta-classics, Com lost some with The Electric Circus. Be promises to return Common to his more b-boy Hip-Hop influenced roots. DJ Premier, No I.D., and ?uestlove are rumored to rejoin the madness they helped affirm in this album centered on simple pleasures, existence, and all the treats that Lonnie Lynn has given us through and through. Kanye's the new dog in Chicago, but old habits die hard... and Comm's held it down for too long not to ease up now.
Little BrotherThe Minstrel Show (Atlantic)
New heads are still tripping off The Listening everyday, two years later. It's little surprise that the Raleigh trio was recruited to Atlantic records from the indie ABB. This album promises a conceptual message, and production that helped move mountains a few years ago. While the mixtapes continue to leak from the extended LB Fam, the group is mustering up some heat rocks for this sophmore smasher. Atlantic's first b-boy group since The Artifacts.
CormegaThe Urban Legend (Legal Hustle)
Fans and critics are seeking the 'real' follow-up to The True Meaning and The Realness. Cormega will be pushing big things with this release, along with The Testament's release after five years. One mis-step could be detrimental, but the streets are calling for 'Mega's wisdom and metaphors. Legal Hustle got lotsa love too. But T.I. might take exception to the CD title.
Joe Budden The Growth (Roc-A-Fella)
If the Roc name has any fighting chance of staying above water, it may lie in Broadway Joe Budden. While his self-titled debut tried to go in two directions, Joe has succeeded in honing his most intimate, vulnerable style. With no glam, no glitz, no guests... Budden continues to be the anti-thesis to New York Rap music as of late. Unlike many other artists, this sophomore album will probably be the deciding factor on whether or not the spotlight stays on, this bright. People get ready.
Slept-on Albums of '04 : Got Some Extra Change?
Jim JonesOn My Way To Church (Koch)
Two years ago, nobody would've guessed that Commander Jim Jones would make a stronger solo album than his massive Dip Set. Well, he did. Backed with stellar production and a heavy guest-list, this was a wonderful sounding and feeling gangsta rap album. While Jim Jones may never be a quotable lyricist, like Cash Money's Birdman, he's proving that he can not only run a huge company, but make a record to hold that company done proper. "End of the Road" was an undeniable classic. If only the same crowd that checked for the group came out on this one.
Young BuckStraight Outta Cashville (G-Unit)
Yeah it went platinum, but Buck was sandwiched around Eminem, Lloyd Banks, and The Game's forthcoming release and we feel this gem get lost in the shuffle. This album was brutally honest, sounded amazing, and played from end to end. Straight Outta Cashville was a reminder of Southern Hip-Hop pleasure before Crunk, in the vein of UGK, Young Bleed, and Willie D. If you still aren't satisfied with 2004, not knowing about a record like this is probably why. Based on the knowledge at the end of the “Shorty Wanna Ride” video, we think the Vibe Awards stabbing charges are a government set-up!
RA The Rugged ManDie Rugged Man Die (Nature Sounds)
The veteran of veterans finally dropped. Had this been in '92, R.A. would be the talk of the town. In '04 R.A. broke through with an album filled with intriguing true stories, hard tales, and griminess. This album sold well with an underground audience, but could easily connect with anybody at any level with Hip-Hop. R.A. has only gotten better with time, and continues to prove that big budget is no substitute for true character.
Royce Da 5'9"Death is Certain (Koch)
Royce wasn't blowing smoke when he said that without pushbacks, he can go towards the top. This album was a popular favorite, and pulled Royce away from his beefs, and let the artistry shine through. The stakes were high, the messages were clear, and the purpose was unyeilding. This album was hard, and lacked the "rhinestones" that held Rock City back. Royce got what he wanted and made one of the year's best early gems.
MC Eiht – Veteranz Day (Native)
Since Death Threatz, Eiht dog has thrown too many darts, and too few have stuck. Truly independent, he released an album that channeled in some of Compton's Most Wanted classic gangsterism, mixed with relevant and bold messages to some MC's that aren't paying dues and knowing the ledge. Geah!
Artists We Expected To See, But Didn’t… : Broken Promises
Even before Old Dirty passed, heads wanted the album. Thee album, the press release promised us good things. The leaks got better and better. With or without Roc-A-Fella, we thought we'd witness our boy unleash an album that'd make his last album forgotten. Now, without Dirt in the flesh, it's imperative that the work of the genius is released, and a classic can join his debut in the rafters of Hip-Hop.
The major new artist of two years ago. With The Neptunes at their best, Pusha T and Malice laid far too low this year. The results could've been massive. Star Trak needs to take their chair as a budding label. With Coldchain's legal troubles, The Clipse place was set. In any case, unlike some of the others... anticipate this void to be filled abruptly, with an album that tries to outdo the beloved Lord Willin'.
Like ODB, this was another finger-pointer at The Roc. While Hood Rock was a favorite in the AHH circle, everybody sought original, First Family material. The leaks were promising at times, dismal at others. Under the Roc shift, one only wonders if the big budget, blockbuster album will ever leak. In any case, we are certain that Laze, Fame, and Billy won't stand to be kept quiet. M.O.P. is the epitome of gully...softees tuck ya chain in.
By summer, it was pretty clear - no Detox. Dre confirmed it's 'bout to be on. We're so sick of palying 2001 it ain't even funny. Dre, it is time to get the hearts pumping. 2004 without a Dr. Dre album probably led to a lot of mis-guided anger towards The Game and Lloyd Banks. Suddenly Hip-Hop fans blame the new blood for stealing the beats, the time, the shine.
Shark Award : Stack Bundles!
The clothing, the booze, the rags... it's corporate gangsterism. The crew re-located to Koch, so they're earning even more off the music.
Interscope is on the path of world domination. Watch your back, Lyor's coming!
Vote or Die? Come on. P. Diddy had the strongest of intentions, but shouldn't Chuck D be reppin' the conscious Hip-Hoppers on CNN and MSNBC? Still, a lot of dope T-shirts were made and Diddy got paid! Hip-Hop voted, and we're all still gonna die.
Those receipts on all the features and production.
Sausage Award (Throw-Away Beef) : Who want it?
Yukmouth, Memphis Bleek, Joe Budden, Your Uncle vs. The Game
How else would average Joe's-outside The Bay-care about Yukmouth? Who does The Game think he is? This beef was silly. It was Internet-driven, and neither one of these cats can spell, at least according to all the web-posts. Needless to say, Yuk ain't the only one to accuse Game of selling out the Bay, and Game ain't the only one who laughed at the idea of Yuk beef. Remember Master P back in '98? We tried not to. Memph Bleek...you were just getting artistic on us, now this? Budden, fall back. We know you were first in line, but its not worth it.
Daz vs. Jayo Felony
Jayo - see Yukmouth above. We love our San Diego pioneer, but don't rely too heavily on your Row buddies here. Look what it got Crooked I, Ray J, and even Daz a few years ago - blackballed. Daz, you need to spend some time on them beats, homie. We know you've got a lot to tell us, and we wanna hear... but kill the keyboard stuff man. Also, less is more. Slow down. Remember how much critics loved Revenge, Retaliation, Get Back, wonder why?
Dip Set vs. Mase
There is certainly more to this than meets the eye, but we can’t see it. What we see is some real thugs picking on a minister than may have a bad habit of saying too much. We admit, we got a kick out of it, but the humor went against our inner-voice of reason. Jim – Chill! Cam – Get over the pain. Mase – go preach and raise the baby.
Pete Rock vs. CL Smooth
Boys will be boys. But damn. "Appreciate" was one of the hottest records of the year, and you do us like that? Don't tease us. Tribe and Fugees is lovely, but this reunion had audio proof of why they needed each other. Y'all need some escapism and go make an album in Virginia like Show & A.G. NOW MAKE OUR ALBUM DAMNIT!!
Lil' Flip vs. T.I.
Complete silliness. "He said, she said" beef. Kinda girly. The South has always avoided this sort of nonsense, sans Pastor Troy. Just be glad you two don't live in the same city, 'cause with all the yappin'...people might expect a fight. Kill the noise and make the music that put you both on the map.
Sphincter Award : Get Da Ass
Bill will stay comfortably here. Same sphincter, new hemorrhoids.
Just proof that money can't buy brains. Paris dropping the n-bomb got a lot less attention than the Eminem tape. But Paris continues to open her mouth and legs in too many facets. Snoop and Big Boi, step away from chica in those T-Mobile commercials. She doesn't think doing laundry is hot, she thinks you're just a n*****. Producers, fall back when Paris wants that bump for her album, we'll see it flop harder than Prince Markie Dee on a trampoline.
Prosecution against Lil’ Flip
Namco? Ease back with them lawsuits. Video games have exploited Hip-Hop for ages, and we've proudly done it back. Remember that Cocoa Brovas "Super Brooklyn" joint? Instead, you caught a rising star in the corner and started going ambulance-chaser on him. We pulled the plug on Pac Man years ago, so let Flip do him.
George W. Bush and John Kerry
Good one…you got us and we were naïve enough to fall for it. Frat Brothers and Distant Relatives. Mass Protests. Vote or Die. Mass Voter Registrations. Remarkable youth turn out. A Nation Divided. We were had. Its time to get back to the basics: Stop the Violence, Organize, Build Wealth, Be Active in the Community, Read and Do The Knowledge.
Nah, not the Cowboys coach with flakes. Whether you roll with Suge or not, Jimmy Johnson had no reason to take out his knuckle game on Dr. Dre (and then get his ass whomped and stabbed). And, you might even sue those that attacked you? Get a J-O-B. The AllHipHop Staff gets asked for autographs daily, but ain't nobody hittin' us.
Rappers For Hire : Publishing Royalties, Oh boy!
Trends We'd Like to See Die Soon : Go Thaaaat Way
Rapper Boutique Labels & Rapper Clothing Lines
News Flash: its not working. Of course if your business flourishes the way Roc-A-Fella did, you are an exception to the general rule. Still, rappers with boutique labels seems to be standard fare these days even if you don’t have any artists, like Shyne and his Gangland imprint. Similarly, having an imprint label won’t work if A) all your homeys are wack B) you aren’t business minded and C) You don’t consider other revenue streams. Certainly, it’s all in the interest of entrepreneurialism. Why not try to start a true indie instead of giving half to the major. Better yet, some of you rap big wigs should think about entering the distribution game, where the real money lives?
Rapper clothing lines is looking like a fashion wasteland and many-a-lyricist is looking to make the leap. The truth is, its not working from a business perspective and it was bound to come out. Advice: Try to open a gas station (crazy money), hood KFC (jobs) or a franchise store (like Magic Johnson’s Starbucks series). Sexy? No. But, these other businesses are likely to last longer than a clothing line with your rap name attached.
DJ's are DJ's, but the mixtape is getting more watered down than the Everglades. No scratching, all exclusives, and these run-over tracks from albums - you're killing the essence. There are a few exceptions, Green Lantern, holla. But if you can't get a deal, earn the deal. Don't go slanging Memorex CD-R mixtapes around, or mailing 'em to AllHipHop (Music Editor: unless its good). We don't believe you, you need more people!
Like pink, it was here and gone. Those of us who don't dress so gully felt violated with the prep invasion. Slow your roll looking all J. Crew and Banana on 'em. Hip-Hop needs to be comfortable. Plus, Common, Andre 3000, and broke ass Hip-Hop journalists can't go thrifting no more. Where's the love?
Nobody's tired of Crunk, persay. But we sure do feel violated with the need that every artist needs that one Crunk track on the album, ahem, Mobb Deep, ahem. We love watching our boys Lil' Jon and Jazze Pha getting the papes, but these records are gonna sound awful silly in ten years.
Hip-Hop Biopic Angles
It all started so innocently with the creation of the biography, a summation of an artist’s life and music. Now, these bios have been spun by labels to the point where a rapper has to get shot, stabbed or mangled to get on. 50 Cent, Joe Budden and Kanye’s were cool, but its getting to the point where cats are staging gunfights to get a headline and a tall tale to tell. Stop it! Lets get back to signing rappers with actual skill and leave the stories for the songs.
Cash in Fame Right Now : Take Me Out With the Fader!
We tried, we tried and we like your bro. GB is a dope MC. The world doesn’t need another B.I.G. The album was better than anything we expected, but learn from Professors Krazy, Tha Realest, Lil’ Zane, and B.B. Jay - thaaaat way.
Too young to drink. Too limited for the game. J-Kwon, we respect you for putting So So Def back on the charts after a breather. But you handled yourself, and your singles (and its remixes, and remixes) poorly. You'll be out before Bow Wow's moustache comes in.
The Reggaeton Movement
Those that are fond of this musical hybrid are certain to be upset with this suggestion and we're sorry. But this has to be said without malice or hatred. We respected Reggaeton when it was a blip on the radar, but now this reggae/Hip-Hop/Latin culture mixture is burning a hole in our collective ears. Now, this is no disrespect to our Latin lyricists, our experimental rappers or reggae artist, but stop it! Separate, its all good, but together this sound is the trilogy of terror. Rapper on the bandwagon, cash the checks and evacuate asap.
During 2004's hiatus for Cassidy, it was decided that he's no longer welcome. When Jay and R. Kelly make an album together, it becomes clear that "Hotel" was ehhh. Last year you had a lot of support, but the Hip-Hop renaissance has spoken. We’ve never tasted shoe, but with the new joint, “Hustler,” heating up we would like you to prove us wrong.
There seems to be a revolving door for battle rappers in Hip-Hop. Canibus and Chino XL have taken turns with it until you charged in. Your album flopped the hard way, and that was certainly not all your fault. The timing was bad, the push-backs sucked, and the punchlines that made you hot on BET, seemed to be lost on The Rest Is History. Get in where you fit in, wring some necks and get to spittin' the fire we love you for.
F**k AllHipHop.com: The Ill Community Weighs In On 2004!