Sometimes artists go through a dry spell. In rap in particular, hotness just doesn’t last forever. I mean, wouldn’t LL Cool J still be a hot commodity commercially if that were the case (no shade LL, no shade)? Here, I have identified five big-time rappers who need good things to happen for them in the near-future/future. One or two names may be surprising, but there is a rationale for all five. Hear a bro out!
Reason for being here: Inconsistent albums in the 10s; ‘less fire’ where rhymes are concerned
Man, how I hate to put T.I. on this list. The ATL MC is one of my favorites, but as of late, his stock has plummeted. For me, T.I.’s peak was when KING came out in 2006, when monster single “What You Know” was everywhere. T.I. had experienced success previously with Trap Muzik (2003) and Urban Legend (2004), but KING was definitely success on a higher level. His following album, T.I. vs. T.I.P. (2007)wasn’t nearly as impressive, but he rebounded monstrously with Paper Trail in 2008, an album that was stacked with hits (“Live Your Life”, “No Matter What”, “Swagga Like Us”, “Dead and Gone”, and “Whatever U Like”). Since then, T.I. has only been so-so, as No Mercy was a bomb released during the rapper’s prison sentence in 2010 and Trouble Man: Heavy Is The Head (2012) didn’t live up to previous smashes critically or commercially. Hopefully, the MC’s upcoming album is nothing short of fire.
Reason for being here: Complete loss of swagger…
Talk about an MC who has really lost his way – what has happened to 50 Cent? I mean, really? Recently, the once dominant rapper released a single entitled “Smoke” with Trey Songz that would easily get ‘smoked’ by any number of better singers. No, I’m not throwing shade, but don’t call “Smoke” an “In Da Club” or “Candy Shop” caliber single because it’s not. “Smoke” is another of several recent attempts by 50 Cent to reclaim the east-coast rap throne that has been slipping since Curtis bowed at no. 2 the same week Kanye West’s Graduation materialized. He just doesn’t seem to have it anymore. Hopefully, Curtis Jackson gets his swagger back.
Reason for being here: Possible loss of his ‘ludicrousness’ & flat buzz singles
Once another hot MC, Ludacris has been slipping as of late. The slippage may have actually began with Theater of the Mind (2008), a lesser commercial success for Luda. It wasn’t a bad album – I enjoyed it – but it definitely got a cooler reception than the Grammy-winning Release Therapy did (2006). For all the complaints about Theater of the Mind, Battle of the Sexes (2010) was the weaker album in both critical and commercial circles. Sure, standouts like “How Low” and “My Chick Bad” are worth something, but as a whole, Ludacris just wasn’t as ‘ludicrous’. A number of questionable singles since that album have definitely made this music journalist wonder if Ludacris has another run of hip-hop dominance left in him.
Reason for being here: 2013 overall, specifically I Am Not A Human Being II
Even Lil Wayne admitted he ‘fell off’ in 2013. Well, he didn’t say it that way, but he didn’t have to. IANAHB II was a low point for the MC, even if it wasn’t as low as his previous questionable album, Rebirth was. Maybe the fans got oversaturated with the ubiquitous MC guesting on everybody’s track, or maybe Lil Wayne just got bored. Hopefully on Tha Carter V, or whatever album Weezy decides to release next, he has committed to the game wholeheartedly.
Reason for being here: Yeezus’s mixed success
Okay, Kanye West is in better shape than everybody else on this list. Arguably, he has no reason to be included in the same conversation with at least three of five of these artists. But, Yeezus’ marginal success commercially makes me question how important Mr. West’s next album is to ensuring he doesn’t fall into the same traps as say 50 Cent. Yeezus suffered from lacking a big-time single, something that has become a staple of all of West’s previous albums. With an anti-promotional approach built on shock value rather than airplay, Yeezus fell short of the glory of other West albums. And with West’s lyrics from Rick Ross’ “Sanctified” (“People sayin’, ‘Ye we need another Yeezus’”), I’m not so sure it’s the best idea.