Where are they now?? – 16 artists who were kind of a big deal not too long ago…

This is a collaborative post that I did with the homey LoudPen, who is a great budding entrepreneur and fashion blogger. She also runs a music blog and you can check that out here and see her version of this post which is shorter. http://www.theloudestpenever.com/search/label/Guest%20Post

You all know by now that I have no problem making long posts, so quite naturally here is where you would find the extended version to drive the point home. This is my first collab and I’m so glad it was with someone like Pen who came to me with this idea on Twitter after noticing a shared thought process. Hope you enjoy it. She’s in the italics.

So back in December of 2010 (which BTW seems like forever ago) I was browsing through tweets as usual when I saw my homie & fellow blogger, @Malik16 tweeting about the disappearance of 90s rappers. Prior to starting my business, The Network, I was a music blogger. On The Loudest Pen Ever, I talked about the classic Hip-hop and R&B artists of the 80s and 90s. Almost every one of my former subjects is deceased, or on drugs, or in obscurity. For instance, I did a series on Jodeci and months later I saw tweets about Jodeci founder Devante Swing being addicted to crack and getting arrested for it. Recently, Nate Dogg passed at the tender age of 41 and so we lose yet another Hip-hop legend.

And what about other rap acts like Coolio? Or Mannie Fresh from Big Tymers? Or Juvenile? There’s also some disappearance on the R&B side, with no Babyface, Jon B, Next, Blackstreet, Teddy Riley and other random but great acts from the 80s and 90s. They’ve all just seemed to disappear. I don’t know what caused their individual disappearances but I do know the industry as a whole misses em. It’s not that I want more gimmicky rappers like Coolio or smooth R&B singing white boys like Jon B it’s just that I want that “flava in my ear”. Remember that track? Do you see where I’m going with this? I want that hip-hop and R&B that had a groove to it, something I could two-step to or rock with my boo to. Ya feel me? Where’s that music? With that said, I’m gonna pass the mic to Malik.

Let’s put this all into perspective, before we both start sounding old and waving judgmental fingers at the artists of now. Something must be said for nostalgia. I wouldn’t go as far as Pen and say that the industry necessarily misses the 90’s has beens of R&B that you now see ganging up together for revival concerts, my concern is more surrounding those flash-in-the-pan acts that have surfaced and seemingly drowned in the last 13 years. It’s hard for someone who came up on Hip-Hop in the 90’s to believe that we are more than a decade into the new millennium, and as with any other decade, there has been a fair share of Tag Team and Young MC-esque characters.

What makes these realities even more dramatic is when you think back and remember just how absolutely huge the wave of success was for some of these folk. And then one day, you find yourself humming something involuntarily in your head and saying ‘what is this song and who made it?’ Then you remember, ‘oh, I actually own this single or album on CD somewhere under the seat of my car, or in one of those plastic storage bins from Target or in those vinyl CD jackets that I never really open anymore’. Or maybe you were just watching Retro Centric one morning and remembered that Coffy Brown was actually a group, and not a pornstar. And that yes, you probably do know a song by a No Limit Rapper.

Having all of that said, me and Pen would like to invite you to something we’d like to call; “What do you think (insert late 90’s or early 2000’s has been here) is doing riiiite now??”

Let’s start with

16. Shawnna 

Technically, Luda’s last album, Battle Of The Sexes was supposed to be a concept album between he and the former first lady of DTP, but word is that she abandoned that idea to jump ship for T-Pain’s fledgling Nappy Boy label. We see what good that’s gotten her…As the wealthy daughter of Chicago Blues Legend Buddy Guy, as well as a 30 something year old mom however, it’s probably best that she NOT be trying to break out hard and play the rap game like a hungry M.C. She gets her chops in on a good Luda album cut every now and then. Do we really need another “Gettin’ Some Head” anyway??

15. Jayo Felony 

You probably don’t care, but this dude was someone to mention at one point. As one of the few rappers out of the San Diego scene, he was the head of the Def Jam west wing before Snoop reclaimed his spot as the Cali King. linking up with Snoop in the near future proved to be the smartest move of his career when he and Tha Eastsiderz collabed on the West Coast classic “If U Got Beef” at the height of the Gang-related rap resurgence. Later, dissing Snoop and Jay-Z proved to be the dumbest moves of his career.

14. Obie Trice 

I’m pretty sure the underground hip-hop heads and my Detroit folks know where this dude is releasing new music at, but come on man…He was signed to the highest selling rap artist of all time’s label and had 2 chances, full of high profile collabs, Timbaland production and one of the greatest co-signs ever.  Eminem even made sure that he began the video for the lead single off of his classic album, The Eminem Show with a 2 second drop of Obie Trice reciting the infamous line “Real name – no gimmick”. Guess there really wasn’t a gimmick. Further proof that the Em effect only works for Em. Or maybe dude is just too underground for his own good. In either case, at one point, he was that next dude.

13. Murphy Lee 

Speaking of rappers being introduced by another Mega-Star rapper, this kid actually defied expectation and broke the curse of living under one’s shadow. As the only member of Nelly‘s St. Lunatics crew that people know by name, Murphy amassed his own decent following. I even remember being in a girl’s dorm room in college and her having his poster up, claiming he was “soo cute”. His off-brand style of quirky punchline delivery didn’t put him in the lyricist books, but key appearances on Nelly hits like “Shake Your Tailfeather” and “Air Force 1’s” made him stand out. His solo venture fared well. But that was also 8 years ago…Not quite the “schoolboy” anymore.

12. YoungBloodz 

I was in high school when their debut GA anthem “UA” broke out. I was at a wedding in 2002 when the ghetto ass couple who was tying the knot danced to that as their second song. By then, it was pretty much a 4 year old throwback, and I remember thinking at the time when the song came out, who are these fake OutKast rejects??! Even tho they were loosely affiliated with and co-signed by Kast, I didn’t respect them until their hit “85” came out. Then it was pretty quiet until they hit their cash cow in 2003 by riding the Lil John crunk wave and gave us “Damn”. That song was the second hugest crunk song behind “Get Low” that year. I liked it so much that I rapped over it immediately, creating the track “Talkin’ Bout” off of my Crazy 8’s mixtape. They were In. Then it got quiet again. Are they Out??

11. Brooke Valentine 

Oh boy how I have a crush on this woman. I was living in Georgia and went out to buy, yes buy her one and only album after seeing an episode of Mtv‘s Cribs and falling in love with her body. Oh yeah, her voice is nice too. But my boy Brandon called it early on and told me that the crunk & B trend was gonna die quick and she would along with it. And while Ms. Valentine had so much more to offer the world than just chic-wrestling anthems, she didn’t get another chance to show it. Shame. Fortunately, she WILL be getting the spotlight in a future Crush Alot post here on 16’s Candles.

10. Bubba Sparxx 

I like this guy. I really do. I’ve always wanted him to win because he stays in his lane and represents something that is actually not present enough in Hip-Hop. I never got the sense that he was trying to be something that he’s not. He’s does the everyman thing with a cool slant, and does the White-boy in a Black world thing even better. Quite possibly the only non- angry or angst-ridden and decidely happy White rapper ever. He’s aligned himself with so many note-worthy names in the game and has tried almost every musical angle and came up with sustainable momentary hits but nothing has stuck. Haven’t heard from Mr. Mathis in a minute. Wonder if he’s quit…

9. BoneCrusher 

Sigh…Ironic to think that his breakout single is the one that helped launch T.I. into the spotlight back in 2002 and ’03 when Tip was rebuilding his brand. Maybe he just has uhhmmm…Bigger things to worry about besides finding venues to perform his one and only hit. Like all the weight that he didn’t lose on Celebrity Fit Club

8. Montell Jordan 

The guy who apparently has passed the torch of corniness down to Bobby Valentino was once a huge priority on Def Jam in it’s hey day. And I’m pretty sure you all have danced to one of his hits. And as much as I hate to admit it, this man had hits! Listening to every last one of his songs now makes you want to cringe due his elongated riffs and horrible lyrics and delivery, but if you ran past a greatest hits collection of his, you’d have to kind of make a Robert Deniro face at the selection and amount of popular 90’s joints.

7. Mr. Cheeks 

Maybe he’s just living a modest life and collecting checks from “Lights Camera Action” because it has now become one of those songs that will forever be played by dj’s all along the eastern shoreboard. That, along with the first 2 minutes of Queen Pen‘s “Party Ain’t A Party”, because Lord knows I can’t name the last time I heard anyone play a Lost Boyz song (even tho they are one of my favorite rap groups of ALL TIME). He can honestly tour doing just that one song for the rest of his days, like he did at my homecoming at Howard one year, high and incoherent as hell, forgetting the words. Like most people forgot him unfortunately.

6. Petey Pablo 

I recently got asked by a Carolinian why I know so many Petey Pablo songs. And truly, the answer is that every time I have ever listened to or read anything by this guy, it cracks me up! He’s like that crazy nigga you just make friends with to have on your side and not against you because you don’t know what he’ll do or say next. From reading about how he landed on Black Rob‘s “Whoa” remix as a new artist, to listening to his verses on Ciara‘s “Goodies”, Rasheeda‘s “Vibrate” or his own “Freek-A-Leek”, and then him calling Suge Knight a genius, it’s never a dull moment! On top of that, no matter what North Carolinians or the Hip-Hop world think of him in hindsight, he is single-handedly and still the first if not only rap act to wave the flag for NC (literally) and his song “Raise Up” is synonymous with putting that area on the rap map, much like Nelly did with “Country Grammar”, and Wiz Khalifa just did with “Black & Yellow”. Like it or not…

5. Trick Daddy 

One of my favorite rappers. He kept us fed every summer between 1998 and 2004 with undeniable hits that consistently reinvented the artist formerly known as Trick Daddy Dollars. If you thank him for nothing else, give him his props for giving us Trina. He’s also instantly credible. I believe EVERYTHING this nigga says!!!You can’t say there’s not at least one Trick song that you like. Maybe he just decided he’s too old or too hood for this game, but the absence is felt based on who’s picked up the Miami mantle. To forget this man and not give him his credit for putting real Florida rap at the forefront and being the King for a good run is as ridiculous as all of this Rick Ross praising going on right now.

4. Paul Wall & Mike Jones 

Maybe Grill money was better than rap money and Paul’s still living off of 2005 income. He is White after all. That means he knows how to save…

Now Jones on the other hand…Anybody still know that number??

Mike Who??!

3. B2K 

Do you remember how annoyingly popular these kids were?? Seriously, what the fuck are these guys doing with their lives right now?! It would be different if they got paaiiiid off of their string of seemingly non-stop hits in the early 2000’s, but the way they claimed they were getting raped in the wake of their break up (figuratively and apparently literally), the other 3 that are not Omarion are probably just regular California niggas right about now. Sure, they’ll say they’re doing stuff in the business, but Twitter fights with Chris Brown does not count as networking. And Omarion is not exactly the picture of Stardom at this point in time either. Consider this his spot as well… And I like the kid somewhat…

2. Lil Mama 

“It’s Poppin’?? It’s Poppin’!” But where?

I hope she’ll still be judging on this new season of America’s Best Dance Crew because it looks like Jay might’ve saw to it that her little MTV awards walk-on during his set with Alicia Keys was the last stage appearance that she’ll ever have.

1. Chingy 

No One. And I mean No One individual on this list was bigger than this guy in his Prime. He could do no wrong. I would find myself in the midst of female conversations about Chingy that I did not want to be privy to. With one of the worst names and voices in rap history, truth be told, his lesser known verses like the ones on album cuts that weren’t geared toward females and were full of gun lines, were actually better than some of his contemporaries’. But that’s a small factoid in the midst of so many wrongs. His 15 minutes were up when the DTP chain left his neck. Then the awful spell that he had the rap world under was broken and women came back to their damn senses.

*Honorable Mention* – The Bad Boy roster past & present

We know Faith is still trying to keep her legacy going, 112 has gone on to pursue solo endeavors, Mase went to church, to G-Unit killing folks, back to church, Loon is rocking Kufi’s and Sumis in the east somewhere, G-Dep is kicking himself in prison right now, and Aubrey is doing her best Kim K impression to stay relevant. But what about everybody’s favorite questionable Soulful Hookman, Carl Thomas? Remember how big “I Wish” was?? Is it just lounges and revival concerts now? What about Total? We know that Keisha (aka the pretty one) is married with children to Omar Epps, but what about the most important one – Pam?? She was the lead singer after all. What happens? Does no one ask for reunion shows? Do you just never want to sing again?? What’s Craig Mack been doing for the last 15 years? What did Diddy really do to Babs and Ness‘ contracts? Do the names Dream, Fuzzbubble, Boyz N Da Hood or Donny Klang mean anything to you? Wasn’t Tom Cruise just doing the Yung Joc motorcycle handlebar dance 5 years ago?? Wasn’t he in Forbes 3 years ago? And does Cassie even have to do anything now but show up at red carpet events and video cameos?? Wow. What a difference a day makes when you ride with Diddy. Word to Mark Curry. Brings new meaning to “We ain’t, goin’ nowhere”…

I’m sure you can think of plenty more to add. Feel free to share.

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1 Comment

  1. This brought back memories


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