i was watching this "where are they now?" feature on athletes who had the potential to be the greatest at their sports but injuries/death/off field problems hit the breaks on their careers. it got me thinking of the same thing from a hip-hop perspective.
now, i didn't include Pac, Biggie, Big L, Pun or any other of our fallen soldiers for obvious reasons. i stuck with those who are still breathing this polluted air we call oxygen.
ricky could have been the best ever. he was our first "hipster". spare me the De La Soul rhetoric. he was witty, charismatic, dressed like he was going to a 25 and older nightclub and talked with a slight British accent. as far as storytelling and swag(God, i hate that word)goes, he was unmatched. his debut, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, is a classic. from "Lick the Balls" to "Children's Story" to "The Moment I Feared", each track stands up even today.
as Hip-Hop fans(should)know, ricky's career came to a screeching halt when he was jailed for shooting his cousin in self defense. the game moved on without him and when he was in the middle of a good comeback(those Outkast collabs were fire), INS stepped in a deported him back to merry ol' England.
green card in tow now, ricky's planning another comeback. hope it sticks this time.
hands down, my favorite group ever. they also are responsible for my favorite Hip-Hop album of all time, Dead Serious. no one sounded like them before but everyone sounded like them after(Lords of the Underground, anyone?). Ice Cube was such a fan that he invited them to guest on his Predator album and even switched his flow on a few tracks to resemble Das'. they were grimy and their wordplay was off the chain.
a severe case of biterphobia caused them to completely switch up their flow for their sophomore album, Str8 Up Sewaside. while the album was solid, fans were wanting more of "They Want EFX' and "Mic Checka". EPMD's ugly divorce didn't help matters and Das quietly faded away after their third LP, Hold It Down. they're still big overseas and folks here are still bumpin' Dead Serious. hopefully we can get more of that magic.
perhaps the saddest of all stories here is the D.O.C's. he was where Snoop and Eminem were-the protege of Dr. Dre. his debut, No One Can Do It Better, is a classic. "Is It Funky Enough" and "The Formula" are two of the greatest songs the world has ever known. he was a writing machine who brought a wealth of lyricism to the West Coast N.W.A family.
his career was cut too short after a severe car accident which left his vocal cords permanently damaged. his baritone was replaced with a scraggly whisper and h was regulated to ghost writer duties. he recorded a new album, Helter Skelter, which was actually quite good once you got over his voice. but it wasn't the same.
oh, Canibus. the word "potential" should have his picture next to it in the dictionary. he was hailed as the future of Hip-Hop in 98. he alone was to guide us out of the shiny suit era and fill the void of Pac and Biggie. he slaughtered beats by the pound with his intelligent wordplay and gruff voice. he was signed to(whitehot at the time)Wyclef's production company and was poised for greatness...
...then he decided to beef with LL Cool J.
then he went to the army.
then he came back.
then he disappeared again.
then he sorta, kinda reappeared.
(((sigh)))like i said, "potential".
hands down, the greatest female MC of all time(getting ready for the boos and hisses lol).
Boss was rare. she was so gangsta yet so cute. Da Brat was too colorful and Kriss Kross-like. Latifah was too serious. Lyte was looking for a "ruffneck" at the time, comforming to what was hot at the time. but Boss was just so different. "Recipe of a Hoe", "Progress of Elimination" and "Deeper" weren't like any song you had heard from a female rapper at the time. this little light skinned chick stole Eazy E's wardrobe, spit gangsta shit and proceeded to kill the game. she was part of that Warren G/Onyx/Def Jam revival that was going on during Death Row's monopolization of the industry. and she did her damn thing.
IDK how exactly she fell off. she did a song for the Mi Vida Loca soundtrack and dis-a-fuckin-ppeared. no reason was given. she reappeared in Dallas, working as a DJ for a radio station and dropped hints that she was coming back out but no further word was given.
there's not much i can say about X that you don't already know. he was a MEGAstar from 98-2001. he was the first artist of any genre to have two #1 albums in the same year. he did what Canibus was supposed to do---restore the grime and dirt to Hip-Hop. he barked and growled and scowled and prayed his way into becoming one of the most endearing artists this side of Tupac.
his legal and drug problems hindered his career and even to this day he's fighting charges. he's threatened to leave the game alltogether and become a preacher...and it doesn't seem that farfetched when you consider who he is. i hope he gets it all together because Hip-Hop needs X. we just do.
i know that there are others who deserve to be on this list but these are the stand-outs.
if your favorite isn't here, don't take it to heart. im just a rapper/blogger....not a credible journalist =)