Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Great Rappers Who Never Had A Classic Album

Max Normal

Age 30 something
Good Morning South Africa (2008)

Before Die Antwoord, Ninja was Max Normal and he was a dope MC, but I don't know if paying the bills got in the way, somewhere he gave it all up and picked up the alias Ninja. He sure had promise to legendary status.

Hip Hop Pantsula

Age 32
Introduction (2000), Maf Town (2001), O Mang? (2003), BA 2 NW (2005), Acceptance Speech (2007), Dumela (2009), Motswafrika (2011)

It is safe to say HHP has cemented himself in the history books of SA rap music, but as that may be - the North West hailing MC said it best that he is a hip-hop pantsula.

Busta Rhymes

Age: 40
Albums: The Coming (1996), When Disaster Strikes... (1997), E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front (1998), Anarchy (2000), Genesis (2001), It Ain't Safe No More... (2002), The Big Bang (2006), Back On My B.S. (2009), Year Of The Dragon (2012)

Throughout the highs and lows of his career, Busta Rhymes always seems to find a way to be relevant, mostly because he’s one of the most idiosyncratic characters rap has ever seen. He’s a true original, not a novelty act. He’s spent the last 20 years making a ton of classic singles and memorable videos by filling tracks with his signature manic energy.

Unfortunately, even though a few of his albums are considered pretty good, none of them are classics because they often had with too much filler (five of his first six albums clock in at over an hour). Busta is still incredible on the mic, but we’ve basically seen his bag of tricks.

AGE 31
Manuscript (2006), Write Of Passage (2009), Off Da Books Mixtape (2009)FourthWrite (2012)

Sigh… dope MC but Verb lacks something, I can't put my hand on it though. I'm no hater, the Kimberley born MC is a bull on the mic but there isn't an album with weight.


Age: 34
Albums: Ghetto Fabolous (2001), Street Dreams (2003), Real Talk (2004), From Nothin' To Somethin' (2007), Loso's Way (2009)

Fab is a streetwise rapper who can flow forever and he’s had legendary moments in the mixtape game, and he’s never struggled with scoring pop hits. In the last 10 years he’s had eight Top 40 hits, including the unforgettable Just Blaze produced classic, “Breathe.”

The problem for Fab isn’t that he lacks diversity, it’s that he’s always overestimated his diversity and would usually just spread himself too thin on albums. Worse yet, what the Brooklyn rhymer has always sorely lacked is emotional delivery.

Nearly all of Fab’s rhymes sound like they’re coming from a slick playboy, which is great sometimes but tiresome, too. And finally, few of Fab’s tracks (save for the aforementioned “Breathe”) have ever been mindblowing, even if they were great in the club. Fab might be known for his one of a kind punchlines, but he’s not known for his one of a kind albums.


Age: 35
Albums: Back For The First Time (2000), Word of Mouf (2001), Chicken-n-Beer (2003), The Red Light District (2004), Release Therapy (2006), Theater of the Mind (2008), Battle of the Sexes (2010)

Ludacris has had so many hits and classic anthems (we still get hyped when his “Move Bitch”  verse comes on) you would think that he has a classic in there somewhere. Even though his first three albums were highly entertaining, they did lack a certain maturity and nuance.

Maybe that’s why, since then, Luda’s cut his hair and got more serious, but as a result he’s somehow lost some of the edge and most of the humor that made him a star in the first place. The funny part is at this point, Luda’s has been a part of more Oscar-winning movies than classic rap albums. If someone would have told us that back when he was making songs that went, “Yous a hoe!” we would have never believed them.


Age: 37
Albums: Kiss Tha Game Goodbye (2001), Kiss Of Death (2004), The Last Kiss (2009)

Armed with a raspy voice, some of the hardest bars you’ll ever hear, and a countless number of great verses, Jadakiss was built to be a legendary rapper. Not only that, but he’s an influential rapper—at one point in the early Aughts it felt like every single rapper was riffing off his style.

He even famously quipped that he was, “Top 5, dead or alive, and that’s just off one LP.” But here’s the problem with that line and his catalog in general: That LP, his debut, Kiss Tha Game Goodbye, is his best album... but it’s not really that good.

The problem with all of Jada’s solo albums was that he always tried too hard to please every crowd. While he’s an undisputed king of street anthems, he simply wasn't apt at making quality commercial rap records, but he kept on trying to.

If he would have just stuck to doing what does best, he could have at least made a hardcore album that lived up to his potential (like his groupmate Styles P has done with his underrated solo albums). Instead, he’s frustrated his fan base with uneven efforts that chased the commercial fame he was never meant to have.

Lloyd Banks

Age: 30
Albums: The Hunger For More (2004), Rotten Apple (2006), H.F.M. 2 (Hunger For More 2) (2010)

For a brief period, Lloyd Banks was the shit. Back in the early days of 50 Cent’s career, when he was absolutely destroying the mixtape game along with his G-Unit cohorts, Banks was primed to be the next to blow after 50.

And why not? Back then the the Punchline King was earning his crown with every laugh out loud bar (“She can get me off like Cochran”) and occasionally outshining 50 (they didn’t call it “Banks Victory” for nothing).

Although Banks’ debut, The Hunger For More, was a success (he scored a hit single and a platinum plaque) his album wasn’t the full blown G-Unit classic it should have been (that was Game’s debut album) and it wasn’t even the best G-Unit album of that year (that was Young Buck’s debut).

Which is fine, he was a young rapper who’d have more shots. The problem was, his second album suffered from a sophomore slump and G-Unit’s stronghold on the game was coming to an end.

Banks would have faded into complete irrelevancy if it wasn’t for his Juelz Santana-assisted single, "Beamer, Benz, or Bentley," which renewed interest in the Queens-bred lyricist. His third album was a strong effort but it was too little, too late for him to fulfill his promise from nearly a decade ago.

Coupled with 50 recently calling him out for laziness, he’s left fans and critics alike saying, “Damn homie, in high school you was the man homie, the fuck happened to you?”


Age: 37
Albums: Can-I-Bus (1998), 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus) (2000), C True Hollywood Stories (2001), Mic Club: The Curriculum (2002), Rip the Jacker (2003), Mind Control (2005), Hip-Hop For Sale (2005), For Whom the Beat Tolls (2007), Melatonin Magik (2010), C of Tranquility (2010), Lyrical Law (2011)

It might hurt some of his Internet fanboys to hear this, but no rapper wasted their moment in the sun quite like Canibus did. When he first came out, Canibus was seen as a lyricist with a gruff voice and enough syllables to make your head spin. In other words, he was hardcore rap’s answer to the "jiggy" players of the day. To top it off, he got into a high profile beef with LL Cool J and unleashed one of the best hip-hop diss songs of all time.

But when he dropped his absolute fail of a debut album he squandered his best chance of making a classic and becoming a true star. He would later blame his shortcomings on producer Wyclef Jean, which was fine, but his subsequent albums weren’t any better and as time went on, the general public lost interest in hearing a guy rap like he was reciting the dictionary.

(Sidebar: Canibus also deserves to be taken to task for his series of absolutely bizarre decisions. We’re not just talking about him recently dissing J. Cole for no reason and then apologizing about it. Or the time he started dissing Eminem for no reason. But for doing things like showing up to the VMAs in silver body paint. Seriously, what the fuck was that?)

Juelz Santana

Age: 29
Albums: From Me To U (2003), What The Game's Been Missing! (2005),

Juelz Santana had it all. He was down with Dipset, he was steadily improving as a rapper, he contributed to classic albums (Diplomatic Immunity, Purple Haze), was on hits (“Oh Boy,” "Hey Ma," "Run It"), and scored his own hits ("There It Go (The Whistle Song)"). He was young, fresh, had street cred, and the girls liked him.

So what if his first two albums weren’t perfect? By 2007, Juelz was poised to break out thanks in part to his excellent Just Blaze-produced single, “The Second Coming.” He was homeboys with the Best Rapper Alive, Lil Wayne (back when he really was the Best Rapper Alive), and they were going to do an album together, I Can’t Feel My Face.

What went wrong? Well, his album Born To Lose, Built To Win was endlessly delayed and has yet to be released. Ditto for his collaborative album with Wayne. Combine that with Dipset’s brief but poorly timed breakup and you’ll see why Santana missed his moment when he could have made a classic.

The saddest part about all this was when, in the midst of the group’s turmoil, Cam’ron called out Santana for being a drug addict. We can’t say that it’s certainly true, but it could explain Santana’s severe lack of productivity. Still, here’s to hoping he can come back like crushed up Adderall cooked crack.

Ras Kass

Age: 39
Albums: Soul On Ice (1996), Rasassination (1998), Institutionalized (2005), A.D.I.D.A.S. (All Day I Dream About Spittin) (2010)

Everyone can agree that Ras Kass is a great lyricist. He’s always had a cocky attitude that made him seem convinced that he was the greatest rapper ever. Too bad he couldn’t find the greatest producers. His first two albums were marred by shitty production unworthy for a rapper of his talents.

Right when he seemed like he was on the verge of putting it all together on third album, Van Gogh (which featured production from DJ Premier and Dr. Dre), he ran into label troubles and later an unfortunate arrest for D.U.I. which landed him in jail. The double whammy killed his momentum and his career has never been the same since.

Big L

Age: 24 (at the time of his death)
Albums: Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous (1995), The Big Picture (2000), 139 & Lenox (2009), Return of the Devil's Son (2010), The Danger Zone (2011)

Big L was a fantastic rapper who was sadly only able to essentially make two albums. Although his debut, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, had many flashes of brilliance that showcased his wit and rhyme style, it suffered from poor production and felt more patched together than a thematically unified project.

His second album was released shortly after his death but it only cemented his legacy as someone who was about to blow but never did. And spare us the whole “But you don’t know about his underground classics!” because as the great Zadie Smith points out, all those “rare” freestyles are easily found on YouTube.

A number of posthumous Big L albums have been released in recent years, though they were largely ignored. In the end, when L’s name is brought up in both G.O.A.T. and underrated discussions, it’s all just a reminder that" dead rappers get better promotion."

Age 36
Blazetha Breaks / Place For A Wife (2000), Summertime (2001), Supernatural (My Return) (2003)

He was almost there, he paved the way in South African hip-hop in terms taking it a notch higher from Club Le to dropping an album but he just went Houdini on us.

Nicki Minaj

Age: 29
Albums: Pink Friday (2010), Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012)

As one of the youngest people on this list, and the only one whose debut album dropped this decade, it might seem a bit unfair to group Nicki along with the other rappers on this list. After all, she hasn’t had as many opportunities to make a classic like everyone else has.

But here's the thing, Nicki Minaj is incredibly talented and a genuine superstar. We expect more from her than we do from the average rapper, so we expect her to make a classic. She’s positioned herself as the queen of rap, which is all good but she needs a jewel if she wants to wear the crown or else her throne is illegitimate.

Nicki has already dropped two ridiculously successful albums, but both failed to live up to criticial expectations. And if that still seems unfair, consider what her Young Money comrade Drake has done in the same time frame. Take Care has a much greater chance of being viewed as a classic in 10 years than Roman Reloaded does.

Age 31
Heads And Tales (2005), DNA (2006), Dankie San (2007)

I don't know what happened at Gallo behind closed doors which fucked up the battlefield Pro we knew from tearing MCs up on the mic. The just MC lost the edge that made him the hip-hop battle field bull terror.

Royce Da 5'9"

Age: 35
Albums: Rock City (2002), Death Is Certain (2004), Independent's Day (2005), Street Hop (2009), Success Is Certain (2011)

Royce Da 5'9" burst on the scene along with his Detroit pal Eminem in the late ‘90s. Royce seemed destined to take off after Em did, but it just didn’t happen for him. His debut album was strong but it was delayed and overhauled so much that by the time it was finally released it was subtitled 2.0.

After that he struggled with depression, alcoholism, and endless beef as he released a series of well regarded, but not quite there albums. He's since found success as one half of Bad Meets Evil and with his group Slaughterhouse, but his solo career still lacks that essential disc.

Age 31   
Leondale MC
Ventilation Mixtape Vol. 1 (2005), Ventilation Mixtape Vol. 2 (2007), Ventilation Vol 3 (2010)

Blacks R Fools is a good track never mind the noise the track is making. Another legend in the game and the only consistence member from Skwatta Kemp but his Ventilation mixtpaes are no classics.

The Rap, Life And Drama (2003) The Principal (2010)

Attention had hoods joyed up and looking forward to the album but when it dropped - some joints let the album down. The rap principal as he calls himself, failed to give us legendary material.

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