As hip-hop moves forward, significant markers of its past become more clear. The day Dr. Dre heard Eminem’s demo in Jimmy Iovine’s garage, Ol’ Dirty Bastard running from the law for a month, and, obviously, the deaths of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. are pretty easy to pinpoint.
On the flipside, there are plenty of lesser known moments that could’ve completely changed hip-hop’s trajectory if they’d gone the other way, such as Method Man almost being shot in a drive-by and Kanye checking his ego and not nixing the best verse on all of My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Nicki Minaj on “Monster.” But a moment that’s been covered in the dust of time, that easily could’ve sent shockwaves through the culture, happened 15 years ago today.
On March, 16, 2001, a jury acquitted Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs of multiple weapons charges and allegedly bribing his driver to take the fall after a shooting in a Manhattan night club. [Johnnie Cochran strikes again.] In the same trial, Jamaal “Shyne” Barrow was convicted on two counts of assault and counts of reckless endangerment and gun possession after allegedly shooting into the crowd. He’d later be sentenced to and serve 10 years in prison and the two men went on to have vastly different lives for the next decade and a half.
What came next for Diddy is common knowledge. He went on to become an even larger hip-hop mogul with the success of the Sean John clothing line, stakes in multiple beverages – both athletic and alcoholic – and launching Revolt TV all while keeping his name relevant enough in music with occasional Bad Boys Records releases. In 2015, Forbes claimed he had a net worth of $735 million. His career could’ve been vastly different, or halted, if the tables had turned.
Before that night in 1999, when Jennifer Lopez probably realized her relationship with Diddy was headed nowhere, Shyne had nothing but upside — partially because he hadn’t released much music yet. Having signed to Bad Boys Records earlier that year, Shyne was actively working on his debut album when he got into the legal troubles that would make him more famous than his music. Still, in 2000,”Bad Boyz” and “That’s Gangsta” were released as singles from an album that was almost shelved completely due to the rapper’s controversy.