Believe it or not, I’m known for more than just my preference in Jordans. I like to pride myself in being able to see a rising star coming a mile away then bragging to my friends about how I was playing Rapper A’s music before he hit the mainstream. It’s that snobbery that made me want to write for TSS so that I could say “I told you so” to thousands of people instead of just my circle of friends. But for every time I’ve said “hey, Big K.R.I.T. is gonna blow up,” there’s been a “yo, Charles Hamilton is going to be the biggest thing to hit Hip-Hop.”
So, for full disclosure and the fact that I’m A-okay with being the butt of a few jokes, here are the rappers I swore were the best in the world. Sometimes I was right. Other times…not so much.
1992 – Kid N’ Play — I loved Kid N’ Play because I had just moved from Louisiana to Mississippi and suddenly seemed like the only light-skinned aggin on the planet. Then, when I caught Class Act on HBO, I suddenly had a role model in Kid. I just KNEW they would be the biggest act in Hip-Hop history. That seemed like a solid pick…but peep the year. In 1992, Kid N’ Play’s Hip-Hop careers had come and gone while I was still screaming that they were the next big thing. Still, shout out to Kid for giving Yella negroes a dream.
1994 – Ahmad — Sing it with me…”Back in the days when I was young I’m not a kid anymoooore but some days I really wish I was a kid again…Back in the days WHEN I WAS JUST A LITTLE JIGGALO!!!!”. Anybody? We all remember the song, right? But I don’t think anybody else loved it like I did. I bought the single on cassette with the radio edit and acoustic version and everything. I stood by my radio waiting for Ahmad’s second single. For some reason, it never happened. He’s still one hit away.
1998 – Silkk The Shocker — Everyone had their favorite member of No Limit. When I look back, I see that Fiend and Mia X were where it was at. But in ’98, I was all about Silkk. His album, Charge It 2 Da Game was on constant rotation. While I was in middle school developing my musical palette and venturing out to the Black Stars of the world, I still found time to jam to some mother f*cking Silkk.
1998, 2002 – Canibus — Face it. We all fell victim to the Canibus hype. The man took on LL and lived to tell the tale. I was hooked right after his verse on the “Gone Til November” remix. Then his first album dropped and it was Operation: Dumbo Drop-sized doo-doo. I was a fan of his second album, 2000 B.C. but it went downhill from there. This is pretty much how all fans felt about ‘Bus. Not I. I swore after Canibus’ Mic Club album dropped in 2002 that the MC was on his way back. By “back” I meant, “so far back that he faded into oblivion.” That’s exactly what I meant.
2001 – State Property — I remember picking up an issue of The Source in 2001 and being shocked – shocked I say – that the State Property album didn’t get five mics. I know every word of the 14-minute freestyle they did on Hot 97 that year, including Omilio Sparks’ parts. I thought the crew would dominate Hip-Hop forever. Now I can’t even take Sigel seriously.
2003 – B Rich — Okay, I didn’t swear by him, but as I write this I see a copy of 80 Dimes I bought sitting in a CD case in my room. Just the fact I own this album is an indictment on any decision-making skills I owned at the age of 17. I remember there being one really good song on that album, but when I tried to find it all I could hear was ear-destroying nonsense. So maybe I was mistaken.
2003 – Cassidy — I dare you to try and lie to me that you weren’t excited about Cassidy after he ate Freeway’s lunch in that freestyle battle. I dare you. I was all about his freestyles and mixtape cuts then remember thinking him partnering with a proficient producer like Swizz Beatz was easy money. Then “Hotel” came out and my life was ruined. Who collaborates with post-piss-on-a-teen R. Kelly? Split Personality literally had one good song and Styles P. rapped for half of it.
2004 – Papoose — I was the hugest fan of Remy Ma’s mistress when he was putting out mixtapes every 12 seconds. I went crazy when “Alphabetical Slaughter” made 106 & Park. I stayed believing Pap was one hit away until his music and choice of women totally fell off. He also said something like “Like I take Wu-Tang Clan to court, I Sue Wu”. Unforgivable.
2004-2006, 2008, 2010 – Cory Gunz — I’ve said Cory Gunz was the greatest rapper ever on too many occasions. I was always wrong. He’s still always been dope, though. After his initial mixtapes came out, I was hooked. Then “A Millie” was supposed to be his arrival. Then his Gangsta Grillz was going to be his other big break. Now, I’m totally convinced that “6’7″” is the song that will put him on the mainstream map. Hey, I hung on to the New Orleans Saints for 24 years, I can wait for Cory Gunz.
2008 – Charles Hamilton — Chuck had it all: creativity, a solid flow, innovative production and an Interscope deal. He also had serious mental issues and a glass jaw. He was gone from our consciousness as soon as he left Planet Earth. The kid didn’t stand a chance.