Shortly before it hit the net, Karen Civil informed me of Shad’s decision to head over to Cash Money. What ensued next was barrage of commentary on Twitter, 95% of which was negative. On paper, having a label with Lil’ Wayne, Drake, Mack Maine, Nicki Minaj, Omarion and now Bow Wow seems like an excellent investment. But when looking beyond the surface, we’ve seen over and over how this situation has played itself out.
Roc-A-Fella Records — Arguably no dynasty’s (no pun intended) downfall has been documented more than this. There was once a time when a roster which touted Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Memphis Bleek and the rest of State Property appeared invincible. However, it was the addition of their most popular group which would lead to darker days. Cam’ron and his Diplomats were never favorites of Jay-Z and it was made public from the day Killa was named VP. Sure, we were blessed with “Welcome To New York City” but the rumors would run rampant after that. From the Dips exclusion from the Roc The Mic tour to behind the scenes rumblings, the situation boiled over in 2005 with the now infamous breakup.
G-Unit — It’s common knowledge the best G-Unit was the original three: 50, Banks and Yayo. Even with the additions of Young Buck and The Game, the group was still one of the most powerful and popular in music during their peak. They owned the mixtape scene and dominated the charts; life was lovely under the roof Jimmy Iovine built. Unfortunately, things got tricky once Jayceon left and new recruits, M.O.P., Mobb Deep, Olivia (and Hot Rod?) were brought in. The dominance dwindled and none of the members’ careers saw the popularity they once had. Buck is independent, Olivia hasn’t been seen in years, M.O.P. never received their just due with G-Unit and Mobb Deep…yeah. All the while, 50 is struggling to find a release day for his final contractual obligation with Interscope. If you’re looking for a silver lining though, Curtis is still a cash cow.
The Diplomats — During their heyday, this was one of the most powerful movements of its kind. Cam, Juelz, Jimmy and Zeke brought Harlem to the forefront with the classic mixtape series, Diplomats Vol. 1-5. They forced their followers to invest in throwbacks and, in the blink of an eye, the entire state of New York was wearing pink…at least according to Brother Giles. As the acclaim reached new heights, new members Hell Rell, J.R. Writer, 40 Cal and S.A.S. While not directly crediting the group’s dissolving on the expanding roster, many are left to wonder where things would have been had the original core stuck together. Now, everyone has their own group. Juelz-Skull Gang, Jimmy-Byrdgang, Zeke-730, Hell Rell-Top Gunnas…Cam has Vado. Way too many branches for this family tree.
Death Row — Suge had a powerhouse during the early to mid ’90’s. Having a super-producer in Dr. Dre and a bonafide star in Snoop was more than enough. Both released albums which are regarded as some of Hip-Hop’s best in The Chronic and Doggystyle. Add to the fact that Daz and Kurupt were members too, Death Row was a well-oiled machine. In October of 1995, the signing of Tupac Shakur would prove instant dividends with his debut on the label, All Eyez On Me, selling over five million copies by the summer of 1996. However, it was this addition which would lead to the tragic end. Contrary to popular belief, Dre and Pac didn’t see eye to eye much and thus lead to Dre’s exit from the label the following spring (“California Love” was originally a Dre solo record, so say the rumors.). Rumors of Pac’s unhappiness with Death Row were beginning to become public and only intensified after his murder in Las Vegas. Following the release of his sophomore album, Tha Doggfather, Snoop would also turn in his resignation papers. To add insult to injury, Suge would also be sentenced to jail in the role of the beating of Orlando Anderson, which took place only hours before Pac was shot.
With all the break ups, it is good to see that The Lox have managed to tough it out these years. Money can do wonders for what was once thought as a “friendship.” Now, it remains to be seen if Bow Wow’s move to the New Orleans start-up label turned multi-million dollar conglomerate will prove beneficial. For CMR and the recession’s sake, let’s hope so.