I’ve never understood, especially at a time when nodody’s buying albums, why rapper’s still sign on to other rappers’ vanity imprint labels. It’s kind of like if Black Mamba was the coach & owner of the greatest sports franchise, ever,, as well as the main component to it’s successes, I’d rather play for Mike Dunleavy’s old squad. Same house, different furniture, if you smell my cologne (& if you don’t smell it, step your NBA Intelligence Quotient up). Rappers rap, & even if they’re self-appointed CEO’s, they still like the notion of being the best rapper on the planet. If not the planet, at least on their record label. Fact. There’s never been a credible MC who’s publicly admitted he doesn’t mind being #2. & just because a rapper decides to take the ubiquitous plunge into the business side of rap music doesn’t guarantee that his ego deflates. It’s actually quite the contrary. For example, Jay-Z was a cocky douche nozzle back when he rocked Hawaiian shirts & that God-awful sort of flat-top, without Roc-A-Fella Records. Once he was able to call shots, from a patriarchal standpoint, it was a (w)rap. Best believe, no one on “the Roc” out-rapped Jigga. The only one who almost could, arguably, was Memphis Bleek, & he’s been relegated to sideline interviews & partial spotlights since ‘Coming Of Age.’ Word on the ‘Nets is that he has his own label in the works now, too, so the vicious cycle shall continue.
There’s this little book, called The 48 Laws of Power (read it if you haven’t), & it states that the first rule of power is “Never Outshine The Master.” That alone should deter any rapper from joining forces with an already established brand. No matter what you do, it could possibly be viewed as mutiny, disrespect, or the great, great grandfather of all internal rap beefs–the subliminal. Hot verse? Forget about it. It would behoove you to keep your swagger lukewarm for the sake of feeding your children (or your drug habit). If you name a hot rap dude, you can name some rapper that signed to his ridiculously-named “label,” only to ride shotgun indefinitely, regardless of skill set.
I realize that there are exceptions to the rule. Over the weekend, the homie Technique pointed out where this could be beneficial, like in a Slaughterhouse-to-Shady Records situation. These are established dudes, who may or may not make the same movements, label commitment or otherwise. But really though, seasoned rap veterans (in the broadest sense of the term) aren’t likely to get involved with this type of situation. They’re not the ones looking for a deal. By now, they make the deals. Or at least should be. In fact, let me acknowledge the fact that Eminem signed a young & hungry 50, & got the hell out of his way. Because of 50′s magnitude, people forgot that he was Em’s artist, first & foremost. I sure did. For all the “talent” that G-Unit had, Game was the centerpiece to the hodge podge of artists. & he didn’t even stick around that long. Speaking of Game, name one act on Black Wall Street Records. Check, & mate.
Imagine if more of the rappers-turned-CEO’s exibited Fat Joe’s late 1990′s sensibilities, & put their (clearly better than them) artists ahead of themselves for the sake of really starting a record label, as opposed to giving recording contracts to a cacophony of sausage blowers & blunt rollers. When I noticed Joe giving Pun all that shine, I thought that was brilliant. Like Erick Sermon did for Redman. That’s forward motion. That’s realizing that holding back home talent means less dough, simply put. But, we all know that’s not how it works nowadays. I wonder what would possess these young dudes to become property of labels whose bosses are the exact same age as them. Shout-outs to Young Money, CTE, & 1017 Brick Squad, collectively.
Come to think of it, I remember reading somewhere how these overnight CEO’s & rap entrepeneurs are the future of music. Couple that with the fact that a lot of the older cats didn’t have the same opportunities way back when, & perhaps I’ve typed in vain. Hmm…