The author is a hip-hop nerd. And he had time on his hands. Behold, The world’s first Hip-Hop Draft.
50 Cent on Murder Inc? Biggie Smalls turning down Bad Boy? Everybody’s thought to themselves “If I knew then what I know now”. Well, so have music label executives. Despite the fact that many stars and their labels seem joined at the hip as far as identity, you can bet that a few execs might have made different choices on the acts they signed once they blew up. A few years ago, a major sports media website posted a mock draft (NFL) based on what coaches and GM’s knew at the present. In other words, if the San Diego Chargers knew that Peyton Manning would be the best quarterback of his generation, then they would have picked him over Ryan Leaf. Well, Examiner.com decided to do the same thing: with Hip-Hop. How this works is, the biggest rappers (as far as sales and influence) came from the “Class Of 1994”. Nas, Biggie, Snoop, etc. That’s where the draft starts. All of the (big) rappers who debuted from ’94 on were included in the Draft. What we will see is where each rapper would go if execs knew the artistic/commercial fate of the rappers. So, we present to you…The 2010 Mock Hip-Hop Draft.
Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.
Why?: You have to be thinking, “He built Bad Boy Records!” “He’s the guy who was mainly responsible for Diddy having an empire. ” Yeah, but here’s the thing. Biggie was always a bit darker than people realized as an artist. In fact, an early version of “Ready To Die” was very hardcore. The Hip-Pop sound that the album later acquired was due to Clive Davis stepping in. Despite Biggie and Diddy dancing in videos, Biggie had to be convinced to do that kind of thing.
Fast forward a few years later, when everybody can see the future, and Lyor Cohen, not Diddy would step in to sign Biggie. An East Coast kid (Biggie) who can rap like a Jedi Knight, and he’s gritty? Cohen would jump over Diddy and tell Biggie, “You won’t have to dance in videos for us. You can be as hardcore as you want at Def Jam”. The old brain trust of Cohen, Kevin Liles, and Irv Gotti would have given Biggie everything he needed. And Diddy wouldn’t have broken a sweat. Why? Because Diddy would want this next artist…
Artist: Ja Rule
Actual label: Def Jam/Murder Inc. DRAFT LABEL: BAD BOY RECORDS
Why?: Diddy, despite having some of the most savage lyricists on his label over the years, is a Pop music guy. Always has been, always will be. If an older, wiser Diddy could pick his artists, he’s going after the guys who will make the most money. The ones who will kill radio. Which is why he’d snatch Ja Rule away from Irv Gotti’s grasp in a matter of minutes. Think about it. Rule was one of the best Hip-Pop rappers in history (seriously). There was a point he was the biggest star in the country. And he did it with melody and catchy, R&B styled songs. That’s Diddy all the way. Diddy would see the potential of Rule’s sensibility matching up with his own and sign him to a contract that Gotti couldn’t match.
Artist: 50 Cent
Actual Label: Interscope/Aftermath/Shady Records. DRAFT LABLE: MURDER INC/DEF JAM
Why?: This isn’t a big typo, or a sign of a mental breakdown from the writer of this piece. The 50 Cent/Ja Rule beef was initially between those two men. It ended up involving Gotti down the line. It was no secret that, despite Ja Rule’s radio hits, Gotti always wanted street cred for his label, Murder Inc. If Gotti had to participate in this draft, he’d sit down with Fif and tell him that the two men, both natives of Queens, N.Y., could kill the game with the two of them working together. The “Supreme” McGriff angle might be a sticking point (Hip-Hop heads know all about that story), but Gotti would be smart enough to work that out. Besides, with Diddy signing Ja Rule, Gotti would have a clear lane at signing 50. This all sounds crazy, but think about it. Take away the beef, and these two men would have been a great paring.
Actual Label: Universal Records. DRAFT LABEL: BAD BOY RECORDS
Why?: Because they made sweet music together on the “Bad Boys 2” Soundtrack. Nelly is another Hip-Pop guy who’s sensibilities mirrored Diddy’s. If Diddy was picking in this draft, he’d got right after the St. Louis Pop star who not only was an expert at radio hits, he sold albums in the millions with almost little effort. Diddy would taken a Greyhound bus to St. Louis to sign Nelly to a contract.
Now, there are artists who actually did end up with label situations that you can’t change with a fantasy draft, because they were perfect.
Jay Z: Actual label: Def Jam/Roc-A-Fella. The right fit. Def Jam needed a New York superstar. Jay needed a label that understood his vision.
Eminem: Actual label: Interscope/Aftermath. Only the good Doctor Dre could have made Em’s brilliant madness work.
Nas: Actual Label: Columbia Records: Columbia actually did right by Nas. Several acclaimed albums, and a few platinum plaques. Good fit (until Nas went to Def Jam)
Snoop Dogg: Actual label: Death Row Records. Same with Eminem. Only Dre could have bought the superstar out of Snoop. To this day, no one’s rapped over Dre’s beats better than Snoop.
This article originally appeared at Examiner.com.
Photo – Alex W./Flickr