By Zachary Swickey
Thanks to the lyrical abilities of rhyme-spitters like Lil Wayne, Kanye West and Jay-Z, the rap game is alive and well in 2011. Weezy is reportedly on track to sell around 850-900k copies of Tha Carter IV, and Watch the Throne is one of rap’s most talked about albums ever (not to mention it’s pretty damn good). With such astute rappers in today’s fast-paced music world, it’s easy to forget some of the past heavy-hitters.
Some rappers inexplicably lose their luster or disappear from the public eye altogether, but occasionally they revive their careers from the grave. Take Dr. Dre, for example. The Doc released the legendary hip-hop album The Chronic way back in ’92, but his career was basically nonexistent for most of the mid-to-late 90s. That is until he met a lanky white boy from Detroit named Eminem. Finally, seven years later – after signing one of rap’s hottest new artists – he released his follow up, 2001, which was a huge success, selling more than twice as many copies as his debut. And who knows, maybe the doctor will have yet another comeback with the eventual release of his third album, Detox, which is quickly becoming the Chinese Democracy of rap.
There are several rappers who we’d like to strongly encourage dusting the cobwebs off their mic and giving us the swagger-filled comeback albums we’re hurting for. Here are the top five hip-hop comebacks that we find ourselves craving the most.
I had to include Outkast first, because a new release from the duo has been anticipated like few other rap albums have. Disregarding their double album that was really just their solo works packaged together (which went an astounding 11x platinum), as well as their 2006 movie soundtrack for "Idlewild," Outkast have not released a true collaborative effort since 2000’s adored Stankonia, which was considered an instant classic at the time. The two have been hinting about a new release for years, but as of yet no concrete info is available. I can’t even imagine the fervor that will spread across Twitter when Big Boi finally announces a new album. The hip-hop scene will explode!
You may be thinking, “What? 50 Cent, really?” Yeah, really. While his film career is slowly-but-surely taking off (working with icons like Val Kilmer, Bruce Willis and Robert DeNiro), 50 hasn’t had a substantial hit album since … well, his second release, The Massacre in 2005. The heavily publicized head-to-head release with Kanye West proved rather unhype-worthy as his third release, Curtis, failed to sell even half as many albums (once all was said and done). His next release, Before I Self Destruct, is barely worth mentioning and was widely panned. We’ll see how his next album turns out, but a leaked track, “Outlaw,” failed to impress anyone who actually heard it.
Where to begin … DMX was someone you straight-up did not want to mess with in the late '90s. Following in 2Pac’s footsteps, he was only the second rapper to ever release two number one albums in the same year, and these are his very first two releases we’re talking about. He reignited some excitement and media attention into the rap game with his intimidating imagery (absolutely covered in blood on his album cover), and an intriguing (albeit freaky) collaboration with Marilyn Manson (something no other rapper would ever have the gonads to do). X was on a roll with an impressive five albums going number one consecutively, but his last release, Year of the Dog… Again, failed to do the same (not even going platinum). Freshly out of jail, X has already hit the road, and somewhat surprisingly most of the reviews suggest the man has still got it – bark and all.
Talk about an unstoppable female force of rap, Missy Elliott was widely praised by critics and fans alike when she dominated the charts in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The five-time Grammy Award winner had wickedly memorable music videos, and her production abilities were nothing to be modest about. She unexpectedly disappeared from the media after a lackluster release, The Cookbook, six years ago in 2005. This year Elliott revealed the details behind her absence – she’s been fighting Graves disease, an autoimmune disorder that kept her from even holding a pen to write new songs. We’re happy to report that in addition to producing some tunes for Demi Levato with Timbaland, Elliott has been working on her follow up, Block Party, which she is hoping to release before year’s end.
Most may not remember Shyne, but I do thanks to his easily distinguishable mafioso-like flow on his impressive debut and his infamous incarceration. You see, Shyne, a newly signed Bad Boy artist in 2000, was sent to jail when he was only 23 for the notorious club shooting that also involved Diddy and his lady friend at the time, Jennifer Lopez (yeah, remember that?). J.Lo and Didy got off scot-free, but Shyne got ten years in prison. (Oh, and did I mention he’s the son of the current Prime Minister of Belize who has disowned him?) A second release, Godfather Buried Alive, consisted of leftover vocal tracks, but one new song was recorded through a phone call to his jail. Upon his release two years ago, he was extradited back to Belize. Currently (get ready for this), Shyne lives as an Orthodox Jew in Jerusalem, going by Moses Levi, and even appeared onstage with Matisyahu there in June of this year. Recent rumors suggest he will be signing to Cash Money and releasing a new album, as he can be found on the “Outro” of Weezy’s newest, Tha Carter IV.