Saturday, August 18, 2012

Hip-hop super groups: A reemerging trend

New artist A$AP Rocky and the A$AP Mob
Hip-hop and sports have a lot in common. For one, you have to initiate relationships which require thorough development with your team members over time. Other similarities include collective support and usually an unrelenting bond that can only be broken by jealousy, pure hate, or flat out ignorance. Just as we marvel over the great sports teams in history, hip-hop has a similar rich background of great teams. In case you're not familiar with the great hip-hop teams of all time, look up Run DMC, N.W.A, Tribe Called Quest, Three 6 Mafia, The Lox, The Roots, Wu-Tang Clan, and countless others who in this case we will call rap "super groups". These groups existed during what many might call the "glory years" of the genre, when hip-hop was raw, authentic, and original.

Despite how you feel about the state of hip-hop today, this reemerging trend of hip-hop super groups is becoming impossible to ignore. Things seemed to heat up about five years ago when Lil' Wayne built his Young Money Entertainment label around two individuals who were merely mixtape wonders at the time; Nicki Minaj (signed with YM in 2008) and Drake (signed in 2009), now two of the biggest names in music. Wayne, Drake, and Nicki have all had at least two #1 rap albums since 2008. Even fellow team member Tyga's Careless World: Rise of the Last King album hit #1 on the rap charts at one point (don't ask me how that happened). Young Money is established, accredited, and winning.

Kanye West founded his G.O.O.D Music label back in 2004, but his only artists at the time were Common and John Legend, respectively. But Kanye has been busy since 2007, recruiting the likes of Big Sean, Kid Cudi, Pusha T, Cyhi the Prynce, and the legendary Q-Tip, (mostly as a producer). All of these artists have enjoyed success in hip-hop, some more recent than others, and possess established fan bases. Their first and highly anticipated compilation album Cruel Summer is expected to release on September 18 of this year.
Kanye West & G.O.O.D Music artists Common, Cyhi the Prince, Big Sean, & Pusha T
And who could possibly forget Maybach Music Group, Rick Ross' record label which he founded in 2009. But just last year, Ross turned his humble label into a formidable army. Meek Mill had erupted out of Philadelphia as the hottest upcoming rapper in the game when Ross brought him aboard. Wale bounced around hip-hop's radar for some time and eventually found his home with MMG. Ross admitted his attempt at trying to sign Wiz Khalifa, but Wiz opted to explore his own venture (Taylor Gang). Earlier this year, rapper French Montana signed a joint deal with MMG and Bad Boy Records, a deal representative of Rick Ross and Diddy's business relationship. Insert the upcoming lyricist Stalley and accomplished R&B artist Omarion, and Maybach Music Group is officially in the mix.

Young Money, G.O.O.D Music, and Maybach Music Group may be the most celebrated, well-known, and commercialized hip-hop super groups of this era, but they are getting plenty of company.

Eminem & Slaughterhouse 2011 XXL Feature
The hip-hop super group trend has reemerged right before our eyes. Just look around. Eminem and Shady Records officially signed the three-year old Slaughterhouse group in 2011, consisting of Crooked I, Joell Ortiz, Joe Budden, and Royce da 5'9". Wiz Khalifa turned his fan base network "Taylor Gang" into an official label. He along with Chevy Woods, female rapper LoLa Monroe, and former Three 6 Mafia member Juicy J now comprise Taylor Gang. A$ap Rocky recently arrived on the hip-hop scene with style, but not without his A$ap Mob of fellow A$ap rappers (there's an A$ap Ferg, for example). Tyler, the Creator and Odd Future are carefully flooding rap music in their own creatively reckless manner. Even Kendrick Lamar and his comrades Schoolboy Q, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock have been accurately categorized as the Black Hippy movement. So what's the punch line? Everyone has their team, almost as if they're preparing for hip-hop war.
OFWGKA stands for Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All
I believe this rejuvenated trend has made for an assorted hip-hop buffet, if you will. If you don't necessarily like Young Money, you might be into Kendrick Lamar's Black Hippy movement. If Odd Future is simply too wild for you, maybe G.O.O.D Music will satisfy your listening pleasure. Rap music might not be as raw and originally gangster as it used to be, but it has become more diverse than ever before. While the heavy hitter super groups enjoy their reign at the top, there are armies growing right beneath them, awaiting their time to immerse themselves as one of the great hip-hop teams of our generation.

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