DEATH OF THE FAM

Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

So my homeboy hits me up this morning and asks if I’d heard the rumor about Jay and Dame kickin’ it backstage in London, right?  I hadn’t heard the rumor, but a Roc-A-Fella reunion had been on my “Most Wanted” list since the split happened. 

Anyway, the whole thing got me to thinking.  What the fuck happened to the powerhouse crews in Hip-Hop?

You know it’s Crew Love, Roc-A-Fella ’til we die / Long as you and I keep it movin’ like a drive-by / We can stack dough sky high / Niggas can’t touch what they can’t feel / Real recognize real…

Didn’t you believe that shit when Jay said it?  The way they got down, I just knew The Roc couldn’t be broken.  They had this shit down to a science.  Their cavalcade of artists – Beans, Bleek, Young Gunz, Kanye, Freeway, State Property, Cam’Ron, Amil etc. – would keep their name ringin’ through the first three quarters and Jay would finish the year off with his annual smash.  All the while, the nigga Dame would be grindin’ to build the Roc-A-Fella brand (Rocawear, Armadale, The Roc Box, Roc-A-Fella Films, etc.) while Biggs layed in the cut dispensing ideas.  They had MCs, R&B dudes and producers on the team, so they never really had to go outside the fold for anything.  It was a cohesive unit with a system that worked. 

Then that shit fell apart.  Nowadays there really is no Roc-A-Fella – not in the traditional, familial sense, anyway.  There’s Jay and Kanye, but them niggas are icons now and larger than any label.  Niggas don’t even wear their own clothes anymore.  I know Jay sold Rocawear, but it’s still ROCawear and he still owns The Roc, so why not rock the shit you started?  Russell sold Phat Farm, but he still rocks it religiously.

Of course, Roc-A-Fella aint the only crew to fall off in recent years. 

Photo Courtesy of Universal Records

Photo Courtesy of Universal Records

Remember when Cash Money was an Army – better yet, a Navy?  Slim and Baby ran it, Fresh did the beats, Juve was the star and Hot Boyz was the clique.  They had 3 niggas who were under 18 but never, ever made any bubblegum music.  Wayne didn’t even start cussin’ ’til he turned 18 (except for when he said “Look, I don’t curse / But in this verse, man, fuck the world”).  They never had any non-CMR cameos or beats, and their shit was still hot.  400 Degreez?  Classic.  I Got That Work?  Bangin’.  Chopper City in the Ghetto?  Dope.  The niggas were perennially stuntastic, straight out the plastic.

Then the bottom fell out.  Niggas were complainin’ about money not being right, disses startin’ flying, niggas started getting arrested and after the smoke cleared all that was left were the bosses, Wayne and Fresh.  Then Fresh left, too.  Now all we got is Wayne holdin’ the entire label down, both through his own albums and ghostwriting for Stunna.

And what about the Ruff Ryders?  They had the hottest MC in the game at the time, one of the hottest producers and a bunch of artists.  Granted, most of their artists were borderline garbage (i.e. Drag-On), but they did have Eve and The L.O.X. and the crew was thick and very successful.  They even inspired a million-and-one motorcyle enthusiasts to name their bike clubs after them.  At one point, the nigga DMX dropped TWO multiplatinum albums in the same year!!

Now The Dog’s on more dope than ever, Swizzy separated from one bad R&B bitch to kick it with another, and the RR flag flies no more.  Sad.

Of course, don’t forget about the familial fall-offs of Bad Boy, Dipset and the troubles within Terror Squad.

It seems to me that Hip-Hop is still alive and well, but the Hip-Hop crew has died a violent, painful death.  Can’t we all just get along?

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3 Comments

  1. Great post my guy. Money can seperate even the purest blood line, which like we said is the case with most of the “family” break ups.

  2. So many of the elements that have been a part of the evolution of HIp-Hop, have died slow deaths over the years. The division of families is no exception. The crews have been replaced by I’s and me’s, solo has become the way to go. Sad but true.

    Peace

  3. fire a** blog as usually my nig, its a shame cats cant keep it together, especially when something is built as a unit then cats make it to a certain level and everything falls apart. but its really nothing new though. we’ve seen this in different genres of music for awhile now even though its been more so groups than actual labels, how long have we been waiting on that jodeci reunion lol, then we seen what happened with new edition. we’ve even seen this with some legendary rock bands, members are replaced due to such things as alcohol/drug abuse, money, ego, contract disputes, solo stardom, bitches etc…. and thats all across the board with music groups in general (i think). groups that stand the test of time is a rarity (sp). N.W.A, the aforementioned jodeci, G-UNIT’s full roster, you can even take it back to movies like “the 5 heartbeats” “the temptations”, or look at the university of michigan’s fab five……ok ok maybe not (they were hip hop to me though) but anyway, fire blog my guy


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