Many artists have recorded entire albums filled with quality material for their labels that never actually made it to a store for inexplicable reasons. Here’s hip-hop’s Top 10 victims of Industry Rule #4080.
10. Clipse – Exclusive Audio Footage
Clipse – “Got Caught Dealing”
The Thornton brothers are almost as renowned for their label woes as for their music. It was a major theme in the highly successful We Got It 4 Cheap mixtape series and they addressed it briefly on the critically acclaimed Hell Hath No Fury. Which itself got pushed back so much it hit the point of aggression with Pusha T who vented to Rolling Stone magazine: “I hate Jive. I hate them motherf–kers. With all my heart and all the passion and my soul I hate these b–ches. It’s about the lynching of every staff member up in this motherf–ker.” But their first struggle with industry rule #4080 came even before all that; their debut album Exclusive Audio Footage never got released. It was supposed to drop on the Neptunes’ Star Trak imprint with Arista and featured back to back Chad & Pharrell production from a time when that was still something to get excited about. It’s not the masterpiece with a cinematic feel some fans will have you believe. Their voices were still a lot lighter and higher-pitched and the overall paranoia and dark feel that made Hell Hath No Fury such a great listen wasn’t there yet, but it’s far from a doozy either. Malice and Terror (now b.k.a. Pusha T) already had a knack for confident coke slinging rhymes coupled with sharp lyricism and the Neptunes production alone should’ve ensured a few hits. [Download]
9. Resident Alien – It Takes A Nation Of Suckers To Let Us In
Resident Alien – “Shakey Ground”
Resident Alien was supposed to be the first album on Dew Doo Man Records, Prince Paul’s imprint with Rush Associated Labels. Russell Simmons didn’t get the funky hits he was expecting from the guy behind De La Soul and 3rd Bass beats though. Paul created a full-fledged concept album based on the experiences of immigrants in New York. A 12″ single was released (Mr. Boops/Ooh The Dew Doo Man) and a video was even made, but Lyor Cohen and Russell Simmons weren’t feeling it and pulled the plug on the release. Some of the tracks made it to the Prince Paul compilation album Hip-Hop Gold Dust released by Antidote Records in 2007, which was a small casualty of 4080 itself since Antidote wasn’t allowed to include the Gravediggaz track “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark” at the last minute due to label politics.
8. 2pac & Boot Camp Clik - One Nation
2Pac – “Wherever U R” (Feat. Big Daddy Kane)
At the height of the so-called east coast/west coast beef, ‘Pac was recording a reconciliation album filled with posse cuts featuring MCs from both coasts. The project was called One Nation, and it featured the Boot Camp Clik on many tracks. Big Daddy Kane, Nice & Smooth and The Outlawz were involved as well. We all know what happened with Tupac Shakur and that seems to be the main reason the album never got properly finished. What’s truly a shame though is how some verses from this project did get released; on the heinous Eminem-produced Loyal to the Game. Given the treatment of posthumous ‘Pac albums, no BDK or Boot Camp verses were to be heard. Instead, they settled for G-Unit, Elton John, and Em himself. [Download One Nation]
7. The Last Emperor – The Legend of Bigfoot
Last Emperor – “Secret Wars”
Last Emperor is that dude who was buzzing with his “Secret Wars” track a few years back, a clever concept where he pitted his favorite MCs against comic book characters, mimicking their flow and voice while he himself took on a role similar role to the Beyonder from the Marvel comic the track was named after. That song was supposed to be on his album The Legend of Bigfoot. Clever rhymes galore on this album from the Lyricist Lounge alumni who got signed to Aftermath, the label were rappers sign to get diverted to limbo. Another song from the album, The World of Suzie Wong is a story about a woman adored by many that doubles as a metaphor for smoking that sticky icky. It may not sound like the most original concept but Last Emp fills it with far too much subtlety and smart lyrics to drift into corny territory: “Sad to say/ that this relationship is over/ ’cause when I found Suzie/ I had to smoke her”. The song also appeared on a Rawkus promo sampler years ago to finally promote the release of the record, this time on Rawkus. Last Emp couldn’t catch a break though as this was only weeks before the collapse of Rawkus in 2001. When they re-emerged through the deal with MCA The Last Emperor had already been dropped from the label.
6. Crustified Dibbs (RA The Rugged Man) – Night of the Bloody Apes
RA The Rugged Man – “Cunt Renaissance” (Feat. Biggie)
RA The Rugged Man – “Every Record Label Sucks”
RA The Rugged Man has made a name with outlandish lyrics and statements that would make Slim Shady blush. You’d almost forget that he’s a talented MC as well, maybe because there are barely any labels left willing to publish his music. Not that RA cares, he makes more as an independent anyway and in his opinion “Every Record Label Sucks Dick” according to the song with that title on his unreleased debut album. “Night of the Bloody Apes” was named after a Mexican Lucha Libre/Horror movie from 1968 and sounds pretty much like you would expect from a rap record with such a title. Only better. RA’s off-the-rails humor and technically impressive mic skills are a large enough attraction on their own but top that off with a legendary outrageous Biggie feature (“Cunt Renaissance”) and you have some early 90’s hip-hop gold in your hands. It’s a shame it never had a proper release because the sound quality of the bootlegs floating around is always horrible.