Dude, Where’s My Rap Crew?

Written by Barbie Bardot. Posted in Gumbo

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Published on February 23, 2010 with 8 Comments">8 Comments

Rap groups are rapidly disappearing from the music landscape. Unfortunately, for both the fans and artists, hip-hop groups now tend to have the same lifespan as most R&B groups (which, in case you’re wondering, is ridiculously low).

2009 saw Young Buck unceremoniously dumped from G-Unit, Alfamega swiftly kicked out of Grand Hustle on his ass, the dissolution of the cult-like Dipset, and a heartbreaking continuation of the Roc-a-Fella break up/saga. Is it this a trend of money changing people? Jealous ones envy? Or is it just something that is inevitable in hip hop that an inevitable part of the process?

I posed the following question on Twitter: “Has there ever been a rap group that has NEVER broken up?” I only received about 10 answers. But I can think of at least a dozen rap crews that have broken up or changed members. Aside from the four already mentioned (ROC, Dipset, G-Unit, Grand Hustle), there’s also Terror Squad, Run DMC, Ruff Ryders, The Hot Boyz, NWA, The Geto Boys, No Limit and Murder Inc have also seen membership shakeup or downright splits at some point.

If you take a close look at all of these crews, they portrayed themselves as family. By doing that, they not only had allies in the rap game, but they endeared themselves to the fans. Many artists have gained fans (and subsequently, money and status) simply due to the close relationship they’ve had with a larger artist in their own crew. They tattooed their group’s (or group mates) names on their bodies, they’ve gone to war with other rappers and crews on their own crews’ behalf, did countless interviews, songs and videos proclaiming their family bonds, but yet they all broke up.

The main gripe always revolves around money issues. Someone, somewhere always swindled another group member out of what was rightfully his or hers, or was just plain ole greedy (NWA, anyone?). Other times, crews have broken up due to tragic occurrences. An example of this would be the death of Big Pun, because after it, Terror Squad was never the same.

Another common complaint that leads to group breakups is the issue of respect (or lack of). A group member either disrespected someone by what they said or did, or what they perceived to be done. Hand in hand with the disrespect comes the thought that it all boils down to pride..down to ego. Many rap crews have fallen, simply because others feel another person has gotten too big for their britches, and is now acting out of character (Roc-A-Fella, anyone?) All of these dissolutions have been painful to watch and/or hear about, especially when they get ugly and secrets (and half-truths) come out in order for a group member to state or to plead THEIR case in a public arena.


What I will always miss is the music that these crews made together, because at one time or another, they all had the magic touch. It was painful for me to watch the Roc break up the first time and it was doubly painful to see Beans wage his one-sided war against Jay this year. It’s comparable to picking a scab off a fresh wound. This was all simply because I grew up listening to them. They were Roc La Familia in every meaning and sense of those words to me. A G-Unit compilation isn’t the same to me without Young Buck (you listen to “I Like the Way She Do It” and tell me that the version with Buck isn’t better than the one without him). For Cam, Jimmy, Juelz, Hell Rell and the countless other members of Dipset to have issues and problems just seems incredibly weird because they were so close. Now, Dipset singles and CDs don’t even sound the same — they’re empty, hollow and devoid of that camaraderie that they once had.

I wish that all the rap crews that I mentioned would mend the fences and get back together, but alas, I know it’s wishful thinking. So all I can do is urge future crews to follow in the footsteps of the Lox, The Clipse, Outkast, Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang, M.O.P, De La Soul, The Beastie Boys and the Furious Five, and to work to stay together. Avoid the egos, the drama, the snakes in your ear telling you that you’re better than your other crew members, have an accountant watch your money, and remain friends no matter what. Because really, wouldn’t you rather defy the odds?

Words by Black Barbie

Barbie Bardot

Barbie Bardot is a writer of, and lover of, hip hop music & its culture, fashion, food and football. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY, where for fun, she routinely walks in front of annoying tourists pictures, becoming the brown blur they can never identify. She runs www.itsbarbiebitch.com and is currently plotting ways to take over the world, a la Pinky and the Brain.

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  • georgeburns

    its definitely a trend cuz even if you look outside the genre you see this type of shit all the time…i think the beatles had like 3 or 4 different (yet still successful) lineups…hell even if you look outside of music you see this type of shit

  • georgeburns

    its definitely a trend cuz even if you look outside the genre you see this type of shit all the time…i think the beatles had like 3 or 4 different (yet still successful) lineups…hell even if you look outside of music you see this type of shit

  • http://www.liveagl.com Alex Of Liveagl.com

    LOL @ the Title..
    Though i like the groups you mentioned, I think their break ups weere inevitable because they weren’t built on solid foundation..so a simple ego push from an outsider was able to cause damage ( i doubt thats possible with De La Soul or other groups still together)

  • http://www.liveagl.com Alex Of Liveagl.com

    LOL @ the Title..
    Though i like the groups you mentioned, I think their break ups weere inevitable because they weren’t built on solid foundation..so a simple ego push from an outsider was able to cause damage ( i doubt thats possible with De La Soul or other groups still together)

  • http://www.shatteredperfections.com Kellz

    I have to agree it is very rare that a music group of any genre stands the test of times. What people forget is beyond the music, the camaraderie that makes up these groups is not only the business but a common bond held together but what most would say is friendship. In any life situation if there is no strong foundation, everything will crumble. Add money, power, and trust and you have just obtained the demolition crew for any group, be it music inspired.. or just a couple of homies around the way.

  • http://www.shatteredperfections.com Kellz

    I have to agree it is very rare that a music group of any genre stands the test of times. What people forget is beyond the music, the camaraderie that makes up these groups is not only the business but a common bond held together but what most would say is friendship. In any life situation if there is no strong foundation, everything will crumble. Add money, power, and trust and you have just obtained the demolition crew for any group, be it music inspired.. or just a couple of homies around the way.

  • http://www.bf3ars.blogspot.com bfears

    great post. i enjoyed the read. thank u

  • http://www.bf3ars.blogspot.com bfears

    great post. i enjoyed the read. thank u