The Other Great Rap Battle of 2001

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Everyone knows that an epic hip-hop battle that took place in late 2001, when Jay-Z and Nas brawled for the throne, but far too many people forget that another classic rap clash began that year as well.

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Flashback Friday Flop: “Nastradamus”

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Welcome back to the latest edition of Flashback Friday Flop, a weekly feature in which I examine a hip-hop album from years ago that was considered a flop, either critically or commercially or both, when it was released and see if it has gotten better – or worse – over time. 

This week: Nas’s Nastradamus (1999)

1999 was a strange time for music, especially hip-hop. The genre was only a few years removed from the deaths of its two biggest stars; Jay-Z had become a superstar; and a slew of young cats had entered the game. At the same time, Napster exploded onto the scene and online piracy immediately turned the music industry upside down, forcing several major rap acts to change their albums on the fly.

The biggest victim of this was Nas, who, after the classic Illmatic and the highly successful It Was Written, had been preparing an epic concept double album titled I Am…The Autobiography for his third release. When much of that album leaked, Nas scrapped both the concept and the double album, recorded a few new songs, and released a one disc mishmash titled simply I Am… in May, 1999.

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The Media Coverage of Bill Cosby Is About More Than Just Race

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Yesterday, as I was sitting in the waiting room of the doctor’s office and trying to read, I kept getting distracted by the TV, which was airing a show called The Real.

The show’s first guest was Maclolm-Jamal Warner, who is still probably known best for playing Theo Huxtable on The Cosby Show. One of the hosts asked Warner about the current state of affairs involving Bill Cosby and all of the accusations of drugging and raping leveled at him recently.

While Warner said he couldn’t defend him, he also said he wouldn’t throw him under the bus, choosing instead to focus on the way in which the media is portraying Cosby compared to other men that have been accused of sexual assault crimes:

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Flashback Friday Flop: “Yeezus”

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Welcome back to the latest edition of Flashback Friday Flop, a weekly feature in which I examine a hip-hop album from years ago that was considered a flop, either critically or commercially or both, when it was released and see if it has gotten better – or worse – over time. 

This week: Kanye West’s Yeezus (2013)

Kanye West’s Yeezus was a success, both critically and financially.

It was one of the most acclaimed works of 2013. It was ranked as the top album of the year by TIME, Entertainment Weekly, The Guardian, The A.V. Club, Spin, The Daily Beast, and Consequence of Sound and was ranked number two by Pitchfork, NME, and Rolling Stone. In short, “Yeezus happens to be musically amazing, too, and in a completely different way from every other Kanye West record.”

It also sold 327,000 copies its first week, debuting atop the Billboard chart, and racking up the best first week sales of any hip-hop album in over two years, all without a traditional major single.

If it was such a critical and commercial success, why is it included here?

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Murder Inc.: The Supergroup That Never Was

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Originally, Murder Inc. was to be the name of a supergroup comprised of Jay-Z, DMX, and Ja Rule. All three were signed to Def Jam (through their own imprints of Roc-A-Fella, Ruff Ryders, and Murder Inc.) and had known one another for years. They appeared in each other’s videos, shouted out one another, and performed on the same stage during the Hard Knock Life tour.

In 1999, when all three were at – or very close to – the peak of their popularity, they appeared on the cover of XXL to announce the formation of Murder Inc. Some believe that the three could’ve become the greatest hip-hop group in history, but it never happened. As Ja Rule said, “We tried to deliver that album. It was a situation where egos all just played a part in its demise.”

We’ll most likely never get a Murder Inc. album so, just as I did with Detox, I have collected the tracks they did record together in various combinations.

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