Every couple of months I remember something that I actively forgotâ€”Def Jam’s got a deep roster.
I really can’t wrap my head around the current state of Def Jam. If someone had told you ten years ago that one label would have two emcees that many consider G.O.A.T., three other living legends, one of the most critically acclaimed groups and four emcees that some consider to be shining stars of the current crop, wouldn’t you expect big things?
Let’s start at the top. Def Jam is the home of both Jay-Z and Nas. And to quote Jay himself, somewhere, right now people are talking about who’s the best rapper “Biggie, Jay-Z or Nas.” Two thirds of what many consider hip-hop’s trinity are on the same label, and save for some hype a year ago and when their albums dropped in November no one is making a big deal.
Ghostface, Redman and Method Man also call Def Jam home. Meth’s album was released last year with little fanfare and the reception was deserved. But Redman’s album, released this year was easily one of his best, yet it barely made an impact. And while Ghost garnered critical acclaim, he didn’t set the charts aflame either.
Y’know who else is on Def Jam? The Roots. They’re critical darlings and they put on a great show, but I don’t expect huge numbers from them. I’m not going to complain too much about squandering.
Then you’ve got Fabolous and Kanye West, who, when they bring it, are sick. I didn’t dig Fab’s Def Jam debut, but it went gold, which is sadly impressive in the current climate. Kanye doesn’t need any hype as he does fine on his own.
But Freeway and Joe Budden are in limbo. Anyone who’s heard Joe spit knows that he spits fire, yet his sophomore album has been sitting around for years. I think that Free’s got tons of potential and he’s yet to drop his sophomore effort. These are two artists who are utterly squandered.
If you had all of the aforementioned on the same album, it’d be a big deal, so why isn’t more attention paid to their sharing a label? Imagine if Def Jam put one track from each of them on an album and called the album Def Jam All-Starsâ€”I’m betting that there are enough fans who like at least three of them to make the album a success. Hell, I’d pick up a two-disc compilation featuring their outtakes and leftover tracks.
Now that I’ve written this, hopefully the next time I remember how many of my favorite artists are on the same label, the lack of results won’t depress me so much.