New York’s Losing the Lion’s Share – 2003 Recap

In the wake of XXL’s 10 Freshmen for ’10 cover, one question kept coming up: What happened to New York? For hip-hop’s first 25 years, the music’s birthplace created dozens of stars. From the Bronx’s KRS-One to Manhattan’s Doug E. Fresh, Brooklyn’s Notorious B.I.G., Queens’s 50 Cent and Staten Island’s Wu-Tang Clan, each borough produced its own legends. Even outlying provinces like Long Island and Yonkers got in on the act, expanding New York rap’s borders with the likes of Public Enemy and DMX.

But that was then. Over the past seven years, the well has gone dry. Since 50 Cent detonated onto the scene with his eight-million-selling megabomb Get Rich or Die Tryin’, New York newcomers have been having a hard time blowing up. In fact, since 50 made his mark in 2003 with both his solo debut and G-Unit group album (Beg For Mercy), only a handful of local rappers have managed to debut in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top 200 albums chart: Juelz Santana (2003’s From Me to U), Sheek Louch (2003’s Walk Witt Me), Loon (2003’s Loon), Lloyd Banks (2004’s The Hunger for More) Tony Yayo (2005’s Thoughts of a Predicate Felon) and Mims (2007’s Music Is My Savior). And only Lloyd Banks (2004’s “On Fire”), Mims (2007’s “This Is Why I’m Hot,”) and Lil Mama (2008’s “Lip Gloss”) have had a first single break the top 10 of the Hot 100 singles.

In XXL’s May issue, which is on stands now, we went searching the five boroughs, as well as Long Island and Yonkers, in search of some answers as to how New York fell into a hip-hop drought. But over the course of the next few days, we’ll give a year-by-year breakdown of the music that came out of the Big Apple and how it stacked up against the rest of the hip-hop nation.

Men lie, women lie, but numbers don’t…

In 2003 26 hip-hop albums debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s top 200, 11 of which came from New York artists


Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, 50 Cent

Street Dreams, Fabolous

La Bella Mafia, Lil’ Kim

Diplomatic Immunity, Cam’ron Presents The Diplomats

From Me To U, Juelz Santana

Grand Champ, DMX

Walk Witt Me, Sheek Louch

Loon, Loon

Blood In My Eye, Ja Rule

The Black Album, Jay-Z

Beg For Mercy, G-Unit


Monster, Killer Mike

Bow Wow: Unleashed, Bow Wow

Trap Muzik, T.I.

Drankin’ Patnaz, YoungBloodZ

Deliverance, Bubba Sparxxx

Speakerboxxx/The Love Below, OutKast

Chicken N Beer, Ludacris


Philadelphia Freeway, Freeway

State Property Presents: The Chain Gang Vol. II, Various Artists


Jackpot, Chingy

Da Skool Boy Presents Murphy’s Law, Murphy Lee


Mississippi: The Album, David Banner


Da Unbreakables, Three 6 Mafia


The Neptunes Present… Clones, Various Artists


Cheers, Obie Trice

Out of the 26 hip-hop albums to debut in the top 10 of Billboard’s top 200 in 2003, only 5 were from new New York artists dropping their first album.

50 Cent

Juelz Santana

Sheek Louch




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  • Junn Bug

    Awwwww!!! Fabolous “Street Dreams” (INTO YOU and CANT LET YOU GO are my favs) and Jay’s “The Black Album” are def my two life-long fav CDs of 2003!! matter of fact, i MISS and LOVE the year 2003!! Memorieeeesss!! i love “21 Questions” too tho, it reminds me of the New York coastline seen from the Staten Island ferry terminal boardwalk… cuz i was living in Staten Island back then. Good times. Yeah.. “GOOD TIMES”… member? Styles P!


      CO-SIGN…i swear i’d give a kidney to go back 10 years…i fuckin hate the future N all the shitty shit its slowly coming with…HIP-HOP/RAP DIED IN 05′/06′…03′ was one of my favorite years…back 2 back classics being released 24-7…

  • katt


    Bow Wow is not a Georgia artist, us here in Columbus, Ohio knew he was far gone but damn..we aint know it was that bad. that nigga will never get his hometown respect back. smh

    • Anslem

      Yes, Bow’s born in Ohio aka O-Town, but his career started and he got famous in Atlanta. Same for Ludacris who’s originally from Chicago, Xzibit is from Detroit, and Soulja Boy and Gucci are from like Alabama or something like that (I forget which state at the moment)

    • ron jc

      He probably was listed as a GA artist because he was in the Atl with JD at the time. But truth be told, yall can have his bitch ass back. That’s probably why he was hollering Marco Polo, so someone would find him.

  • Lloyd Sprayweather

    Man, what happened to Missy Elliot? Haven’t seen that bitch in forever.

  • M. Baby!

    What happened to NY’s Hip-Hop scene is that when 50 Cent came into the game with all of that hate…it caused a frenzy. 50 literally killed NY Hip-Hop. He turned everyone against each other and caused them not to collab as much. He went @ Rule, a person who was holding it down with all of those hits he had. Then 50 went @ Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Hov, Nas, and etc. People didnt’ know who to trust because 50 was using them as pawns in his chess game. Then we all find out that he really can’t spit like that and he starts singing just like Rule. Meanwhile the south started to emerge. You had T.I.’s Trap Muzik debut in 03. Outkast Speakerboxx/Love Below. David Banner, Lil Flip, Luda, Lil Jon….and etc. All of them were making you dance and move back then. They took the torch and kept it ever since. NY was all about real Hip-Hop and making you dance and move, but when 50 killed all of that, the south have been making some good Hip-Hop music plus making you dance and move. Now NY is starting to come back strong. Hov/Nas has always held it down, Fab is doing his thing, Juelz, Jada, and now Lloyd is back with Beamer, Benz, or Bentley. I think Lloyd has realized he can’t stay under 50′s shadow forever. He has to step out and be his own man. For a long time you G-Unit all together wouldn’t collab with anybody. Now Lloyd has went to Juelz for a hit. I’m hoping NY Hip-Hop comes back strong cuz this new rap music is killing me.

  • 11KAP

    america was brainwashed into craving “rap”, not real hip hop. rap niggas in ny started watering their shit down for the country and that shit didn’t work either; that’s why. they forgot about their true fans around them. duh! hip hop lives sameway tho!!

  • Will

    NY for the most part don’t put niggas on, they are selfish and self-centered niggas by nature… Hell, the new niggas for NY are doujas for down south artists, ie Jae Millz, Frenchie and Meek Mill.
    Camron puttin on Vado, but he really the only one that’s the only one.
    Meanwhile, you see niggas like TI signing Killer Mike, 8ball and MJG, Yung LA and BoB all within the last couple years.
    Wayne got some rappers on his team now, Gucci got a lineup, and Jeezy
    How many rappers did Puff fuck over in his career? The only nigga he did right by was BIG, and he would’ve fucked him over too if he flamed out before his tragic death.
    Rocafella was the best thing out before Hov fucked everybody over.
    I ain’t heard Paul Cain on a Fab single yet, he might be on his street fam mixtape shit, but on an album single.
    Nas should be tryna put AZ back on point, but its in NY nature to not help ya niggas out.
    People get disillusioned by niggas like Papoose, Saigon, Jae Millz, etc cause they’ve been promising an album for damn near a decade and haven’t delivered..

  • Detroits Own

    the problem with new york…hell anybody considered not to be in the south is that we got too damn comfortable saying the south was wack, making snap and dance music, we ignored TI, we forgot Wayne, Outkast are finally getting their proper dues because its cool to say Andre 3000 is dope (atleast since he did his thing on Players Anthem in 07), the list goes on…we deserve to be ignored, New york brought it on themselves…it was as if people thought “oh yeah New York will never fall off…cause we’re new york, i mean look at 50″…arrogance smh

  • Kenny D

    Cosign with M. Baby. Althought 50′s ablum was probably the hottest and my favorite in 2003, I think he was the main reason NY hip hop has died and the South took over. That’s why I think 50 needs to end his beef with other artist and start collabing more. I mean DJ Khaled and other people have gotten every rapper in the South to unite. Luda and T.I. no longer beef and collab all the time. The why the South has taken over. But the bigger myster is how to resurrect the Westcoast, cuz there are a lot of talented artist on the Westside, but only ones people care about are Snoop, Dre, Ice Cube, and Game.

    • $yk

      “But the bigger myster(Y) is how to resurrect the Westcoast, cuz there are a lot of talented artist on the Westside, but only ones people care about are Snoop, Dre, Ice Cube, and Game.”


      Very little to no media, very, very few major label reps or offices, associations can DECREASE your fanbase.

      But VERY RICH in grassroots promotion.

      What’s up Anslem?

  • $yk

    NY never fell off, cats are just paying more attention to other regions.

    The majority of labels and media is still in NY.

    The quality of music in NY declined, just like it did in many places, following the trends instead of expanding the arts.

  • 11KAP

    They play so much southern rap in nyc now, it will have you thinkin you really down south. That shit have me trippin out. lols. and the yungins don’t even know any better. It’s like nyc is now losing its accent even. smh

    • swype-matic

      One thing I’ve noticed in the last few years is that the south is quicker to put people on than in NY. That’s why I’m glad to hear Banks & Juelz on a song together, with Maino in the video. Uncle Murda, Busta Rhymes, and Raekwon doin’ collabos. The whole Wave/Cocaine City/Dumout movement out there. The South has been doin’ mad collabos and helpin’ each other out fo years. In NY it’s always seemed like everyman for themselves.

  • Battlecat

    I don’t see how 50 had anything to do with things falling off. His music and message has always been the same. Plus you get bumpin mixtapes out the camp every so often, gratis. 50 will always be good in my book. Its a different age of music. Things change.

  • Fireforreal

    I think too many Ny and Cali rappers started to have a southern sound and it didn’t work.

  • Gitoffdeeez

    NY fell off because no more new artist are coming out of NY. Showbiz is base off what is hot and new. After Jay Z drop the Black Album (to begin his short retirement or long leave of abscence), We were just stuck with a bunch of 90′s Boom Bap cats. 50 had jumped on the commercial boat. While, Papoose and Jae Millz just focused on battle rapping with no song writing ability. Saigon tries but most of his songs are just plain with no energy or content. Thus, the south came with a plethra of artist (mostly teeny bopper dancers and non and I mean non lyrical D-Boy rappers). I’m from the south so don’t try to say I’m hating. Afterwards, the corporate big wigs seen that style of music was a way to make a quick hit record and the rest is history.

    I can care less which coast produce the most artists. I just feel in order to get the corporate monsters to invest in real hip hop, we need more rappers who can make radio friendly songs but still spit a hot sixteen. Jay Z, Nas, Biggie, Scarface, Outkast, and a few others pull it off in the 90′s. Now it’s just TI, Ludacris, Kanye West, Lil Wayne doing it. B.o.B’s Nothing On You is hot. However the album sounds like a half ass Andre 3K album but still decent though. (Everyone purchase the Reflection Eternal album in stores May 18th). I’m glad to see Talib make a hot crowd mover. Midnight Hour is off the chain.

  • yeahisaidit

    Good to see you guys gave “La Bella Mafia” by Lil’ Kim a mention when considering N.Y. circa 2003, it went on to sell platinum plus and is still fire to this day…don’t just take my word for it, youtube tracks “Get In Touch With Us” featuring Styles P, or “Thug Luv” featuring Twista and go from there…Her bangers are sorely slept on, but still did nice numbers. As proof of my point, your recently posted “25 Outlaws In Hip-Hop” feature downgrades her medal count to only 2 platinum plaques when, in fact, the Queen Bitch actually has THREE…”Hardcore” (Double platinum plus) and “Notorious K.I.M.” (Platinum plus), also “the Naked Truth” at gold plus when you add in global sales…So, regardless of whatever rap chick, spawned from Kim’s D.N.A. and currently on the rise for this latest generation of kids consumption, nothing takes away from the fact that Kim spits real fire on wax as those joints are classic bangers and are still fresh dope as compared to todays crop…

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  • dipset BITCH

    get rich or die tryin is one of the best albums of all time. but it was 50s only good album. after that dipset took over.