Biggest Comebacks of 2011


People love a comeback story, and hip-hop—a traditionally unforgiving genre—had its share in 2011. A select group of MCs—all in different stages of their careers—overcame obstacles to leave their mark on the year. Lil Wayne resumed his platinum ways post-prison. Busta Rhymes re-emerged as a Cameo God 20 years after his breakthrough. 2 Chainz upped his stock after years in semi obscurity. Wale proved his haters wrong, and Young Jeezy prevailed through countless set backs. Here, XXL looks back at the five biggest comeback stories of 2011.—XXL Staff

Lil Wayne


Lil Wayne executed his comeback to perfection. Roughly a month after being released from Rikers Island last November, Weezy dropped his first post-prison song, the lyrically-dense, "6 Foot 7 Foot." The song carried into 2011. Numerous guest appearances followed. Mixtape Weezy jumped on songs with Ace Hood's "Hustle Hard (Remix)," Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now" and DJ Khaled's "I'm on One," among numerous others.

Weezy was inescapable once again. Still, Tha Carter IV suffered several set backs. Then, with C4's due date approaching, the album appeared to be taking a backseat to Jay-Z and Kanye West's Watch the Throne. Lil Tunechi turned the tables when he leaked "It's Good"—a song on which he finally responded to Jay's "H.A.M." jab. Weezy was poised to due numbers, but no one expected him to rival first-week sales of Tha Carter III. C4 sold 964, 000 copies in its first week and stands as the highest-selling rap album of 2011.



No one saw Wale coming. The D.C. MC had perpetually been haunted by the underwhelming sales of his 2009 debut, Attention Deficit, when he joined Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group earlier this year—a move that earned him more scrutiny. The deal worked. Rozay released MMG’s Self Made, Vol.1 in May. The compilation showcased Wale as a solid lyricist and gave him a hit in the Jeremih-assisted “That Way.”

He then crashed Hulkshare with the release of The Eleven One Eleven Theory mixtape in August. Wale told XXL he expected the mixtape to clear roughly 1 million downloads. This time, Wale's mixtape buzz translated into commercial success. His sophomore effort, Ambition debuted at No. 2—selling 164, 000 units in its first week. The album's sold well over 300, 000 copies to date and will likely earn a gold certification in the new year.

Young Jeezy


Young Jeezy didn't go into 2011 with much momentum. He'd unsuccessfully release a string of poorly received singles in an attempt to build anticipation for his perpetually delayed fourth LP, Thug Motivation 103: Hustlerz Ambition. The new year initially didn't bring much promise, as Jizzle kept misfiring and his album continued to get pushed back. The success of his rival, Rick Ross, didn't help either.

Then, Jeezy went for broke. He sparked interest with the T.I.-assisted "F.A.M.E." and later the highly anticipated "I Do" featuring Jay-Z and Andre 3000. More well-received TM103 tracks kept leaking leading up to the album's release this past Tuesday (December 20). Now, according to hitsdailydouble.com, TM103 is poised to sell between 200 and 225, 000 units in its first week. Win! Win-win, win-win!

Busta Rhymes


Bussa Buss kicked the year off with a solid performance on DJ Khaled's "Welcome to My Hood (Remix)," but his buzz went into overdrive after his scene-stealing guest verse on Chris Brown's "Look At Me Now." Fittingly released 20 years after his breakthrough verse on A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario," the song won several BET Hip Hop Awards and is now nominated for two Grammys.

Seizing the moment, Busta then jumped on Tech N9Ne's "Worldwide Choppers" and delivered a verse some believe may be his best yet. Busta was in-demand once again, but, rather than flood the market as he did in previous years, Busta took a selective approach. He capped his remarkable year by signing with Cash Money late last month. Welcome back!

2 Chainz


With all due respect to 2 Chainz, the lanky spitter was primarily known for his Ludacris affiliation and Playaz Circle’s Lil Wayne-assisted platinum hit, “Duffle Bag Boy” at the top of the year. Not anymore. The Atlanta rapper went on a solo tear with the release of his Codeine Cowboy mixtape earlier this year. He followed up with the DJ Drama-helmed, T.R.U. REALigion in November. The project featured guest spots from Meek Mill, Jadakiss, Trey Songz and Tit’s Playaz Circle partner, Dolla. In turn, Tit’s been tapped to appear on records with Young Jeezy, B.o.B, Big Sean and Wale, just to name a few. His remix to “Spend It” featuring T.I. is still in heavy rotation across the nation. Don’t call him an overnight sensation. To let 2 Chainz tell it, it was the right griming (grind and timing). 2 Chaaaaainnnnzzzz!