Top 20 Left Field Signings

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  • birdmanandbustarhymesfeature
    Top 20 Left Field Signings
    Busta Rhymes surprised hip-hop fans when news surfaced that he signed with Cash Money last month. A free agent since 2009's <em>Back on My B.S.</em>, the 20-year vet—who's still buzzing off notable guest appearances this year—most likely had enough leverage to ink a joint venture for an imprint of his own. Earlier this week, Juicy J reportedly signed a deal with Wiz Khalifa's Taylor Gang as a solo artist. Like Bus, Juicy's been a boss for the bulk of his 16-year career. Releasing acts like Project Pat, Gangsta Boo and Lil Wyte—in addition to Three 6 albums—on his Hypnotize Minds label. But Bus and Juicy aren't the first MCs to sign brow-raising deals. looks back at the Top 20 left field signings in hip-hop.—<em>XXL Staff</em>
  • Snoopdoggfeature
    Snoop Dogg Signs With No Limit Records
    Snoop left Death Row in 1996 and signed with Master P's red-hot No Limit Records two years later. The Dogfather initially adopted the Down South sound for his first LP on the label—<em>Da Game Is to Be Sold Not to Be Told</em>—before returning to G-funk form for his last two albums for P, <em>No Limit Top Dogg</em> and <em>The Last Meal</em>.
  • 50centandmasefeature
    Ma$e Joins With G-Unit
    In 2005—a year after releasing <em>Welcome Back</em> on Bad Boy—Ma$e joined 50 Cent's G-Unit. Though he collaborated with the Unit on several songs, it turns out that he was still contractually bound to Bad Boy. He never officially signed with Fif and never released an album on the label.
  • vanessacarltonfeature
    Vanessa Carlton Joins The Inc.
    After dropping a forgettable sophomore album, platinum pop star Vanessa Carlton signed to The Inc. when in 2006 when the label was on the decline. She dropped her third disc, <em>Heroes & Thieves</em> in 2007. The offering has only sold 75, 000 to date.
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    Teena Marie Signs With Cash Money
    With Juvenile and B.G. abandoning ship, Birdman began expanding his roster beyond hip-hop. He signed legendary R&B singer Teena Marie in 2004. She released the gold-selling, <em>La Doña</em>, that same year.
  • shawtyloand50centfeature
    Shawty Lo Signs With G-Note
    L-O inked a deal with Fif's revamped imprint, G-Note, earlier this year. He'd previously had his own label, D4L Records.
  • paulydfeature
    Pauly D Signs With G-Unit
    The <em>Jersey Shore</em> star signed a deal with G-Unit earlier this year. Though he's a DJ, there's no telling what he'll release on G-Unit.
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    Nas Signs to Def Jam
    Nas came under fire when he inked a deal with Def Jam during Jay-Z's tenure as the president. At the time, Nas's fans found it hard to believe that God's Son would sign to the God MC considering that their feud—though now squashed—had grown so personal.
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    Old Dirty Bastard Signs to Roc-A-Fella
    Dame Dash went on a signing spree during the early 2000s, including Old Dirty Bastard in 2003. Though RZA was still involved musically, seeing ODB sign to a label unaffiliated with the Wu-Tang Clan was a bit strange.
  • mack10andbirdmanfeature
    Mack 10 Signs to Cash Money
    Mack 10 earned his bread and butter via his own Hoo-Bangin' Records for years, but signed with Cash Money at the turn of the millennium. He released his fifth album, <em>Bang or Ball</em> in 2001.
  • lisalefteyelopesfeature
    Left Eye Signs With Tha Row
    The colorful TLC member signed with Suge Knight Tha Row (Death Row) as a solo artist in 2002. As if the pop star's signing to a hardcore rap label wasn't already strange, she'd plan on releasing her Row album under the moniker, N.I.N.A. She died months later before having a chance to release any music on the label.
  • kattwilliamsfeature
    In the mid aughts, Katt Williams repped Dipset nearly as much as he performed stand-up. Though he recorded with the crew, he never released material on the label.
  • juicyjfeature
    Juicy J
    Juicy J and Wiz Khalifa have been collaborating heavily as of late, but the Juice man's signing to Taylor Gang is still a head-scratcher. Three 6 Mafia's Hypnotize Minds has released several gold and platinum records in the last decade. Meanwhile, Taylor Gang has yet to find a distributor.
  • jayzandjayelectronicafeature
    Jay Electronica Signs to Roc Nation
    Though he's good friends with Diddy, no one expected Jay Electronica to sign to Bad Boy. He threw a curveball earlier this year when he sign to Jay-Z's Roc Nation to everyone's surprise, even Puff.
  • jayrockfeature
    Jay Rock Signs to Strange Music
    Jay Rock went from building a healthy buzz as a Warner Bros. artist to abruptly joining Tech N9ne's Strange Music in 2010. He released his debut, <em>Follow Me Home</em>, earlier this year.
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  • damondashandsportyspicefeature
    Posh Spice Signs to Roc-A-Fella
    During his signing spree, Dame Dash oddly signed former Spice Girl, Victoria Beckham, to the Roc. She never released an album on the label.
  • angellolaluvfeature
    Angel "Lola Luv" Monroe
    As a video model, Angel "Lola Luv" Monroe borders on legendary, but as a rapper, she's a laughing stock. Still, Wiz Khalifa unexpectedly signed the former vixen to his Taylor Gang earlier this year.
  • akonandladygagafeature
    Akon Signs Lady Gaga
    Though Akon was featured on Lady Gaga's introductory single, "Just Dance," her being signed to Konvict wasn't common knowledge until she became a platinum pop star. With the exception of Colby O'Donis, Kon's roster had mostly consisted of rappers and R&B singers up to that point.
  • waleandrickrossfeature
    Wale Signs to Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group
    Mark Ronson and Rick Ross don't have much in common. After releasing the commercially-underwhelming, <em>Attention Deficit</em>, Wale joined Ross's Maybach Music Group earlier this year. Though it seemed like an odd match at first, the alliance paid off. Young Folarin's first release via MMG, <em>Ambition</em>, sold 164, 000 in its first week—136, 000 more copies than its predecessor—and is closing in on 300, 000 units roughly a month after its release.

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  • Eli

    Angel can too rap. You just have to pick up her old mixtapes and listen to some of them joints. She has a great story and attitude about life.

  • Bobby

    How did Hammer signing to Death Row in ’95 not make the list?

  • rebellious

    yea don’t hate on Lola Monroe, besides being a beautiful woman she can actually rap pretty well
    also Shawty Lo did a partnership with Fif to sign and develop artists to his D4L Records imprint thru G-Unit…and Pauly D is signed to G-Note, which is a dance/pop label under the G-Unit umbrella

  • tfab

    -Murda Ma$e going to G-Unit was the biggest joke of all time

    -Nas going to Def Jam marked the end of the beef & the victory of Jay-Z

    -Wale going to MMG was (for him and his career) a genius move

  • charles3GP

    It wasn’t Puff who ruined his career. It was him on the show on MTV when his girl made him move to Brooklyn. Made him look soft, lol

  • Why?

    Mic G HAS released new material (The Lone Wolf EP, 2010). If you’re going to do a feature on an artist (or try to insult them), at least state facts.