Obie Trice’s Second Round’s On Me dropped more than six weeks ago and I’ve been trying to figure out why nobody’s been writing about it.

To begin with, the album debuted at #8 on the charts, moving 74,000 units in its first week. Those numbers aren’t huge, but they’re certainly solid for hip-hop releases this year. Enough that someone somewhere should care about Obie.

And it’s not like the album sucks either. In fact, it’s kinda good. [1] I don’t really see how anyone can front on Obie’s skills. And say what you will about Em’s production, but this release at least demonstrates some range.

On top of that, there are a couple of external factors that should have helped O out—if not in sales, at least in terms of media/Internet attention.

Dramatic backstory
Sick and twisted as it may be, having a traumatic near-death experience is an asset if you’re a rapper. The more violent, the better. Hip-hop is morbid like that. Obie has his own story to tell now, since he took a bullet in the skull and survived on New Years Eve.

Close proximity to a fallen hip-hop hero
The same goes for his cousin Proof’s death. Cold as it may be, nothing generates fame in hip-hop like death. In fact, it’s such a compelling force that it tends to increase the fame of everyone in the deceased’s circle.

Signed to Shady/Interscope
I’m not saying that being part of rap’s top-selling clique guarantees record sales. (Word to Mobb Deep.) But the association—with its mentorship opportunities and hot guest spots and industry connections—should be of some benefit.

However, in Obie’s case, all of these factors have all been transformed into liabilities.

This August, Amy Linden published a feature on Obie in XXL that put forward a few theories on why dude doesn’t exactly grab the spotlight. She pointed out that he isn’t particularly charismatic, that he lacks “star power.”

More importantly, Linden argued that Obie’s thunder is perpetually stolen by the megastars on his own label—that he’s at risk of looking like a “bit player on his own album.” Cheers was released at the height of 50 mania, making Obie’s debut less memorable. His second release came out shortly after Proof’s death. While Obie has been legally prohibited from talking about the details of the situation, he’s also seemed (admirably) unwilling to exploit the tragedy. This has left him in a strained position with the media—thwarting press attempts to capitalize on the drama—reducing Obie to a footnote for the more sensational story.

Dude has also had his share of bad luck. Linden notes that just when Obie should have been gearing up to work his new record, he was hospitalized with a massive head injury from the New Years shooting. Next, one of his big promo spots for Second Round’s On Me was a Hot 97 interview. Later that same day, the Gravy shooting took place—capturing the attention of the press and the Internet alike. Then, there was the situation with MTV. Obie’s first single “Snitch” (featuring Akon) was denied by the network, which refuses to associate itself with anything relating to the street code.

Given all of that, what do you C-Boys think the chances are that Obie will ever be a star in his own right? Is he doomed to Bleek status for his entire career?


[1] Then again, I actually like rap music. Even this year. Which never ceases to amaze me.