My Decade in Rap, Pt. 3 [2006-2007]
My personal trip down memory lane continues. I’ve already recapped the first half of the rap in the millennium in parts one and two, now we push past the halfway mark with 06-07. Here’s the next chapter of the past decade of music as I remember it.
For some reason, I get this depressed feeling when I start thinking about ’06. Maybe it’s because I pretty much bought into Nas’ whole “Hip-Hop Is Dead” campaign. I mean, how could I not?
Being in New York it seemed like everyone was feeling sorry for hip-hop, except for them snap happy southerners. They were still getting most of the spins and pushing units—albeit of the ringtone vary—with joints like Yung Joc’s “It’s Going Down” and DJ Unk’s “Walk It Out.” Heck, even the reclusive Andre 3000 came out to rep on the remix of Unk’s dance-inducing hit.
Certainly, Jim Jones made NYC proud with his widespread hit “We Fly High (Ballin’),” and Fat Joe had the clubs poppin’ with “Make It Rain,” but that wasn’t enough to make a disgruntled New Yorker such as myself feel better about hip-hop.
Not even the return of the king himself could do it. In fact when Jay-Z did the expected by announcing his return I was actually rooting against the then-president of Def Jam. I was feeling like the old guy had lost a step and the last thing hip-hop needed was Jordan with the four-five coming off the bench to save the game.
Honestly, when Cam’ron spit, "Sign a rapper from the borough, get off Jeezy’s dick and Rick Ross…shit" on the Hov diss record, “It’s Going Down,” I was in full agreement with him. Then, when I heard Kingdom Come, my point was proven. In the court of public opinion, the album was regarded as one of Jay’s worst by far. Not for a second was I buying that “30 was the new 20.” C’mon, son!
Despite my overall gloomy feeling about hip-hop at the time I still saw some bright spots for the future. Lupe Fiasco was impressive on his debut, Food & Liquor. On my first listen of the album I couldn’t get past “Hurt Me Soul.” I must have played that track 20 times over before I got to the rest of the album. The Chicago rapper was dope and he was becoming the golden child for the budding “hipster” movement. It felt like every hip-hop event I went to there’d be dudes on skateboards dressed like Pharrell and Kanye. I couldn’t figure it out at the time.
What I did know for sure, though, was that Rick Ross’ “Hustlin’” was a hit. The big man from Miami who rapped under the pseudonym of the real life LA drug kingpin shipped plenty of units of his debut Port Of Miami, which debuted at No. 1, thanks to having a huge first single. And while I wasn’t inspired by sophomore efforts from Young Jeezy (The Inspiration) and The Game (Doctor’s Advocate), watching T.I.’s rise to mega stardom was impressive. No one had a bigger 2006 than T.I. The “King of South” went Hollywood as he starred in the coming of age flick ATL and topped the charts with his fourth album King.
Sadly, producer J. Dilla passed away before he got a chance witness the success of Donuts and finish one of my favorite albums of year, The Shining. In the end I walked away from a dim 2006 with an unexpected gem, Birdman & Lil Wayne’s Like Father, Like Son as my go to album.