When it comes to retirement, some rappers are like roaches—they keep coming back. Of course, we mean that in the best possible way, because not just any MC can return to glory. It’s a status thing—people have to care enough about you to lament your leaving and have enough fond memories of your heyday to be excited about your comeback. Prime example: This month’s cover subject, Jay-Z.
In this issue of XXL, we break the news of one rapper’s impending retirement from rap (check the Baby/Wayne story) and celebrate the return of another. With the Birdman ready to give up game spittin’ for good and Hova back in action, we decided to check the facts on the most illustrious rappers who have retired (and returned) in recent history.
If things go according to schedule, we can expect a Baby solo album in about three years.
TOO $HORT: In June 1996, Short Dog released Gettin’ It (Album Number Ten) and announced on the LP that it would be his last. Over the next couple of years, he collaborated with artists such as Biggie, Lil’ Kim and Jay-Z. Short must’ve been inspired, because in February 1999, he released his eleventh solo, the aptly titled Can’t Stay Away. Since then, the Oaktown OG has dropped six more albums. Can’t Stop should probably be the title of his 20th.
TOTAL RETIREMENT: Two years eight months between the retirement announcement and the comeback LP
MASTER P: Back in May 1998, Master P announced that he was going to quit rhyme slinging after the release of his third solo album, MP Da Last Don, saying he wanted to concentrate solely on the business aspects of his No Limit Records. By October 1999, business was evidently in order, because Percy reversed his decision and released Only God Can Judge Me. Since then, he’s put out an additional five solo efforts. Apparently, there is no such thing as a quitter in the Miller fam.
TOTAL RETIREMENT: One year five months between the retirement announcement and the comeback LP
MA$E: Murda Ma$e left rap in April 1999 to go serve God. He moved to Atlanta and attended college, before quitting to become a pastor. Mason then founded his own ministry, S.A.N.E. (Saving a Nation Endangered), and released an autobiography, Revelations. In April 2004, hip-hop beat God and called Pastor Betha away from the pulpit. He reunited with Puff to release a disappointing third LP, Welcome Back. Then Ma$e temporarily joined G-Unit and beefed with Puff before disappearing—again.
TOTAL RETIREMENT: Five years four months between the retirement announcement and the comeback LP
DMX: The Dark Man had released five No. 1 albums before quitting rap in September 2003. In January 2006, after a chunk of legal trouble, travel infractions and a beef with his label, Def Jam, X decided to return to hip-hop, signing with Sony. This year, he’s starred in his own BET reality show and, in August, released his sixth album, Year of the Dog…Again. Unfortunately, his No. 1 chart reign ended when he was beat out by Now That’s What I Call Music! 22.
TOTAL RETIREMENT: Two years 11 months between the retirement announcement and the comeback LP
PUFFY: In March 2004, P. Diddy said he would drop PD5, his final album, but that if he wasn’t satisfied with the material, it wouldn’t come out. PD5 was never released, and Puffy spent the next two years doing everything but record an album: fashion, acting and reality television. He launched Bay Boy South, led the “Vote or Die” campaign and groomed a few successful artists before realizing he wanted back. In October 2006, Diddy returned to hip-hop with his fourth installment, Press Play, but he’s already hinted at semiretirement again.
TOTAL RETIREMENT: Two years seven months between the retirement announcement and the comeback LP
For all the latest news and current events, read the full 360 section in XXL’s
December 2006 issue (#87)