22 Aftermath Artists Who Have Left The Label
Dr. Dre's career has no parallel. The groundbreaking producer and MC has been a pioneer for a multitude of different styles and sub-genres within hip-hop and R&B over the past three decades, working with Snoop Dogg, 2pac, Eminem, 50 Cent and plenty more over the years. But apart from his illustrious solo career—three LPs capped off by this summer's Compton album—he's also run the record-breaking Aftermath Entertainment record label since his 1996 departure from Death Row, achieving multi-platinum success dozens of times over.
But over the years, Aftermath has been a conundrum within the music industry. In 19 years, the label has released just 22 albums; taking away projects from Em, 50 and Dre himself, the number drops to eight during that time frame. Artists such as Busta Rhymes, Eve (twice), Rakim and The Game have signed on the dotted line, with that particular quartet eking out just two collective albums during their time with Dre. It's become almost a punchline; signing with Aftermath means sitting on the shelf waiting while the good Doctor broods over the tiniest of details, ultimately losing interest or stepping away from rumored and promised albums that never materialize. For many a young MC, working under the tutelage sounds like a dream come true. For almost all, however, it becomes something different entirely.
The current Aftermath roster consists of just three MCs: Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and Jon Connor, with Dre himself having announced his retirement as a solo artist after Compton. But over the years its gone through a series of changes. The initial roster, brought in to help craft Dre's much-maligned Dr. Dre Presents... The Aftermath compilation in 1996, consisted of artists like RC, Sharief, Hands-On, Kim Summerson and Who'z Who, artists who never truly stuck around and who disappeared just as quickly as that album did. The late 1990s and early 2000s were a creative and commercial renaissance, as Dre's 2001 heralded the arrival of Eminem, who then helped sign 50 Cent. In 2004, Aftermath was given another injection of talent, with Busta Rhymes, a post-Ruff Ryders Eve and The Game coming on board. And most recently, Kendrick Lamar's ascension to the top of the hip-hop talent pool has kept Aftermath at the top of the charts.
But what about the artists that left? Over the years, much-hyped MCs like Bishop Lamont, Stat Quo and Slim The Mobster have come into the fold only to disappear and leave, while OGs like Rakim, King Tee and Raekwon have all passed through without making noise. Dating back to the label's formation in 1996, XXL looks at 22 artists who have left Aftermath Entertainment over the years. —Dan Rys