A few months back, a few coworkers and I spoke to a group of aspiring bright young journalists from Howard University, and one of them asked which artists we were really feeling who’ll most likely never *Chris Tucker voice* ever-ever-ever-ever-ever make it big for whatever reason. I immediately thought of Jean Grae, one of my favoritest most talented MCs. There’ve been a few times that I felt like she had a good chance to at least make a run for it. But once you miss your big shot, it’s pretty much impossible to reach that point again. Sometimes it’s old age, sometimes choosing the wrong singles, sometimes just waiting too long to put out music. So many new artists wait forever and a day 26 to release albums, trying to time exactly when the moon is in Jupiter and only end up missing their chance to blow. Blow as in establish a high presence in hip-hop.

I’m talking about talented MCs, not artists like, um, Tity Boi — those that didn’t capitalize when their buzz was at an all-time high. Canibus is a prime example of a rapper who had much potential, considered one of “the next,” but he made a misstep by prolonging a beef with LL Cool J instead of simply using it as a steppingstone. Then there’s (ugh) Papoose, who’s not my cup of tea but who at some point in his career had enough potential to get a $1.5 million deal with Jive.

While some of these artists are considered underground acts, they’re not all underrated, per se. Many of them get plenty of respect. Maybe they just don’t have the major label backing or that necessary it factor. I feel like Grafh had a bit of a buzz when he dropped “MySpace Jumpoff.” I thought his voice was unique and I liked his song, “Damage is Done” (more so for the production), where he spit about his father getting blasted (“They shot my pops and blew his brains two feet behind his last footsteps”). But I’m not sure if he ever had a chance to splash.

You could also add the ubiquitous Joe Budden (who had his shot with “Pump it Up”) and Saigon. I can’t put Lupe in there because that’s my favorite rapper of the moment and I still feel like he could reach Kanye level if he really wanted to. Which rappers missed their chance to blow? And whose opportunity to blow is about to run out? Which reminds me…where the F is Boosie?! —clovito

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