Let me start off by saying this all started off in The Forums when I posted the question, “Can Young Money become bigger than Roc-A-Fella?”, and people went crazy. I knew people would argue about the topic, but some of our cast went as far as claiming Memphis Bleek’s album Coming Of Age was better than Drake’s Thank Me Later. After hearing such nonsense I knew I had to write a column comparing the two labels. The thing is that we can not compare them lyrically, for the simple reason that who has or had the best lyrical ability is in the eyes of the beholder. We can however compare the impact of albums, artist, and business ventures.
Dame Dash, Hov, and Biggs were an amazing team. They turned a small record label into a dynasty with music, clothing, and hood classic movies. As of right now this is probably the most successful label to have done it. What these three were able to accomplish in the mid 90’s and early 2000’s was unheard of before. Rocawear was the hottest gear in the streets and Jay-Z became the face of that era (I consider that to be the golden era).
Young Money Business:
Wayne, Tez Po, Mack Maine, and Birdman are making some real serious moves. First off let me give props to Mack Maine. People forget that Young Moola has been around since ’05 and Birdman nor Universal never really believed in Wayne’s Label. Mack Maine becomes President in ’09 and by the end of that same year, they have a distribution deal, a compilation album out, and sign two of the most coveted newcomers in the game. Now they are rumored to have their own prepaid Visa cards and are working on a clothing line.
- Jay-Z - Like I already said, Jay-Z is the face of the golden era of Hip-Hop in my opinion. What most people will do is compare Jay to Wayne because Weezy is the guy in Hip-Hop now that every rapper aspires to be. Jay held this spot for many years. His influence on the culture is evident in the flows of many artist today. Jay-Z was the face of the Roc.
- Cam’ron – Still one of the most underrated emcees of all time. Once he went over to Roc-A-Fella it seemed like his talent would finally be noticed, and it was for awhile. After putting out his first platinum album, Come Home With Me, Killa and Jay began having issues and with Hov being the boss Cam wouldn’t stay on the team too long.
- Kanye West – We all love at least one Kanye album. It is so funny how people claim that he isn’t as talented as other emcees, but he has four out of five albums that can be argued to be classic records. Ye came in at the end of the Dynasty and with his success the dynasty stayed around a lot longer than it probably would have.
- Memphis Bleek – This rapper right here is the poster child for Hip-Hop sidekicks. Jay use to claim that Bleek was only one hit away. 10 years later and Bleek is still one hit away. He does have some bangers on his hand and I even bought his album The Understanding, but he never did what Jay thought he would.
- Beanie Sigel – Beans and Freeway was a great two man team and was part State Property (A click within the Roc). He was also the muscle behind the Roc. If Anyone dissed a member of the Dynasty, you better believe the Broad Street Bully was going to go at them full strength.
- Freeway – Dope lyricist. The only real issue is that he only dropped one album during the peak of the Roc’s dominance.
- DJ Clue – Unlike the DJ’s of today (Khaled, what were you doing at the BET awards?) DJ Clue actually played his role as a DJ.
- Amil – One and done. Her album was nice, but she didn’t sell anything.
The Roc had an amazing team and had the potential to dominate the entire game. For about 5 years they were able to do that and if it wasn’t for the greed that came in between them they may still have. It becomes very clear that the Dynasty’s big issue is that they couldn’t get another artist in their prime who could sell records to go along with Jay-Z.
Young Money Artist
- Lil’ Wayne – What can I say about Wayne? He is the face of Hip-Hop and many will agree the heir to Hov’s throne. After watching his MTV’s Unplugged, I became excited about his music again. Now that he is clear headed (off the syzzurp) rappers better beware. With Tha Carter IV on the way, Wayne may very well be about to drop the album that defines his career.
- Drake – So Far Gone is a classic “album” in my opinion. Drake has been hated on because Thank Me Later didn’t live up to the hype, commercially or critically, but Drake is a relatively still young artist. He is also the leader of the New School (along with J. Cole and K.R.I.T.). He will be around for the next 10 years.
- Nicki Minaj – She is easily the face of the femcee right now. Every time I check for a new female Hip-Hop artist, she is doing her best Nicki Minaj impression. What may be the scariest thing about her is that she is a lyrical beast too. Do I have to remind people what she has done to Ludacris on his own track, or Jay, or Ye, or Rozay? She has killed more cats than some assassins.
- Shannell – I have to say that she is one of the most talented people in the industry. Even before aligning herself with Wayne, she had worked with some of the biggest acts in the game. She has wrote for everyone including Ne-Yo and Beyonce to name a couple. Although she made the mistake of giving us “Prom Queen”, her talent is obvious.
- Tyga – Okay! I will be the first to admit that, I’m not sure how I feel about this guy. I’m from the left coast (the best coast) and I do hope this cat becomes a star. Unfortunately he has made some mistakes. Who knew “Coconut Juice” could be so bad for you? Still with the release of mixtapes like his Black Thought series, Tyga is managing to show he has some talent.
- Cory Gunz – If YM can put out another star that is up there with the big three, it is this guy. I actually have been a small fan of his since ’05, but I wasn’t sure he would ever be bigger than an underground rapper. Well now that Wayne has grabbed him, he may be the biggest thing out of New York since 50 Cent. He is still counting money from his reality TV check.
If Young Money has one thing going for them it is their star players. As much as people want to hate on YM’s top three (Drizzy, Weezy, & Nicki), it doesn’t seem like next year they will lose steam. As far as the role players go, Wayne has three dangerous artist just waiting for their chance.
Is YM better than the Roc? No, but my question is can they be? I think they have the potential to take there team to higher realms than any other label has been.