A list will generate any sort of instant response to a certain topic much like Chippy D drew about a billion jokes about Laurence Fishburne last week. Categorize anybody, pigeonhole them and their fanboys and selective teams will immediately go to war in attempts to create hope and change. Let’s be clear though, there are some people who deserve the spot they’re currently positioned in. Since the rap “game” (and I loathe calling it that but it is one) is in a state of serious oversaturation (ask your favorite blogger what their e-mail counter looks like these days), it’s only natural that I make this a debatable proposition.
Hip-Hop needs to be its own league.
As much as rappers wish they were athletes (and vice versa), it’s only right that we keep everybody within their respective place. Hip-Hop is year round anyway, so let’s set up the parameters like this. Since I’m short on names we’re going to call it the Hip-Hop League or the HHL for short.
Record labels are the general managers or teams. Meaning, Roc Nation, Bad Boy, Columbia, Interscope & Atlantic all have choices of picking what artists they want for the label. Like they do in real life but a little better (everybody gets a shot). For every spot on a particular label, you have to pick fifty rappers and each of those rappers have to fill out each particular division. Yes, we’re giving the HHL a farm system and a draft for up and coming talent.
Since there are an overpopulation of rappers thinking they can do every single thing, we’re going to split this bad boy into three divisions and for all the labels in the world, they take their artists and stay in their division:
The Soulja Boy Divison
The start-up labels reside here. For every rapper who releases a burning single that gets them regional exposure but when it comes to making a bigger name off of said single – they fail. Ever so often one obscure rapper gets their song of the moment and that song catapults them into doing something greater. For example, in 2006 Rick Ross was in the Soulja Boy division as an unknown rapper nationally but on the buzz in his native Florida. The moment his anthem “Hustlin” dropped, Rick was immediately a sought after rapper from coast to coast, landing a deal with Def Jam. Naturally, every rapper starts off in the Soulja Boy Division, hoping and wishing to make that jump into the next level.
Now, while every emcee of little merit is stuck in the Soulja Boy division understand that they are not like their brethren. The Waka Flockas & OJ Da Juicemen of the world currently are entrenched in this division not because of their inability to make a cohesive product longer than your modern day strip club anthem.
The Jadakiss Division
Mid-level labels go here, mostly the independents who house up and coming talent as well as the grizzled veterans who got dropped from bigger labels. Also, its created strictly for those rappers who make some hot singles, a few strides as a part of a group and when It comes time to making a mixtape with an acclaimed DJ, they knock it out of the park. Put them with some label backing and it’s all downhill from there. Also stuck in this particular division would be your Saigons, your Papooses and sadly to an extent your Jay Electronicas. In other words, this position was tailor made for Jae Millz, it’s been almost 8 years since “No, No, No”, what’s happened since?
Why is it called the Jadakiss division? Easy. I can name the first edition of Jada’s The Champ Is Here series and claim it better than any of his three solo efforts and nobody would disagree with me.
Frankly, for every rapper who has ever made a dope mixtape but a below average to average album, you immediately get stuck with the tagline – “The Mixtape Was Better”.
The 2Pac & Notorious B.I.G. Division
Your major labels play here. In other words, the premier division in the league. Everybody wants to grab something from these top tier artists for their contributions to the sport as their album output, crossover appeal and constant approach to making genre defining music is well welcomed. Yes, your Kanye’s, your T.I.’s and your Jay-Z’s all reside here and they currently battle it out for top honors every single year.
Now trust me, you have to let this entire thing play out and it will play out the same way the English Premier League plays out (blame the World Cup & my new infatuation with the sport). Since we decide to hold rappers accountable for what they do in a calendar year, they’ve got 365 days to prove something to the fans. I mean every viable mean of generating buzz, internet, radio, street singles, etc. Every artist has the chance to release new material throughout the year and we’ll still use the current Billboard format for records. Having top ten charting singles counts in the favor of artists as well as high debuts and staying power on the chart – call it the 50 Cent Rule.
Award wise, hip-hop gets its own version of the Grammys and it’s held at the end of the regular season which could be between January through October. November would be the playoffs and December is Summer Jam.
Now, instead of holding Summer Jam in New York every year (since it seems to be the premier event in hip-hop concert wise), rotate the location around the major hip-hop hot beds every year and hold it in their biggest stadium.
Since technically you still need a model for this, let’s say we’re going to still hold Summer Jam in the new Giants Stadium. The five best artists from the 2Pac & Notorious B.I.G. division will all perform and at the end of the night and who the fans feel has done the best throughout the year in a vote will give his label the crown.
Oh, and did I mention that artists fluctuate between divisions? Fall off in production, you get sent down. Knock out a #1 single as an unknown and steadily produce, you get sent up to the big leagues. At this moment, folks like Trina would be teetering between the SB & Jadakiss’ divisions after her lackluster performance album wise as well as how she’s eating up dollars over at whatever label she happens to sit on.
An artist like J. Cole can sit under the Roc-A-Fella umbrella like Stephen Strausberg is on the Nationals. Everybody would be anticipating when Nicki Minaj is going to get a starting spot while Drake is currently playing top dog position for an incarcerated Lil Wayne making sure the “Young Money ship is never sinking”. You can’t beat this sort of thinking because labels know exactly who to pump money into, what projects and of course there can be trades.
Think about it, if worked properly Roc Nation could have Wayne, Drake & J. Cole all on the label after trading away their prospects that could do damage. It’s a free market economy with no salary cap inside and if you used the major hip-hop television networks and blogs to document all of this, nobody could tell me the HHL would be stale. We’d all have labels to root for to see and do well and wind up in the big boy Pac & Biggie division.
Of course, I write this while football season is on the horizon.