It’s frightening to think of the ghost town that Cash Money would be if Lil Wayne and Young Money truly parted ways. Fans and label reps would mourn the deep losses of hit-making machines Drake and Nicki Minaj and Weezy’s legendary prestige as well as his ingenious A&R skills. But Slim and Baby shouldn’t throw in the towel just yet (notwithstanding that the legal verdict is a long way ahead and very unclear at this point).
Cash Money would still have the resources and a considerable portion of the musical empire the Williams brothers have built, including a bright Young Thug, to uphold their influential spot on radio, the charts and TV. However, with any dismantling, reassembling is imperative, and the hard fact is, Cash Money alone doesn’t have enough talent, numbers and momentum outside of the YMCMB umbrella to flourish on its own. If Weezy does win the courts over, here are seven prospective rappers who could begin to fill the void should YMCMB exit and become relegated to an earmark in Hip Hop history.
Without a doubt, the loss of legend, superstar and veteran, Lil Wayne, would be one of the hardest to swallow on Cash Money’s behalf and surely why Birdman isn’t letting go without one hell of a fight. Though, Tunechi’s charisma and cunning is irreplaceable, Lupe Fiasco would certainly be an interesting investment. Exhibiting an early lyrical aptitude and catching the eye of Hip Hop heavyweight Jay Z, Lupe joined Atlantic Records and delivered two stellar studio albums within a two-year span. Weezy demonstrated those same promise years earlier with Tha Carter and Tha Carter II.
Lupe, like Wayne, was damn near worshipped for his early releases, labeled as classics by many Hip Hop critics and fans alike, and he was praised for maintaining a consistent artistic footprint among the ever-changing tides of the music industry. However, the stronger the initial catalogue, the more we expect from future projects and after four years between albums and a two-year delay, Lasers failed to live up to the hype Lupe had generated. And because we love to see artists fail just as much reign, like the once “greatest rapper alive,” Hip Hop prematurely labeled both stars as the demoralizing “fallen off.”
All that changed in 2015 with the release of Testuo & Youth. With imaginative bars reminiscent of Lupe’s early days, yet contemporary in feel and pushing the emblem of popular, Hip Hop sound, Lupe has just the form of innovation Cash Money is in need of. Although, Lil Wayne has enormous shoes to fill, Fiasco’s seasoned expertise and musical prowess, just might be established enough to do so.
Chance The Rapper
Now, Drake’s spot on YMCMB is potentially even more alarming to restore. He’s easily the king of mainstream Hip Hop at the moment, and despite boundless hate leveled at him by rap purists, Drake has maintained his dominion among Hip Hop’s elite for close to five years now. He champions radio and the club scene, while still preserving mass respect and appeal for his artistry. Drizzy has redefined Hip Hop and birthed a new generation of experimental rappers, and the frontrunner of that list is Chance The Rapper.
Chance is young and speaks to the SoundCloud scavengers who predict the upcoming stars before they hit the blogosphere. His effortless blend of singing, rapping and live instrumentation has brought a whole new dynamic to rap and to what Hip Hop shows are capable of presenting. Undeterred by a lack of studio album or major deal, Chance’s popularity has skyrocketed with his critically acclaimed Acid Rap mixtape.
Chance The Rapper is modern and ripe for fame and his music like Drake’s, always sounds like what’s next rather than what’s right now. His nose ring and thing for overalls make him easy to picture on every major magazine cover, but more importantly, his novelty in Hip Hop is intriguing and uncategorized. If one is going to be positioned as the new Drake for Cash Money, those characteristics are unquestionably essential.
Corbin (Formerly Spooky Black)
An R&B presence is fundamental for a thriving Hip Hop label and Cash Money has been steadily on the quest for their Faith Evans. Although Spooky doesn’t necessarily possess the physical beauty of a Faith, Sza or Jhene Aiko, the talent is all there. The Minnesota singer has made significant underground strides through Soundcloud and with nods from some pretty major blogs praising his creativity and progressiveness, which transcends traditional R&B vibrations.
As a modulated crooner, Spooky has the potential to juxtapose gritty rap sounds with soothing hooks while also carving his own lane in music. He’s completely disinterested in the press and has notoriously declined interviews despite public interest, but his durag, turtlenecks and vocals are surely on the brink of marketability. Birdman might want to leave the Paris Hilton’s and Christina Milian’s of the world alone and empowers an R&B singer who can serenade without audio editing/mixing and reality shows.
Visually and sonically, there’s some glaring disparity between Nicki Minaj and Gucci Mane. But Guwop was her original A&R in this industry and both artists have crafted a niche lane in Hip Hop and developed a devoted fan base that will ride at any cost. And in this day and age, when we draw thick distinctions between “mixtape rappers” and radio artists, there’s something impressive about a rapper who can triumph in both arenas.
The Trap House rapper is a ten-year vet, who’s never shied away from public controversy and high-profile rap beef, while doing his best to free himself from the perpetual entrapment of the prison system. His raw and uncomplicated rhymes have become iconic for Atlanta and the ice cream man has consistently had his hand on the rise of notable southern and Hip Hop talents, including Young Thug, Waka Flocka Flame, Young Scooter, Chief Keef and a nascent Nicki Minaj.
Guwop’s insight and ability to sculpt talent would definitely be beneficial for Cash Money to expand their roster and engage the up and coming rappers that Gucci is so acute in discovering. Also, while we continue to look towards the south to set new trends and sounds; Gucci’s cadence assuredly isn’t going out of style anytime soon. Could “burr” replace the quintessential “Young Money” adlib?
After drifting between Bad Boy Records and going the independent route, King Los is no novice to the ebb and flow of label drama. Since 2008, his undeviating lyrical excellence and intimate storytelling has sustained dedicated followers throughout his mixtape career. His proven industry endurance has the power to work effectively in a label that is in transition.
Los has yet to produce a formal studio debut and Cash Money has a history of both muting and amplifying artists who are on the frontier of commercial victory. Birdman’s influential status, formidable industry contacts and sizable marketing and promotional budgets, could be exactly what King Los needs to crossover into mass appeal.
Chief Keef is one of the most unique Hip Hop Chicago artists to surface. The young Chicago-Drill pacesetter may hide behind his short dreadlocks and refer most of his conversations to his belt buckles, but when the beat drops, he becomes adrenalized and dynamic. His musical influence runs deeper than his rhyme schemes. Keef’s trombone timbre, the way he interestingly stretches words and his stern and at times poignant cadence has sparked the interest of Kanye West, Gucci Mane and Jeezy.
Doubling as emcee and producer, Chief Keef continues to experiment with concocting rare moods and obscure vibes that happen to parallel brilliantly with the big names (think “Hold My Liquor” on Yeezus). But Keef has been dispatched to the indie circuit after being dropped by Interscope in 2014. He’s in need of a middleman, to bridge his production and vocal explorations with a possible Drake, Kendrick and other supreme musicians and influencers to keep Keef and the Glo Gang movement alive. Cash Money, if nothing else, can always provide a connect.
Replacing the YM roster with Chicago and Atlanta artists is only one part of the formula, but New York needs its representative. With wifey free and by his side and Kendrick Lamar no longer taunting nor concerned with the NY crown, now just might be the time for Papoose to erupt. With his debut album only two years into the rap backwater, it serves Cash Money to pursue considering their experience molding and revamping artists’ careers post success and hiatus. Connecting him to the best producers and engineers would be just the flair Papoose needs to transform his prolific mixtape career into one of radio and recognition.