Young Money Roc-A-Fella?
Peace family…today is a special day. Today is the day I introduce a new flava to Da Den. Welcome to “Malachi’s What Ifs”. The general basis goes as such: I, Malachi Jones, will be picking different events in hip-hop history and create a fan fiction scenario of said events happening differently. Kinda like “The Butterfly Effect” but not as dark or gloomy or depressing. The hope is to spark the imaginations of hip-hop nerds, such as myself. Please feel free to leave opinions, alternate storylines or whatever else you think could help this become a more communal thang. If you know anything ‘bout Malachi it’ this: He’s allll for community.
Without any further adieu, the first subject of “Malachi’s What Ifs” is… *inserts drum roll* Lil Wayne, Weezy F. Baby, Raw Tune, Tunchi, or any other alias you may call him. On the heels of his latest release “No Ceilings 2”, many fans would argue that Wayne is past his prime. He’s the epitome of a tragic success story, one whose fame and fortune turned him into a shell of his former self. I still got hope for the youngest Hot Boy, but I won’t expound upon that. Instead, I’m gonna program the Delorean to 2005 and take y’all back a decade.
Wayne had just singlehandedly brought a dying Cash Money Records to relevance with Tha Carter, and had staked his claim as one of the game’s top tier acts with Tha Carter 2. Throughout his (second) rise, Wayne made one thing clear: He damn near idolized another Carter by the name of Shawn. Many people say that Wayne’s fandom of Jay-Z is what caused his shift in lyricism and it’s probably true. All the name dropping and hard work must have gotten Jay’s attention. The streets (it was still cool to say that back then) were buzzing with rumors of the young spitta being recruited to join The Dynasty: Roc-A-Fella records.
The Rumor’s were at a fever pitch when Wayne dropped the inaugural installment of his Dedication Gangsta Grillz with DJ Drama. Weezy took this time to address the whispers in grand fashion.
And just that quickly, it was done. Wayne said it was because he wouldn’t be allowed to start the Young Money umbrella. Jay later revealed that Birdman had filed a cease and desist on his pursuit of the Cash Money cash cow.
We all know how the story goes from there. Wayne would drop his most commercially successful album to date: Tha Carter 3. During this time, he also single handedly changed the climate of the mixtape game, revolutionizing the way rappers presented music with a work ethic that had been unseen since Tupac. Afterwards, he would launch the aforementioned Young Money imprint as well as the careers of Nicki Minaj and Drake into the realm of superstardom. In the end, however Wayne realized that he is not any different than the rest of the original Cash Money dynasty, all who left due to money problems with Birdman.
Many people argue that not signing to Jay was Wayne’s best move. They say Wayne would have never reached his level of superstardom under Jigga’s tutelage. However, seeing how messy the Cash Money situation worked out, it’s hard not to imagine how things would have differed had Wayne signed to the R-O-C.
Folks argue that Jay wanted the spotlight more than his artists. If this were 97-03 Jay, I would concur. However, let’s consider the period of time Jay was recruiting Wayne. It during the weird, post Black Album, Pre Kingdom Come, messy Roc-A-Fella breakup. Beans was still locked up on attempted murder charges, and Kanye grew to be the label’s unexpected bread winner, but he couldn’t keep the boat afloat all alone. Had Wayne signed to Roc-A-Fella, Jay would have possibly stayed retired, which is my personal opinion, would have strengthened his legend as American Gangster is the only widely applauded release since The Black Album.
You know what else would have happened? Wayne over Ye’ and Just Blaze beats!! I mean, Wayne has given us a tease of this reality throughout his one of a kind mixtape run, but still…WAYNE AT HIS PEAK OVER YE’ AND JUST!?!?! Can you imagine how the artistry would have evolved. Wayne might have sacrificed being quite the mixtape monster that he was, but he also could have crafted the classic album most say isn’t in his catalogue (though I disagree).
Keep in mind at the time, Jay helped the launch the careers of Kanye, Jeezy, and Rick Ross during his presidency at Def Jam. All of which went to launch their own imprints, as well as produce some inspired collabs with big homie.The union could have produced collabs at both of their peaks instead of bummers like “Swagga Like Us” and “Mr. Carter” the latter of which is more underwhelming than just a bad song, but you know what I mean.
In the end, Wayne achieved greatness with his decision. These are all speculations so anything would have been possible with that “What if”. What do you think? Did Wayne make the right decision by sticking with Birdman or should he have taken the opportunity to be molded by his favorite artist? Lemme Know Something. Til next time… peace!