In 2016, an artist’s best bet at making a lasting impression is through the release of an acclaimed body of work. There was a time, unlike today, when having a hit single was one of the biggest determining factors in whether an artist would be able to become a superstar or maintain their longevity. Although there are instances when a rapper has enough artistic credibility to attain success without catering to the mainstream, the majority rely on making hits to keep their name relevant and fans singing along. Some are even willing to go outside of their comfort zones in search of that song that will take them to the top of the charts and expose them to as many listeners as possible.
There’s nothing quite like finding the perfect song, the one that will resonate with the public and can be played or performed for years to come. But at times, that search can lead rappers down a creative path that neither they — or their fans — envisioned, The backfire results in a song maligned by an artist’s core audience and serves as an underwhelming effort when matched against their other hits.
Novices and those pandering to the crowd are most susceptible to falling into this trap, but even a few of our favorite MCs have been guilty of this as well and have had their own share of questionable or odd moments on wax throughout the years. Jay Z just dropped “Spiritual,” a song TDE’s Punch initially encouraged him to release when Mike Brown died at the hands of police in 2014. Following the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile by police this week, the track comes at the right time. “Yeah, I am not poison, no I am not poison/Just a boy from the hood that/Got my hands in the air in despair don’t shoot,” Hov rhymes. While that track is currently being well received, other songs in Jigga’s catalog, like “Sunshine,” haven’t always been appreciated compared to his history of bangers. Thankfully, Jay has proved to be a hitmaker throughout his illustrious career more times than not.
From Ma$e to Ludacris to Ice Cube and more, here are 20 instances in which rappers we love released a song that proved to be a mistake, were considered a blemish on their resume or just missed the mark.
“We Be Clubbin”
“Been There Done That”
“Just Lose It”
“Universal Mind Control”
“How to Love”
“All the Above”
“P.E. 2000 (Public Enemy 2000)”
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