After Young Guru previewed "Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe" remix at SXSW, the official CDQ version of Kendrick Lamar's joint featuring Mr. Knowles resulted in a Internet frenzy. While some of you may have been satisfied with enjoying the song and calling it a day, more simple-minded people like me were interested in one thing: who had the better verse?
While bragging rights undoubtedly went to K. Dot, it was clear to some of us that while being arguably the greatest of all time, the Jigga Man has definitely lost at least a half a step in the lyrical department and is rocking the proverbial Wizards jersey these days. This also brought to mind a few other artists who have been dogging it in the latter parts of their careers as well. So, here's a list of 10 artists we feel have regressed musically for one reason or another.
Hopefully, Kendrick will never make it to this list.
Some of you may be too young to remember but, if you were around for the mid-late '90s, you'd know that one Cameron Giles was known for more than keeping computers puting and Motel 6 swimming pools. Killa was nice with the bars, even impressing the late great Christopher Wallace enough to give him his entrance into the game.
But after hitting his pinnacle with Purple Haze and dissolving the Dips, Cam has definitely mailed it in on more than a few occasions over the past couple of years. While he's still one of the most entertaining dudes in the game, those moments are few and far between. Guess he's too busy "Getting It In Ohio" and chopping it up at your local Popeye's to be much concerned with lyrics these days.
During the trifecta that was Infamous, Hell On Earth and Murda Muzik, it's not too far fetched to say that Prodigy was a borderline Top 5 MC in the game at the time. But I guess that legendary Summer Jam fiasco left him a little punch drunk. After releasing a strong solo debut with H.N.I.C, the QB MC's bars fell off faster than the Steve Francis era in Orlando. While he briefly regained form with his impressive Return Of The Mac project, dude resorted back to his old ways soon after, giving him a deserved spot on this list.
Its sad to day, but Dark Man X may have had the furthest plummet from musical respectability from any artist on this list. After making his bread and butter off of a number of scene-stealing guest appearances, X went on to be arguably the biggest artist in the game for a short window, largely off of his unbridled passion and darkened lyrical content.
You simply can't give him the same distinction nowadays. After completely falling off musically due to not giving a f*ck, X has attempted to make a comeback by aligning himself with the likes of Machine Gun Kelly, muffled growls and all. The man who once out-shined Jigga and a number of your other favorite rappers from the '90s is all but a shell of his former self. Drugs are bad, kids.
4. 50 Cent
While never being considered a top tier lyricist in the traditional sense, 50 previously had a knack for enthralling listeners with his vivid street tales. He also had way of saying a mouthful with just a few simple words. But as his career played out, its safe to say 50's once hypnotic hold on the ears of the public has diminished a tad. Although he has a chance to make me look like a fool with his upcoming Street King Immortal album, early indications say it will be more of the same watered down 50 we've come to care less about as time has passed.
5. Snoop Dogg
Although he still possesses remnants of the cold-as-ice flow that hooked the game in the early '90s, the Dogg Father turned Lion has been losing a step in the lyrical department for every album he's dropped for the last decade or so. I know we'll always have love for Uncle Snoop but let's keep it real.. when is the last time Snoop spit a lyrical miracle quotable? I'll wait.
He's always reliable for a buzz-worthy single and is still heavy in the charisma department. But, it's clear to see he's lyrically in the dog days of his career. The fact that he's openly admitted to employing ghostwriters in recent years says all you need to know.
Arguably the most prolific double-time rapper in the history of the genre, Twista was a lyrical monster in his heyday, even being courted by Dame Dash and Puff to join their respective dynasties at one point. But after reaching commercial success with an assist from a fresh-faced Kanye West via his 2003 Kamikaze LP, Twista traded in his rhyme animal card for a bouquet of flowers and a membership to the local gentleman's club. Dude literally became the modern-day LL Cool J, swooning to women single after single.
While I'm sure he still has a little bit of that gasoline-flame flow left in him, maybe those groupies that popped up after "Slow Jams" and "Overnight Celebrity" left him too love-drunk to turn back at this point.
7. Master P
Its a shame what music has come to for the flag bearer of the No Limit camp. After locking the game with his bayou-flavored dope in the late '90s, the arrival of that other notorious crew from New Orleans and a string arrests/defections derailed the label, leaving the tank in relative obscurity. These setbacks must've shook Percy Miller up enough to affect him music because, throughout the '00s, all he managed to released was the equivalent to shit on stick.
Things got so bad he decided to quit cursing in his music all together as a desperate ploy for attention/sales, but no cigar. Now, it's gotten to the point that he's had yet another epiphany, this time to return to his lyrically deviant ways: faux Rick Ross flow and all. I would've expected that type of behavior from Silkk The Shocker, not you Percy.
8. Method Man
Meth is another former guest appearance murderer who has seen better days musically. To be honest, dude hasn't had a significant solo LP since the '90s. While he's far from trash and can still go off on a track here and there, the fact that he has never given us another notable album aside from Tical and has regressed with each subsequent release lands him on this list. You can't be TOO mad at him though. That Hollywood money can make a lazy rapper out of your favorite emcee, just ask Mos Def.
While I can understand why a lot of people don't like to give Nelly credit (sing-songy rappers like him have long been a target of the 'heads' we love to hate), coming in the game, homie had a few bars* under that infamous Band-Aid. But as his career progressed, it was clear he had more intent on making hits than lyrical miracles.
After a hiatus, Nelly returned to the game no longer reeking of that "Pimp Juice" aura. Unfortunately he was just another former hit-maker wondering where all the fans in the stands went. I'm sure he doesn't care much though since Ashanti and millions on millions in the bank serve as a soft landing for a free-falling musical career.
* - Re-listen to Country Grammar For further evidence...just trust me.
In the early 2000s, Luda was as money as they come. Arguably the most lyrically entertaining rapper out there as well as the most coveted feature at the time, it's safe to say his bars were respected. But dude f*cked it up by trying too hard to be 'artistically progressive' (see: Theater Of The Mind, Release Therapy) or whatever the hell he was trying to do.
While the plaques and money for unlimited chicken and beer kept rolling in, he got boring and alienated listeners to the point no one recognized the rapper we had come to love. While he did rebuild some bridges with his 300 Gigawatts tape last year, until he shows and proves with an exceptional retail release, there's no other choice but to place him on this list.