We Revisited a “Rap Pages” Magazine From July, 1998
Rap music was in a weird place in 1998. The murders of The Notorious B.I.G. and 2Pac were still fresh in the genre’s collective memory, and many took their deaths as a sign that violence in rap music had become untenable. With the Willennium, er, Millennium, on the horizon, Puff Daddy and his posse of shiny suits dominated the Billboard charts, followed closely by the seemingly unstoppable No Limit. Nineteen-ninety-eight was also near the height of rap magazines, and Rap Pages, with Larry Flynt’s money, had a dedicated following. To get an impression of the 1998 zeitgeist, we picked up the July ’98 issue.
“‘We started out as friends…Having a friend is far more important than any award, any check, any promotion, any new job opportunity. Me and Phife have known each other since we were four.”
The natural flow and energy released during Tribe’s collective mind trip back to the mid- and late-’80’s is a precise example of what makes their love movement work. It’s a manifestation of the love they have for music, for Hip-Hop, for their people–but, most importantly, for each other.”
A Tribe Called Quest’s love for each other may have been overstated. Nineteen-ninety-eight’s The Love Movement, which generally received positive reviews, would be the group’s last album. There’s never been a clear cut reason for the Tribe’s dissolution–struggles between Phife Dawg and Q-Tip, dissatisfaction with Jive Records, and the group simply growing apart have all been blamed. Michael Rappaport’s documentary, Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest, showed some of the internal strife, lending credence to the idea that it was Phife and Q-Tip whose relationship was irreparable.
“Over the years, many Canadian artists have been accused of sounding like they’re from New York. [Ivan] Berry understands that in order for Canadian acts to be successful abroad they must be uniquely Canadian. ‘Why would any American label release a Canadian-signed artist if it’s the same type of thing they go around the corner and sign in America?’…”
Berry couldn’t have been more wrong. Despite the best efforts of Kardinal Offishal and Saukrates, profiled in Adam Matthews’ “Northern Exposure” Toronto scene report, the city’s biggest export would be a sonic chameleon; OVO’s most avid ornithologist has yet to define a specifically Canadian sound. Why would an American label release a Canadian artist? For profit.
“Interviewer: You compared Bad Boy to the Chicago Bulls. There’s a lot of talk about Jordan leaving, so they might not be the Chicago Bulls anymore. What happens when Bad Boy’s not on top anymore?
Jadakiss: We’ll always be the Chicago Bulls ‘cause Puff ain’t leavin’. And we ain’t leavin’.
Sheek: Told you we ain’t never gonna stop.”
In a combative interview with Dianha Simpson, The Lox defended the Puff Daddy and the reputation of Bad Boy Records. Later in the interview, Sheek claims that “If something sells four million, how could it be bad?,” to which Simpson replied “Oh, I don’t know about that one.” Ironically, The Lox’s stint on Bad Boy would be brief; despite the platinum selling Money, Power, Respect, the Lox grew wary of Puff Daddy’s influence and hold on their publishing. In 2000, The Lox took the stage at Hot 97’s Summer Jam in protest regalia, and handed out free shirts to fans which read “Let The Lox Go.”
The beef between Puff Daddy and The Lox wasn’t resolved by the group’s departure for Ruff Ryders, either. During a contentious 2005 phone call to Hot 97, Puff Daddy made mention of previous threats, involving dropping refrigerators from rooftops.
“The creation of No Limit Sports Management will possibly link the financial worlds of music, sports, film and the urban market like no other entity has.”
No Limit Sports Management was supposed to be a logical step in the Master P empire. At the time, No Limit Records was on an industry-defining winning streak, and the idea of starting a sports agency didn’t seem entirely ludicrous. It was.
Leland Hardy, entrusted by the agency to negotiate star client Ricky Williams’ rookie contract, used veteran Terrell Davis’ contract as framework to base Williams’. Literally. Andy Curtin, another agent at No Limit, told Vice that “What they did is they took Terrell Davis’ running back contract from the Broncos, and they used a lot of the clauses in his contract in [Ricky’s]. They actually copy and pasted this thing together.” Not long after Williams’ disastrous rookie season, he left the firm, which helped fuel an exodus of clients.
“The Millennium?” [Big Pun] responds when queried about the future. “I’m just thinking about the here and now. But ya know what? I’m looking to the future with great expectations. I don’t want to be rapping at 30…”
Big Pun, who was being interviewed in anticipation of his debut, Capital Punishment, got his wish: he wouldn’t be rapping at 30. In February 2000, still 28, Pun suffered a fatal heart attack directly related to his morbid obesity. His premature death robbed his wife of a husband, his three children of a father, and New York City of one of its best rappers.