We Revisited a “Rap Pages” Magazine From 2000, When The Black Eyed Peas Say They Don’t Care About Radio Play
Rap music survived Y2K by the seat of its shiny dress pants. As the genre moved into the 20th century, it began shifting away from gangster rap–2000 was the final year of Cash Money and No Limit chart dominance–and toward a safer, R&B-influenced sound. The November 2000 issue of Rap Pages found numerous groups at career crossroads, too; Outkast were on the verge of releasing Stankonia, their last album as a duo, Capone-N-Noreaga were reunited after Capone’s two-and-a-half-year prison stint, and the Black Eyed Peas were on the verge of a mainstream breakthrough. Find out what these, and other rappers, had to say for themselves fifteen years ago.
“…Bridging the Gap’s star lineup includes DJ Premier, Wyclef Jean, De La Soul, and Macy Gray…Because the [Black Eyed Peas] collaborated with such heavyweights, some heads have accused them of going mainstream. But Taboo argues the Peas aren’t concerned with boosting their commercial appeal, or having their records make radio playlists. He explains ‘Our thing isn’t radio play..we’re for being able to tour and create a life, not a gone with the wind ‘here listen to this song and forget about it next month.’…”
The irony is staggering. Bridging the Gap, released in September 2000, was lead by the aforementioned Macy Gray collaboration, “Request Line.” Its poppy, treacly sound catapulted the Black Eyed Peas into the mainstream, and would cause them to add Fergie to the group in 2002. Lead by Will.I.Am. and Fergie, Black Eyed Peas became an immensely annoying pop act, on some of radio’s heaviest rotation. Surely Taboo was able to create a life from the group’s staggering six Grammy Awards, even though no one’s sure what he actually does.
“ ‘We don’t really [care] about what everybody else is doing in the industry,’ asserts Big Boi. ‘They can do whatever they wanna do. We find ourselves in a whole different realm. We been goin’ to Stankonia since Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik’ says Big Boi excitingly [sic].
‘Outkast freaks the normal everyday,’ [Andre 3000] shouts. ‘We keep people on their toes. We gotta be different and jammin’. You gotta to keep the sound fresh.’”
Outkast’s marvelous Stankonia (which turns 15 this month) did keep people on their toes–it was critically and commercially lauded, and proved the group capable of outpacing other forward-thinking musicians. During the album’s recording, the group stopped listening to rap music, instead drawing influence from black rockstars past. Stankonia’s lead single, “B.O.B.,” combined drum ‘n’ bass, rap, and a gospel choir. It was probably too gauche for widespread radio play. “Ms. Jackson,” released three weeks later, would have no such problems, remaining on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart for 22 weeks.
“[Lil Bow Wow] is wise beyond his years. Displaying not only street smarts, this lil dog demonstrated real wisdom. With a flow rivaling the best in the industry, Bow Wow is showing what the hypes [sic] all about. Stop and learn from this little Rap powerhouse.]
Lil Bow Wow, now known by birth name Shad Moss, had an auspicious debut: Beware of Dog, produced entirely by Jermaine Dupri, went double platinum. In the early 2000’s, the pint-sized and cornrowed Lil Bow Wow sold records, starred in Like Mike, and made appearances in Campbell’s Soup and Twix commercials. There was also the unofficial (and later semi-official) rivalry with Lil’ Romeo, Master P’s son, who too was vying for Cuddliest Teen Rapper. Neither’s success would last. Bow Wow dropped the “Lil” from his name, and his record sales dropped in concert. Lil’ Romeo’s change of name did even less to halt his faltering sales. He was last seen shilling for a for-profit college.
“Despite the amount of reputable heads that have collaborated with them on The Reunion, CNN hold the same attitude they have always held toward their production. ‘We use any and all types of producers. Whether you’ve got a name or don’t got one, it didn’t really matter. That’s how we get down. We mess with everybody…’”
Capone-N-Noreaga’s The War Report is a New York City classic, but none of their subsequent releases, The Reunion included, have ever been revered to the same degree. Noreaga’s stated attitude toward producers would serve him well; 2002’s “Nothin’,” produced by The Neptunes would be his career’s biggest hit. (Noreaga being Noreaga, he later spewed a series of salacious (probable) lies about The Neptunes in an infamous interview with Life Sucks Die.) In 2006, Noreaga moved even further afield when he embraced his Dominican heritage and released a reggaeton album, N.O.R.E. y la Familia…Ya Tú Sabe.
“Another thing that [E-40] has been doing of late is preparing to either re-negotiate his current contract with Jive Records…’This is supposed to be my last album [for Jive]…if Jive is talking right, and we come to the table with a cool agreement–who knows?’”
E-40’s dealings with Jive Records were more successful than those of his contemporaries–he spent 10 years with the label, and the deal he signed in 1994 was beneficial to both parties. Instead of locally distributing his own music, as he’d done before, Jive essentially paid the Vallejo rapper to allow them to do the same job on a national scale. Jive’s dealings with rappers wasn’t always so amicable–UGK reportedly called Jive head Barry Weiss every four-letter word available while on the label, and Clipse referred to the company by a racial pejorative on “Mr. Me Too.”