Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Industry Rule #4081: The Bad Boy Curse Lives On

As is true with life, two things are certain in Hiphop: death and taxes. Only with Hiphop, those two things don’t necessarily come in that order. Especially if you’re an artist who gets involved with Bad Boy Records.

The latest example of the oft-cited malignancy known as a Bad Boy Records contract is still being sorted out, but the short of it is that a former Bad Boy rapper is currently being held without bail for admitting to a 17-year old homicide.

In regard to the careers of artists affiliated with Bad Boy, what happened to this rapper is more of a tradition than it is coincidence. History has more than proven this theory to be law time and time again.

Glaring instances of the career-killing decision of aligning oneself with Bad Boy Records begin with the infamous City College charity basketball game stampede, continue with the murders of 2Pac and Biggie, and is expected to thrive well beyond this latest episode.

Ma$e left rapping altogether in favor of manning the pulpit in a move that seemingly depicted Puffy in a Lucifer-like light, only for Pastor Mason Betha to descend back into the same money- and sex-hungry lifestyle he once practiced before his preaching of the very opposite.

When the smoke cleared, Ma$e ended up losing most if not all of his fans in his series of hypocritical, head-scratching moves that have somehow sustained an Atlanta-based ministry and congregation. But his rapping career – which it seemed he was still trying to salvage – is all but dead.

The LOX mounted a heavily publicized campaign to leave Bad Boy Records after they disagreed with Puffy’s direction for the group, which was originally formed based on hardcore rhymes and street ethics but had been transformed into Hip-pop music complete with the infamous shiny suits accompanied by the familiar, watered down themes of money and sex that that Puffy helped make popular.

The LOX got their wish and was granted their release, but not after Puff made off like a bandit with the rights to their individual and group publishing. Hence, the aforementioned taxes.

Not ironically, while there have been numerous albums released featuring the three rappers that comprise the group, there has yet to be a new album released under the LOX name since 2000. Hence, the aforementioned death.

All three rappers remain relevant and for the most part successful, but the days of the LOX as a group are pretty much over with. Another casualty of Bad Boy Records.

And the list quite literally goes on and on.

Rapper Shyne, who found himself defending his boss by shooting a gun at the alleged offenders of Puff’s famed ego, was ironically left to defend himself when the case went to trial and Puff did everything to separate himself (and his multi-million dollar defense team) from Shyne.

A decade later, Shyne is living in Homeland Security-imposed exile in his native Belize as a devout Hasidic Jew, all but confirming the death of his recording career despite signing a lucrative contract with Def Jam almost a year ago.

To be sure, none of this is coincidence.

Loon, another former Bad Boy rapper, is now a converted Muslim decrying his experience in the music industry -- an experience that began with Ma$e and ended with Bad Boy Records. Death.

In the meantime, Puff has severed all ties with most if not all of the folks who helped get him the hit-making reputation – including and especially many artists and groups who were once signed to Bad Boy -- that he still has to this day. As a result, those same artists are still reeling from not being associated with Puff. Further irony considering it was this same association with Puff that once helped them attain the success they no longer enjoy. More death.

Puff also ventured into the reality television business, creating contests for both an R&B and a rap group, with the winners of each being “awarded” with Bad Boy recording contracts. And while there was some success in the short term, these two groups are no longer together. However, each member of each group is still under contract to Puff and Bad Boy, which means any and every time they attempt to release new music, Puff gets a [large] percentage. Taxes.

Two exceptions to this rule are Mary J Blige and Usher, both of whom are the recipients of Puff’s guidance during the inception of their careers. Despite a few non-Bad Boy related setbacks, each have emerged relatively unscathed with their careers well intact to this day.

However, the other, overwhelming evidence is more than enough to support the idea that involving one’s career with Diddy will probably mean bad news in the long run.

Yet and still, after all of these disasters for bad Boy signees, popular and successful artists are seemingly not deterred one bit and continue to align themselves with Puff.

Ironically, Rick Ross -- who is currently being managed by Diddy -- willingly boarded the Bad Boy bus just months after it was made public that he was formerly a corrections officer (Hiphop’s cardinal sin that is on par with rule nombre uno) despite five straight years of him touting a false, felonious, cocaine distributing past. So even though he dodged a career-threatening bullet, Ross still decided that letting Puffy guide his career was the best thing for him. So far, the results have been undeniable. But as we see with G-Dep, the statute of limitations does not apply to being involved with Bad Boy Records.

Jay Electronica most likely looked toward Bad Boy's past when deciding his own future by signing with Roc Nation and Jay-Z after months of being courted by Puff, which included recording a song with him.

When he was spurned, Puff showed his true colors by igniting a Twitter war of words against Jay Electronica with claims of being led on. But as history shows, Electronica most likely made the right move by removing Bad Boy from the equation.

In the end, Puff wins. His net worth stays on the rise and he is more and more successful each year [in non music-related ventures], but the fact that in 2010 Bad Boy's main artist is Diddy himself speaks volumes as to the priorities for Bad Boy Records.

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