On September 11th 2007, two huge hip hop albums, 50 Cent’s Curtis and Kanye West’s Graduation were released, going head-to-head. Making things a little interesting, 50 publicly announced he would retire if Curtis failed to outsell Yeezy’s Graduation.
He later revealed in XXL Magazine in 2012, that the whole thing was just good ol' marketing.
"That was something that we created. Obviously, it riled the fans up in every way and the results are always bigger sales than usual. Both of the numbers were bigger than what they would have been [otherwise]. We didn’t have no beef at all…. It was just great marketing."
50 Cent is definitely a damn good businessman.
Eminem & Sacha Baron Cohen At The 2009 MTV Movie Awards
Sitting with his entourage in the audience of the 2009 MTV Movie Awards, Eminem was outraged when Sacha Baron Cohen, dressed as alter ego Bruno, unexpectedly landed in the rapper’s lap from his descending wire. With both bare ass cheeks in Eminem’s face, Mathers completely lost it, shouting "Are you serious?! Are you fucking serious?!"
His entourage rushed in to push Cohen away from the rapper. Viewers and the audience were left stunned as Shady and his entourage then immediately exited the awards in disgust.
Three days later, Eminem admitted the gag was completely rehearsed with Cohen prior to the event.
“I’m thrilled that we pulled this off better than we rehearsed it. It had so many people going “nuts” so to speak. Everyone was blowing me up about it.”
Shady certainly showed off his impressive acting skills.
Ray J's "I Hit It First"
We’re all familiar with THAT Ray J and Kim Kardashian sex tape. But Brandy’s little brother showed he had not quite let go of his 5-year relationship when he released, “I Hit It First” in April 2013 which dropped whilst Kim K was pregnant with Kanye West’s child.
Ray J took us for fools when he first denied that the song was not about his ex, telling MTV Rap Fix, “It’s a song. It’s not about that, it’s about a concept”. Yeah right.
It was more than obvious with lyrics such as, “she might move on to rappers and ballplayers but we all know I hit it first’. Not to mention the track’s artwork of a photo-shopped image of Kardashian in a bikini, or the video featuring a Kim K lookalike.
Eventually, it came as no surprise when Ray J came clean on the Wendy Williams show:
“I’ve never denied it. I just felt like in the promotional campaign to go so hard after we know what the song is about, it was too much”.
Gucci Mane's Twitter Rant
A few months ago, Gucci Mane’s three day Twitter rant shocked the hip hop world. It began when his rocky relationship with Waka Flocka Flame and Brick Squad came to an end when he tweeted, “Fuck Brick Squad”.
A tweeting tennis match proceeded between Brick Squad members and Gucci as he was accused of paying for rapper Young Vito’s attorney bills who stood accused of Slim Dunkin’s death. Gucci vehemently denied this.
Possible explanations surfaced, including that it was a huge marketing ploy, or even an ‘Amanda Bynes’ style meltdown. Gucci claimed his Twitter had been hacked by his ex-manager and apologetically released his forthcoming album Diary of A Trap God for free.
Following a hiatus, Mane returned to Twitter a few weeks later apologizing for the tweets. He also admitted he was in rehab due to a lean addiction.
Big Daddy Kane Poses For Playgirl
This stunt was just plain cringe-worthy to say the least!
In 1991, Big Daddy Kane, a legend in the game posed for Playgirl magazine which does not always necessarily attract a female audience! Kane was photographed in a series of pictures wearing just heart patterned silk underwear, complete with seductive eyes and a box of chocolates.
One picture even showed off his bare rear in a mirror reflection...
Click through the pictures with caution!
DJ Khaled recently left us bewildered when he proposed to fellow YMCMB star Nicki Minaj on MTV News. With a 10-karat radiant cut Rafaello & Co diamond ring worth $500,000, this initially seemed like no joke.
Yet the cat was let out of the bag when Hot 97 spoke to Nicki Minaj, “Khaled is my brother” and in reference to the proposal, “Nobody took it seriously.” It quickly became clear that this move was just to promote Khaled’s upcoming single, “I Want To Be” featuring Minaj.
Khaled later admitted that it was all one big fat publicity stunt.
“I was joking with it and having fun. We be so busy making these big hits and I wanted to come with a dope plan to present the next smash single besides just giving it out”.
Jay Z's "Retirement"
Considering Jay Z’s career highlights this year, this stunt is hard to believe. In 2003, Hov, aged just 34 announced that his forthcoming record, The Black Album would be his last, feeling he could no longer top himself.
Post retirement, Jay Z was not exactly missing from the public eye, making a collaborative album with Linkin Park, headlining New York’s Power 105.1 annual concert, not to mention him becoming President of Def Jam Records.
When Jay announced his comeback with the release of Kingdom Come in 2006, he was adamant that the whole thing was not a publicity stunt. Asked if he meant to retire he said, “I believed it, yeah, I believe it for two years”.
Embarrassed by it all, he later admitted that it was the “worst retirement in history”.
Mobb Deep Twitter Beef
“Prodigy a bitch and I'm gonna show it, follow!! ground breaking new. I got niggas in the jail system to back up that prodigy was fucking homes in jail. Prodigy prove me wrong! Please”.
The next day Havoc insisted he had nothing to do with these tweets. He claimed he had left his phone in a gas station. This made no sense considering the tweets were made through the internet. Nice try Havoc.
Prodigy carried on with Havoc normally, much to everyone’s surprise.
2 Pac Claims He Slept With Faith Evans
“I ain’t got no motherfucking friends, that’s why I fucked your bitch”.
With the East Coast-West Coast rivalry at its height, Biggie simply took it as Pac’s way of getting to him. Evans, who worked on several tracks with 2 Pac, has always denied these allegations. But her confessions of being unfaithful during breaks in their tumultuous marriage have always created suspicion.
It was definitely a raw assertion from Pac considering how crazy the beef between the East and West was.
Raz B Slips Into A Coma
Former B2K member Raz B is no stranger to shocking news stories.
Recently, Raz was injured in a club in Shanghai breaking up a fight. Pictures surfaced of his painful-looking facial injuries. A day later, Raz’s publicist informed the media that he had taken a bad turn and was in a coma on life support, needing “as many prayers as possible”. Well wishes poured in and media coverage increased.
Several days later, his manager confirmed that he had never been in a coma. Raz’s brother said they were “misled by unknown reasons” as the story turned out to be one big hoax.
Unsurprisingly, the whole thing gave Raz B some media attention, albeit briefly.
Tahiry Jose might have thrown the most punches in this stunt, but it sure did get our attention.
When it came to the "Love & Hip Hop" Reunion, two bouts of the Budden vs. Consequence fight went down, as Consequence took a cheap shot from behind, barely hitting Budden’s head backstage. Consequence explained that he felt he had been disrespected when Budden interrupted his interview.
This all proved for great television, whilst boosting the low ratings "Love & Hip Hop" had been having, not to mention put Cons back in the news for a period of time.
Tim Dog Fakes His Own Death
Earlier this year, news emerged that 90s rapper Tim Dog had died aged 46 following a seizure and battling diabetes.
However, missing was a death certificate and a burial site which led a woman from Mississippi to believe that Dog had faked his own death to get out of paying the $32,000 that he owed her.
Suspicion increased and a warrant was issued for his arrest after it was revealed that he owed a further $2 million to others through swindling.
Faking your own death is one hell of a tactic to avoid debt.
Dog has yet to be found…
Papoose Crashes Hot 97 Summer Jam 2013
It was a little unexpected when Papoose decided to turn up and perform on stage at this year’s Hot 97 Summer Jam. Hopping on after K Dot, the appearance looked strangely unplanned. It was also rumoured that French Montana’s set was cut short due to Papoose gate crashing the setlist.
The memes were out in full force following the incident. But the joke was on us, when Papoose confirmed that the appearance was completely planned and the Hot 97 crew were all in on it.
When Nas decided that he would name his forthcoming album Nigger, he definitely went in heavy on the marketing. The rapper and his then-wife Kelis turned up to the prestigious Grammy Awards that year rocking clothing labelled boldly with the word "NIGGER" to promote his upcoming record. Their outfits caused for some slightly awkward interviewing on the red carpet, as he provided his personal definition of the term as ‘ignorance’.
The choice of title eventually turned out to be too controversial and Nas ended up changing the album name to Untitled.
HNHH takes a look at 14 publicity stunts that caught the attention of the hip-hop world.
Smart, crazy, and sometimes just odd, publicity stunts can sometimes be a necessity for any rapper who wants to rise to the top, or just find themselves some quick fame. Whether it's to promote a tour, upcoming music, or just to get people talking, publicity stunts equate to media attention.
Of course, there is a fine art to orchestrating a stunt. Done correctly, they can help build careers. But, they can also break them. Whatever the repercussions, publicity stunts keep the rap game entertaining, and have led to some of the most unexpected, shocking, and sometimes hilarious moves in rap music.