A Proper Max B Studio Album
75 years is a long time for anyone but if you’re Max B, it could equal an eternity. The former Byrd Gang affiliate is currently serving that much time behind bars for conspiracy to armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault, and murder. Which leaves us wondering about the follow-up to his 2011 debut album Vigilante Season, which he recorded and finished in 2008 after leaving Byrd Gang Records. With his falling out with the label’s founder and president, Jim Jones, in the past, efforts should have been made to properly get back in the studio to deliver a second helping of what we love about Biggavelli.
A second album could’ve been the breakthrough the Max B needed to firmly establish his foothold in the rap world. Seeing the recognition by Curren$y, Danny Brown, Roc Marciano and most notably, Jay Z and French Montana, these features could’ve been a worthwhile addition to the offering. “When I came home you couldn’t tell me I’d be back in prison. I had it all figured out. I didn’t, but I thought I did. And bad things just happened, man,” Max B told Complex in a rare prison interview in July. “Sometimes you can’t foresee what’s gonna unfold, sometimes things just unfold in a way that’s uncontrollable... and next thing you know, you’re in a situation that you can’t get yourself out of.” 2013 should have been another year for the wavy Harlem native, who co-wrote Jones’ biggest hit, “We Fly High (Ballin’), to continue releasing his own music beyond the occasional guest appearance and mixtape (Return of the Wave). Thank goodness for mixtapes. Free Max B!
Before things got shady between them, Lil Kim and Foxy Brown were riding a powerful wave as the most well-known femcees in the ‘90s. The ladies, now former friends, were prominently featured with Da Brat on the remix to Total’s 1995 hit single “No One Else” as well as the cover of various magazines. Plans for a Thelma & Louise album came in 1997, but were thwarted as reports surfaced of tension between Brown and Lil Kim. The conflict resulted in Brown saying her and Kim were no longer friends and the possibility of Thelma & Louise soon vanished.
"It didn't have to do with Kim and I personally. It was the people around us. At the time we were supposed to record [Thelma & Louise], we weren't speaking.” Just this year, Fabolous tried to get the duo together for Hot 97’s Summer Jam, but the effort fell flat. Speaking with Vibe in 2011, Brown’s brother, Gavin Marchand, revealed that then Def Jam CEO Lyor Cohen put up $1 million for Brown and Kim to do the album, with each rapper receiving $500,000 “just to show up at Hit Factory.” Everyone was in the studio—me, Jay-Z, Pooh, Big, Pun,” he said. “They never showed up, and the project never happened. They both cut their phones off.” All fans are left with now are thoughts of ‘what if.’ Remy Martin said it best when she told Billboard, “If [Lil'] Kim and Foxy [Brown] would have done that Thelma & Louise album when they was poppin', it would've been the craziest shit ever!”
2007 was the year we got a taste of Child Rebel Soldier, a trio comprised of Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco and Pharrell Williams. The group debuted with “Us Placers,” a Fiasco-produced song off West’s album, Graduation. Plans for an official CRS album were reported, with Fiasco telling HipHopDX.com that the album wouldn’t have any typical R&B or soul samples. Instead it would sample the work of rock stars like Pink Floyd, Radiohead and similar artists.
“The type of music we're making will have that longevity like the rock artists have. Which is something hip hop artists don't have,” Williams said in 2010. “…With CRS, we're lyrically and sonically making music that we won't feel too old to perform at 60 years old, and our fans won't be embarrassed to repeat the lyrics at 60 years old either. So, we're on another level from everyone else with this project." The next CRS singles came with the remix to N.E.R.D.’s “Everyone Nose” and “Don’t Stop.” Despite finishing four songs for the album, CRS never got their due. In 2010, West stated that the group’s album would follow the release his My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy album and his Jay Z collaboration Watch The Throne. Fiasco put the nail in the coffin in July-- responding on Twitter, the rapper announced that CRS has been cancelled.
A Nas and Amy Winehouse album seemed like a destined collaboration. After all, the two shared the same birthday (Sept. 14) and a love for each other’s music. But alas, it was not so. With Winehouse’s death in 2011, the light was put out regarding such a project. The only offerings we have of what could’ve been are found in posthumous singles “Like Smoke” (from Nas’ Life is Good” and “Cherry Wine” (off Winehouse’s Lioness: Hidden Treasures). Looking back, Nas painted a picture of what he and Amy were gearing up to drop in a video posted on YouTube.
“She had this song, I don’t know if you heard “Me and Mr. Jones” on her album. And she wanted to do part two and she wanted me to be on the record,” he said. “So we were trying to figure out what that would be like. And she had….aw man. She had all these ideas. And she was a jokester…we were working on a song for the album before “Cherry Wine.” It was a cover of one of Donny Hathaway’s records. And we were putting the music together. She was putting the words together, changing the words up a little bit and we never got a chance to record it. So when I got the call that she passed, it really took me down because I had only hung out with her one weekend in London.”
Call it a clash of egos. The Murder Inc. group was a dream team consisting of Jay Z, DMX and Ja Rule. An album featuring these guys in a group would’ve equaled classic. Especially after seeing that infamous XXL magazine cover. Sadly, the only thing that prevented Murder Inc. from murdering any and all competition was Murder Inc. According to Ja Rule, the group self-destructed in light of underlying tension with Jay Z and DMX.
"That would have been a great project," Ja shared with XXL in 2011. "I think we was all bringing something different to the table, and we could have given hip-hop something special. When you try to put something like that together, you're dealing with egos and a lot of outsiders putting the bug in people's ear... That's what got the best of the situation, a lot of egos. Not me per se, because I was kinda new and just coming up. But X and Jay, they had exploded on the scene by that time, and it was a lot of egos in the way...Really, to tell you the truth, I'm putting it in a nice way, but they didn't f*ck with each other at all. X and Jay didn't fuck with each other at all. It was hard getting them in a room together."
Tupac "One Nation"
Before his death in 1996, Tupac Shakur was in a heated war with his former friend, the Notorious B.I.G. One that would expand into to regional warfare between the East Coast and West Coast. Fortunately, Pac started falling back from his coastal feud as plans started forming for One Nation, a collaborative album aimed at burying any notion of beef between the East and West. Among those involved in the 18-track project was the Boot Camp Clik. Footage of the meeting and studio session can be found online as well as many of the songs from the project.
The One Nation album has yet to be released, as the effort was shelved after Tupac’s death. “I’ll be like the President…I want to be the individual that put it all together,” BCC leader Buckshot revealed to HipHopDX. “We’ve got New York, Texas, L.A. We had the Luniz on there, nobody even know the Luniz was on there, that made that record “I Got 5 On It.” We had Bone Thugs-n-Harmony on there. Since there was a few people on that album that we was all going to be one movement. I mean, it was going to be crazy. If you think about the power that ‘Pac had at that time, just imagine if his next movement was everybody coming as one nation. Something was, you know what I mean?”
The Commission Album
In the tradition of Murder Inc. comes another rap supergroup that never fulfilled its destiny. The Commission was poised for greatness. B.I.G. name-checked members of the group on his song “What’s Beef” (Lance “Un” Rivera – Uncle Paulie; Puff Daddy – P. Diddy; Lil’ Cease – Caesar Leo de Janeiro; CharliBaltimore; Jay-Z – Iceberg Slim; The Notorious B.I.G. – Frankie Baby a/k/a Frank White) and Jay fanned the flames with a shout-out on “The City is Mine.” The Notorious one mentioned the collective again on Diddy’s “Victory.” However, The Commission never got off the ground as B.I.G. was taken away too soon in 1997.
The only indication of what the group could’ve been is found on the Jay Z-assisted "Whatchu Want (The Commission)," a track off the posthumous Biggie album Duets: The Final Chapter. "No, we didn't get a chance to, it never happened," Charli told MTV’s Sway Calloway in September. "It was already a blessing to be around such talent and greatness, so that would've been crazy." ‘The Commission was going to [put out an album] of proportions that no one could fuck with,” says music producer Clark Kent said in the book Empire State of Mind: How Jay-Z Went From Street Corner to Corner Office. “The lyrical ability on the album was going to be outstanding. That’s that. The two best MCs in the game making records together would have been super-dangerous.”
If you’re familiar with the history of Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, things were up and down with the pair after Cube left N.W.A. Since then, Cube and Dre gave us “Natural Born Killaz,” a track that evoked how lethal the two could be if they waged war via a full-length LP. Things seemed to be on track for that project but according to Cube, two notable obstacles prevented the long-awaited reunion. “What happened to Helter Skeltah was Eminem and 50 Cent. That’s what happened to Helter Skeltah,” the rapper confessed to RapRadar.com in 2010.
“When we was like thinking about doing that project …Eminem come in. He blow the doors off Interscope. Dre has to turn his focus strictly on that, which he should. You know like some shit that’s poppin,’ you got to jump on that train. You can’t be like ‘Yo, I’ll catch the next one. Let’s create something that’s poppin’. So he had to run on that train. As soon as that that train started to die down, here come 50, which was a whole ‘nother train. And then The Game. So a whole bunch of good shit happened that put this project on the backburner because, it’s like, you know, you can’t ignore that success… It ain’t gonna pop until Dre say it’s gonna pop because he gotta do the music. I got rhymes. It’s not like I ain’t got nothing to rap about … It’s better to wait for his full undivided attention than to do some shit and people be like ‘uhhh.’
Left Eye "N.I.N.A."
Say what you want, but Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes was someone you had to pay attention to. Whether it was with T-Boz and Chili as part of TLC or her occasional guest appearances (Lil Kim’s “Ladies’ Night” remix, Donnell Jones’ “You Know What’s Up” remix), the talent was undeniable. So it was a given that she would bless us with something worthwhile to follow her solo debut album, Supernova. At the time, Left Eye was starting a new musical chapter with signing with Tha Row Records and gearing up to unleash her second solo album under a new name, N.I.N.A., which stood for New Identity Not Applicable. The opus was to feature her work with Ray J, Juvenile, 'N Sync, Missy Elliott and David Bowie, among others. Left Eye’s album, originally scheduled for a 2002 release, was ultimately shelved after her death in April of that year.
Nevertheless, some work was done on the album, but due to Left Eye traveling back and forth between Los Angeles and Honduras, though, there were only a few songs that were completed. “She just seemed real determined to have the world hear a solo album,” Left Eye’s last producer, Darren Vegas revealed to L.A .Weekly about the woman he labeled as “real laid-back and calm.” “The stuff we were working on, we weren’t copying what she had done [with TLC]. We were creating a brand new sound.”
For more than half a decade, Lil Wayne and Juelz Santana have worked on their joint album, I Can’t Feel My Face. As it stands now, many of the collaboration’s tracks have found life on mixtapes. Despite Santana keeping hope alive with repeated confirmations of the album coming, Lil Wayne has definitely moved on to other endeavors. "I actually got at Elz when I got out and told him 'I think it's time we really capitalize on that.' I don't know what it is. 'Elz is going through some legal something, some legal problems and he can't work how he want to work because they shut down his studio," Wayne told MTV. "So I sent him some music and he didn't send them back in the same the time that I work , therefore I started putting extra verses on. And now what probably would have been I Can't Feel My Face is now I Am Not A Human Being II."
Further reports state that “label politics” may have also played a role in the delay of I Can’t Feel My Face. Santana himself weighed in on the album during an interview with BET.com last year. "We actually have a ton of music that got leaked on the streets. For a couple reasons it didn't come out at one point. The same way that the T-Wayne album...ain't come out," Santana explained. "He reached out to me like, 'I think we need to capitalize on the album.' At the time, my studio had just gotten raided by the police. It was kind of a real tight situation for me. I spoke to Wayne recently…I guess at the time he said he moved on, people were making it seem like he was saying he was never gonna do the album. We spoke about that."
HotNewHipHop follows up "Albums That Need To Happen" by breaking down 10 albums that should have happened but, for whatever reason, did not. From Lil Kim and Foxy Brown's "Thelma & Louise," to Lil Wayne and Juelz Santana's "I Can't Feel My Face," and more.
It’s often said you should never put off tomorrow what you can do today. Although this saying works with most people, for some it’s more of a challenge. For rappers, it can result in not delivering that highly anticipated project the fans have been waiting for. With that, we at HNHH have compiled a list of albums and entertainers that should have capitalized on the moment to bring what should’ve been a sure thing to the masses.
From personal feuds, to ego trips, to the end of a life, the reasons for why an album was shelved could go on forever. As a result, we the fans are left with a ton of ‘what if’s’ or ‘why didn’ts’ that even industry insiders may not know the answers to.
So as a follow-up to last week's Albums That Need To Happen, we now present you with a list of Albums That Should've Happened.