September 6, 2012 4 comments
LL Cool J famously opened his 1991 hit-record, “Mama Said Knock You Out,” with these words—signaling to his critics that he was still a force to be reckoned with in the rap arena.
Fast-forward 21 years and those words ring true for several of Hip-Hop’s biggest artists in 2012, who just so happen to be on the second and third winds of their career. At the top of that list are Pusha T, Juicy J and 2 Chainz. The way they’ve been able to revive their careers is beyond remarkable, especially considering that this is the first solo attempt for each of them.
With new waves of artists cropping up almost daily now (A$AP Rocky, Joey BadA$$, Chief Keef, Spaceghost Purrp, Kirko Bangz, etc.) it’s quite amazing how these veterans have been able to not only solidify themselves as relevant artists in 2012, but prominent ones as well.
Each of these three emcees are winning for being able to rejuvenate their careers, but it’s interesting to take a look at how they stack up against each other. Today’s Good Ass Question is one that I don’t have an answer for, as strong arguments can be made for each of these gentlemen. So I ask you. Between Pusha T, Juicy J and 2 Chainz, who’s having the more impressive comeback?
While Pusha T doesn’t like fraud niggas or yall niggas, what he undoubtedly likes is the success he’s seen since aligning himself with Kanye West and G.O.O.D. Music. After making the decision with brother Malice to take a break from The Clipse, Pusha has embarked on his first solo outing and flourished with each opportunity he’s received.
Since appearing on Kanye’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy record, “Runaway,” Pusha T has been on tracks with everyone from Tyler, the Creator to Jay-Z, Iggy Azalea to Rick Ross, to The Dream and Diddy. He landed a small role on an episode of HBO’s How to Make it in America and single-handedly stared down the entire YMCMB roster, only getting a weak response back from Lil’ Wayne.
But the most impressive part of Pusha’s second arrival is that 90 percent of the time, he’s outshining everyone else he’s on a track with—easily. On all of the G.O.O.D Music posse cuts he’s on, there isn’t an instance where he hasn’t had the best or second best verse. G.O.O.D. isn’t like YMCMB, where outrapping your labelmates should be the norm if you’re the least bit talented, lyrically. Besting the emcees on the G.O.O.D. roster is no small feat. Just ask Common. “Mercy,” “Christian Dior Denim Flow,” “New God Flow,” “So Appalled”—pick one. Terence Thorton shows up and out.
Pusha has definitely taken full advantage of his second chance and is proving to be a force in today’s Hip-Hop scene. He wasn’t lying on “Raid” when he said, “I’m only in the company of kings / I made a power move and it’s everything it seems.”
But Neighborhood Push isn’t the only one making power moves.
Another Hip-Hop veteran who has recently revitalized his career is Three 6 Mafia member, Juicy J. Like Pusha T, Juicy took leave from his group to pursue a solo career, which proved to be a wise decision. Thanks to successful mixtape releases, including both his Rubba Band Business and Blue Dream and Lean series, Juicy has a new batch of cult-like fans.
And while Pusha’s current success is owed to his lyrical prowess, Juicy’s popularity is largely due to the humorous entertainment value he, as a character, provides over hard-hitting trap beats. Couple his hilarious catch phrases like “We trippy mane” with his knack for rapping about the use of en vogue substances and it’s easy to see why Juicy is one of today’s most popular rap artists.
Most notable, however, is that this isn’t Juicy’s first Hip-Hop comeback. Three 6 Mafia was able to resuscitate their careers in 2005 thanks to the success of their platinum album, The Most Known Unknown, which spawned such singles as “Poppin’ My Collar,” “Stay Fly,” and the Academy Award-winning “Hard Out Here for a Pimp” (“Hard Out Here for a Pimp” appeared on the 2006 re-issued version of the album). They even had their own show on MTV for a short while.
The fact that Juicy is on the third leg of his career and was able to attract the attention of and get signed by Wiz Khalifa makes his return to prominence all the more phenomenal. Go to the club this weekend and you’re guaranteed to hear “Bands a Make Her Dance,” the Mike Will-produced twerk anthem. Not bad for someone who’s been in the game for over 15 years.
Last, but not least, is the artist formerly known as Tity Boi—2 Chainz. The word “Comeback” might be an understatement when discussing the way he’s been able to turn his career around.
If someone tells you that after hearing “Duffle Bag Boy” they knew Tity Boi would one day be one of the most popular rappers in Hip-Hop, they’re a damn liar.
Like Juicy J, 2 Chainz built an enormous buzz thanks to the success of several mixtapes: Trap-A-Velli, Codeine Cowboy and T.R.U. REALigion, to name a few. And like Pusha T, Chainz would eventually link up with Kanye West, raising eyebrows across the Hip-Hop community. But lets back up a step.
Although currently aligned with Mr. West and G.O.O.D. Music, 2 Chainz rose to prominence as a solo artist after leaving Playaz Circle. After the success of “Spend it,” the hair-weave killer was tapped to appear on a slew of standout records including Young Jeezy’s “SupaFreak” and Nicki Minaj’s “Beez in the Trap,” as well as the remixes to Machine Gun Kelly’s “Wild Boy,” Juicy J’s “Bands a Make Her Dance” and Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend.”
These days, when he’s not recording feature verses for other artists, rubbing elbows with Jay-Z or promoting his solo debut, Based on a T.R.U. Story, 2 Chainz is probably celebrating the fact that he has three songs currently on the Billboard Hot 100 (“Mercy” #19, “No Lie” #26 and “Birthday Song” #79). If he wasn’t a duffle bag boy back in 2007, he sure as Hell is now.
And while 2 Chainz’s star may seem to be shining the brightest out of the three, it’s difficult to ignore Pusha’s current lyrical dominance or Juicy’s ability to reinsert himself into the limelight.
So I ask, between Pusha T, Juicy J and 2 Chainz, who’s having the best career comeback? Now that’s a good ass question.