The Top Ten Rap Supergroups That Never Happened
Over the weekend, the rapper Sean Price took to Twitter to propose a collaboration album between his own Brooklyn-based Boot Camp Clik hip-hop crew and Staten Island's mighty Wu-Tang Clan. The idea has been received rapturously. But then again, theoretical hip-hop supergroups usually are. Rap's history is littered with fanciful unions, most of which rarely get beyond the brain-storming stage: pesky little glitches like scheduling conflicts, waning enthusiasm from higher profile members, and mortality, among other things, tend to keep most supergroups from ever becoming reality. But that doesn't mean playing rap fantasy football isn't fun. Here's a rundown of ten of the most desired hip-hop supergroups from the genre's real life annals, along with the reason they never quite happened:
Wu-Tang Clan vs. Boot Camp Clik
'93 'til infinity alert! Proving there's still much faith in the rough, rugged, and often muddy-sounding early-'90s New York rap template, these two East Coast hip-hop powerhouses are said to be readying what will be the ultimate supergroup extravaganza. There's immense appeal in the idea of hearing B.C.C. soldiers over RZA's dusty production, or Method Man and Buckshot trading blunted-sounded rhymes. The live show would surely be rambunctious. If it happens, this could well be the project to steal hip-hop's shine back from the South.
Image via 2DopeBoyz
What Will Happen? The collaboration is a logistical nightmare: the idea of getting the 17 putative members (16 living, and one brilliant-but-deceased bastard in spiritual form) on the same page--or even in the same studio--is an obvious folly. A better bet: Lesser-supported Wu players Masta Killa and U-God record an album with the prolific Price, Buckshot produces, and Ghost and Raekwon phone in verses for a song that becomes an internet favorite. That, or a slew of bedroom D.J.s making their own Wu vs. B.C.C. mash-up mixtapes.
A big-budget hip-hop version of a mafia movie, The Commission was spearheaded by The Notorious BIG. Taking on the mantle of casting director, he ran through his dream crew on the introduction to "What's Beef?", breaking down the characters as follows: Big would become Frank White, Jigga would play Iceberg Slim, Junior M.A.F.I.A. cohort Lil' Cease was slated to be the exotic-sounding Caesar Leo De Janeiro, Lance 'Un' Rivera was down to play Uncle Paulie, and Puffy got the role of a lifetime as P Diddy. Chali Baltimore, the sole female in the concept, had to settle for her original rap name (itself inspired by Geena Davis' role in The Long Kiss Goodnight).
What Happened? March 9th, 1997, BIG was killed in a drive-by shooting. After Raekwon's Only Built For Cuban Linx... satiated rap fans' appetite for mafia-inspired tales in verse two years prior, the idea of The Commission faded away, although Jigga did find time to go on to allegedly stab Rivera in 1999.
All City Chess Club
"All City Chess Club was in the studio last night," tweeted perennial nerd rap spokesperson Lupe Fiasco back in April, stoking rumors of the existence of a new generation supergroup consisting mostly of XXL magazine freshmen: Asher Roth, Wale, B.o.B., The Cool Kids, Charles Hamilton, Diggy Simmons, Blu and J. Cole. To date though, their jump-off moment, the remix to Lupe's "I'm Beamin'", hasn't officially emerged.
What Happened? The curse of being an XXL freshmen has seen most of these kids struggling to find time to propel their own careers beyond the blogs, let alone bother with an extracurricular project. And when you're a new-wave rap kid largely getting paid off the brand sponsorship game, it's hard to split a pair of free jeans nine ways...
The ultimate theoretical "conscious" quartet: Common, Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch and The Roots' Black Thought's union was set to provide a lyrically-fortified antidote to rap's shallow mainstream excess. Who wouldn't want to listen to an album of raps kicked by gents giving out the aura that they worked down the local food co-op?
What Happened? Once Common piggy-backed Kanye West's ride into the mainstream and fulfilled his long-term artistic goal of nabbing a bit-part in the movie Terminator Salvation, rap's wholesome lyricists realized that what they really wanted was to do was live lavish like Jay-Z. Cue Monch attempting to cross-over by dressing up as Elvis in a video and Black Thought settling for being a rapping accoutrement on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.