The Five Best NYC Rap Albums That Never Happened
Oh My God (2002)
Years before Detox and people making "Dr. Dre takes forever" jokes, was the mythologized Dre-produced Rakim album Oh My God. The Rakim-Dre partnership seemed to come at a time when Dre was on top of the world. Eminem's The Marshall Mathers LP had sold over ten-million copies, he'd been honored by The Grammys as the Producer of the Year and his 1999 album 2001 proved anyone who "Forgot About Dre" was a fool. The next logical step to further solidify dominance over the rap world would have to be signing arguably the greatest rapper of all time and releasing his magnum opus comeback album. Rakim hadn't put out a project since 1997, and his pairing with the good Doctor screamed of fantasy rap dream teaming. Sadly, since we can't have nice things, the album never happened. Rakim cites pressure from Interscope (many note the few leaked songs from this period feature far more profanity and gun talk than we're used to from the R) and Dre chalked it up to creative differences. Man, if only Rakim had wanted to make headphones instead.
Inner Vision (2003)
The sad fate of Rawkus Records left a bad taste in the backpacker generation's collectives mouthes. Yet, even during the dying days of the MTV tie-ins, the Funkmaster Flex hosted promo tapes and the flagship artists departing to start their own labels, Rawkus loyalists held on, hoping against hope that former half of Organized Konfusion Pharoahe Month's sophomore album Inner Visions would make all the suffering worth it. While the project's mind-melting single "Agent Orange" brought along a significant buzz, the album never materialized and by 2005, "Pharoahe Monch signed to..." rumors became the chatter-du-jour of rap news outlets. While Monch did eventually release a second album in 2007's Desire, the album's overall soul-inspired vibe sounds drastically different from the direction "Agent Orange" seemed to be heading in.
Nas & DJ Premier
Nasdaq: Dow Jones (2008)
The mid-2000s were home to many fabled rap releases that sounded too good to be true, and in all likelihood were. Along with Dr. Dre's Detox, you had talk of an MF Doom and Ghostface Killah collaboration called Swift and Changable, promo items hinting at Madvillain 2, and a cruel bit of false hopes called Nasdaq: Dow Jones. Longtime Nas fans had been complaining about his production choices since his second album, so when Premier confirmed the plans for a collaborative album with Nas in a series of interviews, there was much rejoicing. Shortly after talk of this album circulated, Nas entered his Hip-Hop is Dead phase, championing old school tradition and even appearing on a Premier beat for the release of the posse cut "Classic." Unfortunately, the two just couldn't get the timing right and, allegedly, rumor has it Premier gave the production he was going to give to Nas to Christina Aguilera. Life isn't good.