Full disclosure first, I’m a huge Slaughterhouse fan. Not just that, I’m a huge fan of 3 out of the 4 artists in Slaughterhouse (Joell’s boring to me). So I write this as someone who loves their music not just as a group but as individual artists and would love to see them finally get the recognition they deserve in the industry. But the truth is that will never happen.
In a month or so (if it doesn’t get pushed back again), Slaughterhouse will release their second album, only this time instead of on some chump indie label they got the backing of plantation owner Marshall and Shady Records. So one can only assume they’ll finally get out of the shadow of label fucking they’ve all endured over the course of their careers and the masses will finally appreciate true raw lyrical talent right? Nope. The shit will flop like their last album did. Their first album sold 18K first week, that’s a fail. And as of April of this year, a full year after it dropped, their EP has only sold 15K, and that was on Shady Records, again, fail. Combine that with the flops of the three singles they’ve tried to promote for this upcoming album (“My Life” being the closest thing to a hit and even that’s a huge stretch) and now they’ve decided to drop a mixtape before the album, because they’re that desperate for anyone to care about them. The sad thing is this was destined to happen from the start and no amount of Shady Records promo was gonna help.
You have four artists who have all in some way been screwed by the industry. First you got Joe Budden, who still to this day you can bring up and someone will say “isn’t that the ‘Pump it Up’ guy?” Basically Joe did what no other artist in the history of rap has done, flopped as a mainstream rapper and then said “but hey wait, I actually CAN rap” and did what he really wanted to do musically and has since built a huge underground following. But to some he’ll always just be the guy that made “Pump It Up”. The rest of people who aren’t fans of his will say he’s too emotional on his records cause he spits 48 bar verses about Tahiry, and who’s to say they aren’t right?
Then you got Royce, who even after a makeup session with Eminem still already got fucked over on his debut album and hasn’t done shit since worth of note and honestly doesn’t give a fuck anymore in his bars, which as a fan I think is awesome cause he’ll rap about whatever he wants but to the general audience he may come off as corny. His EP with Eminem sold 600K less in its first week than Marshall’s last album. That’s 600,000 people who said “who the fuck is this Royce guy? Fuck it I’ll pass on this”. And you know Eminem fans, they’re loyal, they’ll buy anything that racist releases just cause it’s Eminem and they can “relate”.
Joell Ortiz? Shit, that Bricks Bodega Chronicles shit gave him a slight bit of hype, followed up with a possible Aftermath debut, but like most Aftermath artists he got shelved indefinitely while Dr. Dre kept working on that epic Detox album that will never happen.
The real disappointment here is Crooked I though. I was watching this documentary recently, I believe it was on the Hip Hop Police, and there was a scene at this convention they used to have in Orlando every year back in the 90s, and there was a segment with either Suge Knight or some Death Row higher-up talking to the camera, and behind him were like 4 or 5 dudes holding enormous posters promoting an upcoming album from Crooked I. That was like 1994. Had that label not crashed and burned then Crooked could have quite possibly become the next west coast legend, but instead he got caught up in the label bullshit, got a little steam with the Hip Hop Weekly series, but has only been relevant again now because of Slaughterhouse. It’s a damn shame.
So why does all this translate to an inability for any of these artists to do well now? Basically it’s cause when you bring up any of their names (especially Joe and Royce) people already have an opinion formed about them and you’re not likely to change that. The average fan especially may have heard Joell’s name like 5 years ago, so his first thought is gonna be “I remember that dude, but I haven’t heard anything about him in so long that he can’t be that good or else he would have already released something of note”. Same with Joey, he’ll never escape the “Pump It Up” demons, and personally I think he fucked himself with that incident anyways involving the remix (that article I’ll write next week). So you got these four artists who already have reputations as falling off or just plain never getting on, so even when you try to promote them as a group, or they try to make hit singles, it just doesn’t work, and no amount of promotion is gonna generate enough hype for them to last any more than one album on Shady Records. It has nothing to do with the state of hip hop or how no one cares about lyrics anymore, it’s just the simple fact that this “supergroup” will always be more known for their past failures than their current output.