Nowadays, it’s adamantine to accumulate clue of the best acknowledged labels in Hip-Hop, accustomed their family-tree-like hierarchical structures. For instance, Young Money Entertainment — a almanac characterization founded by Lil’ Wayne — is an banner of Birdman’s Cash Money Records, which is broadcast by Republic Records, a analysis of Universal Music Group — one of the Big Four almanac labels, forth with Sony, Warner, and EMI. Universal, by the way, is a accessory of the French media amassed Vivendi.
During Hip-Hop’s aureate years, characterization structures were abundant simpler — Universal gave us Def Jam, Interscope fathered Suge Knight’s Afterlife Row Annal and Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, While P. Diddy’s (then accepted as Puff Daddy) Bad Boy Records, as able-bodied as Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records, operated beneath Sony.
Things got abashed as every rapper acquainted the charge to accept their own label, staffed with a bulk of their own artists, aggravating to aggrandize their own positions aural the market. Although this had the aftereffect of annihilative the backbone of the abundant Hip-Hop labels — as their rosters artlessly attenuated out due to artists aberration off into ever-shrinking subsidiaries — it’s barefaced why the artists pursued labels of their own. For aesthetic and banking reasons, artists of a assertive bartering adeptness took ascendancy of their cast appeal.
With that said, there was article appropriate about the ample labels.
Looking aback at the abundant ones, it’s accessible to me that the Hip-Hop characterization Mount Rushmore — in agreement of the greatest seven-year runs — is fabricated up of Afterlife Row (1992–1998), Bad Boy (1994–2000), Aftermath (1999–2005), and Cash Money (2008–2014). (Sorry Def Jam!)
With that settled, the catechism now becomes: Which of these has the accomplished peak?
In adjustment to amount that out, we’ll charge a scoring system.
Each of the afterward four factors will backpack a best annual of 25 points, with the final annual actuality out of a accessible 100 points. Whichever characterization arrangement highest, wins.
Here are the factors:
With the categories set, let’s get bottomward to business.
There hasn’t been a stronger Murderer’s Row of aptitude than Afterlife Row’s during its mid ’90s run. Afterwards plucking Dr. Dre from Ruthless Annal and award 19-year-old Snoop Dogg, Suge Knight completed his superstar trifecta by signing Tupac — already one of the best accepted rappers at the time — fresh out of jail. Further, Afterlife Row had abyss with its accumulation act — Tha Dogg Pound. Fabricated up of Kurupt and Daz Dillinger, Tha Dogg Pound additionally accustomed artists Warren G and Nate Dogg, whose “Regulate” was one of the best cogent advance of the era.
Lineup Score: 25/25
Bad Boy’s run of ascendancy is seperated in two facets. The ‘94-’97 run during the Notorious B.I.G.’s heyday, and the ‘97–’99 run afterwards his death. Bad Boy’s aboriginal run was abundantly saddled to the acceptance of bristles artists — Biggie, Craig Mack, Faith Evans, 112, and Total. Impressively, while Biggie’s afterlife looked to be the label’s abatement from grace, Diddy belted its approaching success on his acceptance as a abandoned act, as able-bodied as new talents — Mase and the Lox. Compared to Afterlife Row’s three superstars, Bad Boy may accept abandoned had two, in Biggie and Mase, yet their abyss and versatility fabricated up for it.
Lineup Score: 22/25
In 1996, Dr. Dre’s accommodation to leave Afterlife Row, while at their peak, no less, for his own label — Aftermath — seemed unwise. Then, Interscope arch Jimmy Iovine gave Dre a handout. Aloft his recommendation, Dre active Eminem in 1998, basic a one-two producer/rapper bite that somehow exceeded Dre’s beforehand accord with Snoop. Afterward Eminem’s astronomic success, Dre had a duke in bringing 50 Cent and The Game to the beginning of rap, basic a four headed monster that rivaled the one ahead accustomed by Big Suge.
Lineup Score: 23/25
After accepting already accomplished a abundant run in the backward ’90s and aboriginal ’00s with the success of the Hot Boys, Big Tymers, Juvenile, Lil’ Wayne, and the label-head himself, Birdman, by the backward ’00s, Cash Money’s fortunes seemed angry to the career of Lil’ Wayne. Right as Wayne was peaking with “Tha Carter III”, the characterization stumbled assimilate two goldmines in 2009 — Drake and Nicki Minaj. Despite Wayne’s imprisonment at the heigh of his powers, the success of Drake and Minaj agitated the characterization during the aboriginal bisected of this decade. While their claimed relationships aren’t what they already were, Cash Money has connected to abide accordant by way of their Big Three.
Lineup Score: 22/25
For this category, to accomplish things simple, we’ll abandoned attending at the label’s bristles best acknowledged releases. Although it hurts labels that accept appear added records, we’re activity to counterbalance affection over quanity.
1992 — Dr. Dre’s The Chronic — 3X Platinum, #3 Billboard, #1 Single — “Nuthin’ But a G Thang”.
1993 — Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle — 4X Platinum, #1 Billboard.
1994 — Above the Rim Soundtrack (Various Artists) — 2X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Single — “Regulate”.
1996 — Tupac’s All Eyez on Me— 10X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Singles — “California Love” and “How Do You Want It”.
1997 — Tupac’s The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory— 4X Platinum, #1 Billboard.
Final Totals of Afterlife Row’s Bristles Best Acknowledged Albums: 23X Platinum, Four #1 Albums, Four #1 Singles.
In agreement of certified classics, Afterlife Row would calmly booty the block with The Chronic, Doggystyle, and All Eyez on Me. In its heyday, the abominable West Coast characterization was absolutely article to behold.
Commercial Achievement Score: 23/25
1994 — Biggie’s Ready to Die— 4X Platinum, #15 Billboard, #1 Single — “Big Poppa”.
1996–112’s 112 — 2X Platinum, #37 Billboard, #1 Single — “Only You”.
1997 — Biggie’s Activity Afterwards Death — 10X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Singles — “Hypnotize” and “Mo Money Mo Problems”.
1997 — Diddy’s No Way Out — 7X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Singles — “Can’t Nobody Authority Me Down”, “I’ll Be Missing You”, and “Been Around the World”.
1998 — Mase’s Harlem World — 4X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Singles — “Feel So Good” and “Lookin’ at Me”.
Final Totals of Bad Boy’s Bristles Best Acknowledged Albums — 27X Platinum, Three #1 Albums, 9 #1 Singles
If we apathy my abundant access and attending at every anthology appear during anniversary label’s seven-year run, Bad Boy wins in aural fashion. Even so, their bristles best acknowledged albums authority their own adjoin those of any label. From ’94 through ’00, of Bad Boy’s 18 releases, SIXTEEN went at atomic Platinum. Three of those were by Black Rob, Carl Thomas, and Shyne…who? Exactly. Everything Diddy affected seemed to go Platinum.
Commercial Achievement Score: 25/25
2000 — Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP — 10X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Single — “The Real Slim Shady”.
2002 — Eminem’s The Eminem Show — 10X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Single — “Without Me”.
2003 — 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’— 8X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Singles — “In Da Club”, “21 Questions”, and “PIMP”.
2004 — Eminem’s Encore — 5X Platinum, #1 Billboard.
2005 — 50 Cent’s The Massacre — 5X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Singles — “Candy Shop” and “Just a Lil Bit”.
Final Totals of Aftermath’s Bristles Best Acknowledged Albums — 38X Platinum, Bristles #1 Albums, Seven #1 Singles
Having the acknowledged rapper of all-time — Eminem — and a superstar whose aboriginal two albums had aberrant success — 50 — goes a continued way aback artful Aftermath’s bartering performance.
Commercial Achievement Score: 25/25
2008 — Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter III— 3X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Singles — “Lollipop” and “A Milli”.
2010 — Nicki Minaj’ Pink Friday — 3X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Singles — “Your Love” and “Moment for Life”.
2011 — Lil’ Wayne’s Tha Carter IV — 2X Platinum, #1 Billboard.
2011 — Drake’s Booty Care — 2X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Singles — “Headlines”, “Make Me Proud”, and “The Motto”.
2013 — Drake’s Nothing Was the Same— 2X Platinum, #1 Billboard, #1 Single — “Hold on We’re Goin’ Home”.
Final Totals of Cash Money’s Bristles Best Acknowledged Albums — 12X Platinum, Bristles #1 Albums, Eight #1 Singles.
When compared to the others, Cash Money’s best contempo run coincides with the almanac industry’s crumbling sales, thus, their platinum achievements — while a lot lower than the added labels — must be taken with a atom of salt. Let’s admission that this industry-wide abatement justifies their lower numbers; but their eight #1 singles, and bristles #1 albums somewhat accomplish up for it.
Commercial Achievement Score: 22/25
While Suge Knight accumulated a who’s who of rap stars during the label’s heyday, Snoop Dogg was an alien abundance aloft signing. The others were already heavy-hitters: Dre came up with NWA, while Tupac was already one of the genre’s best acknowledged rappers above-mentioned to aing Afterlife Row. Here’s the thing, though: During their Afterlife Row days, all three above artists took their careers far above area they were above-mentioned to joining, and all three accomplished their career peaks while with Afterlife Row. Thus, three legends were born, forth with three flash-in-the-pan stars — Nate Dogg, Kurupt, and Warren G.
Diddy was amenable for orrating one of the best ascendant runs in Hip-Hop, by way of his adeptness to aeon aptitude in and out. While Biggie accustomed an abiding acceptability amid the high degree of rap, Mase, 112, Faith Evans, Total, The Lox, and Craig Mack, accomplished a abbreviate activity of success. With that said, ironically, the better talent — partly due to Biggie’s abortive death — the characterization produced was Diddy himself. He fared absolutely able-bodied as a abandoned act —despite the actuality he didn’t address his own material — with his aboriginal three albums activity Platinum. It’s safe to say the characterization birthed two legends, in Biggie and Diddy, with one highly-successful aftereffect star — Mase — and an arrangement of flash-in-the-pan stars — 112, Faith Evans, Total, The Lox, and Craig Mack.
Compared to the above two, abandoned Aftermath abandoned brought three stars to the beginning of Hip-Hop. Eminem became the better and acknowledged rapper in the world, 50 Cent had a two-year run that anchored his cachet as the better rapper in the industry, and The Game became a domiciliary name by way of the success of his debut — The Documentary. On Eminem’s and 50’s success alone, Aftermath’s seven-year run was a awe-inspiring success, acceptable a adapt for gluttonous out alien talent.
While Afterlife Row, Bad Boy, and Aftermath birthed the careers of abounding legends, abandoned Cash Money has been able to canyon the bake for the best rapper animate from one of the label’s artists to another. Afterlife Row is abandoned in the altercation because of Tupac — it’s the above with Bad Boy and Biggie. And although Aftermath got close — from Eminem’s run to 50’s — 50’s abbreviate aiguille mitigates their argument. We’re larboard with Cash Money. Near the end of Wayne’s aiguille in 2009, Drake began his ascendance into Hip-Hop’s stratosphere. By the time Wayne came out of bastille in 2011, the bake had been passed. Since then, Drake has been, if not the best, absolutely the better rapper alive. That agency that Cash Money has represented the better rapper animate throughout the absolute decade.
Death Row Annal (‘92–’98)
By 1992, the best abominable subgenre of Hip-Hop was “Gangsta Rap”. With its aboriginal two releases — Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle— Afterlife Row, by way of Dr. Dre, alien G-Funk (or Gangsta Funk) to the world. On The Chronic, Dr. Dre created the aberrant soundscape of “Weed Rap”, with his alarm and applesauce sampled beats, alongside Snoop’s above drawl. Further, Snoop’s Doggystyle, blood-soaked in Dre’s G-Funk sound, accustomed West-Coast “Party Rap”.
By the time Tupac accustomed to the characterization in 1996, Bad Boy had wrestled aback the position as Hip-Hop’s Best Coast. And again “California Love” happened. In what would be the aiguille of the G-Funk sound, Tupac heralded the “Thug Life” to a clumbthumping, vocoder-steeped phenomenon. Culturally, Afterlife Row culturally fabricated its attendance felt, embodying the strongarm personality of Suge, the blackmailer mentality of Tupac, and the pothead ambience of Snoop. It’s safe to say few added labels anytime enjoyed the access Afterlife Row wielded in their day.
Influence Score: 25/25
At a time aback G-Funk was the craze, Diddy and Biggie took on the added extreme — basking in opulence. Their cartoonishly affable music videos, abounding with with avant-garde mansions (“Juicy”), champagne, women, and hot tubs (“Big Poppa”), yachts and big-ticket cars (“Hypnotize”), and blatant apparel (“Mo Money Mo Problems”), were amazing in their lavishness. This was Bad Boy’s blueprint. Musically, Diddy’s assembly oversaw a soulful, sample-laden access that fabricated pop crossovers realistic. The bubble-gum pop sound, affected on by Biggie and baffled by Mase, afflicted the brand badly (see: Ja Rule, Fabulous, and Nelly). Thus, musically and culturally, Bad Boy rivals Afterlife Row in agreement of influence.
Influence Score: 25/25
Considering he was the aboriginal absolutely abundant rapper, Eminem’s cultural access was earth-shattering. Musically, he was adored by the latest abundance of Dre’s sound. Above Eminem, the characterization had 50 Cent, who had added artery address on annual of the actuality that he…was absolutely from the streets. He acclimated this ruggedness to abundant advantage, application the Gangsta Rap position aback he bare to while advancement crossover pop address aback a club song was in the calling. These two were massively
Influence score: 20/25
Although their access culturally doesn’t blow the heights of the above labels, Cash Money — by way of Drake and Nicki Minaj — has steered the brand against a banausic approach. While accomplished rappers baffled the adeptness to sing their hooks, never afore had we apparent one who could hit addendum a la Drake and Nicki. And so, their access is abiding in their outsize talent, that has fabricated the brand appeal that a rapper checks all boxes.
Influence Score: 20/25
Not surprisingly, the champ is Afterlife Row. Headed by the genre’s best alarming presence — Suge Knight — with superstars Tupac, Dr. Dre, and Snoop Dogg, Afterlife Row was groundbreaking — musically, culturally, and commercially. The realness, the Blackmailer Life, the Gangsta sensibility — it was all there. Yet none of that would accept mattered had their music been unspectacular. It was all in their sound.
All eyez on them.
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