Since its humble beginnings in the 1970s, hip-hop has remained a youth movement. Even with over 40s like Jay-Z and Snoop Dogg still in the game, hip-hop is and always will be about what is brand new. Yesterday’s ‘fresh’ is today’s ‘swag’, what was considered state-of-the-art in the ’80s is seen as rudimentary today.
That may sound superficial on the surface but at the heart of it hip-hop fans just want to hear something unique that pushes the culture forward. Then you’ve got the record label perspective, which is more about cherry picking and exploiting new talent just to appear like they are on the cutting edge.
In this pursuit of never-ending youth, hip-hop has a habit of anointing young talent with the tag of being the ‘next big thing’. In many instances an artist will work their way up the mixtape and online circuit building up a base of loyal followers before labels have no choice but to pay attention. In other cases these artists will be a creation of the record label, bred to be the next in line for the throne.
Factors such as lack of support from the record label or the artist’s failure to make the most of their opportunity can affect their chances of making it. In many cases the artist does what they can but ultimately becomes a victim of the industry (think all of Slaughterhouse before they got signed).
With so many artists having come and gone over the years, we examine the careers of those who lived up to the hype as ‘hip-hop’s next big thing’ and those who didn’t. Forgot to mention someone? Let us know.