When you see some “3 Little Digs” footage you know something is going down in the A. The production company follows these three MCs as they hit the streets and then the stage of Atlanta. Why is this being posted? Because it’s good fucking footage, that’s why.
Fresh off his success from Royal Flush 2, CyHi took his talents to South Beach wasn’t a goon and flew down to Miami to give the fans what they want to hear. If there was an All In My Head Music award for “Best New Lyricist” he would win, hands down.
Before we dive into Kanye West’s label, G.O.O.D. Music, let’s recap the grading criteria:
1. Does the artists’ label embody their own hip-hop philosophy?
2. How much work has said artist put in to his label to earn him respect?
3. Is their an artist on their label that will one day be “the doggfather of the label”?
4. We are examining the entire of evolution of the label. A relapse period is just as important as a signing boom.
5. Lastly, we need to verify how legit this label is. Everyone knows that creating a label just takes one person to create a Facebook page with a bullshit label on it, so does it embody a bevy of talent?
To begin, let’s set the scene. It’s the turn of the millennium and this upcoming, young producer from Chicago named Kanye West is all over Jay-Z’s 6th studio album, The Blueprint. The album went platinum in large part due to Kanye West’s production on tracks such as “Izzo”, “Heart of the City” and “Never Change“. He was quickly courted by artists all throughout the industry, but smartly realized he could use his productions credits to help himself launch his rap career. Kanye released his debut album The College Dropout in 2004 through Jay-Z’s label Roc-A-Fella Records. It was immediately dubbed a classic by everyone in the hip-hop community. Later that year, after the world agreed that Kanye’s natural lyrical and production talents could not be denied, he launched his own label G.O.O.D. Music to quickly diversify his musical capabilities. A bit to early in his career but clearly that cocky asshole knew he was going to be a legend.
The guy has made a career for himself unlike any other artist before or after him. ‘Ye is the only big aritst in hip-hop now to gain recognition as a producer and use it to showcase his lyrical skills. Over the years, he has never shied away from rapping about real world subjects; constantly saying things that most people wouldn’t. Subsequently, he has always been interested in finding a platform for other artists to act similarly. So when Kanye created G.O.O.D. Music in 2004, there was no surprise that his first two signee’s were Common and John Legend; two established artists whose career focus was to change the world through their powerful yet intellectual music. Not only did Kanye West want to give some of his favorite artists another chance at stardom but by creating G.O.O.D. Music, Kanye allowed himself to return to his first passion, production. As executive producer of both Common’s G.O.O.D. debut, Be and Legend’s debut Get Lifted, Kanye helped the two gain seven grammy nominations.
From there it became all business for Kanye. He had his career made. His last order of business? Putting someone in charge of his label. Who better than ‘Ye’s most trusted friend and musical mentor No I.D. It allowed Kanye to focus on his own musical career while leaving the creativity of his own label to someone he could trust. This is the perfect blueprint for any artist. Clearly, Kanye does not have enough time in his life to fully manage his own label. Putting someone like No I.D. in charge allows Kanye’s musical aspirations and concepts to be met because of how similar I.D.’s musical background is. It’s as though Kanye’s made his older brother (who can’t rap but understands music on the same level) the label head.
2005-2006 marked a quiet period for G.O.O.D. Music. It’s hard to tell if Kanye was focusing on other aspects of his life (fucking, proposing and eventually getting ditched by Alexis Phifer. He did release Late Registration in 2005, though) and, or he just stopped giving a shit about the label. Either way, there was a void that needed to be filled. Hip-hop heads knew about G.O.O.D. Music, but they didn’t believe it was one of the top labels in the game, and quite frankly, it wasn’t. However, at the end of 2007 and 2008 Kanye made small moves that turned out to be high-reward signings in Big Sean and Kid cudi respectively. While it took Big Sean up until 12 days from now to release his first album, Cudi saw immediate success. Already having released two albums on G.O.O.D. Music, Cudi has already become an after thought on the label, while Big Sean has taken over as the top young gun. Big Sean’s slow, gradual improvement is going to pay off much higher for him at the end of his career, then Cudi who has seemingly flaked out after round 2.
The blueprint for a strong label is much like it is in basketball. You need to have your alpha dog, (Kanye West) the guy you can go to in any situation to deliver a hit. Then you need your key sidekicks, guys you can rely on to help out in key situations (Kid Cudi). Never expect the #2 guy to have the talent to become an alpha dog though. Evidence by Cudi’s hard fall-off with his second album, Man On The Moon II: The Legend of Mr. Rager. A solid #3 consists of someone you expect to one day take over as the top dog. Usually they’re young, very talented and strong but lack vision and understand right away (Big Sean). Lastly, you have your role players. To be successful, there has to be two or three guys you can rely on to make big plays that show your fans that some depth exist. This is where G.O.O.D. Music thrived in late 2010. Amidst Kanye West’s post-808′s musical boom in the fall of 2010, he added a few key players to the squad. Seemingly out of nowhere, CyHi Da Prynce, an Atlanta MC with seriously lyrical talent and a strong work ethic appeared on G.O.O.D. Music. He was able to showcase his talents on Kanye’s GOOD Friday series several times. Similarly, Pusha T, the younger member of the well established duo Clipse appeared on G.O.O.D, in what has been a somewhat successful attempt to launch a solo career. Both of them appeared numerous times on Kanye’s GOOD Friday’s series, opening the eyes of many potential new fans.
There’s no denying Kanye West has immense talent. We’re well past the point of dubbing him the greatest musician of the post-golden age era. The greater question is, how will people remember G.O.O.D. Music? Right now, the hip-hop community sees the capacious potential of each individual artists and wonders if they’ll ever be able to all put it together. The label’s run extremely poorly. Release dates have been pushed back for years, as the label lets its artists bullshit the fuck out of their fans. Follow up albums from Common and John Legend were really weak. Kid Cudi has seemingly fallen off a cliff as well. In other words, maintaining the careers of these artists as they move into the mainstream has been unsuccessful. It’s something Kanye never saw, so why are we seeing it with his label mates? It’s hard to see who’s to blame for that though, and isn’t that what the music industry has become? If we focus on what’s available right now, it’s clear the talent pool that Kanye signed is not only deep, but envisions every aspect of music he stands for. If you look closely at each artist, they’ve all blossomed in one aspect of music. Big Sean has the swag, Kid Cudi has the flow, CyHi has the lyricism. Kanye has all of that within himself. It’s the perfect way to compliment yourself as an artist. Nobody said these guys were going to be better than Kanye, but no one expected them to have this much trouble. He groomed Big Sean to be the heir to the throne. It only seems fitting as Big Sean seems to have the most upside. Only one problem, Big Sean’s debut, Finally Famous: The Album is about to send him off on the wrong path. For Kanye West, it may be time to re-work The Blueprint.
CyHi seems to be following the typical formula of modern day rappers. Get your name out there, drop a few mixtapes, singles and videos. Have a big artist co-sign your ass and then drop an album and collect your paycheck. Here is the second mixtape from CyHi since he’s been signed to G.O.O.D. Music.