The artist co-sign is sort of like the music business’ version of a pyramid scheme. First Artist A becomes successful, and opens the door for artist B. Then Artist A then eats comfortably off of Artist B. When perfectly executed, the co-sign can be an early retirement, letting an artist kick back while the new blood cleans up (see Akon and Usher).
But these dream scenarios don’t come along very often. For every Meek Mill there’s a Pill, for every Big Sean or Kid Cudi, there’s a Mr Hudson. Breaking a viable artist is no easy task, regardless of who lends their name to the cause. We rounded up some forgotten names who were once heralded by big names, but failed to live up to the hefty endorsement.
Back in 2006, G-Unit was on top of the world and signing everybody under the sun from Mobb Deep to Mase and M.O.P. The mighty Gorilla Unit signed a complete unknown out of Phoenix by the name of Hot Rod. The signing made as much sense back then as it does now, and only 50 could tell us what he saw in young Hot Rod in the first place. HR easily enjoyed all the perks of running with the Unit in their heyday — the first song he ever recorded for the label featured Mary J. Blige.
Hot Rod’s debut would never see the light of day and he’ll unfortunately be remembered as that guy 50 kicked off stage for forgetting the lines to “Wanksta.”
Kanye sured loved him some Mr Hudson. For years it felt like the G.O.O.D. Music general would throw the singer on every joint possible. Back in 2008 Kanye himself once said that he believed Mr Hudson had the potential to be bigger than him. Those kind of words may have unintentionally set unrealistic expectations for Mr Hudson, possibly dooming the British vocalist before he even fully started.
After his work on 808 & Heartbreaks, Mr Hudson would release his G.O.O.D. Music debut Straight No Chaser in 2009. He would go on to shine on Jay Z’s “Young Forever,” the fourth single off of the platinum-selling album Blueprint 3, and would also make an appearance on the seminal Watch The Throne album. But Hudson would fail to live up to the hype associated with Kanye’s hype.
Before Young Money ever existed, Sqad Up was Wayne’s crew. It was the early 00s: Cash Money was in its post-Hot Boys rebuilding phase and Wayne would be years away from becoming a bonafide hit maker. The group consisted of Gudda Gudda, T-Streets, Kidd Kidd, Supa Blanco, Dizzy & Young Yo. The crew worked feverishly in the underground circuit, releasing six volumes of their “SQ” series.
The crew would eventually part ways with Wayne, jumping ship to Lil Flip’s Clover G’s Records. Group members Gudda Gudda and T-Streets would eventually reunite with Wayne as members of Young Money, while Kidd Kidd would take his career into his own hands and sign with 50 Cent as the latest member of G-Unit.
Quan came virtually out of nowhere when he made noise thanks to his appearance on Nas’ Street Disciples track, “Just A Moment.” So much so, Nas signed the Virginia native to a deal on his Ill Will Records imprint. Unfortunately, like most of Nas’ Ill Will signings Quan never got around to officially releasing his project on the label. After amicably parting ways with Nas, Quan released Walking Testimony in 2009 on his Kings Nation imprint.
Famlay first caught the attention of rap fans with his standout freestyle on Clipse’s 2002 debut, “Lord Willin.” The appearance created a slight buzz for the Virginia native, who would sign on with The Neptunes’ Star Trak label. His debut Traintogo was slated for a 2004 release, but it was held up with numerous delays and ultimately never dropped.
Nobody quite expected Houston’s unexpected rap takeover in the mid ’00s. One by one, names like Bun B, Paul Wall, Mike Jones, Slim Thug and others extended Houston’s streak of hits, helping to extend the city’s grip on the game. As with most trends, a gold-rush of sorts ensued and close to every major label signed a rapper from Houston in an effort to capitalize.
Fresh off of the Roc breakup and holding down the position as Def Jam’s head honcho, Jay Z signed Latin rapper Aztec to his international label Roc-La-Familia. Aztek would never release an album on the imprint, but he would make an appearance on Bun B’s super Houston remix of “Draped Up.” If Aztek looks familiar, it’s because he’s since traded his career in music for a TV career, currently starring in the FX show, The Strain.
Before Rick Ross introduced the world to his “Untouchable” Maybach Music empire, the Miami rapper initially co-signed his Triple C’s outfit. The group consisting of members Gunplay, Torch, and Young Breed released the album Custom Cars & Cycles in 2009.
The project would do next to nothing and Ross would eventually go back to the drawing board, returning in 2011 with a new crew. This time around acquiring the talents of Wale, Meek Mill, and Pill under the collective known as MMG.
One could see from a mile away what Diddy was trying to accomplish with the signing of Donnie Klang. Justin Timberlake and Timbaland had caused a sonic shift with FutureSex/LoveSounds, so why not ride the blue-eyed electro R&B wave, right? Unfortunately, Klang may have not been the suitable talent to carry out Puff’s vision. The Making The Band alumnus dropped his debut Just a Rolling Stone in 2008, but the project failed to deliver.
Young Jeezy helped to kick off an entirely new era of Southern rap with the help of his Trap Or Die mixtape and debut major release Thug Motivation 101. The group dynamic wasn’t anything thing new to Jeezy, who had been part of the short-lived Boyz In The Hood. U.S.D.A. was meant to introduce the world to not only Jeezy’s CTE label, but his cohorts Slick Pulla and Blood Raw.
The album Young Jeezy Presents U.S.D.A.: Cold Summer was released on Jeezy’s CTE label, but didn’t quite set things off for the crew as intended.
The lane was open for Tony Sunshine in the mid ’00s. R&B had yet to see a successful Latino presence and as a member Fat Joe’s Terror Squad it seemed as if the stage was finally set. In 2004, Sunshine released the Diddy-assisted cut “Oh My God”. Unfortunately, his album would not be released and after a number of disappointing record deals, Sunshine would leave Fat Joe’s camp in 2008.