No, not THAT type of divorce… I’m talking splits, really.
Jay-Z and Damon Dash; 50 Cent and Game; Don Jazzy and D’banj; 50 Cent and Young Buck; PSquare and MayD; Fat Joe and Fried Chicken; Trybe Records and Eva… Wyclef/TheFugees and Lauryn Hill… Mocheddah and Knighthouse… Diddy and every Act signed to BadBoy in the 90’s…
Y’all get the idea right?
One minute, it’s Roc4Life. It’s G-G-G-G-G-Unit!! It’s Mo-Hits.. it’s Square Records (BayBayyy!), and life couldn’t be better. You start from scratch, team up with the right partner(s), and you build something truly unique and special.
Then the money comes. And it’s great because you’re doing what you LOVE to do, with the people you love, and you’re doing it for a living. Life is good. But somewhere down the line, it seems like… inevitably, the money moves in and the love is forced to move out. Sometimes the money hasn’t even fully stacked up the way you envisioned it to, yet.
Money is the root of all evil, right? It’s hard to see clearly when Dollar signs blur your vision. It’s not just the money either. It’s the fortune AND the fame. Especially as far as the music business goes. Fame is a drug, and it’s HELLA addictive. In the immortal words of Jay-Z “…fame is / the worst drug known to man / it’s stronger than / heroin / when you can look in the mirror like ‘there I am / and still not see just what you’ve become”. You step on stage and thousands of people absolutely go insane. They’re screaming your name… screaming the lyrics to every one of your songs. They’re crying and passing out at your shows like you’re the best thing that has ever happened, ever. Sliced Bread ain’t got sh*t on you. Forget sex. That feeling is pure, unadulterated Climax.
All of a sudden you’re surrounded by your army of yes-men; and not just people that work for you. It’s your friends. Some new, some old… people worship the ground you walk on. The word “no” no longer exists. You get what you want, when you want, how you want it: From Girls, Business Contacts, Establishments… everyone and everything.
In these moments, it’s hard to remember and it’s hard to realize. It’s hard to remember where you started from, and how your partners helped you get to where you are. It’s hard to realize how you complement each other, and how you each contribute to the other’s success. It’s hard to realize how fickle and fleeting success can be.
So the first thing that happens is the communication goes out the window. Simply put, you just don’t talk as much as you used to. Sure you speak when necessary about business issues, but that’s about it, really. And then somewhere along the way, that genuine love also evaporates. And issues that would have been squashed with a simple phone call or chat, suddenly seem larger than life. And minor personality flaws that would once have been ignored, brushed aside, or dealt with, suddenly become do or die matters.
And so you split up, because afterall, you can do just fine by yourself, and you don’t need him/her/them holding you back. But what you may not see, at least not right away, is that in most cases (except for MAYBE Jay’s), the sum of both parts is almost always greater than the individuals. OutKast?? Untouchable. That Fugees “The Score” Album? Unquestionable classic. Don Jazzy and D’banj?? Formidable.
I stumbled upon this article in the Village Voice:http://blogs.villagevoice.com/music/2012/11/big_boi_outkast_vicious.php?page=2. When asked why Andre3000 was not on his upcoming album, Big Boi said: “ He could’ve been on any song he wanted to. I gave the motherfucker about five songs, but I guess he was just too busy. He said he had to do some Gillette shit [room erupts in laughter]. No for real. He said he had some contractual obligations.” Hold on one second while I contemplate burning my entire stack of Gillette razors. Just Kidding.
However.. as a fan of all the afore-mentioned partnerships, it broke my heart when I heard about the splits. And in my opinion, no one really wins when these things happen. When shit hits the fan, everyone in the room gets sprayed. But it’s the sad reality of the urban music landscape that we’re a part of. Mostly due to egos/fame/fortune etc, the harsh, sad reality is that these things rarely last forever. As fans, all we can do is continue to support both parties and wish them the best of success in their future ventures.
The good news is: for every “50 Cent & Game/YoungBuck/etc”, there’s an “Eminem & Dr. Dre”. There’s a “Jay-Z & Kanye West”. A “Boys II Men” – who were able to start together and retire together. A “TLC” – till death did them part, literally.
For the rest that are out there trying to build something special. Pause what you’re doing for a moment, and take a look at where you’re at right now; take a look around while you’re at the bottom, hustling, and take a good look at the people you’re hustling with. Appreciate this moment. Freeze it in your minds eye, and thank God for it. Because as history has shown us… things get cloudy at the top.
PS: I know this write up may cause some of you to think that the rumors you’ve heard that EME and Wiz have split are true. They’re not. Wiz is still very much a part of the team, we’re still working together and I’m still very proud of him.