New Orleans rap duo $uicideboy$ combined their talents in 2014, but the pair were already well-acquainted. The cousins — Ruby da Cherry and $lick $loth — grew up together, white kids in black neighborhoods on the east and west banks of the Crescent City. Once they joined forces, the result was a dark blend of horrorcore glitch-trap bubbling with booming bass, ominous atmospherics, and occultish, drugged-out rhymes. Signed to G59 Records, the Boy$ released the ambitious ten-part series, Kill Your$elf. With titles like The $uicide $aga, The $eppuku $aga, and Re$urrection, $uicideboy$ layered their twisted raps over short tracks, releasing additional EPs like Black $uicide (with Black Smurf), Grey Sheep, G.R.E.Y.G.O.D.S., and My Liver Will Handle What My Heart Can’t. With SXSW and international shows under their belts, the recordings continued, notching nearly 30 full efforts within two years. Radical $uicide, their 29th release, arrived in the summer of 2016. The five-track EP produced by Getter peaked at number 17 on the Billboard Rap charts.
Multi Grammy award winning artist Shaggy is by all accounts the true definition of a renaissance man, besides his continuing success in reggae/dancehall music and it’s influence on pop music worldwide, Shaggy is fierce businessman, and humble philanthropist. Since exploding on the music scene, Shaggy’s several gold and multi-platinum selling albums have won him a Grammy Award in 1996 for Best Reggae Album, 5 Grammy nominations, and topped an impressive chart list that included the Top 40 Rhythmic charts, Hot 100, Billboard 200, among others.
In 2012 Shaggy launched new label, Ranch Entertainment, Inc. The premiere reggae fusion label, headquartered in New York and Jamaica, was formed with the premise to develop and facilitate innovative approaches for up and coming artists to excel in the current market and provide established artists with opportunities outside their usual channels. The label was received to much fanfare which translated in a Sony/Brooklyn Knights/Ranch Entertainment deal. The unprecedented union still allowed Shaggy to have creative say in the production of his music, yet have a powerhouse supporting his music and brand.
Shaggy illustrious career has seen the international superstar perform alongside some of the biggest names in all genres of music, notably he recently collaborated with his longtime friend and producer Costi, as Shaggy joined Afro Pop artist Mohombi and Australian singer Faydee on the recently released vibrant and catchy single, “I Need Your Love.” The success of the single was eminent, and Shaggy traveled to Spain’s Castellon Coast to film the blockbuster video, capturing the international flavor of the song. To date the video has garnered over 30 million views.
His accolades are too many to count, but distinctly his appearance on the long running late night talk show “Tonight Show” for a “Shaggy Off” tops the list of Shaggy’s career highlights. Through it all, the charismatic star has remained humble, taking his career in strides. He has defied the odds, succeeded on his own terms and continues to break down barriers for those who dare to follow in his footsteps.
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Latino rapper Fat Joe (aka Fat Joe da Gangsta, Joey Crack, and his real name, Joe Cartagena) was raised in the South Bronx area of New York. It was through an older brother that Cartagena learned the ways of the street, as well as discovering rap music via the sounds of such groundbreaking artists as Theodore, Funky 4 + 1, and the Furious Five. Eventually going by the name of Fat Joe, the rapper secured a recording contract with the Relativity label in the early ’90s, resulting in the release of his full-length debut, Represent, in 1993 (which spawned the single “Flow Joe,” peaking at the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot Rap Singles chart). Two years later, Fat Joe issued his sophomore effort, Jealous One’s Envy, which included a cameo by KRS-One, as well as production contributions by the likes of DJ Premier, L.E.S., and Domingo. Around the same time, Fat Joe appeared on LL Cool J’s big hit “I Shot Ya” (along with Foxy Brown and Keith Murray) and collaborated with Wu-Tang Clan’s Raekwon on a track from the “Envy” single called “Firewater.”
By the late ’90s, Fat Joe had switched record labels (signing on with Atlantic) and tried his hand at other non-musical-career ventures such as opening a clothing store called Fat Joe’s Halftime, a barber shop, and a fashion line, FJ560. In addition, he signed a production and distribution deal with Atlantic Records and Mystic Entertainment (which he ran with a partner named Big Greg). Fat Joe’s debut for Atlantic, 1998’s Don Cartagena, featured cameo appearances by the likes of Puff Daddy, Nas, Raekwon, Big Pun, and Jadakiss (the LOX), and was followed up in 2001 with Jealous Ones Still Envy (J.O.S.E.), which included contributions from Ludacris, Petey Pablo, M.O.P., R. Kelly, and Remy. Loyalty followed in 2002, then in 2004, he had a major hit with his crew Terror Squad when “Lean Back” landed with vocals from crew member Remy Ma. The raw Me, Myself and I from 2006 found the rapper on his own Terror Squad imprint, which was distributed by EMI. His second album for the label, The Elephant in the Room, appeared in 2008. A year later, Jealous Ones Still Envy arrived with a star-studded guest list. In 2010, the “(Ha Ha) Slow Down,” single announced the coming of that year’s The Darkside. The album was the rapper’s first release for the E1 label. In 2016, he reunited with Terror Squad member Remy Ma for “All the Way Up,” a single featuring French Montana as special guest.
50 Cent was one of the biggest stars hip-hop produced in the 2000s, a muscled and menacing, yet imperturbably cool presence with a near-mythic backstory. The protégé of Dr. Dre and Eminem, 50 Cent made music that was both gangsta and good fun. His 2003 debut, the nine-times-platinum Get Rich or Die Tryin’, made him a star. Though his popularity diminished somewhat by the end of decade, 50 Cent’s bank account didn’t suffer since he also spent the 2000s establishing himself as a hip-hop entrepreneur.
He was born Curtis Jackson in Queens, NY, on July 6, 1975, and was raised by his single mother, a crack dealer, until she was murdered when he was eight. Living with his grandparents, 50 Cent competed as an amateur boxer but soon became a crack dealer himself. Jackson was arrested while in 10th grade, but by eighteen, he was making $5,000 a day selling crack and heroin.
50 Cent began rapping in high scool. In 1996, a friend introduced him to Run-D.M.C.’s Jam Master Jay, who was starting a record label, JMJ Records. Jay produced an album for 50, though it went unreleased. 50 later recorded an album for Columbia Records in 2000, Power of the Dollar. (The label declined to release that one, too, though it’s been heavily bootlegged.)
In April of that year, 50 Cent was shot nine times outside his grandmother’s home; in a 2003 cover story for Rolling Strone, Touré chronicled the aftermath of the shooting: “ spent thirteen days in the hospital, then staggered out on a walker. Six weeks later, he began walking on his own. Now life was more precious to him. He began working on his body with endless push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups that turned him from kinda fat to chiseled. But more important for an MC, there was now a large, squarish hole through the left side of his lower jaw and a piece of bullet left in his tongue. He’d lost a bottom tooth and a U-shaped chunk of his gums, but his lazy tongue and the hole in his jaw gave him a slur like no one in hip-hop. ‘There’s a different sound now when I talk, ’cause of the air around the tooth,’ 50 says. ‘Gettin’ shot just totally fixed my instrument.'”
50 set about releasing a cavalcade of menacing, diss-heavy mixtapes — No Mercy, No Fear, recorded with his G-Unit crew in 2002, is one of the best. 50 soon caught the attention of Eminem, who touted 50 as “the illest motherfucker in the world.” Along with partner Dr. Dre, Eminem signed 50 to Shady Records and Aftermath Entertainment. While gearing up for his debut, 50 released Guess Who’s Back?, a commercially available collection of his early work that finds a middle ground between the off-the-cuff rhymes of his mixtapes and the more polished assault of his official studio albums.
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ had a boatload of advance buzz; a feud with rapper Ja Rule also helped 50 increase his profile. Nobody seemed surprised when became a blockbuster. “Wanksta,” one of Jam Master Jay’s last productions, and the Dre-produced party anthem “In Da Club” tore up the pop charts, and the album was full of slick, powerful hooks—the half-sung, half-shouted chants of “Life’s on the Line,” the slick steel drum on “P.I.M.P.” 50 gets stoned, gets laid and fires off gunshots like it’s nothing, all the while employing a steady, laid-back cadence.
After conquering the world, 50 became a business, scoring his own G-Unit clothing line, his own PlayStation game, a semi-biographical movie (also called Get Rich or Die Tryin’), and even his own Vitamin Water flavor. His record label, G-Unit, released a stream of high-profile, no-bullshit gangsta rap from The Game, and a handful of releases from his G-Unit stable. On Forbes magazine’s 2007 list of “Hip Hop Cash Kings,” 50, worth $32 million, ranked second behind Jay-Z.
But while 50’s profile remained high, his modus operandi of “get even richer or die trying” had a deleterious affect on his music. On The Massacre, 50 leaned on his “cuddly thug” persona, serenely seething about cocaine coming out of his pores but also luring girls into the “Candy Shop,” crooning to strippers on “Disco Inferno” or getting downright goofy with Eminem on “Gatman And Robbin’.” The album debuted at Number One
By 2007’s Curtis, 50’s appeal had slipped. The album was released the same day as Kanye West’s Graduation, and SoundScan showed that rap fans in 2007 were definitely more eager to lap up West’s self-introspection than 50’s circa-2003 bullets-and-braggadocio. 2009’s Before I Self Destruct should have been received as 50’s triumphant comeback record — but this no-fanfare, all-meat-no-gristle record didn’t receive nearly as much buzz as past 50 albums.
Arriving on the heels of big sister Brandy, R&B vocalist and songwriter Ray J parlayed his success on television into a music career at the age of 14. Born William Ray Norwood, Jr. in McComb, Mississippi, he moved with his family to Carson, California when he was a toddler, landing him in the center of the entertainment industry. He started auditioning for commercials at age eight and had scored several gigs when he caught the eye of comedian Sinbad, who was casting children for The Sinbad Show. Ray J got the role of Sinbad’s foster son, but the show was canceled in 1993. From there, Ray J began acting in movies and appeared in the films Steel and Mars Attacks! with minor roles.
At the same time, he was also itching to try his hand at the music industry, inspired by Brandy’s early success. He signed with Elektra in 1995, recording Everything You Want the following year with a set of superstar songwriters and producers behind him. In 1997, he performed in a television special with his sister, but despite the mainstream attention, he was dropped by Elektra soon after. His easygoing image and boyish looks appealed to the producers of Brandy’s television show, Moesha, scoring him a role on the popular UPN series starting in 1999. He also started producing, and put together the music for several commercials and demos for his second album.
Still, when he stepped back into the studio he called on the Neptunes, Rodney Jerkins, Brycyn “Juvie” Evans, and several other hitmaking producers to help him compile This Ain’t a Game (2001), a pop-oriented album. The album dropped in 2001, but despite a strong promotional push from new label Atlantic, it wasn’t the breakthrough success it was designed to be. It would be four years before he returned to music, but despite the lengthy absence, his high profile still commanded an all-star guest list. With help from Timbaland, R. Kelly, Mya, and Fat Joe, Ray J resurfaced with Raydiation (2005), released on Sanctuary. He changed labels again for All I Feel (2008), issued through Koch. The album was a success thanks in no small part to the double-platinum single “Sexy Can I.” For several years, however, Ray J was still known more as a reality television star. The singer landed his own dating series on VH1 titledFor the Love of Ray J, which spawned a soundtrack album that same year (2009). A second VH1 series, Brandy & Ray J: A Family Business, lasted two seasons, and he went on to host Oxygen’s Bad Girls All-Star Battle. He made moves toward a fifth proper solo album, including the pointed “I Hit It First” — which peaked at number 11 on Billboard’s R&B/Hip-Hop chart in 2013 — and 2015’s “Brown Sugar,” which featured Lil Wayne.
One of the most thuggish rappers ever embraced by the mainstream, Trick Daddy broke out of the South in 2001 with “I’m a Thug” and established himself as an unlikely national superstar. Before his breakthrough, he scored a few regional hits here and there but remained largely an underground rapper. In particular, he became known for his club anthems, which were characterized by their rousing beats and his rowdy lyrics. “Nann Nigga” and “Shut Up” became his best-known early successes, each featuring a feisty young rapper named Trina, who would go on to her own success in subsequent years. When Trick Daddy finally did break into the mainstream in 2001 with the appropriately titled “I’m a Thug,” it came as somewhat of a surprise. No one questioned his talent, but his image hardly matched that of other mainstream rappers. He certainly lived up to his thug billing, known as much for his rapping as his trademark omnipresent grimace, bald head, prickly whiskers, forearm tattoos, and gold grill. Nevertheless, thug or not, Trick Daddy became a national superstar, earning substantial mainstream airplay and climbing atop the Billboard charts.
Born Maurice Young in Miami, Florida, the rapper originally known as Trick Daddy Dollars earned his stripes in 1996 as one of the lead rappers on Luke’s “Scarred,” the leadoff track from the former 2 Live Crew leader’s Uncle Luke album. The song became a sizable hit among the booty crowd, and listeners were drawn to the remarkably fluid and quick flow of Trick Daddy Dollars. Among those drawn to him was Ted Lucas, a former concert promoter who signed the rapper to his newly formed Slip-n-Slide Records. The debut Trick Daddy Dollars album, Based on a True Story, came soon after, released in late 1997. The album sold well for an independent release, driven by some regional hits, but didn’t impress too many people outside of the Miami area.
A year later everything changed with the release of www.thug.com (1998). Trick Daddy dropped the “Dollars” from his name and scored himself a break-out hit with “Nann Nigga,” a club-banger that pitted him against a female nemesis, the then-unknown Trina. The hit spread throughout the South and even trickled out into the Midwest and Southwest, so much so that Atlantic Records took interest and signed Trick Daddy to a record deal. The first Atlantic release, Book of Thugs: Chapter AK Verse 47 (2000), fulfilled its promise, setting the stage for the rappers eventual commercial breakthrough. Driven by “Shut Up,” a rowdy club hit similar to “Nann Nigga” and again featuring Trina, Book of Thugs extended Trick Daddy’s reputation from coast to coast and established him as one of the Dirty South’s more promising talents.
The big payoff came a year later with the release of Thugs Are Us (2001), the album that catapulted Trick Daddy alongside Ludacris and Mystikal as one of the few nationally championed Dirty South rappers, and it similarly catapulted him onto the playlist of every urban radio station in America, not to mention MTV. In particular, the album boasted “I’m a Thug,” Trick Daddy’s biggest hit yet, and more importantly, his most accessible. Despite his tattoos, gold grill, and overall thuggish aura, Trick Daddy earned mainstream airplay and climbed the Billboard charts. A year later he did so again with his fifth album in six years, Thug Holiday (2002), and its lead single, “In da Wind,” perhaps Trick Daddy’s most inventive work yet. Thug Matrimony: Married to the Streets appeared two years later, boasting the hit “Let’s Go,” a Lil Jon production notable for its heavy sampling of Ozzy Osbourne’s heavy metal classic “Crazy Train.” Returning to the street sound that made him famous, the 2006 release Back by Thug Demand was a more traditional Trick Daddy album. In 2009 he launched his own Dunk Ryders label with the album Finally Famous: Born a Thug Still a Thug. His 2012 mixtape, Dick & Dynamite, announced the launch of another label, this time simply called Trick Daddy Music. The U Already Know EP followed on the label in 2014
Khaled was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is of Palestinian descent and lives in Sunny Isles, Florida. Currently, he hosts the weeknight program TakeOver on Miami-based urban music radio station WEDR with fellow host K. Foxx; Khaled states that he has worked for the station professionally since 2003. Early in his career he dj’d for a south Florida regional station Power 96.5 FM. In 1998, Khaled worked as a “sidekick” for Miami rapper Luther Campbell for Campbell’s Friday night WEDR radio show The Luke Show. In his albums, Khaled usually provides “shoutouts” that assert his representation of “the ghetto” and urges people to listen. From 2004 to 2006, Khaled assisted in the production of the hip-hop albums Real Talk by Fabolous, True Story by Terror Squad, All or Nothing by Fat Joe, and Me, Myself, & I by Fat Joe. Many of DJ Khaled’s songs are known to entice the listener by hip hop chanting his name before the song starts. Khaled represents the Kendall area of Miami. He is currently engaged to Nicole Tuck.