9 Artists Who Should Have Blown Up Big…But Didn’t

January 12, 2012  |  
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What does it really take to make it in the music business? A few hit songs? A banging body you’re willing to show off? You would hope that the only requirement would be that an individual be talented, but there are so many people on the top of the charts proving us wrong. There have been many super talented and entertaining musicians that should have the status and household name notoriety that dudes like LMFAO (“Party Rock Anthem”) have right now, but they don’t. It’s an injustice! Wondering who? Check out our list of people who are known but not the big superstars they should be, and feel our pain as we talk about why these talented folks never blew up like they should have.

Lil’ Mo

After a co-worker shared the throwback video with me for her jam “4Ever,” I was inspired to write this story. I haven’t seen Lil’ Mo in a while (she was one of the many “Lil'”s of the new millenium), but when she first came out, singing on tracks for Missy and teaming up with Fabolous to rep for the “Superwoman” we ladies can be, she was awesome. That’s why I was surprised she didn’t blow. Maybe it was because of all the tattoos, or the fact that she wasn’t trying to shake her a** for cash like others, but alas, she’s nowhere near where she should be in her career.

Mos Def (aka Yasiin…?)

A few years back, conscious rappers were finally becoming all the rage and getting their dues, and Dante Smith was one of my faves. I mean, who doesn’t thoroughly enjoy “Ms. Fat Booty”? Or “Umi Says”? Despite his modest chart showings for albums like The New Danger, Mos seemed to concentrate more on his acting opportunities than rapping after a while. As of recent, he’s signed with Kanye West’s GOOD Music, so we’re hoping Yeezy’s golden touch can help brighten up my boo’s own career. He’s too lyrically gifted to be an afterthought folks!

Amerie

This one puzzles me because Amerie had some bangers that everyone liked, and not only that, but she’s a gorgeous girl. Her album All I Have was one of those must haves for your car, and with tracks like “Why Don’t We Fall in Love” and “Talkin’ to Me” on it, everybody was singing along in the coupe. Even her second album was introduced to the world on a fly note–remember “1 Thing”? But for some reason, she didn’t move units the way singers like Ashanti and Alicia Keys were. It must have bothered her as much as it does me, because now she has gone all out: her name now looks like “Ameriie,” and she went as far as to get a nose job to stand out. *sighs*

Ryan Leslie

As Fabolous calls him, R.Les for Prez, the producer/singer/rapper is extraordinarily talented. If you haven’t seen the YouTube videos where he creates a song from scratch, playing the drums, the trumpet, the keyboard and more, then you’re missing out on true mastery. But you wouldn’t be the only one. Although he’s put out two albums (and had another one shelved), their chart positions haven’t been all that (his self-titled album debuted at #35 on the Billboard 200), and aside from producing from great tracks for other people and appearing as a feature from time to time, his notoriety as an artist, whether he’s rapping or singing, hasn’t gone far from YouTube…

Tamia

THROWBACK! The boo of Grant Hill has been around for a while, dropping her self-titled album in ’98. Though she has recorded classics like “Stranger in My House,” “Officially Missing You,” and “So Into You,” the Canadian crooner just doesn’t get as much radio play ’round these parts. Not sure why though, because Tamia’s voice is and has always been an amazing one. Maybe the lack of club bangers has held her back, but still, she should be up there in influence, not just singing on a track or two that samples her own work (Did you know a lot of people didn’t even know Fabolous sampled “So Into You,” for “Into You”?).

Mint Condition

So many classics! I still bump “What Kind of Man Would I Be,” and “You Send Me Swingin'” like they both came out last week. But why when people talk about classic R&B groups they never manage to say anything about Mint Condition? But in all honesty, these fellas from Minnesota (hey, Prince!) came out at a difficult time. When they first started putting out albums, it was around the time of New Jack Swing’s prominence, and that wasn’t MC’s thing, so for many years they flew under the radar. But with Stokely’s voice and the rest of the group’s musical talents, they should have been like the ’90s version of Earth, Wind & Fire. But they weren’t…

Jaheim

Maybe it’s the buttery Teddy Pendergrass-ish voice, or those lips, but I’m a huge Jaheim fan. My sister put me on to Still Ghetto some years back and I found his music to be uber-refreshing. But nowadays, when you talk about R&B crooners, you only hear about Trey, Chris, Frank, Ne-Yo and…?

Maybe Jaheim never really became a household name because of the fact that he was driving in that hood meets R&B lane that a lot of people try to steer clear from (you see Trey Songz changed lanes while he could), and maybe people nowadays just prefer songs with a little too much upfront sex in them, because his career didn’t and hasn’t taken off the way it should have. That’s still my guy though!

Jaguar Wright

Have you heard that voice? HOT FIRE. If you have, then you know Jaguar Wright needs some more acclaim. The sister can blow. I know it, The Roots know it, and Jay-Z knows it, because he had her singing backup for him when he recorded his popular MTV Unplugged special. She’s been on tour every year since she released her debut album in 2002 (Denials Delusions and Decisions). Yet and still, many people continue to sleep on her, and because of that she isn’t the big star she should be. Help a sister out and listen to her stuff–you won’t regret it…trust.

Freeway

“Roc the Mic” had to be the best song of 2002, and aside from Beanie Sigel (where is he at by the way?), you can thank Philly rapper Freeway for gracing that track with his colorful voice.  With his big ‘ol belly and unique beard he rocked as part of his Muslim faith (look out Rozay!), Freeway wasn’t your average rapper, both physically and lyrically. His rhymes were fast and ferocious, and he would have anybody bobbing their head when he jumped on a track (check out “What We Do” for a perfect example). But after he left Roc-a-Fella during its short golden age, homeboy literally went M.I.A. He’s back now, but still, the top slot he could have been close to getting when he was with Jay is now waaaay out of his reach. Sorry, bro.

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