Nothing Was The Same: Artists We Thought Would Be Hot Forever
Was there an artist you saw everywhere at one time or another and thought that they would always be “on”? Yeah, the 00s (and the ’90s) were filled with them, but a change in the sound of Hip-Hop and R&B, and a change in the way people buy and obtain music (and a change in skills and vocal abilities…) has caused some of the people who used to be on top to be somewhat forgotten about these days. It happens often, but we were surprised when these particular people (who aren’t one-hit wonders) were on top–and then all of a sudden were nowhere near the top years later.Credit: AP Image
You couldn’t tell me after Ja Rule was on top of the charts with albums like Rule 3:36 and Pain Is Love, and after helping Jennifer Lopez get two #1 hits with “I’m Real” and “Ain’t It Funny,” that he wasn’t going to be on top for years to come.
Well before and after the release of The Last Temptation, Ja Rule (born Jeffrey Atkins) started heavily beefing publically with 50 Cent, who would be a formidable threat in the rap game about to take the top spot. And on top of that, after a while, Murder Inc. was under investigation for drug trades, so Ja ended up leaving the company behind in 2009. From there, he was no longer the big fish and eventually found himself in prison for gun possession. Now out and about, Ja still performs (he just did a show in Nigeria with Ashanti), but people aren’t necessarily checking for him like they used to.
Say what you will now, but when Ashanti first came out with her self-titled debut album, it was major. So major that at the time (2002), it set a Soundscan record for the biggest opening week sales for a new female artist. Back then she was also the first female entertainer to hold the top two spots on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time (for “What’s Luv?” with Fat Joe and “Foolish”). Yeah, she was kind of like a big deal, and also went #1 with her second album, Chapter II.
But after the release of her third album (Concrete Rose), the interest in her sound waned as competition heated up. And like labelmate Ja Rule, she left Murder Inc. behind to go it alone. She hasn’t reached anywhere near the level of success she had in the early 00s, but she’s having success with acting these days.
How many people had Nellyville? Go ahead and raise your hand because you’re definitely not alone. Nelly was one of the biggest artists of the last decade and that is evident through the sales of his first three to four albums. But by the time he came out with Brass Knuckles in 2008, folks were getting a little tired of the country twang and his album sales started to decline. Well, the good news is that he looks better than ever! And for those tried and true Nelly fans, you’ll be glad to know that aside from doing “Real Husbands of Hollywood,” he’ll also have his own reality show on BET.
Stop acting like 100% Ginuwine wasn’t everything back in the day! After going double platinum with his sophomore effort, which was heavily produced by Timbaland, Ginuwine was everything with the ladies and got lots of respect for his slick dance moves. And he also gained even more fans with “Differences” in 2001. But after that, he and Timbaland stopped working together and the quality of his music, along with the sales, went down. Nowadays, he’s running around with TGT, and being accused of being high on-stage and off, more often than not.
Album after album, Ludacris was a musical force to be dealt with, thanks to his punch lines and colorful music videos. And he was on a roll (out of Back for the First Time, Word of Mouf, Chicken-n-Beer, The Red Light District and Release Therapy, I’m sure you had at least one or two of those albums). But once he cut off his braids, he decided to focus his energy on acting (going as Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges), which was a good move. So when he tried to return to the rap game, people weren’t really here for it like they used to be.
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was quite the mega-hit in 2003, and you couldn’t go through that year without seeing 50 on the cover of somebody’s magazine, picking up some major award, or being interviewed any and everywhere. He had singlehandedly shut down Ja Rule’s career, and hell, he had been shot nine times before–the man was like a machine.
But oh how the mighty fall…
While 50 is making money hand over fist with his endorsements, investments and other business ventures, he spends a lot of his time picking at fellow celebrities to get attention. As for his music career, his latest album, Animal Ambition, has so far sold 91,000 copies since its release in June.
Can’t get enough of Songs in A Minor, The Diary of Alicia Keys or As I Am, but the A. Keys of yesteryear and the Alicia Keys of today sound totally different. I’ll take “You Don’t Know My Name” and “Jane Doe” on repeat over “Girl on Fire” any day. Just saying! You know we still love you Alicia…
As Sisqo put it, everything he did back in the day when he was hot is what everyone is trying to do now–including dyeing their hair–and maybe that’s why he was on top of the world in 2000. The “Thong Song” catapulted him from Dru Hill frontman to international pop star (a pop star with his share of beefs–including ones with R. Kelly and Usher). But just as quick as he was on top of the world, people forgot about “the dragon” and it was back to trying to keep his career going with Dru Hill.
Brandy, to me, was America’s sweetheart at one time. She had her own successful TV show, her own Barbie doll, and two massively big albums (I still play Never Say Never out). But after word spread about the marriage that wasn’t, things just weren’t the same for Brandy, which is a shame because her voice has really matured. Honestly, it’s stronger than it has ever been and deserves to be heard. But we all know that these days, people are only trying to support the same two or three singers.
Dark Man X is still one of the best-selling hip-hop artists to ever do it (with more than 30 million albums sold and five consecutive #1 spots on the Billboard 200 chart), but with album delays, back-to-back arrests, drug problems and children by multiple women that he fails to support, Earl Simmons’ personal life became more popular than his music career.
While she didn’t have the strongest voice in the world, for a time there, Mya was pretty big. You have to be making some type of waves for Nickelodeon to want you to make a song for one of their movies (“Take Me There”). And “Case of the Ex” was every scorned woman’s anthem in 2000. She could dance well, she could sing pretty good, and she was cute! But Mya’s career definitely didn’t go as far as I thought that it would during that time (yet and still, “My Love is Like…Wo” is still my jam).
You couldn’t tell me (and hundreds of other women) that Mason Betha wasn’t my husband back in the day. For his good looks, wordplay and hits, I was quite sure that Mase was going to be huge for years to come. I mean, alongside Lil Kim, he managed to keep Bad Boy afloat after the Notorious B.I.G. passed. But when Mase decided to leave music to serve God (an honorable thing), people somewhat forgot about him by the time he tried to come back years later. Plus, the fact that he was dipping in and out of the church and the rap game at the same time still doesn’t sit well with folks. It was fun while it lasted, Mase.