Rappers who should have had solo careers after their group called it quits:
In any group, there are always members whose rhymes you wait for, artists that show such promise, you figure if the group ever breaks up they should be more than alright. But somehow it just doesn’t happen that way. Here are a few such MCs. Why???
Charlie Brown (Leaders of the New School)
When LONS dropped Future Without a Past back in 1990, Busta was the star that shone brightest from the start. But running a good second and way ahead of Dinco D was Charlie Brown. He had a distinctive flow and interesting lyrics. So when the Leaders broke up after T.I.M.E., we all knew Busta was going to be all right (and he is). But we figured surely Charlie Brown would also make an impact as a solo artist. NOT. We don’t know what happened; maybe he lost the love, or just never got around to sinking his teeth in another lyrical project. Or maybe, just maybe, it was just another case of that old PTA.
Chip-Fu (Fu Schnickens)
Every morning for about a month in 1991 I woke up to The Fu-Schnickens’ “Ring the Alarm.” They just got hotter with “La Schmoove,” graced by Phife, and as Shaquille O’Neal’s training wheels on “True Fu-Schnick.” But despite Shaq Fu’s star power, every fan was hanging around for that dark-skinned dude with the locks, AKA Chip-Fu, to spit it. The rapid-fire flow was gimmicky, but hype as hell, especially when you actually managed to keep up for a line or two. When the group faded, we fully expected to hear something from the Chipster, but nothing was forthcoming. Chip-Fu, Chip-Fu, wherefore art thou?
MC Serch (3rd Bass)
3rd bass holds the distinction of being the 2nd most respected white group in hip hop history—and possibly the second period, with the 1989 debut of The Cactus Album. While Pete Nice was a talented dude, all the memorable quotables seemed to emanate from the other side of the mic. MC Serch had militant lyrics and a knack for a good punch line (“Black cat is bad luck, bad guys wear black/Musta been a white guy who started all that” — Gas Face), but just as importantly, he rocked a true high top fade and he was one dancing white boy. When the group broke up, Serch dropped a highly anticipated solo album that just sort of. . . dropped. It was aiiight, it just didn’t seem to bang like the old 3rd Bass tracks. The biggest single, “Back to the Grill Again,” didn’t set the street on fire, but it did put out the buzz on a little-known rapper by the name of Nasty Nas. Serch has since gone on to have a career in radio, most recently in Detroit.
LadyBug Mecca (Digable Planets)
Digable’s “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” was just a little too slick when they first came out. The fusion of jazz and spoken-word type cuts on the debut album Reachin (A New Refutation of Time and Space) was too too for most heads: too crossover, too peace, too subtitled. But the record went gold, and next year the group won the King of Left Field award for 1994’s radical Blowout Comb. Revolution, funk, and Ms. Mecca’s buttery monotone psycho-flow pushed the album to underground classic status. There were so many emerging female MCs at that time that Ladybug’s debut seemed a foregone conclusion; instead we got more than a decade of silence. A teasing credit on February’s EMC (Masta Ace, Punchline, Wordsworth, Stricklin) release “The Show” reveals her singing hooks, and rumors of a children’s cd with Prince Paul (not joking) is all we have to go on for now, but she’s reputedly in studio wrapping a little something due later this year.
MC Ren (NWA)
Mc Ren might be the “What the hell happened?” poster child. Straight Outta Compton blew NWA up, and when Ice Cube left, Ren became the group’s #1 rapper by default. Ren was the lyrical anchor on 100 Miles and Runnin’ and Niggaz4Life, so when everything finally fell apart he seemed slated for some big moves. Final Frontier had a little buzz, and then, and then, and then … That’s right, no hits, no big push, nuthin.’ Not sure whether to chalk it up to label politics or personal demons, but it just seemed like Ren should’ve done more damage.