By Kathy Iandoli
This week, Lauryn Hill shocked the world by entering the Billboard charts after being in hiding for well over a decade.
Hill’s track “Repercussions” leaked online several weeks ago, and this week debuted at #94 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop songs chart. While Top 100 status would seem like a joke for Hill in the ’90s, nowadays it’s kinda like a big deal, considering Bin Laden seemed easier to locate than her. Lauryn Hill will make her grand appearance at the first date of Rock the Bells tomorrow in Los Angeles, where she will perform The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in its entirety, almost 12 years to the day after its release (August 25, 1998).
While anticipating L-Boogie’s triumphant return, we can’t help but reminisce on other artists who have dropped off the radar. It’s never a good sign when their last appearance was on a cassette maxi single, but nonetheless we have some favorites we’d like to share. So get ready for a game we’d like to call, “Whatever happened to them?”
10. Memphis Bleek (last spotted: circa 2005)
Sure Memphis Bleek has leaked random freestyles over the years, but none of that can really qualify as new music. We have to get down to the reason why Memphis Bleek is in Jay-Z’s will, and the only way we can crack that code is if he releases a new album. He’s been the left hand of Hov (Ty Ty is the right hand) for the majority of Jay’s career, so we demand that he get in the studio and gives us his promised The Process album. “Still Ill” was a great start. Now go ahead, Bleek, we’ll wait.
9. The Luniz (last spotted: circa 2005)
Yes, random choice. To say it’s only been five years since we’ve last heard from the Luniz would be paying the Bay Area rappers a huge compliment. In reality we only really miss the potential career they had off their drug induced first single “I Got 5 On It” in ’95, which was later sampled by both Diddy and J.Lo (original sample was Club Nouveau’s “Why You Treat Me So Bad”). If only the Luniz had come just as hard with a follow-up single, but alas they did not. Maybe one day though.
8. The Pharcyde (last spotted: circa 2004)
Another West Coast favorite, the Pharcyde was a group that you wanted around forever, but somehow longevity just wasn’t in the cards. With songs like “Passin Me By,” “Runnin,” and “Drop,” there was no denying the classic material that came from this offbeat group. Then they broke up, Slim Kid Tre was doing weird house songs, Fat Lip made some emo video, and the other guy ended up on a Gorillaz track. After realizing there was no future in any of that, the guys reunited for spot tour dates over the past few years. That’s nice, but we’d like a new album, please.
7. Shawnna (last spotted: circa 2006)
While Shawnna did supply the voice for Diddy’s epic “Diddy Rock,” Shawnna is one of those female rappers who just can’t catch a break. Her phantom voice is heard all over Ludacris’ Battle of the Sexes, but due to her defunct DTP status (yet current signing with T-Pain’s Nappy Boy Entertainment), the femme fatale wasn’t credited as the female counterpart on Luda’s now gold album. She’s like that person people speak to on sitcoms whose feet or the top of her head is all we ever see (Nanny on “The Muppet Babies” or Wilson on “Home Improvement”). We’re here to let you know we want to see all of you, Shawnna. So step back out into the spotlight and show your face when you rap … if you’re contractually allowed to.
6. Sticky Fingaz (last spotted: circa 2003)
Let’s be realistic. Fredro Starr was the most recognizable face from Onyx, but Sticky had the most recognizable voice. What happened? Is he still a b-boy standing in his b-boy stance or did they take too long to give him the microphone so he bust in his pants? Sticky was the mad author of anguish, his language polluted. Now the closest we can get to “sticky fingaz” is putting our hands on a movie theater floor. Onyx was rumored to reunite back in 2007, and that’s now been pushed to the end of 2010. In the meantime, you can catch Sticky and Fredro hanging out in Ljubljana, Slovenia. While Sticky has popped up from time to time to lend some growl to a few tracks, there’s never been an opportunity for this man to give us his own album. Is there a reason for that? Maybe. But we’d still like to hear more Sticky.
Hit the jump to see who rounded out the top 5.
5. Dilated Peoples (last spotted: circa 2007)
Yes, Rakaa, Babu and Evidence have been on their solo grind over the past few years. That’s fine, but where’s the new Dilated album? The group, whose mantra was “We might blow up but we’ll never go pop,” managed to snag Kanye for a single when he was well into his über famous Kanye-hood. Dilated Peoples are those guys where you invite one guy to the party and pray he brings the other two. That pretty much sums them up.
4. Mr. Cheeks (last spotted: circa 2006)
While the legacy of the Lost Boyz will live on forever, it wouldn’t hurt if Mr. Cheeks came back with some new music. His single “Lights, Camera, Action!” wasn’t so bad; why not more from the second most distinctive voice of the Lost Boyz (R.I.P. Freaky Tah)? Apparently in 2006 his album was scheduled to be released, and it never happened. Then he popped up earlier this year, lending some verses to some guys named the SWATZ Brothas. Where are his Jeeps, the Lex coupes, the Beamers and the Benz now?
3. Silkk the Shocker (last spotted: circa 2004)
We can say with confidence that Silkk the Shocker was the least annoying member of the No Limit Soldiers. He had cutesy collabs with Mya and Destiny’s Child, and rapped in his own unique way where you didn’t know if he was rhyming really fast or rapping underwater. While Silkk popped up this year for the Southern fried edition of VH1’s Hip Hop Honors, we haven’t heard an album from him in ages. He isn’t too old to rap or serving time behind bars, so do the Miller brothers proud and come mumble some bars for the kids. Maybe the YouTube video of him rapping over Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win” proves there’s hope for the Shocker to return. Besides, there are a lot worse things today that you can make ‘em say besides “Uhh!”
2. Xzibit (last spotted: circa 2006)
It was a great run, having Xzibit pimp our rides, watching him slide into cars that only had one working tire and drive them into West Coast Customs where they left with fish tanks and TVs in the trunks. It was always interesting that the videos playing in the finished cars were of Xzibit, but we never really heard new music playing. It’s about time he gets to work on that. It was great to hear X on Sway & Tech’s 2010 Wake Up Show Anthem, but that’s just a warm up. We miss you, X to the Z. Come pimp our ears.
1. D’Angelo (last spotted: circa 2000)
A missing persons list would not be complete without D’Angelo. Perhaps the male equivalent to Lauryn Hill, D’Angelo has been without a doubt the biggest enigma in music. Random songs would pop up where he was featured, then random legal matters would pop up where he was also featured. It’s all so confusing. ?uestlove has dropped some hints about working with D’Angelo on his new project. It better not be titled Detox. Just sayin’.