Beanie Sigel Steps To The Front Of Would-Be Rap Dynasty

With a top-10 debut album, the Philadelphia rapper is now working on a supergroup with mentor Jay-Z.

A year ago, Beanie Sigel was just one of the guys in the back, rapping with Jay-Z on the Hard Knock Life tour.

But things are different now, and the Philadelphia rapper — whose debut album, The Truth, debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart earlier this month — is front and center. He's already making plans for a supergroup with Jay-Z and his Roc-a-Fella labelmates Memphis Bleek and Amil.

And when that group goes on the road, "I won't be performing last no more, behind Jay[-Z], 30 seconds," Sigel said. "I get a little more time now."

The Truth has already yielded the hit title track (RealAudio

excerpt), on which Sigel pounds away at the refrain "I seek the

truth," over a reggae-flavored sample. Elsewhere on the album, Amil and

Jay-Z join Sigel for "Playa" (RealAudio excerpt),

a hard-edged rap with an electro beat. Memphis Bleek is featured on the

highly bleepable, angry rantings of "Who Want What." Jay-Z again appears

as featured artist on the funky "Raw & Uncut" and "Anything."

The next time all those rappers work together, it will be as the rap supergroup the Dynasty, according to Sigel. "It's me, Jay, Amil, DJ Clue and Memphis Bleek," Sigel said.

They're just about to start work now on the album, he said, with a release planned for late in the year, and a tour to follow.

The Dynasty's sound, he said, will be "the basic Roc-a-Fella," familiar to fans of his own and Jay-Z's new albums. "Nothing but the best — a lot of collaboration. It's gonna be crazy."

Eric Winn, a.k.a. Eclipse, manager of the New York record shop Fat Beats, thinks the "supergroup" moniker may be premature. "I still don't see Beanie outshining Jay," he said. "I think he's in the shadows of Jay-Z. I don't really see him as an equal, as far as what's been put out there so far. This is his first album."

But while none of his customers have asked him about the Dynasty yet, Winn said he expects they'll be asking soon. "Anything these guys do, at this point, people are pretty much looking forward to," he said. "I'm sure it will do well."

"Most of them [in the Dynasty] have proved they can do things, both together and on their own," said Bruce Chew, 20, a hip-hop fan from New York. "How many groups get together, get famous as a group, and then go off on their own? This is the opposite: They make a name for themselves separately, and then they get together."

Sigel appears on Memphis Bleek's forthcoming album, Understanding, which he said will be out in June. He's also a guest on Amil's next album, All Money's Legal, which is slated to be out later in the summer.

As for his work with Jay-Z, he said, "It's cool, you know what I mean? Because you could learn a lot of little inside tips working with Jay, how your music should be."