Young Money: The Rise Or Fall of an Empire?

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Young Money released their second compilation album today, The Rise of an Empire. But I’m starting to doubt the album’s title after giving it a spin.

We’ve seen a lot of label empires in Rap/Hip-Hop. Remember the power of Death Row, Bad Boy, Murder Inc. and G-Unit back in day? They were everywhere from the airwaves to the clothes racks. The 2009-2011 success of Young Money seemed to mirror that.

The introduction of superstars Drake and Nicki Minaj mixed with the never ending Lil Wayne reign lead to massive popularity for the label. This lead to a top 5 compilation single and top 10 album. Everyone wanted a piece of Young Money back then.

But it’s 2014, the fireworks are done, and the world isn’t watching the way it use to.

Rise hasn’t even cracked the top 5 on iTunes and none of the songs are taking off on the singles chart. So how much of a rise is this actually going to be?

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The album itself plays like a collection of leftover songs. They’re missing the creativity shown on their first effort. Even the solo songs all sound like they were taken from the “maybe” pile for each individual album. First single ‘Senile’ is the perfect example. It’s an erratic listen that’s pretty enjoyable, but was originally meant for Tyga’s album. Everything feels a little used.

Aside from the album, I think it’s safe to say that Young Money isn’t the popularity machine that it was a few years ago. There are a few things that factor into this.

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The first reason is time. Too much has passed since the release of their first album. ‘Bedrock’ and ‘Every Girl’ did their thing on the charts, but they were in the moment, not classics. They were songs that helped the album’s staying power.

Second is Lil Wayne’s silence. At the core of Young Money is Lil Wayne. With Tha Carter V coming out in May it makes sense that Wayne would stay out of the spotlight a little while. It makes for a more grand comeback. Without Lil Wayne’s constant presence on the radio, the Young Money name isn’t on people’s mind. He’s their biggest supporter, which leads me to my next point –

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Third, the success of their acts. When Drake and Nicki were first signed it was “Young Money raised me” all day everyday. But their tunes have changed. In both of their last albums the label didn’t have the presence that it did in their debut albums.

Drake didn’t even have a Young Money feature on his last album. I don’t think it was a clear disassociation from the label, but it showed a turn in the tide.

It’s also no coincidence that the two biggest songs to gain any traction from Rise are Drake’s and Nicki’s, not the official single ‘Senile’. The publics mindset has shifted, and it looks like Young Moneys prince and princess have too.

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A real rise of an empire would have been total domination. It would have been a complete resurgence of popularity. This just isn’t that.

Whether the album is just a ploy to get us ready for Wayne’s big return, or if it’s legitimate, it’s a sign of changing times. Young Money will always be etched into Rap history. They will, whether you like it or not, be know as a great label along with the others I’ve mentioned.

By no means are they done, they’re just fading a bit, and that’s ok.

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