Every year, music editors around the nation settle down to the same task. They construct a list of "hot" artists to watch. And every year, that freshly minted crop gets ready to make it big, just like everyone said they would. Then what happens? They line up like sacrificial lambs to the record industry slaughter. Most of them never manage to even scrape together a hit song before slinking back to oblivion with their tails between their legs.
A few of these artists produce one or two hits, and manage to generate just enough publicity to build a fan base. Then they disappear, leaving those fans to wonder what the hell happened to their careers.
Skee-Lo: This vertically challenged rapper spit the kind of light-hearted, profanity-free rhymes that dominated the early Nineties hip-hop scene. His 1993 single "I Wish," with its Forrest Gump-inspired video, ruled MTV. But instead of wishing he were a little bit taller, he should have wished for an album's worth of new hits. After a long hiatus, he returned in 2000 with I Can't Stop. Then, unfortunately, he did.
Candyman: "Attention all ladies. The Candyman is on the prowl. And for those who wanna get busy, you gots to speak up now." Before Tone-Loc's career dried up like a puddle of "Funky Cold Medina," he introduced us to Los Angeles rapper Candyman, who provided backup for the gravelly voiced "Wild Thing" before releasing his own 1990 debut album, Ain't No Shame in My Game. Candyman scored a Top Ten hit with "Knockin' Boots." But his next album, 1991's Playtime Is Over, fell flat. In 2000, he put out an album inspired by his old hit, Knockin' Boots 2001: A Sex Odyssey.
Gangsta Boo: The former crown princess of Three 6 Mafia made waves with her solo debut, Enquiring Minds, which yielded the crunk classic "Where Dem Dollas At." After Boo ditched the Mafia, she changed her name to Lady Boo, promised to seek God, and stopped cursing in her music. That lasted for a hot minute. Last year, she dropped Street Ringers Volume One: The Mixtape. But with nary a hit in sight, it seems the glory days for Boo are over.
Jesus Jones: This British band rocketed to stardom in 1991 with "Right Here, Right Now" and Doubt. But the lack of a strong sophomore album doomed its American success. In 2002, the group issued Never Enough: The Best of Jesus Jones. Ah, the "best of" album. The final nail in any band's coffin.
Blu Cantrell: She's sexy, video-friendly, and she can sing her ass off. So what the hell happened to Blu Cantrell? She went to second place on the Billboard charts with "Hit öEm Up Style (Oops!)" in 2001. Her album Bittersweet boasted a promising second single, "Breathe," featuring the then-ubiquitous Sean Paul toasting over a familiar Dr. Dre beat. Unfortunately, Blu's past life as a nude model for Black Male magazine clashed with her sassy but TV-friendly image. The tour dates on her official Website haven't been updated since 2003.
Amil: This striking, Cherokee- and black-complexioned rapper helped propel Jay-Z's "Jigga What?" and "Can I Get A..." to hit status. But her 2000 debut, All Money Is Legal, failed to yield any big sellers, despite Beyonce's inspired wriggling in the video for "I Got That." Now that Jay-Z's a big man over at Def Jam, maybe he can help his girl out.
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Craig Mack: In 1994, Mack dropped the platinum "Flava in Ya Ear," which helped blow up then-fledgling label Bad Boy Records. But after feuding with head honcho P. Diddy over money, Mack left the stable. Rumors of Mack's return to Bad Boy have been floating around ever since, but nothing has come out. Now "Flava in Ya Ear" is just another old-school track. Which reminds us of ...
Total: This all-girl trio first made waves as Biggie's back-up singers on both "One More Chance" and "Juicy." In 1996 their self-titled debut album produced hits such as "Kissin You" and "No One Else." Their followup, 1998's Kima, Keisha, and Pam, did respectably. Then Keisha Spivey left the trio. One thing about being in a sexy girl group: When it comes to an R&B act making it without a key member, forget about it. Just ask Dawn Robinson and En Vogue.
Black Rob: After Biggie died, P. Diddy searched for a rapper who could give Bad Boy some much-needed street cred. Then Harlem native Black Rob came into the picture. In 1999, his debut album, Life Story, yielded "Whoa," a track that drilled its repetitive refrain into your brain. Then, nada. Rumors of another album were squashed when, after a series of health-related and legal dramas, Black Rob got arrested for burglary and criminal possession of stolen property in 2004. Now his career is over, and he's locked up. What is it with P. Diddy, though? You gotta wonder, is he too busy throwing parties for Hollywood A-listers to help his stars come up with a second act?
Digable Planets: In 1993, this trio of jazzy hipsters' single "Rebirth of Slick (cool like dat)" became a pop hit, and their debut album, Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space), sold well. Its follow-up album, 1994's Blowout Comb, was funky and unique, but ultimately went nowhere on the charts. Soon after, Butterfly, Doodlebug, and Ladybug split up and started working on solo projects. Poor Digable Planets. This world was never meant for one as beautiful as you.