Crews Control: A Brief Look At Rapper Relationships


Words by Phlip

Remember the days of hip hop “crews,” or even when 2 or 3-man groups gave out the impression that they were actually close friends? What did you do when you realized that it was all shine put on for the camera? Wait, did you realize that it was all shine put on for the cameras?

Walk with me a moment here (examples from today’s perusal of my ‘don’t kill the coworkers’ iPod selection)…

    Roc-A-Fella – Did it not seem like Jay, Bleek, Dame, Bigs, Sigel, and Amil were an inseparable unit for several albums there? Ask me where anyone not known as “Mr. Beyonce Knowles” is now. (Memphis Bleek’s enshrinement into the weed carriers hall of fame notwithstanding.)

    The Luniz – There were several songs over the course of 3 albums that would lead one to believe that these two legitimately loved (no homeaux, I promise) one another like they were brothers. Not to say that there is or has been any implied animosity, but Yukmouth continues to make records for the Bay Area – which is apparently a lucrative market to itself – while last thing I heard of Numskull was several years ago when he was facing some heavy rape charges.

    Eric B & Rakim – Perhaps the BEGINNING of the “my DJ is my best friend” lie. We all know how this ended; with Eric B not being pleased with not being as visible as Rakim and attempting to strike out on his own, then neither one of them reaching the heights they seemed sure of.

    EPMD – 3 (alleged) words… “setup” and “armed robbery”

    Dipset/Birdgang/WTFEver – Petty disagreements over who exactly the (unexplainable) fans were actually there for caused a rift and no one seems to be able to genuinely tell (or even care, it seems) who is still cool with who to this day.

    Cash Money Records – Remember when Mannie Fresh was the in-house beatmaker? Remember when it was BG, and not Wayne, who Baby (in pre-Birdman) days treated like a son? Remember when Juvenile and Wayne played off of one another on records and in public like a big/little brother? Yeah, funny how NONE of those people are still on the label except for Wayne now.

    Bad Boy – Has anyone stopped to notice that while they SAID they were a “family,” no one has remained on the label for longer than two albums except for Puffy the guy who owns it and that he is known for nickel/diming his artists to make as much of their money his as possible?

    G-Unit – lol

I could go on and on. We are sold – and actually buy – the “artists as actual friends” lie every single day of our lives, and the reality of it is actually the complete and total opposite. What is funniest about it is that we line up to buy the next believable story as soon as one presents itself for consumption.

Dr Dre said it best on The Show “the thing about hip hop [is that] it’s all entertainment, a ma-fucka ain’t about to go out and do the shit we talk about unless they just… stupid.”

The first sentence of that statement should probably be taken as applicable to the factual accuracy of what we’re presented with in hip hop on the whole, no?

Words by Phlip


9 comments on “Crews Control: A Brief Look At Rapper Relationships

  1. I’m not understanding how the dissolution of these groups’ professional relationships just got flipped into evidence that they were never close in the first place. I can understand a collective like Bad Boy, where the roster was created by a dude headhunting artists who didn’t necessarily know each other, displaying a brotherhood that is fabricated, but saying that Roc shit was a put on is doing a bit too much, considering the history between some of those dudes before that label ever blew up. For a break like the Rocafella one to be as bad as it was, there HAD to be feelings present, I would think…


    • Phlip says:

      Family is a matter of coincidence, and for that reason families – real families – tend to stick by one another and make bad situations better, not throwing them in the shitter.
      Unless someone in the “family” is smoking up the profits or otherwise pissing it away, I cannot imagine why any of the mentioned situations would not have been worked out instead of throwing them in the shitter.
      Notice a couple of ones that did not make the list:
      Wu-Tang – despite being “past-tense” in the game for the most part, and having seen their tensions front and center in the movie The Show, their infrequent appearances still suggest that the bond between them was always genuine.
      Outkast – despite rumors of their split born of an always-differing approach to this hippity-hop music, they have continued to remain cool with one another to the best of anyone’s discernation.
      UGK – despite the fact that Pimp was CLEARLY in the wrong when he violated and went back to jail, Bun continued to hold him down despite his own solo career taking the fux off at the time. He didn’t have to, and kept Pimp’s name hot until he came home and up to and through – even since – he passed as well.
      I am not saying that they ALL manufacture the bond for the cameras that might happen to be on them, just that as presented most of them absolutely are and that even the ones who aren’t are surely overplaying it for profit.


  2. Tony Grands says:

    I was in a rap group, finished 2 albums, did a bunch of shows, cameos, spent a lot of time together. The group was born out of our friendship & we decided to work together at a job so we could focus on music. After years of being best friends, life stepped in & our friendship kinda dissipated. Eventually, we went our separate ways, but I understand how quickly things fall apart. It may not even be ego, but more along the lines of why you stop enjoying your partners company.

    & I can only imagine the stuff we went through being amplified w/money & travel & real business dealings, etc.

    I don’t doubt that cats front & posteur, but I also know how 2 dudes can outgrow one another. If you listen to a couple of Havoc interviews on P, it gives you a different insight than the diss songs. Personal problems that grew out of control because there’s no middle ground. I think we were victims of that & the music suffered.


  3. Loki says:

    Great write up, and comments yall


  4. markdub7 says:

    Good post. The sad fact of the matter is $$ change things. A lot of those cats start off as friends but the duckets start rolling in, & the game changes.


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  6. DV says:

    Yeah the Bay does function on its own but the artist tour alot outside of The Bay and overseas. There loyal fanbase supports them heavy. There system works and the best part about it is they can make whatever kind of music they want. Nobody tells them what to do. Now if only the rest of the industry would catch on.

    As far as The Luniz go. Yuk always been a go getter, made his own money, has his own indie label since the late 90’s. Numb never did any of that and also has battled alcoholism throughout the years and yeah i think he did catch that charge you spoke on. Long story short, Numb felt Yuk should “break bread” (more then just a “hey could you let me hold a lil something so i can get on my feet” money) because he was broke. Basically Numb “wanted in” like Frank White without earning a single dollar. Well we all know in The Bay you network and do it yourself. Yuk said fuck that and the rest is history.


  7. DV says:

    Glad to see the Dungeon Family, DPG’s, Wu-Tang, and the BCC still going strong after all these years.


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