JukeBoxDC Editorial: A Tale of Two Carters

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Meet two men. Both with the same last name. Both kings of their castle. Both with respective careers and occupations. Yet, in 2011, these two men are on two complete opposite sides of the road. Let me give a quick setup.

For the past 10 years either Sean Corey Carter or Wayne Michael Carter has been atop or near the top of the hip hop pantheon. From record historic sales, award winning albums, club anthems to pioneering two of the most successful hip hop crews in history (Roc-A-Fella Records/YMCMB), these two have seen it and done it all. Sean’s official journey didn’t start until 1996 with his debut of the immortal classic Reasonable Doubt. As Wayne started out with a group named the Hot Boyz who would blaze throughout the hip hop south in the late 90’s to 2000’s. Later on, Wayne would solidify himself as a solo artist and spark a fan base that can only be rivaled by pop stars. Wayne’s biggest moment would come as a solo artist when his sixth solo album, Tha Carter III, would sell over a million records in the first week. Sean’s major accomplishment can be disputed. Which is more coveted to you; his record of 11 straight number one albums or being the husband to the greatest performer of all-time (not named Michael Jackson), Beyonce. Tough call. Either, or these two kings have seen their shine. However without shine, isn’t rain. Sean watched his empire known as the Roc come to a crumble and Wayne served a one year prison bid at the notoriously known Rikers Island in New York. Tough breaks, right? But these are kings. Shit happens. Well, in 2011 the Carter War has been a landslide and its not even fair.

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How awesome is it to be Sean right now? His latest album (with partner Kanye West), Watch the Throne, is released and is a complete success. Internet raves about it, almost every song title is a trending topic and best of all, no leaks to effect sales. Aside from the mystique of Watch the Throne, Forbes ranked Sean as the #1 cash king of hip hop earners in the past year with an easy $37 million (before taxes). Not bad for a man who hasn’t had a solo album come out since September 2009. Thank god for the Nets and his 40/40 Club chain. Nonetheless, aside from his business and musical side rising, Sean made even a bigger splash at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. Beyonce announced her pregnancy and now the couple are expecting their first born. It must be good to be a king, right?


Um, not so fast. Wayne has had a tumultuous and down-right dreadful 2011. His album, Tha Carter IV, was pushed back several times due to “lack of buzz.” Wayne tried everything from an MTV inspired “Unplugged” that caught some pretty good reviews, but didn’t meet the Unplugged standard. In my opinion, when it comes to Unplugged you have to pull out all the stops from guest appearances to song selection. 90% of Wayne’s set was post 2006 and his only guest was Shanell. Yes, I know what you’re thinking, who? Then, Wayne tries to make buzz with a mixtape. Now if you know Wayne like any hip hop fan does, his rise came through his mixtape pedigree in the mid 2000’s. However, Sorry For Tha Wait didn’t meet expectations as compared to his previous mixtape offerings. Can it get any worse you ask? Sure. Some can say it was the pressure or Wayne couldn’t produce another “Lollipop”-like record to start the flame, but he was on a downturn and it continued. Who knows. After a few pushbacks and uninspiring singles, C4 leaked five days before its official release. Typically, not bad for a “leak” in the music industry, but that other Carter guy came out with a clean slate. Irony. Finally, the Internet met C4. After only a few hours of leaking, “It’s All Good” takes the blog by storm. Drake and Jadakiss add unmemorable verses, but Wayne causes a stir by taking a jab at Sean and his wife. This is probably one of the few wins Wayne we see this year (The other: first week sales of C4). However, once the diss went in one ear and out the other, C4 received more disappointment than S4TW. Quite honestly, Wayne might’ve ruined his own legacy with his last few albums. Maybe this star has lost his shine, this home run hitter has lost his swing, this king has lost his crown.


So what does Wayne do now? How can he get back to supreme rapper status? Well, if he looks at his rival Sean, he went through a similar phase in 2006. Kingdom Come was highly anticipated and was definitely going to put him in another tier of the hip hop pantheon. However, it was a disappointing album and a setback to his career. Without breaking a sweat, Sean delivered a gem with American Gangster in 2007. Can a Wayne/Drake collabo album would surely resurrect his spirit? Sure. Maybe a concept/theme album? Definitely. Album produced by one amazing producer (i.e. 9th Wonder, No I.D., etc.)? Yes. Surely not the end of the road for this king or his crown. Let’s just chalk up a loss in the Wayne years and pray for wins later. For now, we toast to Sean.

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