The increasing desire for fame and fortune are driving many of today’s young aspiring hip hop artists. Innocent and pure at first, many hip hop artists claim that they do it for the love of the music and not for the fame and money. However, only a handful of them actually pull off this simple task. As one’s fame and fortune rise, these superstars become distracted from their “roots,” the real reason why they are in the business. Perhaps it was a facade from the start, but we will give them the benefit of the doubt.
This article will provide a quick run down of the rise and fall of two of the best know hip hop rap artist in their time; MC Hammer in the late 1980s to the early 1990s and DMX from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. As the saying goes, “what goes up, must come down.” How fast one comes down and how one comes down from their stardom solely depends on the day-to-day decisions of the artist.
Let’s take a moment to consider…”Stop! Hammer Time!” MC Hammer proves the difference between success and foolishness is a fine line. Hip hop artists are dismissing certain consequences that arise from over spending their quick fortune. They continue to flaunt their fortune by purchasing bling style urban hip hop jewelry and consequently fade out of fame, much like many lottery winners today.
In the 80s, MC Hammer was a music sensation in his prime, arguably rivaling the popularity of the late Michael Jackson. With the release of Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em, MC Hammer realized approximately $33 million in profits. Coupled with further album sales, tours, endorsements, and merchandise, he raked in millions upon millions. Hammer spent $12 million on his home alone. Along with his house, he also purchased 2 helicopters, 17 expensive automobiles, bad investments, and very high-priced antiques.
MC Hammer’s biggest regret was who was around him during his rise to fame. He employed 300 people for a payroll total of half a million dollars per month. Many of his “friends,” or the 300 people who he tried to help out, were only there for his money and fame. In 1996, Hammer filed for bankruptcy. In the late 90s he became a preacher while continuing to release albums that could not replicated his earlier success.
… and then there was X.
DMX went from Ruff Ryder to a proverbial flat tire. Raised in a city just north of New York City, he spent much of his time on the streets committing crimes. DMX found a sanctuary in hip hop music – to escape from his hard knock life. He enjoyed many of the background tools used for rapping such as beatboxing and spinning on turntables. Eventually he began rapping himself.
Though he started rapping in the early 1990s, Earl Simmons aka DMX did not rise to fame until signing to Ruff Ryders Entertainment and Def Jams Recording in 1998 with his double album release, It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot and Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. DMX became the first artist to ever have 5 albums debut at #1. His popularity began to decline after his 2003 album, Grand Champ, where he announced his retirement. From this point onwards, DMX spent most of his money on drugs and fell deep back down his troublesome ways.
In 2004, DMX was arrested at JFK Airport on charges of cocaine possession, criminal impersonation, criminal possession of a weapon, criminal mischief, menacing, and driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol while claiming to be a federal agent and attempting to carjack a vehicle. From 2005 to 2008, DMX spent a total of a half a year in prison.
Where are they now?
MC Hammer is a super star in the social networking site, Twitter, ranking in the low 30s with just shy of 1.3 million followers. He continues to produce songs and is living a relatively decent life less expensive hip hop jewelry, exotic cars and large entourages. In 2009, DMX claimed that he would pursue preaching much like MC Hammer. However, after speaking with hip hop artist Mase, he decided to return to rap. He will be planning on releasing his next two albums, Walk with Me Now and You’ll Fly with Me Later in the latter part of 2009 or 2010. This may spark a return of the Ruff Ryers and DMX to widespread popularity.
Although it seems that both artists have turned themselves around after hitting their major lows, it is unfortunate that this cycle of hip hop rise, fame, and crash seems unlikely to be broken anytime soon.