In this month's issue of XXL, Fabolous referenced the fact that even though he had shot videos for his big-ticket collaborations with Pharell and Young Jeezy off his Real Talk album, the label never put them out and even had a hard time releasing his second video for "Baby". With the increasing reliance on the 2nd and 3rd singles to sell an album over time and the insistence of label bigwigs to use high profile cameos to push those singles, let's take a look at some songs that never saw the (video) light of day even though they should have, by either label convention or otherwise.
Jay-Z f/ Pharell & Usher--Anything
Granted, this may have not been Hov, Usher and Skateboard P's best foot forward, but an event album like Kingdom Come needed more strategic planning in order for it to become the hit it was destined to be. A collaboration with 2 pop darlings probably would have proven more successful than Lost Ones. Lost Ones was without a doubt the album's finest track, with Dr. Dre providing a haunting backdrop for Jay to spit about his laments towards Dame Dash and Beyonce. However, this isn't the type of stuff that finds much of a radio audience and certainly doesn't warrant Budweiser & TNT marketing moolah.
Busta Rhymes f/ Stevie Wonder-Been Through The Storm
This song makes the list due to sheer across-the-board appeal. It has long been my opinion that The Big Bang didn't do its proper numbers due to complete bungling of the singles. The album should have been released earlier in the year, when Touch It and its remix were burning up the airwaves, before the remix video shooting tainted all of the goodwill Busta had built up. The 2nd single should have been the Dr. Dre-produced, raucous Missy Elliott collabo How We Do It Over Here (girls love Missy and they're the ones buying the albums these days). Been Through The Storm would have made a perfect selection for the 3rd single and would have tapped into the older demographic (also actual record buyers) who remembers Stevie's heyday, before he was relegated to cameos on Busta Rhymes & Snoop Dogg albums. Oh, and the song itself is one of the best Busta has ever recorded, a great storytelling song filled with remorse and regret, complemented beautifully by Stevie's chilling refrain.
Lil' Wayne-Weezy Baby
Easily the catchiest song on The Carter II outside of Fireman, this could have been the song that catapulted Weezy F into that stratosphere of stardom reserved for a Ludacris or OutKast. Interviews revealed that this was the single Wayne wanted to go with, but that he was outvoted by Baby (the same man who led off his solo debut with a Puffy duet) and Slim. While Hustler Muzik was a great song in its own right, the choice of using it as a 2nd single is very questionable, for much the same reason that Lost Ones didn't make any sense for Jay to use in the same capacity.
Chingy f/ R. Kelly-Leave With Me
Let it be known right now that while I am not the president of Chingy's fan club, I do find that there is an occasional place for his brand of harmless club rap (dont pretend you weren't bumping Right Thurr or Holidae Inn, we all were). And there always seems to be a demand for new R. Kelly stylings, as evidenced by the lack of damage to his career by child porn allegations. This bounce laden offering for the club would have very easily saved Chingy's faltering career. While the king of R&B is mostly responsible, that is pretty much the point. Why take the huge dent in the recording budget that must be involved in securing R. Kelly to produce and sing on a track unless you plan on utilizing it to sell your album? Powerballin' seemed full of similar follies, considering that only one single saw the light of day and passable (and presumably expensive) collaborations with Kelly, Janet Jackson, Nate Dogg, Lil' Wayne, and David Banner all sat on the shelf. Although, looking at Hoodstar's subpar performance despite single assists from JD & Tyrese, perhaps his label knew what they were doing all along.
Notorious B.I.G. f/ Jay-Z-What You Want
Quite possibly the only song on Duets that could have been released as a single and not annoyed the shit out of me and the other 50 million rap purists/Biggie afficionados. Of course, Puffy's money grubbing ways led him to deem a Nelly and Jagged Edge collabo good enough to be the lead single and I'm sure he thought his presence on the track would make people forget that Big would have never been in the same room with a Nelly or Jazze Pha. What You Want even featured 2 B.I.G. 16s that hadn't already been beaten into the ground by every aspiring mixtape rapper and bedroom DJ in America, plus one of Jay-Z's best postretirement verses. I guess I couldn't very well expect very much from the man who cherry picked smash hits from The Lox & G. Dep's albums as they were in progress in order to advance his own career.
One of the craziest Neptunes beats in recent memory and Pitbull (more likely TVT, considering Lil' Jon & Ying Yang's appearance on the actual 1st single Bojangles) found it a better idea to go with a tired Lil' Jon booty anthem with a refrain cribbed from an old Ying Yang Twins song. Who knows, Jealoso just may have the song that took Pitbull from Southern club sensation into full fledged superstar status. The track itself is a marvel, as Pharell completely immerses his technique in all the things that make Pitbull's style of rap great, with innovative instrumentation and a more precussion based rhythm that's tailor made for Pitbull's more musical rhyme schemes.
The Game-One Night
Other than the energetic first shot One Blood, Game's single selection for his latest LP has been less than satisfactory. His failure at duplicating the Dr. Dre/50 Cent formula with Strip Club fell flat, and Wouldn't Get Far's attempts at creating controversy (witness the subsequent "beef" with Vida Guerra) have fallen on similarly deaf ears. One Night or even Ol' English (a monster earwig in its own right) would have been perfect for him to cultivate his west coast appeal and deliver on the tremendous growth he showed on Doctor's Advocate. One Night features one of the more ignorant catchier refrains in recent history and I'm more than certain that Game's core audience would have eaten it right up.
Young Dro f/ T.I.-My Girl
The table had been set, with a huge first single and a namedrop of My Girl's refrain on Shoulder Lean seemed to preclude the obvious 2nd single choice. However, Grand Hustle trusted the mixtape buzz of Rubberband Banks and released it instead. Time and time again, labels trust the streets instead of realizing that more often than not, mixtape buzz does not translate into album sales (ask Cassidy, still smarting from releasing B-Boy Stance as his 2nd single with Nas and Mario collabos in the can). My Girl is far from a poppy sap story, though. The light, tropical style beat is the backdrop as Dro & Tip swap stories about their lady friends and their lady friends' lady friends. The Nitti blazer Man In The Trunk would have also been a more apt choice if Grand Hustle was so intent on a street look for the 2nd single. As it stands, Best Thang Smokin' was one of the most slept on albums of the past year and Young Dro has officially moved to the front of the new young breed of southern MCs.