Rapper's Who Kicked The Sophomore Jinx In The Nuts
What is the sophomore jinx?
Well, according to Wikipedia(lol), the sophomore jinx "refers to an instance in which a second, or sophomore, effort fails to live up to the standards of the first effort". With that being said, this list IS NOT simply just talking about sophomore albums that were simply better than the first. Many great artists take it back to the drawing board after disappointing debuts (see Drake, J.Cole, T.I., Kid Cudi). Instead, this lists focuses on the rare times when a phenomenal debut was followed up by another great, if not better album. This was a tough one, so don't hesitate to tell me if you think I missed anything in the comments. Moving on to our list...
Lupe Fiasco - The Cool
Upon the release of 2006's Food and Liquor, there was an insane amount of buzz floating around Chicago's Lupe Fiasco, just like the items floating around him on the cover. Fresh off of appearing on Kanye West's "Touch the Sky" and a successful series of mixtapes, the album hype went into over drove when the album leaked 5 months early (damn!). When the album finally released, it was instantly hailed a classic and even got a Grammy. With so much early acclaim and success, it seemed impossible to NOT disappoint with his sophomore effort. However, Lupe came back the very next year and delivered The Cool, a concept album revolving around a character mentioned on his first album. Instead of trying to re-invent the sounds from the first LP, Lupe diversified his sound and re-introduced concept albums in an almost horror story, comic book kind of way. With songs like "Dumb It Down" ,"Hip Hop Saved My Life", "Put You On Game", and "Paris Tokyo", Lupe successfully went two for two.
Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp A Butterfly
Before anyone comes at my neck, YES I know that technically, Section .80 is Kendrick's first album, thus making good kid, m.a.a.d. city his sophomore album, HOWEVER, on this list, I'm considering MAJOR LABEL RELEASES. Is that a cop out, perhaps, but who cares. Anyway, Section .80 does play a role in this discussion because it added to the hype and anticipation of GKMC.
Just like Lupe, K -Dot did not disappoint once he linked up with Dr. Dre. While critically and commercially successful and deemed a classic, GKMC unfortunately went 0 for 5 at the Grammy's and will always be associated with losing Best Rap Album to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis (eewww). Perhaps it was this act, seemingly fueled by white supremacy and cultural appropriation, that led Kendrick Lamar to create his sophomore album, To Pimp A Butterfly. While GKMC told the tale of a kid growing up in the battlefield that is Compton, TPAB widens the scope, and discusses the trials and tribulations of being a Black man in America.
In a world that had witnessed multiple unarmed people of color murdered by police and racial tension as high as its been since the Rodney King video , it seemed like no one wanted to talk about the things happening. Black Lives Matter emerged, but there remained a gap between the struggle of people of color in America and how White America perceived the problem. With TPAB, Kendrick Lamar put it all on the table. Described by some as "unapologetically Black", the first lines you hear on the album are "Every nigga is a star". Kendrick then proceeds to knock you over the head with funk, spoken word, jazz, and even an interview with the late great Tupac Shakur. TPAB went on to be universally acclaimed, winning six well-deserved Grammys and even inspiring David Bowie to create what would be his last album.
Kanye West - Late Registration
From faceless producer to shining star, Kanye West was on top of the world following his debut album. An instant classic,it featured everyone from Jay-Z to Mos Def, from Ludacris to Common, The College Dropout went on to be nominated for 10 Grammys, taking home 2. Any MC would have a hard time following that up, but Kanye isn't just any MC.
The following year, he ditched the sped-up vocal samples he had become known for, hired an orchestra and film composer Jon Brion, and gave the world Late Registration.This album was an epic showcase of what Kanye could do with differrent genres ( jazz, classical, diverse features (Adam Levine, Cam'ron, Paul Wall, Brandy), and even a then feuding Jay-Z and Nas on back to back tracks. With so many hits (Heard Em Say, Hey Mama, Gold Digger, Drive Slow) this album turned out to be a legendary follow-up. Even Kanye knew it, rapping in "Diamonds from Sierra Leon", "Drop my new shit, it sound like 'the best of'. Chance the Rapper would agree.
Dr. Dre - 2001
Unlike others on this list, Dr. Dre really didn't have much to prove on his sophomore effort. Even before his debut album, The Chronic, Dre was already well known from his run as producer for (and member of) the World Class Wreckin' Cru, where his ear for funky production first blossomed. After that, he changed the game with N.W.A, producing Eazy-E's Eazy-Duz-It and N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton, contributing to the creation of gangsta rap.
After leaving N.W.A., Dr. Dre formed Death Row Records, and a year later, he released, The Chronic. While his former group member Ice Cube had delivered three solid albums after being a standout MC in the group, people didn't really know what to expect from Dr. Dre. He focused more on production than rhymes, and that focus is what led him to pioneering the g-funk era of hip hop with The Chronic.With smooth samples, a super hero level sidekick that was Snoop Dogg, and fiery verses from Kurupt, Lady of Rage, and RBX, The Chronic cemented Dr. Dre's legacy. He went on to carry out production duties for Snoop Dogg, Tupac, and other Death Row artists until he left the label in 1996.
It took Dre a while to find his winning formula. He released a compilation album, Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath, to mixed reviews. Then in 1999, after finding success with a young Eminem, Dr. Dre finally returned with his sophomore follow-up, 2001. Featuring the aforementined Slim Shady, as well as veterans such as Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Devin The Dude. Just like on The Chronic, Dr. Dre let newcomers shine as well on several tracks. The success of this album lead to a new wave of popularity for Dr. Dre, as he went on to produce a string of hits with Eve, Mary J. Blige, and Busta Rhymes throughout the early 00's. Not only that, he continued to deliver quality new artists, such as 50 Cent, The Game, Kendrick Lamar, and Anderson .Pakk. Dr. Dre released his final album, Compton, to the disappointment of everyone who was waiting on Detox FOR 10 YEARS! (lol jk)(not really)
Did I miss anyone? Leave your thoughts in the comments!