Once more proving his unimpeachable instincts for the game, Jay-Z never even bothered to sign with somebody else’s label. From his debut onwards, Jigga’s albums bore the Rock-a-Fella imprint, adding countless sundries to both his rep and bank account.
Kanye West and Rick Ross have trod slower paths to corporate self-sufficiency, though both one-time prodigies of Jay-Z are now cultivating their own stables of acolytes, prepping their own compilation albums and gracing the world with multiple shout outs to their own vanity imprints.
Most Valuable Player: G.O.O.D. Music—John Legend, Maybach—Rick Ross
Granted, John Legend’s debut album dropped back in 2004 when people still bought CDs (sort of), but the double-platinum certified Get Lifted still accounts for more sales than most of the rest of G.O.O.D. Music’s roster combined.
In the Maybach camp, founder/godfather Rick Ross maintains a steady lead on his associates-cum-acolytes. Teflon Don sold 725,000 copies, beating its closest internecine contender (Wale’s Ambition) by a good 300,000 sales.
Diamond in the Rough: G.O.O.D. Music—Pusha T, Maybach—Meek Mill
Though Pusha T and Meek Mill cast impressive shadows in their own right, the MCs have tended to become overwhelmed by some of the bigger acts on G.O.O.D. (in Pusha’s case) and Maybach (in the case of Meek Mill).
Legendary as he might be, Pusha T has seen better days in the album sales department. His Fear of God II: Let us Pray earned the onerous distinction of having achieved the lowest chart position (66) of any G.O.O.D. release to date. Meek Mill’s debut still resides safely over the horizon, but early speculation has called into question the MC’s ability to carry an album on his lonesome.
Both Pusha and Mill have talent far in excess of their diminished reputations, even if that talent lends itself to tracks that aren’t quite as poppy and bombastic as those favored by their peers.
The Children Are Our Future: G.O.O.D.—Kid Cudi, Maybach—Wale
At some point in the distant past, both West and Ross were simply “stars,” having not yet reached the Olympian designation of superstar, mogul or world-beater. Under West’s tutelage, the pop-leaning Kid Cudi has dropped respectable hints that such a status might be in his future, whereas Wale, in the Maybach camp, seems incapable of halting the rise of his peculiar star.
Both Cudi and Wale have enjoyed chart positions in the low single digits, owing in no small part to the pair’s willingness to regularly bend its tracks toward the bouncing, narcotic aspect of radio pop.
Insult their populist tendencies at your peril, as both these MCs are likely to be running the show in coming years.