Are Hip Hop Family Reunions Worth It?

November 5th, 2012

(Photo: Derek Reed / Picture Group)

By Gee King

For many of the rap crews that ruled the 1990s and 2000s, ego and money came between the bonds that made them strong. For fans, watching these legendary relationships disintegrate was like watching family members have a public falling out. That’s why the public truces and reunion tours that have been popping up lately have been such a welcomed part of 2012.

For years, fans wondered why Dipset bosses Cam’ron and Jim Jones couldn’t put their differences past them and give the people what they want. “What was so deep between Dame and Jay or the living members of the Wu-Tang that they couldn’t take it back to the glory days for fans’ sake?” we asked. But now that we’re getting to see some of our divided heroes reunite, nostalgia doesn’t seem to have the pull everyone thought it did. From the LOX to State Property to the Ruff Ryders, humbled bank accounts and egos are now leading to long-awaited but underwhelming reunions across hip hop’s nation.

The fame and fortune that drove many of hip hop’s greatest creative teams apart shouldn’t be the thing that brings them back together. Many veteran MCs are feeling desperation similar to what they experienced before making it big, leading to half-hearted apologies and posing. Fans are quick to call artists who sacrifice their artistic integrity for money “sell-outs,” but disingenuous reunions are a slap in the face of true diehards. Especially when everyone on stage and in the crowd is aware of the quarrels and feuds that led to the initial break-up.

The Fugees’ 2008 attempt at a comeback is an example of why sometimes it can be best to stay apart. Revelations about Lauryn and Wyclef’s tumultuous relations have been shared by all three members in the past year, making it perfectly clear why they were unable to create the magic they made in the mid-1990s when they reunited in the late 2000s. Few can replicate the family dynamics that fueled The Fugees or Wu-Tang and once the love is lost it’s nearly impossible to bring it back. EPMD and A Tribe Called Quest didn’t teach fans that reunions are often better in theory than in practice, but the current flurry of make-ups and truces we’re seeing across hip-hop may show fans once and for all that nothing lasts forever.

Not that all reunions are bad. If executed properly with the participation of everyone, a Roc-a-Fella reunion with State Property and Dipset would be incredible. The Wu has shown the ability to give fans worthy music when reunited, but for most artists, the past is better left in the past. Before announcing a reunion, artists should truly ask themselves, “Is this a progressive move for hip hop’s future or a step backwards for past stars hoping to relive the glory days?” The sequel is rarely as good as the original and almost never better. So is it worth it?

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