Friday, October 8, 2010
Was The Firm Really A Flop?
“All you niggas that said that I turned pop/ Or the Firm flop/ ya'll are the reason Dre ain't been getting no sleep!” That’s a little sample of what of the Dr. thought back in ‘99 . So let me ask u, was the Firm really a flop? If u take in account of how it came about and the final result, was it really a flop? To me….hell no!! Was the album sales were what they expected? No, but we all know u don’t judge a LP being dope by album sales. For most of you, the tale of the Firm is unknown cause it happened oh so long ago. But the rest of us know how it went down and how it ended. Let me dive into it and try to clear up something’s and from there u can draw up ur own opinions.
How it started? Well let me mind u, the name The Firm, never existed. None of the members never even mentioned that name for group until Foxy Brown did on the classic I Shot Ya Remix. Nas said himself that nobody never even heard of that name until she dropped it on that song. Now we all know the orig. members of the group which included Nas, AZ, Cormega & Foxy Brown. From what I know, Foxy Brown was included with Nas & the crew cause they were label mates plus Trackmasters had something to do with it. Not to mention Steve Stoute who was the mastermind of this thing, but played a big role of destroying it. They were plenty of affilates that wanted to be down with this next big thing goin on at the time like Jay Z, Noreaga, Mary J. to name a few. So by 1996 this wheel will start to be in motion. The 1st track all 4 appeared on? Affirmative Action of course. This track on Nas’s It Was Written LP, was a preview of what a dynamic team this could be. At the time its was the 1st of its kind that 4 MC’s of that caliber could be all in group! It was a very exciting time in hip-hop! The next track was the remix to Affirmative Action then it was the rare unrealeased gem La Familia! Im telling u now, after hearing that track I was ready for the Firm. Ill put that track up against any top posse cuts of all-time and ill bet it will rank up there as one of the best. By late 1996 the annoucement is heard ‘round the world, The Firm LP will be coming in 1997 with production by L.E.S, Trackmasterz and……..DR. DRE!!! Now when people 1st heard about this they were speechless!! Dr. Dre is working on a East Coast product? He and Nas will be workin together? This cant be true right? It was a huge hip-hop moment and many hip-hop headz were waiting for a classic to drop. So its safe to say that at this point everything on is on the up & up right???
Enter 1997, Puff & Mase is ruling it. Jay is comin on strong. The Wu is in full force. Busta is puttin everybody hands up where they can see. And now its time for the Firm to come thru! But the 1st chink is now delt. Word got out that Cormega is ousted in the group. He was a major player in the group and held his own lyrically, plus that’s Nas’s right hand man. But remember Steve Stoute is behind the scenes pulling the strings. Cormega earlier that year had signed a deal to Def Jam & and he had solo LP which would droppin that year also (but we all know, it never came out). His singles was already bubblin on radio & mixtapes. Now why didn’t Stoute didn’t include him in the group after that? Just because of that, the deal with Def Jam. Cormega would have signed with Columbia / Trackmasterz but they took too long offering up the deal. Cormega says that he needed the money bad at the time cause he just gotten out of jail not too long before ago and the money Nas set aside for him wouldn’t last that long. Stoute said to him that he would sign him but never came thru with the offer and Def Jam was hollerin, so he took it. So that made Stoute mad, and refused to incorporate him in the group no more. Now Nas tried and pleaded with Stoute to keep Mega in the group but Stoute wasn’t havent it. Sadly enough the relationship between Nas & Mega wouldn’t be the same after that. But this movement had to go on. Who would replace him? Nature of course. The latest QB emcee under Nas’ camp was now thrown in the for front and he had a alot to live up to. So now the anticipation for the LP is in full force and the Firm is flooding the mixtape scene with dope tracks and freestyles.
October 21 1997 the LP drops. Now for me the only letdown was choosing Firm Biz as the first single. Me personally, I wasn’t really with it. It was kinda annoying. I wish they would went with Firm Biz Remix as the 1st single. Cause it was that version of the record that they would be performing live on their tours. So when I 1st heard Firm Biz I was kinda skeptical of getting the LP and that’s why I waited until years later to actually cop it. But when I heard the 2nd single which is the now classic Phone Tap, that when I said this is it right here! That track is timeless with the ill violin/ piano sample plus the phone sounding vocals. Its one of the most creative hip-hop tracks of our time. Then u hear other classic tracks like Executive Decisions, Im Leaving, Firm Family, Desperados & Fuck Somebody Else. I mean this LP was loaded with dopeness. But for some reason the people was expecting too much from them & Dre. For its time it was the best that they can do. And I applaude them for even attempting to make this happen because at the time it was unheard of. Remember we never got to see the Commission come to life cause of BIG’s passing. So the Firm is closest we got to a super group coming together. So go back and look at this LP and anaylze it. You’ll see that it was pretty great compared to today’s standards of what a LP should sound like. Its sad that the group just went their separate ways after this LP dropped and anytime somebody mention’s the word Firm they relate it to a flop. But what if they came out with a 2nd LP that they was supposed to do in ‘99 in which Nas referenced to in the XXL magazine. I think if they came out with a 2nd LP in ‘99 it would have probably been better received since around that time crews were staring to pop like Cash Money, Murder Inc & The Roc. AZ mentions that he had big plans for the Firm like clothing lines, television and the whole nine. So who know what could have been, but go back to 1997 and see how huge this movement was. Listen to old Clue tapes and etc. back then to hear how The Firm was dominating the mixtape scene. It’s a time ill never forget and neither should u. So was the Firm really a flop? U tell me…