Legends don’t die, but they can retire.
Social media has been in a frenzy after Lil Wayne sent out cryptic tweets suggesting he’s retiring due to all of his contractual issues with Cash Money Records. While no one is sure if Weezy is actually calling it quits, since he’s arguably been at the top of the rap game for over a decade, he’d sorely be missed. But rappers retiring and quickly returning (sometimes minutes later) is nothing new.
Here are a few of our favorite rappers who just couldn’t stay away from the music and the fame:
Born Mason Betha, Ma$e first started rapping alongside his high school basketball teammate Cam’ron. They’d go on to briefly start a group called Children of the Corn, which was managed by Damon Dash. Mase saw most of his success under Puff Daddy‘s Bad Boy imprint, but would retire after his chart-topping sophomore album Double Up. He revealed in a ’99 interview with Hot 97’s DJ and host Funk Master Flex that it was time for him to serve God. But five years later, the minister made an epic return with “Welcome Back,” which sampled Welcome Back, Kotter‘s theme song. And the accompanying video that parodied the show? Fire. It was followed by “Breathe, Stretch, Shake,” which became a sure-fire club joint. And just like that, Mase was back.
50 Cent‘s confidence was at an all-time high when he said he’d retire if Kanye West’s Graduation sold more than his album Curtis in 2007. “If Kanye West sells more records than 50 Cent on September 11, , I’ll no longer write music. I’ll write music and work with my other artists, but I won’t put out any more solo albums,” he told SOHH.com. The debate, which began on BET’s 106 & Park, would end when 50 sold 691,000 and Mr. West sold 957,000, noted MTV. It even led to the two sharing a Rolling Stone cover, which, if nothing else, showed the converging of gangsta rap and the new school’s more experimental influences. 50, of course, never retired and would go on to release 2009’s Before I Self Destruct and 2014’s Animal Ambition.
If Jay Z would’ve really retired in 2003, like he said he would, we would’ve never gotten Watch the Throne, Unfinished Business, and truce with longtime rival Nas. Though The Black Album would’ve been a fitting end to his career, there was still work to be done for Big Brother. We even got one of his best retirement songs with the hit single “Roc Boys (And the Winner Is …).” Without that song, we wouldn’t have experienced the legendary video which features Hov, Diddy, and Nas epically leaning on a pool table bossing up. We’re all happy that Shawn Carter did come back like Michael Jordan wearing the four-five.
LL Cool J
Don’t call it a comeback, because his retirement only lasted a few minutes. LL Cool J announced his retirement on Twitter this March only to unretire immediately after and announce a new album. Since then the G.O.A.T. has remained pretty quiet on the music front, but we trust he’s in the studio creating fire. Upon announcing his 14th album (yes, 14th) he did drop a freestyle over an unreleased Dr. Dre beat which proves he still has bars.
Waka Flocka Flame
In 2009, Waka Flocka Flame stepped into the game swinging his dreads with bangers like “O Let’s Do It” and “Hard In Da Paint.” But just three years later he wasn’t happy anymore, and cited the hip-hop lifestyle as his reason for quitting the game. “… I’m tired of going through what I go through, and punk a**es always rain on my world. There’s so much different haters, fake smiles, different hugs,” he said. “I’d rather work at Walmart than rap, and that’s my word on God. Yup, I put that on Jesus Christ. I’m not lying or nothing.” However, he’d come back a year later in 2012 with the release of his second album, Triple F Life.