These rappers once had their chance in the spotlight but for some reason simply faded into the background. Hot today, gone tomorrow. Are they in jail? Did they quit? Financial troubles? Career bludgeoned beyond recovery by a brutal rap beef? If you’re a hip-hop fan, we know you’ve probably wondered about some of them.
Check out these 15 rappers who disappeared on us and find out where they are now.
After years of making music on the rap scene, signing to indie label Big Boy Records and later No Limit Records, Michael Lawrence Tyler aka Mystikal dropped his 5th album Lets Get Ready in 2000. The former security guard hit it big with his singles “Shake Ya A**” and “Danger (Been So Long),” helping the album debut at number one and making Mystikal a platinum selling artist. His follow-up album Tarantula earned him Grammy nominations in 2003, but that same year he was indicted on sexual battery and extortion charges for forcing his hairstylist to perform sexual acts. He was sentenced to 6 years in prison and released in 2010. Now signed to former rival label Cash Money, Mystikal is working on a new album.
Ja Rule has been missing from the hip-hop scene so long many may have forgotten that he was once one of the hottest things going in the rap game. Four of his seven studio albums have gone platinum, of which Rule 3:36 and Pain is Love were most successful. Both albums were certified 3x platinum. His last major album was R.U.L.E. in 2004. Officially, the rapper went on hiatus in 2005. Unofficially, his disappearance from music is attributed to the brutal lyrical feud between Ja Rule/Murder Inc. and 50 Cent/The Shady-Aftermath family that Fiddy says “ripped the N***a apart.” Rule returned to music in 2009 after leaving Murder Inc. and starting his own label, Mpire Music. He dropped a free-for-download album entitled The Mirror that year.
Country boy rapper Bubba Sparxxx hit the hip-hop scene in 2001 with his album Dark Days, Bright Nights. The disc debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200, and went gold. The album spawned his first hit “Ugly,” produced by and featuring Timbaland. He scored further success with the singles “Deliverance” and “Ms. New Booty” from his second and third albums, respectively. As his popularity faded, Sparxxx left Virgin Records to start his own label, and has been releasing music sporadically over the years. In January he premiered a video for his song “Splinter.”
Melvin Barcliff better known as “Magoo” made his name by joining forces with Timbaland as a rap duo in high school. The two went on to release five albums. Their most recent release was in 2005. Magoo’s latest venture is a guest spot on long-time friend Missy Elliot’s “Warped,” but oddly the rapper has yet to break out on his own.
In 2000, a teenaged Lil Zane dropped his debut album Young World: The Future, which debuted at #161 on Billboard 200, making it his most successful album to date. The album also had his biggest single “Callin Me.” The next year Zane was featured on the soundtrack to the film Hardball. He released two more albums The Big Zane Theory and Tha Return, but neither performed as well as his debut. He also made a foray into acting, but that, like his music career, was minimal at best. In 2010, Zane resurfaced for the 106 and Park 10 year anniversary special as well as announced a new mixtape, The Missing Link, and a new single entitled “Put It In My Lap.”
Since that fateful 1999 day when Mase retired from music at the top of his game to become a pastor, he returned for a music comeback in 2005, declaring himself a “bad boy gone clean” on his third album “Welcome Back.” The album debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200, and eventually went gold. He also spent time touring with 50 Cent and G-Unit before going back into hiding. He made another comeback in 2009, appearing on a number of tracks like remixes to Drake’s “Best I Ever Had,” Kanye West’s “Diamonds,” and Trey Songz’s “I Need a Girl.” He took a break in 2010 only to return in 2012, working as A&R on French Montana’s debut album as well as appearing on Kanye West’s Cruel Summer compilation album. He also announced that after 16 years he was released from Bad Boy Records.
Chingy began his career as an opening act for fellow St. Louis rapper Nelly in summer 2002. He later became Ludacris’ protege when he signed to his Disturbing the Piece label. His first single “Right Thurr” put him on the musical map and led to his debut album Jackpot going double platinum. His sophomore release spawned the hit singles “Pullin’ Me Back” and “Dem Jeans.” Two more albums followed, but failed to capture a modicum of his previous success. Chingy is reportedly working on a sixth album under his own label.
Following the release of his breakout single “Still Tippin,'” Mike Jones signed with Jive Records and Warner Bros. He later dropped his second single “Back Then” and his debut studio album Who is Mike Jones?, both of which were certified platinum. Jones seemed to disappear from music after the release of his second studio album The Voice and mildly popular singles “Drop & Gimme 50,” “Cuddy Buddy,” and “Next To You” in 2009. He resurfaced in 2010, citing legal disputes with his former label Asylum Records as the reason for his hiatus, and announcing the completion of his next album Where is Mike Jones? for 2013.
Lil Jon made his signature crunk sound known alongside his group The Eastside Boyz with hits “Bia’ Bia’,” “Get Low,” (featuring the Ying Yang Twins) and “Lovers & Friends” (featuring Usher and Ludacris). As a solo artist, Lil Jon produced hits “Yeah” for Usher and “Salt Shaker” for the Ying Yang Twins. He dropped his own single “Snap Yo Fingers” in 2006 and was featured on several tracks for other artists. His debut solo album was slated for release that year but legal troubles forced the rapper out of the spotlight and delayed it until 2010. Unfortunately for the rapper, his popularity had waned considerably by that point.
St. Louis rapper J-Kwon scored major success with his debut single “Tipsy” and debut album Hood Hop, which hit the top ten on the Billboard charts. His second and third albums Hood Hop 2 and Hood Hop 2.5 followed in 2008 and 2009, respectively, but J-Kwon seemed to disappear after that, literally. In March 2010, his record label revealed that he had been missing since February. He later got in touch saying that he was just “taking some time out.” J-Kwon released his fourth album that year. Recently, he has resurfaced again to drop a diss tack aimed at Odd Future and Pusha T.
The Dirty Dozen aka D12 is famous for being Eminem’s band. The group formed back in 1996 but became temporarily inactive when Dr. Dre snapped up Eminem as a solo artist. The group has been much like a revolving door with different members including Em exiting and rejoining over the years. Both D12’s first and second albums debuted at number one thanks to the success of Eminem’s solo career. Their third album was delayed due to the death of member Proof in 2006. They have since released two mixtapes entitled Return of the Dozen Vol. 1 and 2 but have only been minimally active in music.
After generating buzz on the underground scene with his first two albums At the Speed of Life and 40 Days and 40 Nights Xzibit caught the attention of Dr. Dre, who joined forces with him along with the likes of Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and Eminem for his breakthrough third album, Restless in 2000. The album went platinum and spawned his most successful song “X”. Xzibit began expanding his brand into movies, video games, and TV, most notably acting as host of MTV’s Pimp My Ride, starting in 2004. When the show was cancelled in 2007, it marked a huge decline in the Detroit rapper’s income and popularit, though he continued to make music and act. He filed for bankruptcy in 2009 and 2010 but was denied. In his latest TV gig, Xzibit became a part of the Extreme Makeover: Home Edition cast. He appeared on the BET Hip-Hop cypher of 2012, and later released the album Napalm and set out on tour.
Rapper Lil Flip scored platinum success with his first studio album Undaground Legend and double platinum success with his sophomore release U Gotta Feel Me. Singles “Game Over” and “Sunshine” along with collaborations with David Banner, Three Six Mafia, and DMX brought him notoriety, but after his third album in 2005, Lil Flip faded into the background. His fourth album only sold 205 copies after being pushed back from 2007 to 2010. A fifth album was planned for 2012 but never materialized for purchase.
Some may remember him from his appearance on Drumline, but Pablo was actually a mildly successful artist at one point. His first single “Raise Up” gained popularity thanks to urban radio and MTV, leading to his debut album, Diary of a Sinner: 1st Entry, being certified gold and nominated for a Grammy in 2003. His follow-up album Still Writing in My Diary: 2nd Entry also went gold and received praise. Pablo’s lead single “Freek-a-Leek,” produced by Lil Jon was his biggest hit to date. He also gained mainstream notoriety for his feature on Ciara’s “Goodies” in 2004. The rapper later took a hiatus from music. Pablo dropped a mixtape entitled Carolina #1 in 2011 and announced work on a new album in 2012 while behind bars. He’s currently serving three years in prison for trying to carry a 9mm semi-automatic pistol unto a US Airways flight in 2010.
Yung Berg’s music career seems to have been a flash in the pan. His first two singles “S e x y Lady” and “S e x y Can I” featuring Ray J were radio hits. Both his EP and debut album Look What You Made Me peaked at number two on the Billboard rap charts, but Berg failed to capitalize on his success, and subsequently disappeared from the spotlight. Aside from features, he has dropped 16 mixtapes since the release of his album in 2008. As of 2013, he is executive producing Tamar Braxton’s third album.