The Last Emperor has kind of belonged to the “best kept secret” list, although he has been signed to Rawkus, Aftermath and Interscope labels. If you didn’t already know about the talented Last Emp, you might want to check out his “Music, Magic, Myth” album (2003).
So, what happened to the promising Rawkus deal? I managed to recall and dig his interview I read a few years ago:
“Anyone who knew about Rawkus during that era would know that I had to respect a lot of their artists at the time. I respected Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch, Kool G Rap. It just seemed like the ideal label for the sort of hip-hop that a person like myself desired to put out.”
“They began to tell artists that they wanted to compete more with what was going on with mainstream radio and the mainstream acts that were out there. They didn’t want to be viewed as the underground backpack hip-hop label.”
“Instead of giving me a concrete answer to when my album or single was going to come out, they would tell me ‘We’ll figure it out but we have to get you a personal trainer so that your abs and your pecks are nice and tight.’ This is literally verbatim. The administration at Rawkus actually told me this. Everyone would flip when I would tell them that story.” -Last Emperor (original source)
Oh well, that’s the way…
Last Emperor - Secret Wars