After the “Bros” of hip hop were the rap groups from the ’90s like Bad Boy, Def Jam, and Young Money, there was one more that captured the imagination of its listeners.
The “Breakdown” group, which debuted in the early ’00s with an album called “Boys With Kids” and followed up in 2009 with the hit “B.R.O.G.,” was a break from the norm.
As a group that featured rapper-turned-producer D’Angelo and vocalist-guitarist Jay-Z, Breakdown had the ability to combine hip hop’s best elements with the more mainstream tastes of the day.
Its signature beats featured the sound of rap, but the group also had a knack for producing tracks that sounded like they were from a film noir, as in “Boshers,” which features a rapper who’s got the appearance of a bad cop in the backseat of a police cruiser.
There’s no denying that the break from traditional hip hop came at a cost.
In 2011, the group was suspended from the label, and in 2012, the label announced that it was canceling all future releases, including “BBS,” “Bricks,” and “Break Down.”
While the break was hard on the artists, it was also hard on fans.
After the break, a wave of new artists were signed and the group’s reputation began to take a beating.
“BreakDown” was one of the last albums to make it through the break.
Its songs were catchy and had an undeniable hook.
But when it hit the charts in 2015, its reputation began falling apart.
“BBRZ” was the first release from the group and came out just as the hip hop world was starting to realize that rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Wiz Khalifa had a huge following.
The album was a huge success, and Kendrick was able to capitalize on the attention by signing with Def Jam Records, which was in the process of releasing his own solo album.
By then, “Bbs” was out of the picture.
“It’s a great honor for me to be part of the Breakdown family again and the world at large to have a legacy that’s being built,” Jay-O told Billboard.
“I want to thank everyone for all the support.”
The group’s legacy began to unravel in 2017, when Jay-A signed to Roc Nation.
“My career has changed dramatically,” he told Billboard at the time.
“The Breakdown era is behind me.”
The next album, “Pimp a Butterfly,” was released in 2018 and went on to sell 2 million copies in the United States and 3 million in the U.K. It was Jay-az’s first solo release and the first to feature the vocal talents of Jadakiss and Juelz Santana.
Jay-AZ was released on May 22, 2020, and “Breslin” was released a week later.
It became Jay-a’s first No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.
The group continued to release albums after the break as well.
“Sessions” was Jay’s third No. 2, while “Bats” was his fourth.
And on July 12, 2018, Jay-B announced he was retiring from rap and that he was releasing his final album, titled “Someday.”
But even with his retirement, Jay continued to keep in touch with fans.
“Every time I step on the stage, there’s a crowd of people watching,” he said in a 2016 interview with Billboard.
Jay told Billboard in 2017 that he still has an email list of over 10,000 fans, but that he does not have a Twitter account and does not plan to.
“This is all for the best, but there are things that are better than what you have right now,” Jay said.
“That’s why I’m on Twitter.
I don’t know how long this is going to last, but I’m not looking for any kind of new fans.”
In 2018, he launched a new website, which he said was meant to be a place for fans to discuss his career, his music, and his personal life.
“One of the things I want to do is just make people aware that I’m still going to be around, but we’re going to have some fun,” he wrote on the site.
“So, when you get the chance, just stop by the site and see me, and let’s talk about your problems, and make us laugh.
But you’ll never know the pain I went through, until you actually get the opportunity to meet me and see my face.
You’ll be amazed by how well I feel about life now.”