Juelz Santana

Probably the most pop-friendly of Harlem’s once formidable Dipset crew, Juelz Santana has gone a long way with a limited amount of talent. He first made a splash with features on the two hit singles off Cam’ron’s 2002 album, Come Home to Me, “Hey Ma” and “Oh Boy.” Santana’s New York-accented snarl seemed perfectly melded for the Heatmakerz's bass-thumping soul samples, and his 2003 debut, From Me to U, was a thunderous if vapid tour of spinners, crack dealers, and gold-digging women. His 2005 follow-up, What the Game’s Been Missing!, was more of the same, with stronger packaging: “There It Go (The Whistle Song)” was stupidly addicting and a genuine hit, a minimal snap-and-boom number in the mode of “Grindin,” and “Oh Yes” sampled “Mr. Postman” to party-packing effectiveness.
As Dipset imploded, Santana pivoted. While his partnerships with Cam’ron and Jim Jones simmered, Santana struck up a fruitful collaboration with Lil Wayne, appearing on Wayne’s seminal 2006 mixtape, Da Dedication 2, and recording an album’s worth of material, known on the Web as I Can’t Feel My Face, that has come out in the form of stray leaks and unofficial mixtapes but has yet to see proper release. Santana also appeared with Fabolous on the furious diss track “Ain’t Got Nuthin” off Wayne’s Tha Carter III. Though he’s hardly an elite punch line rapper, Santana seems to be elevated in Wayne’s presence more than he was in Cam’s.


In 2010 Santana returned to radio play with “Back to the Crib,” a bouncy, buttery song featuring Chris Brown on the hook and production by pop ace Polow da Don. His third album, Born to Lose, Built to Win, was promised for summer 2010. ~Wilson McBee

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