A Minute With Mainstream: You Can't See Me

(Courtesy of WWE.com)

 Recently announced on World Wrestling Entertainment's flagship show Monday Night Raw, Hollywood actor John Cena will be returning to the show to celebrate his 20 years in the wrestling industry. For such a physically demanding job, two decades is a big accomplishment and should be celebrated.

But for the music space, the New England native just celebrated another anniversary... 17 years since he dropped his debut rap album. 

That's right, Mr. You Can't See... hand motions over the face and all actually dropped an album entitled... You Can't See Me. 

(Courtesy: Vevo)
Yep, that's where that came from...

The year was 2005, and between Lebron James' flip phone and Kingda Ka opening at Six Flags was the ascension of part rapper part ass-kicker John Cena in professional wrestling. But while he wasn't clotheslining suckers and borrowing dances from Tony Yayo, he was in the studio recording WWE/Columbia records' first solo album from a pro wrestler. 

Using only 4 producers, one of which being legendary Jake One, Cena and his brother created a 17-track album for the masses, headlined by his theme song "Time Is Now". But during the time period of Late Registration and Tha Carter II, no one expected this album to be paid attention to by the Hip-Hop community nor crack the Top 200. Yet, You Can't See Me went on to peak at #3 in the Billboard Top Rap Charts, peak at #10 in the Top 200 US albums, and get sued by M.O.P. for... well you know...

Does this count as rap beef?

While we are not calling this a masterpiece, the proof is there... Cena created the perfect project to sell not only the character but the talent he has as a legitimate MC. And at the age the majority of us were, where was the doubt? I mean the man got Harlem legend Big L sampled in a record cleared, cursed plenty (something considered sacrilegious in Vince McMahon's standard these days), and had enough stereotypical gun and drug-related references to living up to today's music era. 

But it's not just because the album made shelves, and earned its platinum status, it's the perseverance John took to make the significant effort to show his creativity... something many of his wrestling and music peers rarely get to do without trust from several important parties. 

The point is simple, while we thank John for his service in the squared circle, we also thank him for this album as it became a benchmark, in my eyes, for many of the wrestling MCs after him. If they are a rapper on the mic, but bust ass, part of it was inspired by the man who plays Dominic Toretto's younger brother. 

It's all about that long-lasting effect. Take the path YOU trust and not anyone else's then you will find a way to win. No, not all of us have the same opportunities as John, but he found a way to make the best of what he had. And at the end of the day, we had to believe not to fuck with John Cena right? He's bad, bad man...

- Mainstream


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