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Hip Hop Timeline

The Begining (70's-86)

The early DJs at the parties began isolating the percussion breaks to hit songs — realizing that these were the most danceable and entertaining parts — and extending them, using an audio mixer and two records. At the time, this technique was common in Jamaica, and was known as dub music. It spread via the substantial Jamaican immigrant community in New York City, especially the godfather of hip-hop, DJ Kool Herc. The use of extended percussion breaks led to the development of mixing and scratching techniques, and later to the popularization of remixes. The Herculoids, made up of Herc, Coke La Rock, and Clark Kent, were the earliest to gain major fame. But teams of emcees sprang up throughout the country. Frequently, these were collaborations between former gang members. The Herculoids and other early performers focused on introducing themselves and others in the audience (the origin of the still common practice of "shouting out" on hip hop records).

The Golden Age (86-92)

New styles

A number of new hip hop styles and subgenres began appearing as the genre gained popularity. Hip hop was combined with rock music, reggae, techno and other musical styles during this period. Also, the mid-1980s saw the rise of the first major black female group, Salt-N-Pepa, who hit the charts with singles like "The Show Stoppa" in 1985.


Run-D.M.C.'s collaboration with hard rock band Aerosmith on "Walk This Way" was an early example of rock and hip hop fusions. The highly popular video for the single was the first rap video ever played in heavy rotation on MTV and is regarded as a classic of the medium. The collaborative version of "Walk This Way" was also considered the first rap song to hit the top 5 in The Billboard Hot 100.

In 1987, the Beastie Boys had the first hip hop album to hit number one with Licensed to Ill, their debut album from Def Jam Records. The album combined rock and rap music, and featured sampling of Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, as well as a guitar performance by Kerry King of Slayer. In 1989, the group released Paul's Boutique, which used samples in creative, interesting ways, often as split-second fills, choruses, or as humorous punchlines to sentences. The material sampled was also extremely diverse, showing the rest of the hip hop world the possibilities that sampling could be more than a break, or scratching. These innovations would influence much of the alternative rap world for years to come.

De La Soul's released 3 Feet High and Rising the same year. Like Paul's Boutique, the album utilized heavy sampling, to considerable effect and success. 3 Feet High's positive messages and gentle humor predated and pioneered alternative rap and jazz rap, as well as a new (if short-lived) era of positivity in hip hop, and would set the standard for all alternative rap albums to come.

Miami Bass

Another important Hip Hop variant is Miami Bass, popularized by artists such as 2 Live Crew, J.J. Fad, DJ Magic Mike, and DJ Laz. The music is characterized by bassheavy rhythms and overt sexual references in its lyrics. The genere is experiencing a renaissance, as its elements are being reused in brazillian ghetto funk as well as Baltimore Club Music.


Ice-T had been a sporadically political rapper ever since his 1984 single "Killers". In 1988, Public Enemy released It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, which focused on politics from start to finish. The same year, Boogie Down Productions released By All Means Necessary, which consolidated the political presence in the genre. Both records pioneered a wave of hard-edged politicized performers. Meanwhile, Public Enemy's Bomb Squad production team, and those of other artists, pioneered new techniques in sampling that resulted in denser, multi-layered sonic collages on albums such as It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back and Fear of a Black Planet. That year, duo DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (Will Smith) also won rap's first Grammy Award.

In 1988 and 1989, artists from the Native Tongues Posse released the first conscious hip hop albums, with jazz-based samples and diverse, quirky and often political lyrics covering a diverse range of topics (see jazz rap) and strongly influenced by the Afrocentric messages of Bambaataa's Zulu Nation. This would pioneer the way for A Tribe Called Quest's 1991 release, The Low End Theory, which has been acclaimed by critics and fans as one of the greatest jazz-rap albums ever, if not one of the best hip hop albums. Allmusic's John Bush described it as "one of the closest and most brilliant fusions of jazz atmosphere and hip hop attitude ever recorded."

Modern era (1992-1998)

Gangsta rap

Ice T's seminal "6n' Da Mornin'" (1986) was one of the first nationally successful West Coast hip hop singles, and is often said to be the beginning of gangsta rap. In 1988, rap group N.W.A. released Straight Outta Compton. This album helped to popularize the style of "gangsta rap", which would become massively popular from the '90s to the present. It also influenced countless rappers of the genre, including Mobb Deep and Tupac Shakur.

In the 1990s, gangsta rap became mainstream, beginning in 1992, with the release of Dr. Dre's The Chronic. This album established a style called G-funk, which relied heavily on samples from '70s funk songs and slow-paced, lazy drawl-laden rhymes. G-funk soon came to dominate West Coast hip hop. Though G-Funk was the most popular variety of hip hop in the early 1990s, New York's hip hop scene did not disappear, and remained an integral part of the industry.

The west coast hip hop scene during the early to mid '90s also saw hip hop legend Tupac Shakur rise to fame with his hits I Get Around and Keep Ya Head Up. His widely acclaimed Me Against the World and greatly influential All Eyez on Me still had a profound impact on hip hop throughout the 1990s. His death, along with that of Notorious B.I.G., saw a halt in the rap game and a push to eliminate violence from hip hop music.

Hardcore hip hop

By the 1990s, the sound of New York and the East Coast had become harder and darker, with lyrical content to match.

Artists from the late '80s like EPMD and Eric B and Rakim offered a foundation of hard drums and intricate lyricism. Public Enemy and their production team, The Bomb Squad, had also influenced a harder sound of hiphop across America. EPMD had assembled the Def Squad by the early '90s, which included New Jersey rapper Redman, as well as Das EFX. Criminal elements had also started to become prevalent, taking influence from early gangster rapper pioneers as Boogie Down Productions, Ice T, and Schoolly D. While these early acts were not considered as hard as what was to follow, they were clearly and consciously moving their sound away from successful contemporaries like MC Hammer and towards something tougher and nastier.

1993 was a year of rapid transformation. Wu-Tang Clan released their first album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). This, Black Moon's Enta Da Stage, and Onyx's Bacdafucup spawned a gritty, stripped-down, dark and violent subgenre of hip hop that would influence contemporary acts such as Mobb Deep and The Notorious B.I.G., and would for a short time become the signature sound of New York City's rap scene; Wu-Tang's members dominated rap for the first half of the 1990s with acclaimed releases such as Liquid Swords and Only Built 4 Cuban Linx.

By 1994, both Nas' debut Illmatic and B.I.G.'s debut Ready to Die were released, bringing much industry attention back to New York. Nas was hailed by many as the second coming of Rakim due to his poetic phrasing, style of flow, and his blend of street and philosophical topics; Biggie went a more "gangster" route, saying he and cohort Puff Daddy desired to bring the West Coast gangster rap sound of Ice T and Ice Cube to the East.

These 1994 releases created a marked shift in the industry, with less attention focused on groups and more on solo artists. This would become the blueprint for other solo "hardcore" personnas to follow, including the solo careers of Wu-Tang Clan members such as Raekwon (Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...), Ghostface Killah (Ironman), Method Man (Tical), GZA (Liquid Swords). As well as AZ and Smif-N-Wessun in 1995, Jay-Z in 1996, Big Pun and DMX in 1998. Lyricists began put their own spin on the themes of the subgenre, including guns, drugs, sex, and money, with the production sound becoming more glossy as it found more mainstream appeal.

The re-emergence of New York as a growing entity in mainstream hip hop soon spawned an inevitable confrontation between the East Coast and West Coast and their respective major labels. This sales rivalry eventually turned into a personal rivalry, provoked in part by famous West Coast rapper Tupac Shakur's shooting, which Shakur blamed on The Notorious B.I.G. and his Bad Boy Entertainment label. As artists from Death Row sent disses (most notably Tupac's "Hit 'Em Up") toward various East Coast and some Southern and Chicago acts (Jermaine Dupri's So So Def label and his sister/artist, Da Brat), the feud heated up and culminated in the still-unsolved deaths of both rappers in 1996 (Shakur) and 1997 (Wallace).

Hiphop signaled a shift by 1997, amidst concerns that violence could claim more lives, and a growing national hiphop market. Dr. Dre left Death Row Records to form Aftermath Entertainment after label boss Suge Knight beat a sound engineer, and began to work with East Coast natives Nas and The Firm. The West Coast fell out of the mainstream spotlight, and Death Row lost many of its prominant artists; previous icons such as Snoop Dogg and Daz signed to Southern labels (No Limit Records and So So Def, respectively). Puff Daddy found surprising popularity by moving away from hard street anthems to more danceable, club-friendly party jams. Record companies and other artists saw this financial success and began to follow suit.

"Jiggy/Bling" era (1998-Present)

In the later half of the 1990s, the anmreid grow more popular among hip hop fans for wildly popular acts such as OutKast, No Limit and Cash Money Records. In the 1990s and into the following decade, elements of hip hop continued to be assimilated into other genres of popular music; neo soul, for example, combined hip hop and soul music and produced some major stars in the middle of the decade.

1998's emergence of Big Pun did much to revive a waning mainstream interest in skill-oriented rap; before the rapper died in 2000 of obesity, he garnered much attention as an extremely skilled MC without a "gimmick" or a marketing ploy that was becoming common by then. In that year, DMX also released his debut It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, a very dark and gritty-sounding album that stood out amongst the newly-popular glamour lifestyle-oriented raps popularized by Puff Daddy and ja rule

In 1999, Dr. Dre released his second album 2001 to an audience that had been impatiently anticipating his next release. Powered by the chart-topping single "Forgot About Dre" featuring Eminem, the album and the Up in Smoke tour that accompanied it did much to revitalize the status of Dre's pet project, Aftermath Entertainment. Eminem released his major label debut The Slim Shady LP in 1999; powered by controversy over his subject matter, and a mass of white suburban fans who identified with him, the album sold millions. This and his later albums would help to bring millions more Caucasian fans and several performers into the genre, after years of the genre being dominated by minorities.In 2001, a feud between Nas and Jay-Z (by then two of the most popular performers in the genre) came to a head; public slander flew back and forth between the two rappers and their camps, resulting in huge sales of both artists' 2001 releases (Stillmatic and The Blueprint respectively).

Eminem would further cement his status as a pop culture icon in 2002, when he won the Academy Award for Best Song for his single Lose Yourself. His movie, 8 Mile, became a box office success and its soundtrack featured his protégé and signee 50 Cent's first hit single, "Wanksta." That protégé's one-time mentor, Jam Master Jay, was shot and killed that year served also to increase his popularity.

In 2003, 50 Cent released his first Album. A New York rapper with a penchant for singing his hooks, he had essentially invented a now-popular fad of flooding the mixtape market with mixtapes to try to get one's music played everywhere and all the time. 50's debut sold several million copies, giving he and his G-Unit group Eminem's audience of suburban teensand a powerful position as one of Interscope's top-selling artists. 50 Cent stole the record off Snoop Dogg for the most number of albums sold for a debut act for his album Get Rich or Die Trying.

In 2004, producer Kanye West released The College Dropout, a highly selling album that re-popularized the style of speeding up old Soul music samples to create the melody for a beat. This album's success along with the retirement of Jay-Z and a beef between Beanie Sigel and Ruff Ryders artist Jadakiss brought attention back to Roc-A-Fella Records; attention which, in turn, facilitated the "Dipset movement", a bout of mainstream popularity for (at the time) Roc-A-Fella signee Cam'ron's Harlem-based DipSet group. West also revitalized the career of fellow Chicago-native Twista, giving him a guest spot on the chart-topping single "Slow Jamz" and producing another highly popular single, "Overnight Celebrity", for the rapper's album Kamikaze.

2005 saw West coast rapper The Game release his commercially successful album The Documentary, which brought the L.A. and even West Coast hip hop scene back into the spotlight after years of East coast and Southern dominance. It also brought about the mainstream popularization of Chicago rapper Common, also the work of Kanye West, and saw improved popularity for producer Danger Mouse, who had produced an illicit Jay-Z/Beatles remix album the year before. Raekwon also announced his upcoming sequel to Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, to be titled Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II, which is now highly anticipated. Also in the same year the Texas rapper Chamillionaire released his debut album The Sound Of Revenge, furthering the already-established success of the distinctive Southern hip hop sound.

In 2006, so far, Ghostface Killah has released his seventh album; Mobb Deep their G-Unit debut, DMX released his sixth, Kanye West released his second; and Ice Cube and Busta Rhymes' latest records; albums from acts such as Lupe Fiasco, The Roots, OutKast and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are highly anticipated, meanwhile Detox (album) by Dr. Dre has been on the wanted list for quite a while.Meanwhile, Jay Z, after retiring from active rapping announced his celebrated return to the mic. Around this time, Nas and Jay Z squashed their beef at the "I Declare War" concert. Soon after Nas controversally signed to Island Def Jam Records where Jay Z was President. In November, Jay Z released Kingdom Come. In December, Nas released the controversial Hip Hop Is Dead which declared the death of Hip Hop and incited responses from many in the Hip Hop industry.

slick rick (story teller)