Hip-Hop Heroes: The Golden Age (2023)

From the moment Run DMC released the million-selling rap album (King Of Rock) in 1985, we've been hooked on hip hop. With names like DMX,Dr. Dre,Eminem, Nelly and2PacWith album sales in the tens of millions, hip hop changed the game, one of the most popular styles in modern music and revolutionized youth culture.

From the start, hip hop might have taken a while to get there, but when it did, it was a transformation of epic proportions. While the likes of Kool Herc, Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa are some of the leading figures and creators of hip hop culture, it spread across the world during today's Golden Age.

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It is generally accepted that the Golden Age occurred in the mid-1980s and mid-1990s; Back then, all elements of culture - breaking, graffiti art and DJing - broke the covers to enter the mainstream. LL Cool J, NWA, Eric B. & Rakim, Nas,public enemyit is atBeastie Boysmade rap music the crowning glory of culture.

It wasn't just the music, however. Complete with gold chains and pumps, hip-hop fashion hit the mainstream. After that, tennis culture became a thing. Street slang, later known as ebonics, passed the point where certain words - bling being one of them - were included in the Oxford English Dictionary. Hip-hop culture is now part of everyday life. And if you think about it, it all started when Kool Herc threw a party in a small apartment on Sedgwick Avenue in the Bronx.

Hip hop was a phenomenon that had been simmering beneath the surface for some time, just waiting to shine.
After their initial introduction — which included the Sugarhill Gang in 1980, which peaked at number 36 on the Billboard Top 40 with a short rap record called "Rapper's Delight" — a hungry generation of MCs would soon emerge as superheroes and the Burden of carry spread this newfound art form.

"No rapper can rap like me / I'll take a muscle man and stick his face in the sand."- LL Cool J 'I'm Bad'

LL Cool J (Ladies Love Cool James) started out as a daring teenager with mountains of confidence and is often credited as rap's first superstar. When he released his first single "I Need A Beat" in 1984 at the age of 16 on Def Jam Records - considered one of the most important labels in the history of hip hop - his persistence and skill led to a successful career. not only behind the microphone, but also on the big screen.

Bridging the early divide between lyricist and sex symbol, from his signature kangol and chiseled body to his classic debut album 5 "Mic".Radio- rated by the "Hip Hop Bible"The source— and late career struggles, LL is free from the generalization that rap is famous for its short careers.Mom said you're outeHerr smithremain two of the rapper's finest releases.

Speaking of Def Jam, or the house that Rick [Rubin] and Russell [Simmons] built, Simmons made it clear from the start what his and Rubin's intentions were when it came to the label and the culture. "Disco was black music simplified," he quoted in the bookThe Men Behind Def Jam: The Radical Rise of Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin. "It's been diluted. It was made by industry for the people, not by the people for the people. Our answer to disco was hip hop.”

Another act on the Def Jam roster that took initial responsibility for promoting hip hop offered an altogether different styleBeastie Boys. The New York trio, consisting of Mike D, Ad-Rock and MCA, began a transition of their own. Originally a punk quartet and well before Run DMC's famous collaboration with Aerosmith, they were on the verge of introducing rap to rock music for the first time.

As the first successful white rap act in a culture dominated by African-American descent, questions about its authenticity would certainly be raised. Often accused of cultural piracy, the do-it-yourself principles of hip hop and punk weren't that far apart when you think about it. And as the frat boy silliness and nasty tirades gradually toned down, the boys and their fusion of rock and rap were taken a little more seriously.

Out with hip hop's first number one album, 1986Licensed for diseases, the diversity, innovation, quality and influence that nurtured the golden age has never been more evident than on this album. It didn't stop there. Besides albumscheck your head,patient communication, zPaulo store,Beastie BoysThe concerts soon became the talk of the town. As well as being an incredibly entertaining [and sometimes controversial] show that not only featured stunning spectacles like scantily clad women twirling in cages and inflatable penises, they were also known to cause a riot or two - the Liverpool, Royal Court Theater leg from the 1987 tour, Licensed To Ill, erupted in a riot just ten minutes after the trio took the stage, eventually leading to Ad-Rock's arrest for assault.

“For me, MC means moving the masses”- Rakim on "Eric B. is the President"

During one of hip hop's most exciting times, subgenres have become increasingly apparent over time. Entering the era of gold chains and sets of duster rings, superior rhyming skills and the powerful stories of hip hop street life have fallen to MC god Rakim. Delivering reality rap while spewing out unprecedented amounts of raw material, Rakim was a living example of street life in human form.

Part of the Eric B. & Rakim MC/DJ collective, Rakim was and is considered one of the most technically gifted lyricists to ever breathe into a microphone. Aggressively, the man attacks many syllables - including Nas andEminem– consider as a major influence is the true definition of the word copywriter.

With huge rope chains hanging around their necks like winners' medals, the combination of James Brown samples and lyrical excellence - which has advanced Rakim's wordplay and delivery by several decades in terms of complexity and craftsmanship - not only helped hip hop to define itself to find but also gave albums likepayment in full,follow the leadereLet the rhythm hit hera license to be a project for future rappers to use as research material.

Moving on to another subgenre, was there ever such a thing as revolutionary rap? If so, Chuck D andpublic enemywere definitely at the forefront of such a movement. The PE took the aggression and turned it into a politically charged message of hope and new opportunities and were leaders of the people. In their 1989 song "Fight The Power," Chuck and PE rapped "Elvis was a hero to most, but he never meant anything to me / Straight up racist that sucker he were, plain and simple" and recorded the system and gave in those who are weary of government policies and beliefs must follow a new format.

Starting out as a DJ at student radio station WBAU — where he met Bomb Squad co-founder Hank Shocklee — Chuck D wasn't initially interested in signing a record deal. That soon changed when he developed the concept of creating a revolutionary hip-hop collective fueled by sonically extreme scenarios and politically revolutionary messages.

Public Enemy were social activists who used rap to educate the masses. Taking an alternative approach to hip hop, they inspired a generation to celebrate Afrocentric issues while addressing social issues - this helped bring to life KRS One's Stop The Violence movement. Essentially,public enemyrewrote the rule book. Replacing gold chains with medallions from Africa, breaking boundaries on tracks like "Don't Believe The Hype" and "Welcome To The Terrordome," PE challenged the way artists made music and how fans heard it.

Inspired by the street-influenced beats of Run DMC and the proto-gangsta-rap of Boogie Down Productions, as well as their individual politics and opinions,public enemypioneered hip hop. Social sermons on the sensational sets of Bomb Squad, two culturally important albums,It will take a nation of millions to stop useFear of a dark planet, made it impossible not to endorse Chuck D, Flava Flav and the rest of Public Enemy as important figures in the burgeoning hip-hop culture.
Changing coasts from east to west - the geographical location may have been different, but the social frustrations have remained the same. However, LA (Compton to be precise) preferred to do things a little differently.

"Fuck the police, they come straight out of the subway"- Ice Cube in 'F**k The Police'

When pop-rap dominated the airwaves in the late '80s, it took a controversial quintet collectively known as the N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitudes) to inaugurate another expansion of hip-hop culture. Dubbed simply gangsta rap, an outlet was created to express the opinions of those witnessing the tensions during life's many daily struggles. Considered the most dangerous team in the world and with lyrics that disregarded women and glorified guns, drugs and crime, that came as no surpriseDr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, MC Ren and DJ Yella were banned from many mainstream radio stations at the time.

More Malcolm X than Martin Luther King Jr., the group wasn't afraid to get lyrically physical when it came to taking on police brutality and racial profiling on their classic LP.straight out of compton. N.W.A. expresses his dislike of law enforcement and government officials without apology. became the underground heroes for those without a platform to express their anger and frustration.

Since the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, Ice Cube, the N.W.A. citing financial disputes, then released his debut albumAmeriKKKa is the most searched. With funky bass beats that were polished and incredibly moving thanks to the legendary Bomb Squad, the first-person depictions of gang life integrated with social themes - with a middle finger for added effect - were a marvel.

His next two releasesdeath certificateeThe robber, both followed with equal energy and message-driven mastery. He caused controversy on every occasion, if not for his verbal battle with his former crew, but for the hatred he received [from many moral guardians] for his often violent, homophobic, and misogynistic lyrics. Regardless, Ice Cube has emerged as one of hip-hop's most respected MCs, thanks in part to his articulate approach to gangsta life.

Heading back east, hip hop as a whole began to develop its own character/stereotype. Featuring Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith (of EPMD) in gold rocking hoodies perched on the hoods of expensive cars - see album artunfinished task– his material turned away from the social issues of the world and instead offered a male brand of rap, of which Sermon was once quoted as saying: “[Rap] was always about bullshit; My shit is better than yours, your shit is shit.

Gang Starr's Guru (Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal) and DJ Premier - another DJ/MC duo admired as one of culture's finest (seestep into the arenaedaily operationfor proof) - focused more on straight-forward rhymes over a beat than anything else. Guru's signature rhyme schemes boasted a wealth of worldly knowledge, while his partner on decks blended his words with jazz-loving hip-hop instrumentation with a signature scratch that's easily identifiable as his to this day.

At this point, the marriage between rap and fashion seemed to be solidifying. With clothing and jewelry brands jumping at the opportunity to team up with a rapper or a DJ, names like Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Big Daddy Kane and Slick Rick were just as recognizable as Frank Sinatra or Mick Jagger. Hip hop's mainstream potential began to captivate Central America.

Reunion with N.W.A., Extraordinary ProductionDr. Drebecame perhaps the most in-demand producer of all time. Not only that, he's perhaps the most successful artistic mentor in hip hop, period. With a list that speaks for itself - fans give awaySnoop Dogg,Eminem, 50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar - their talent is unquestionable. Its importance as a contribution to the movement of culture is unparalleled. While there are indeed other tycoons who put their two cents to good use - Diddy, Master P, and Baby - none are as respected as the good doctor.

In the early 90s he released the gangsta rap classicthe chronicby Death Row Records. Introducing a circle of new artists on the verge of becoming a superstarSnoop doggy dogg, Tha Dogg Pound (Daz and Kurupt), Nate Dogg and The D.O.C. – his fusion of G-funk and gangsta rap, resulting in deep mid-tempo bass licks and obvious George Clinton influences, mixed with a bunch of hardcore hood stories, started another chapter for rap. His appearance in 2000 alongside his protégéEminemat London's Brixton Academy, which was his UK debut, had everything to fulfill a gangsta rap fanatic's dreams. And with less than a handful of albums, he's proven that quality always takes precedence over quantity.

Still as influential today as it was then, his Beats ByDr. DreHeadphones have drastically changed the soundscape of on-the-go music while also becoming one of today's biggest must-have fashion accessories. With that said, who knew that a young artist who started out as a DJ for World Class Wreckin' Cru would be the world's most respected voice in music and hip-hop today? A tech genius, his business acumen not only helped him own the most recognizable brand of headphones on the market, but also helped him acquire what many refer to as the savior of hip hop (Kendrick Lamar) for his record label.

step on Dre's coattails - but jump out of them to defend yourself very quickly -Snoop Doggcontinue to fly the gangsta rap flag and set the hip hop world on fire with his debut albumDog style. Possibly one of the most anticipated albums in hip-hop history, Dre produced a West Coast classic — featuring hits like "Gin And Juice" and "Who Am I (What's My Name)?". - made Death Row Records an untouchable powerhouse, which then launched the careers of many "inmates" on Death Row. He blurred the line between reality and fiction in his first two releases - his second release was in 1996The dog father– his style blended two disparate styles, funk and rap, into a unique sound that resulted in a beautiful pairing not too experienced before.

In the mid-1990s, hip hop has become a dominant force in music and culture. New Jack Swing, with its funky sets and sexually explicit vocals, had moved on. Groups like Bobby Brown, Mary J. Blige and Teddy Riley, Guy and Blackstreet led the love movement. And while Heavy D, which had a steady string of platinum and album sales throughout the '90s, isn't just pushing things musically -Big time,peaceful dayeFunk azul– challenged society's views and opinions by becoming very sexy.

While all of the above artists and subgenres added more strings to hip hop's growing arc, the culture was yet to experience its first true icon. It had heroes but no icons. That was to change when a native New Yorker became a West Coast Don.

"I hear the doctor standing over me yelling I can / I have a bullet holed body lying here naked / I still can't breathe, something's wrong with my IV"2Pacin "Only God Can Judge Me"

Changing the game by being an accepted walking contradiction, one minute Tupac Amaru Shakur (2Pac) spat endearing rhymes about loving mothers ("Dear Mama") and embracing female strength ("Keep Ya Head Up"), and the next he murdered and lyrically slammed another rapper's character ("Hit 'Em Up'). a government too official ("Last Wordz"). And while for some he was a poetic prophet with a sympathetic character, there were times when his antagonistic, troubled side overwhelmed him - his famous beef with The Notorious B.I.G. to be one of them.

Regardless, being the son of a Black Panther, his flaws were actually his brilliance. It made him a wiser person. Predicting his own murder up until the moment it happened, he was a strong person who helped other rappers realize that they could change their approach to creativity by including a more vulnerable side without jeopardizing their credibility . With over 75 million records sold worldwide -me against the world,all eyes on meeO Don Killumati: A theory of 7 daysan impeccable trio -'Pac proved to be a Prophet MC way ahead of his time.

Caught in the crossfire of 'Pac and B.I.G. clash, two up-and-coming New York MCs adorned with co-signatures were alongside bat. bringing culture into the new millenniumJay-Zand Nas took lyricism to new heights.

With the New York skyline as a backdrop, each artist took a bite out of the American Dream and projected real-life situations onto the world's big screen. As Mobb Deep and Onyx grew bolder, Nas and Jay struck the balance that would allow dark complexities and street anthems to gain commercial acceptance, which would ultimately increase not only their popularity but that of rap as well.

Sporting combat boots and uniform, Nas appeared to be the second coming of Rakim with descriptive Langston Hughes features.Jay-Z, on the other hand, was the shy protégé of The Notorious B.I.G. with ties to Big Daddy Kane and Big L, and whose life stories of drug dealers would soon become the object of every listener's fictional desires. Every master of ceremonies in those days had an intellect like no other. Fast. Intelligent. instructive. Powerful. These are just some of the words that could be used to describe Nas and Jay.

The proclaimed Poet Laureate of Queens exploded overnight thanks to the release of his debut albumAir table.Jay-Zbut the first offerreasonable doubt, was a perennial favorite that eventually spawned the underground hits "Can't Knock The Hustle" and "Dead Presidents II." Today both are considered the "Top Five MCs", Nas is often referred to as the authentic MC, while Jay Z is the poster child of the hype. From selling drugs to shaking hands with the President, there's nothing wrong with his game.
Both equally responsible for taking hip hop to new heights, his personal downfall, which spawned the hits "Takeover" and "Ether," did indeed bring the combat element - made famous during the golden age - back onto the scene. Talk of the "meat" was everywhere, and in turn, record sales and radio interest peaked. chatting happily today,Jay-Zis currently on his 13th number one album while Nas is still releasing thought-provoking material that has received critical acclaim - and he said [in 2006] that hip hop is dead.

Musically, the golden age was so far-reaching that listeners were spoiled for choice. Fashion was plentiful, trends were shuffled daily and the music spoke for itself. From knocker earrings to clam toe Adidas. From revolutionary points of view to life on the streets. From pop rap to gangsta rap. As a movement, nothing this side of the early '90s even remotely matched it. With the likes of Joey Bada$$, Mac Miller and Kendrick Lamar now honoring the golden age by incorporating the same sounds and the same rules into their music, the era that started it all has returned and, to Keith Murray quote is "the most beautiful thing ever". this world".

Learn more about the artists who brought hip hip to the 2000s by checking out ourHip Hop Heroes: Rap's New MillenniumResource…

Format:Hip-Hop Heroes: The Golden Age (1)British English


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