By the mid-90s, any notions of Rap as a lesser or underdeveloped art form were crushed to smithereens. The genre had proven itself as far more powerful than a mere fad of the industry and the scene’s heavyweights were quickly being recognized for their unprecedented talent. Hip-Hop was no longer simple flows with derivative lyrics limited to the traditional DJ and MC formula. It was rich, dense, calculated, and bold. Lyrical limits were pushed, subgenres emerged, rivalries developed, and the audience was bigger than ever.
Enjoy and subscribe to the latest Closer Look above! Scroll down for the individual tracks selected from the Hip Hop of 1996.
There were plenty of compelling narratives to follow, whether it be the gritty boom-bap bangers of New York City, the silky smooth funk of LA, the sultry soul infusions of Philadelphia, or the hazy yet cutting edge swagger of the south. Artists found success in solo or group approaches, the former bringing tactical, intimate testimonies while the latter delivered unpredictable, fast paced fun. Even more fascinating was the sample heavy production techniques used across the board, which formed an intricate genre web in the larger popular music canon and also found bold new contexts for previously dated sounds.
There’s an intangible aura of celebration pulsing through this golden age of Hip-Hop. Each classic album from this era feels like a victory lap for the leaps and bounds made thus far while simultaneously breaking new ground for the years to come. It was a time so rich and densely packed with creativity that even two decades later the newly developed genre harkens back to it. They simply don’t make it like this anymore. Check out our playlist for a closer look at one of Hip-Hop’s proudest years.
The Roots – What They Do
Nas, Ms. Lauryn Hill – If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)
Outkast- Elevators (Me & You)
The Fugees- Zealots
Jay-Z- Dead Presidents II
ATCQ- The Hop
Jeru The Damaja- Scientifical Madness
Redman- Smoke Buddah
2Pac- Thug Passion
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