The Best West Coast Album of the 90’s Was….

Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle. A classic West Coast album right here. Released in late 1993, track for track it is more of a solid album than Dre Dre’s, The Chronic. Snoop’s flow and delivery and the introduction and the inception of the G-funk era was monumental and paved the way for other west coast artists such as Warren G, Nate Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound. It has cuts that were all familiar with that include: Gin and Juice, Murder Was The Case, Who Am I, Ain’t No Fun and Doggy Dogg World. The popularity of gansta rap became rampant in the early 90’s following the release of The Chronic and Doggystyle. The two records solidified Deathrow records as a powerhouse record label on the west coast.

Snoop who’s real name is Calvin Broadus was heavily criticized for his lyrics which paint pictures of dealing drugs, gangbanging and pimping. Snoop painted a picture of what it was like growing up and surviving in Long Beach or what he refers to as the LBC. Even though Doggystyle had been criticized it was also critically acclaimed as Snoop had a melodic flow that matched perfectly to Dr. Dre’s heavy bass inspired funk sampled beats.  Doggystyle celebrated commercial success as it’s first week numbers totaled in over 800,000. As of 2015, Doggystyle, Snoop’s first album has sold over 11 million records worldwide.

Snoop is one of my favorite rappers to date. He has transformed his sound from being a gangster to being a pimp, lol. He has lasted the test of time and has celebrated success long after the DeathRow era came to an end. He has released over 10 full length albums 6 of which reaching a number 1 position on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums on Billboard. Snoop has worked with and created mega hits with Pharrell and has proved that he’s not a one hit wonder.

Peace!R

-N-

Read who I think was the best 90’s female MC HERE

Who Was the Best Female MC in the 90s?

What up, what up! In this piece I’ll go over my thoughts on who was the illest and dopest female MC in the 90’s. Man this was a lot tougher piece to write than I originally anticipated. Partly because there was so many dope female MC’s during that era. Some of those names that instantly come to mind include: Queen Latifah, Da Brat, Lil Kim, Foxy Brown, Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott. All of them dope for their own reasons. Da Brat who was signed to So So Def records had a great flow and attitude when she rapped. Lil Kim and Foxy Brown were street b*tches from New York who weren’t afraid to use their sexuality in their lyrics. In fact i’ll go as far to say that what they spit on records in the 90’s was harder than the majority of dudes out now trying to rap. True story bruh.

Missy Elliott was special in her own way as well. Her connection to Timbaland during the mid nineties helped propel her stardom to platinum status.

What many people don’t know is that she was an equally as good songwriter as she was female MC. Penning hits for RnB artists such as Tamia, Destiny’s Child, Tweet, Nicole Wray, Monica, Mariah Carey, Total, Ginuwine, 702 and of course Aaliyah. While many female artists used sexuality and feminine appeal to sell records, Missy didn’t need to. She had a style all her own and some of the best producing friends in the industry.

The best of course was Ms. Lauryn Hill. 1/3 of the Fugees. She had sharp lyrics, could flow with the best of them, a beautiful singing voice and sexuality. The Fugees album The Score, sold 17 million records worldwide, a staggering number. Lauryn Hill’s solo album went on to sell over 19 million records worldwide, 8 million coming from the US. She earned 5 Grammys from this release. The reason she was so special was because of her immense talent. She
was a perfect fit for the Fugees and blended well with Wyclef Jean and Pras Well. She was an incredible solo artist as well. I think her album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill is a classic. When listening to it now, I realize it the album is really an hour long breakup letter to Wyclef Jean. The album is painfully beautiful. The tragic breakup between them was the demise of the Fugees as well as their individual careers. Lauryn never went on to record another full length album and became estranged from the music and public eye.

I still got love for you L!

-N-

The Most Iconic Hip-Hop Logo of the 90’s

While there are record label logos that come to mind when you mention or discuss 90’s Hip-Hop, there is one specific logo that is simply iconic to me. A logo that has world wide recognition and has penetrated pop culture. Who and what logo am I talking about?

The Wu baby, the Wu.

Why is this logo so iconic? I don’t really know the answer as to why. But I know when I first started listening to the Staten Island Hip super group in the early 90’s. The Wu or the Wu-Tang Clan consists of the following 9 original members: The RZA, Method Man, Ol Dirty Bastard, Inspectah Deck, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, The Genius, UGOD and Masta Killa.

I started listening to the Wu in the early 90’s right after Method Man’s album, Tical was released in 94. He was the first solo Wu member to release an album. I was instantly a fan and I went back and bought the first Wu group album, Enter the Wu-Tang and bought basically every solo album after that for years. Everything about the Wu during that time was dope to me. From the group’s dynamic and intricate lyrical styles to the vintage RZA production. I had never heard anything like it before. What was also super cool to me was the fact of how they incorporated various elements of classic shaw production Kung-Fu movies into their music, naming and samples for beats and skits. Many of the early Wu albums contained movie audio clips and skits from classic kung-fu movies.

Even the group name and individual group name members were borrowed from these classic Chinese cult films. I immediately had a connection with their music as it was edgy, raw, lyrical and just plain dope. I had some high school buddies at the time that were really super into the Wu as well. We drew the classic Wu logo everywhere, I think at one point, I even carved a Halloween pumpkin with the Wu symbol. I couldn’t get enough. I rocked Wu-Wear shirts and hats, I listened to and bought all their albums and talked about them all the time.

While the height of their popularity may have declined. Their logo has stood the test of time and so has their original releases. I believe the term for that is “Classic”. Many of the members of gone on to be successful in other ventures. The RZA has stared in and composed musical scores for Quentin Tarantino movies such as Kill Bill.

Method Man has acted in a number of films as well. Many of the members had gone on to release multiple albums and tour worldwide.

Wu-Tang is for the children!

 

As always, feel free to reach out to me if there are any 90s related Hip-Hop elements you would like me to cover.

Peace!

-N-

What Makes 90’s Hip-Hop So Special? Pt 3

Read pt 1 HERE
Read pt 2 HERE

Ok. This will be my finale in my 3 part series of what makes 90’s Hip-Hop so special. In the previous segment we talked about 2 heavyweight record labels that churned out hit after hit with a uber talented roster stable. Those labels being Bad Boy Records and Deathrow Records. We also discussed the factors that went into composing a unique sound in part 1.

In this segment we will talk about other factors that I think contributed to the scene. One of the biggest being technology and the lack there of during that era. Think about it. The whole model for sales and distribution was totally different pre music streaming services. Music was a tangible physical product. People primarily bought music at stores and outlets such as Sam Goody, The Warehouse and Blockbuster Music. These stores and outlets were filled with CD’s and cassette tapes as inventory which got delivered by trucks. New releases came out every week on Tuesday.

Nowadays music is primarily streamed and not bought. Streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, Tidal and Rhapsody charge a monthly subscription. You don’t even actually need to own or buy the music. Music is a digital medium, the creation of the .mp3 paved the way of digital music compression is the standard format for audio streaming services. This makes music extremely easy to access consume and listen to. You no longer need to take a trip to store or have to wait until Tuesday to access a release. You simply access music on your laptop, desktop or mobile device app. Eeeezy peeeezy.

Technology has also advanced so much that literally anyone with a laptop and some decent programming applications could create and master music, upload it and distribute through the internet for free through various social media outlets. Anyone heard of Justin Bieber? While I don’t necessarily think he is the most talented artist he first came onto the scene and became discovered through his youtube channel. He is now a platinum selling artist and is famous or infamous (lol) world wide. Many of his youtube videos boast for a BILLION views each!! The one below having 1.5 billion. Justin Billion Views Biebs! Damn Daniel!

In the 90’s technology available to make music was not so readily available. In fact it was a huge barrier to entry that only the big record labels really had access to. Labels such as Sony, and Capital Records were known as the machine.  

The machine was in charge of grooming, marketing and distributing an artists music. Millions of dollars were spent during this process. The point is that music wasn’t as easily created and those who were creating it had access to breakdown the barriers of entry needed to breakout. While this may have limited the talent pool to individuals that had the right combination of sound, look and charisma I think it also filtered out all the let’s just say…..not as talented.

Not sure if you all agree with me, but I don’t care. It’s my opinion not yours. lol

Enjoy the weekend errryone.

-N-

What Makes 90’s Hip-Hop So Special? Pt 2

Read Pt 1 Here

This is the second of my series on what exactly makes 90’s Hip-Hop So Special. In our last segment we talked about the economic and adolescence times as well as developing an ear for different sounding hip hop wither be based on the area of the United States the artist is from, the producer who composed the beat, who was featured on the record and what record label the artist was on. In this segment we will dive a bit deeper into what made Hip-Hop so special in the 90’s. Thanks for riding with me.

Originality. I know this kind of builds on my previous segment where I discussed elements of the artist and how that composed the sound they created. But if you look a bit closer you will notice that the 90’s Hip-Hop had some many different types of styles and they were all dope! Lyrics were developing more and more and you had the god Rakim lay advanced bars down like any of his predecessors. You had the era of the groups like A Tribe Called Quest and Jungle Brothers to the rise of the West Coast and gangsta rap. There was plenty of dope east coast rap and Hip-Hop as well. You had a variety of sound from LL Cool J who was a ladies man and rapper, to the lyrically composed Wu-Tang Clan to the mafioso Mob Deep and hard hitting Queens rappers such as NaS, Mobb Deep, Kool G Rap.

You also had the rise of super powerful iconic labels as well. A couple of the biggest during the 90’s were Bad Boy Records and Deathrow who unfortunately became somewhat of enemies over a feuded beef that tragically left 2 iconic rappers dead. Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls. Their legacy still worshipped by music buffs to this day. The artists that represented these labels also represented a lifestyle that they rapped about. On the Bad Boy records label you had artists such as the talented Biggie to the dancing Puff Daddy to Craig Mack, Mase, and the Lox. Bad Boy records also had RnB talent with the early Faith Evans and 112. Puff Daddy and Bad Boy records knocked out and manufactured hit after hit. The were easily the powerhouse on the eastcoast.

While on the westcoast you had an equally influential record label in Deathrow records headed and created by Dr. Dre, D.O.C and leaded by head honcho Suge Knight. Some of Deathrow record artists included the electrifying Tupac, producer and rapper Dr. Dre, Snoop, the Dogg Pound, Nate Dogg and Kurupt. A definitely equally impressive lineup.

These 2 powerhouses collectively created hit after hit that kept the radio always on in my house. I had Snoop’s Doggystyle album memorized word for word and I had my red and black lumberjack with the hat to match.

Till next time!

-N-

 

 

What Makes 90’s Hip-Hop So Special? Pt 1

90’s Hip-Hop will always have a special place in my heart even if it’s 20+ years later. And yes, I realize that every generation says and thinks their generation of music reigns supreme. But I really truly do think 90’s Hip-Hop was the “Golden Era” of hip-hop. Heck to be honest you could argue that the 90’s was the best decade in music period. From grunge rock to alternative pop to hip-hop it was an amazing time period.

Maybe it’s because I went through my adolescence in the 90’s? So many summer days were spent listening to music whether that be on the radio or on my walkman, there was always a pair of headphones on. In fact I spent a pretty penny on good quality headphones just to listen to music. And no, earbud style headphones were not popping back in the day.

During my early teens, I didn’t yet have a car so I rode public transportation to wherever I needed to go, sometimes 50+ miles one way. To pass the time I always had some fresh batteries locked and loaded in my walkman later to be my discman with anti-skip. Wow…..anti-skip, what you know about that? I distinctly remember spending summer days listening to music nearly all day long. I had a couple of buddies who were audiophiles as well. We would sit around and recite lyrics and …”argue all day about who’s the best MCs, Biggie Jay-Z and NaS?”

I’ll admit, I didn’t really have a subgenre of hip-hop I listened to until I met a soon to be best friend of mine in high school. He was from upstate New York and he exposed me to some really good music to which I developed a taste for. I started to listen more carefully and became interested in discography of artists and producers. I found out a lot of different things as I began investigating an artists sound. I learned where the artists came from, who produced their records, who their features were, what part of the country they were from and what label they were currently on. While I never really took close notice of things before, they were big indicators of what an artists sounds like and were often a good predictor if I would like the music they created.

So many styles, so much influence. The 90’s were an interesting time politically as well and this was reflected in music much like it is in other creative outlets or pop culture. The economy was just recovering from late 80’s turmoil and would expand ferociously. The US was involved in the Gulf war and we were in the middle of transitioning to a new presidency. You can see many of these issues and transitions reflected in 90’s music.

-Part II coming soon-