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Hip hop's "golden age" (or "golden era") is a name given to a period in mainstream hip hop—usually cited as the late 1980s to the early 90s—said to be characterized by its diversity, quality, innovation and influence.[1][2] There were strong themes of Afrocentricity and political militancy, while the music was experimental and the sampling, eclectic.[3] The artists most often associated with the phrase are Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, Eric B. & Rakim, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and the Jungle Brothers.[4] Releases by these acts co-existed in this period with, and were as commercially viable as, those of early gangsta rap artists such as N.W.A, the sex raps of 2 Live Crew, and party-oriented music by acts such as Kid 'n Play and DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince.[5]

Some writers, such as Tony Green, have referenced the two year period 1993–1994 as "a second Golden Age" that saw influential, high quality albums using elements of past classicism—E-mu SP-1200 drum sounds, turntable scratches, references to old school hip hop hits, and "tongue-twisting triplet verbalisms"—while making clear that new directions were being taken. Green lists Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Illmatic, Buhloone Mindstate, Doggystyle, Midnight Marauders and Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik as releases of this ilk.[6]

Contents

Style

The golden age is noted for its innovation – a time “when it seemed that every new single reinvented the genre”[7] according to Rolling Stone. Referring to “hip-hop in its golden age”[8], Spin’s editor-in-chief Sia Michel says, “there were so many important, groundbreaking albums coming out right about that time”[9], and MTV’s Sway Calloway adds: "The thing that made that era so great is that nothing was contrived. Everything was still being discovered and everything was still innovative and new” [10]. Writer William Jelani Cobb says "what made the era they inaugurated worthy of the term golden was the sheer number of stylistic innovations that came into existence... in these golden years, a critical mass of mic prodigies were literally creating themselves and their art form at the same time"[11].

It also provided some of the greatest advances in rapping technique - Kool G Rap, referring to the golden age in the book How to Rap says, “that era bred rappers like a Big Daddy Kane, a KRS-One, a Rakim, a Chuck D. . . their rapping capability and ability - these dudes were phenomenal”[12][13].

Many of hip-hop's biggest artists were also at their creative peak – Allmusic says the golden age, “witnessed the best recordings from some of the biggest rappers in the genre's history... overwhelmingly based in New York City, golden age rap is characterized by skeletal beats, samples cribbed from hard rock or soul tracks, and tough dis raps... rhymers like PE's Chuck D, Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, and Rakim basically invented the complex wordplay and lyrical kung-fu of later hip-hop”[14].

There was also often an emphasis on black nationalism – hip-hop scholar Michael Eric Dyson states, "during the golden age of hip hop, from 1987 to 1993, Afrocentric and black nationalist rap were prominent"[15], and critic Scott Thill says, “the golden age of hip hop, the late '80s and early '90s when the form most capably fused the militancy of its Black Panther and Watts Prophets forebears with the wide-open cultural experimentalism of De La Soul and others”[16].

Stylistic variety was also prominent – MSNBC says in the golden age, “rappers had an individual sound that was dictated by their region and their communities, not by a marketing strategist”[17] and Village Voice refers to the golden age’s “eclecticism”[18].

Time period

The specific time period that the golden age covers varies slightly from different sources. Some place it square in the '80s and '90s – Rolling Stone refers to “rap's '86-'99 golden age”[19], and MSNBC states, “the “Golden Age” of hip-hop music: The ’80s” and ’90s”[20].

Several others place it in the late 80s to all the 90s – the New York Times describes it as “hip-hop's golden age – the late 1980's and 90's”[21], Allmusic writes, “Hip-hop's golden age is bookended by the commercial breakthrough of Run-D.M.C. in 1986 and the explosion of gangsta rap with 1992's The Chronic by Dr. Dre[22], and in the book Contemporary Youth Culture, the "golden age era" is described as being "from 1987–1999", coming after "the old school era: from 1979 to 1987"[23]. Ed Simmons of The Chemical Brothers says, “there was that golden age of hip-hop in the early 90s when the Jungle Brothers made Straight Out the Jungle and De La Soul made Three Feet High and Rising[24] (though these records were in fact made in 1988 and 1989 respectively).

Music critic Tony Green, in the book Classic Material, refers to the two year period 1993–1994 as "a second Golden Age" that saw influential, high quality albums using elements of past classicism – E-mu SP-1200 drum sounds, turntable scratches, references to old school hip hop hits, and "tongue-twisting triplet verbalisms" – while making clear that new directions were being taken. Green lists as examples the Wu-Tang Clan's Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Nas' Illmatic, De La Soul's 1993 release Buhloone Mindstate, Snoop Doggy Dogg's Doggystyle, A Tribe Called Quest's third album Midnight Marauders and the Outkast debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik.[25]

Notable artists

According to a number of sources, such as; Rolling Stone, Village Voice, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Allmusic, The Age, MSNBC, and author William Jelani Cobb, the following were key artists in the golden Age of Hip-hop[26][27][28][29][30][31][32][33]

References

  1. ^ Jon Caramanica, "Hip-Hop's Raiders of the Lost Archives", New York Times, June 26 2005.
    Cheo H. Coker, "Slick Rick: Behind Bars", Rolling Stone, March 9 1995.
    Lonnae O'Neal Parker, "U-Md. Senior Aaron McGruder's Edgy Hip-Hop Comic Gets Raves, but No Takers", Washington Post, Aug 20 1997.
  2. ^ Jake Coyle of Associated Press, "Spin magazine picks Radiohead CD as best", published in USA Today, June 19 2005.
    Cheo H. Coker, "Slick Rick: Behind Bars", Rolling Stone, March 9 1995.
    Andrew Drever, "Jungle Brothers still untamed", The Age [Australia], October 24 2003.
  3. ^ Roni Sariq, "Crazy Wisdom Masters", City Pages, April 16 1997.
    Scott Thill, "Whiteness Visible" AlterNet, May 6 2005.
    Will Hodgkinson, "Adventures on the wheels of steel", The Guardian, September 19 2003.
  4. ^ Per Coker, Hodgkinson, Drever, Thill, O'Neal Parker and Sariq above. Additionally:
    Cheo H. Coker, "KRS-One: Krs-One", Rolling Stone, November 16, 1995.
    Andrew Pettie, "'Where rap went wrong'", Daily Telegraph, August 11 2005.
    Mosi Reeves, "Easy-Chair Rap", Village Voice, January 29th 2002.
    Greg Kot, "Hip-Hop Below the Mainstream", Los Angeles Times, September 19 2001.
    Cheo Hodari Coker, "'It's a Beautiful Feeling'", Los Angeles Times, August 11 1996.
    Scott Mervis, "From Kool Herc to 50 Cent, the story of rap -- so far", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 15 2004.
  5. ^ Bakari Kitwana,"The Cotton Club", Village Voice, June 21 2005.
  6. ^ Green, Tony, in Wang, Oliver (ed.) Classic Material, Toronto: ECW Press, 2003. (p. 132)
  7. ^ Cheo H. Coker, "Slick Rick: Behind Bars", Rolling Stone, March 9 1995.
  8. ^ Jake Coyle of Associated Press, "Spin magazine picks Radiohead CD as best", published in USA Today, June 19 2005.
  9. ^ Jake Coyle of Associated Press, "Spin magazine picks Radiohead CD as best", published in USA Today, June 19 2005.
  10. ^ Scott Mervis, "From Kool Herc to 50 Cent, the story of rap – so far", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 15 2004.
  11. ^ Cobb, Jelani William, 2007, To the Break of Dawn, NYU Press, p. 47.
  12. ^ Edwards, Paul, 2009, How to Rap: The Art & Science of the Hip-Hop MC, Chicago Review Press, p. vii.
  13. ^ http://rapradar.com/2009/12/03/how-to-rap-kool-g-rap-foreword/
  14. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=77:12014
  15. ^ Dyson, Michael Eric, 2007, Know What I Mean?, Westview Press, p. 64.
  16. ^ Scott Thill, "Whiteness Visible" AlterNet, May 6 2005.
  17. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5430999/
  18. ^ Mosi Reeves, "Easy-Chair Rap", Village Voice, January 29th 2002.
  19. ^ Cheo H. Coker, "Slick Rick: Behind Bars", Rolling Stone, March 9 1995.
  20. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5430999/
  21. ^ Jon Caramanica, "Hip-Hop's Raiders of the Lost Archives", New York Times, June 26 2005
  22. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=77:12014
  23. ^ Steinberg, Shirley R., 2006, Contemporary Youth Culture, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 361.
  24. ^ Will Hodgkinson, "Adventures on the wheels of steel", The Guardian, September 19 2003.
  25. ^ Green, Tony, in Wang, Oliver (ed.) Classic Material, Toronto: ECW Press, 2003. (p. 132)
  26. ^ Cheo H. Coker, "KRS-One: Krs-One", Rolling Stone, November 16, 1995.
  27. ^ Mosi Reeves, "Easy-Chair Rap", Village Voice, January 29th 2002.
  28. ^ Scott Mervis, "From Kool Herc to 50 Cent, the story of rap – so far", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 15 2004.
  29. ^ http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=77:12014
  30. ^ Andrew Drever, "Jungle Brothers still untamed", The Age [Australia], October 24 2003.
  31. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5430999/
  32. ^ Cobb, Jelani William, 2007, To the Break of Dawn, NYU Press, p. 47.
  33. ^ Steinberg, Shirley R., 2006, Contemporary Youth Culture, Greenwood Publishing Group, p. 361.







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