Just last week, one of the topics on EW Radio was the number of genre-defining hip-hop albums hitting their twentieth anniversaries this year.
Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle, Wu-Tang Clan’s Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), A Tribe Called Quest’s Midnight Marauders, and Salt-N-Pepa’s Very Necessary all just wrapped their second decade. Those all represent different corners of the rap universe, and they all point to a crucial moment when hip-hop became such an overwhelming presence that mainstream culture had no choice but to move in its direction, rather than the other way around. The success of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, which dropped in late ’92, started the trend, and it reached its apotheosis with the one-two punch of Notorious B.I.G.’s 1994 debut Ready to Die and Tupac’s 1995 crossover smash Me Against the World.
Plenty of rap records had found their way to the upper echelon of the charts, though they were primarily pandering or novelty tracks (in ’92, both Kriss Kross’ “Jump” and Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” became Hot 100 chart toppers). The albums from ’93 were purer hip-hop, and they were crafted by fantastically charismatic characters who were singular in their delivery and presentation. The success of Doggystyle was particularly jaw-dropping—listening to that album 20 years on, it still packs an incredible impact both as a unique piece of pop music and as a remarkably dirty statement of purpose.
Those albums are unimpeachable classics, and by design there’s not a whole lot more to add to that conversation. So let’s fast-forward five years to the albums from late ’98 that are now turning 15 years old. They represent a strange middle age for hip-hop, as its dominance on the pop chart began to be taken for granted and just about everybody began to lose their way.
There are plenty of notable big-ticket rap records from 1998’s fourth quarter, and none of them are classics. It could even be argued that not a single one of them is any good. But they do represent a culture in transition, and it’s a fascinating look at where hip-hop was and how it managed to get to the place it is now. So on the 15th anniversary of Busta Rhymes’ E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front, Method Man’s Tical 2000: Judgment Day, Mystikal’s Ghetto Fabulous, Ice Cube’s War & Peace Volume 1: The War Disc, RZA’s Bobby Digital In Stereo, DMX’s Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood, Juvenile’s 400 Degreez, and Redman’s Doc’s Da Name 2000, here are 15 thoughts on the 15th anniversary of a weird time for hip-hop.
1. Everybody totally thought Y2K was going to be a real thing
For anybody too young or too unborn to remember Y2K, it seems utterly ridiculous. READ FULL STORY