We were having a discussion the other day and thought about how the game has changed over time. A word that gets tossed around is “wave”. There has been plenty of game-changing waves (also known as movements) and we will discuss a few that were very impactful in hip hop.
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Death Row Records: Founded in 1991 by Suge Knight and Dr. Dre, Death Row Records continued the prior west coast industry domination (N.W.A.) with the release of “The Chronic”. This album changed the sound of hip hop with its G-Funk inspired soundscape which created arguably one of the greatest M.C.'s and producers of all-time, Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre. At the peak of their reign, they acquired another hip hop icon, Tupac Shakur.
The Wave Description: Gangsta/G-Funk Era
Other Notable Artist: Nate Dogg, The Dogg Pound, The Lady Of Rage, The D.O.C.
Bad Boy Records: Founded in 1993 by Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, Bad Boy Records made one of the greatest runs in hip hop starting with the release of Craig Mack’s, “Flava In Ya Ear”. A simple, yet effective boom bap track produced by Easy Mo Bee, spawned one of the greatest remixes in hip hop history which opened the doors for one of the greatest M.C.'s of all-time, The Notorious B.I.G.
The Wave Description: The Jiggy, Ghetto-Fabulous, Get Money Era
Other Notable Artist: Ma$e, The LOX, Black Rob
Wu-Tang Clan: Starting in 1993 with the release of “Protect Ya Neck”, the Wu-Tang Clan sparked one of the greatest hip hop movements ever. With an innovative, grimy yet legendary soundscape provided by The RZA, the Clan created a classic with their debut album “Enter the Wu-Tang (36th Chambers)”.
The Wave Description: Grimy/Hardcore Era
Other Notable Artist: Method Man, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Ol’Dirty Bastard
Roc-A-Fella Records: Founded in 1995 by Shawn Carter, Dame Dash & Kareem Burke, Roc-A-Fella, continuing their independent success, made its worldwide debut with the release of Jay-Z’s “Reasonable Doubt”. Some fans may debate that the legendary movement didn’t start until the release of Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life, Vol 2” album.
The Wave Description: Fresh To Death/Hustle Era
Other Notable Artist: Memphis Bleek, Beanie Sigel, Cam’Ron, Kanye West
Ruff Ryders Entertainment: Founded by Joaquin “Waah” Dean, Darrin “Dee” Dean and Chivon Dean, the Ruff Ryders made its debut to the world with the release of DMX’s “It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot” in 1998. This movement also created one of the greatest hip hop producers all-time, Swizz Beatz.
The Wave Description: Return To The Streets Era
Other Notable Artist: Eve, The LOX, Drag-On
Aftermath Records: Though founded in 1996 by Dr. Dre, Aftermath Records caught fire with the release of Eminem’s debut album, “The Slim Shady LP”, and continued their reign with the release of Dr. Dre’s “2001” and 50 Cents “Get Rich or Die Tryin’”.
The Wave Description: The Comeback/Return Of Street Rap Era
Other Notable Artist: 50 Cent, The Game, Kendrick Lamar
The Rise of Kanye West: In an era dominated by heavy gangster and hustler rap, Kanye West made his stamp as the leader with his “1st-week album sales war” win over 50 Cent with “808s & Heartbreaks” in 2008. This win shifted the game, which helped influence/create/inspire acts to be more vulnerable and reflective with their music.
The Wave Description: Emotional/Introspective Era
Artist Influenced By The Wave: Kid Cudi, Drake, Wale, Frank Ocean
This is an open discussion to name a few impactful waves that dominated the music industry in the past few decades. We did not dive deep into each movement as we wanted to give you a starting point do your own research. The goal of the post is to create great hip hop conversation. Please comment and add to any waves and/or artist we may have missed. Let’s talk!!!!