The Hip Hop Highlights of The Decade

hiphophighlights

Ten years into the 21st Century and Hip Hop is now one of the biggest grossing industries in the world today. Forget the music – the clothing, films and TV deals have all played a part in establishing this way of life as one of the biggest phenomenons. To think it all started off with just two turntables and a mic…

As 2010 dawns, its time to take a look at what has had the streets and discussion boards talking; the artists, the controversies and sadly, the losses. The Hip Hop Highlights of the Decade…

THE GREAT WHITE HOPE & THE GOOD DOCTOR RETURNS (2000)
eminem dreAt the advent of the year 2000, the world had seen a few changes; the number one golfer in the world was black and the rap artist dominating the charts was white. Fresh from his Slim Shady LP debut in 1999, the Marshall Mathers LP catapulted one particular Detroit lyricist to new heights. Thanks to his anarchic lyrics, Dr Dre‘s backing and controversy away from the mic, Eminem became one of the most revered and scorned artist of recent history. But on the other side of the spectrum, rap was able to witness the return of true royalty in Dr Dre when he released his much anticipated 2001 album. With an all-star cast to help along the way, the West rose once more during the dawn of the new millennium.

50 CENT GETS RICH AFTER DEATH KNOCKS ON HIS DOOR (2003)
50cent moneyA relative unknown when he released his “How To Rob” diss record, it wouldn’t be long before Curtis Jackson would become a household name amongst the common folk. Cheating death after being shot nine times, 50 Cent was quickly signed to Shady/Aftermath Records and dropped one of the most anticipated albums in rap history, Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Whilst having Dr Dre and Eminem steer his career proved beneficial, it was him and his G-Unit soldiers’ guerrilla warfare assault on the scene which shook the foundation to the core. From rap battles to record-selling albums and sponsorship deals, 50 Cent designated a new blueprint for artists looking to survive in the cut-throat arena of Hip Hop in the noughties.

THE RISE OF THE SOUTH (2000 onwards)
outkastThe nineties will be most remembered for the epic and tragic feud between the East and West coast rap scenes. During these times, Hip Hop in the South was not only ignored, but scorned upon by many. Fast forward to current times and you’ll see the stranglehold on the scene is held predominantly by Southern artists. With an explosion of lyrical talent, party animals and the biggest DJs, the South no longer plays third place to the supposed ‘big two’ and has left many on both coasts pondering just when their dominance will come around again.

R.I.P. HIP HOP? (2006 onwards)
nas-hip-hop-deadWhether you were a B-Boy from the ’80s or a teen blogger, this debate had everyone talking. Making a bold statement as well as providing the name to his seventh album, Nas proclaimed in 2006 that that Hip Hop was dead. Whilst this led to many on and off-air spectacles, many have pointed the finger at certain artists and styles as specific causes of the artform’s ‘demise’. Whether this viewpoint stems from the genre becoming obsessed with dance crazes and autotune or whether the argument is a reluctance from the Old School to acknowledge new forms of Hip Hop, the debate still rages on as to whether Hip Hop in the new millennium is still alive.

HOVA “RETIRES” & THE DEATH OF A DYNASTY (2003-2005)
jayzMany believed it to be true whilst others in equal measure thought it was a stunt – but in 2003 [after The Black Album] Jay-Z declared his retirement from Hip Hop, having spent a decade reigning supreme. However in 2006, what surprised everyone was not his return but rather his newly acquired position of CEO and President of Def Jam records. Taking full command of Roc-A-Fella Records, Mr Carter usurped control from his partners Damon Dash and Kareem “Biggs” Burke. Whilst full details over the split remain sketchy, the legacy of the ROC and its domination of Hip Hop may never be equalled.

MR WEST ENTERS THE BUILDING (2003 onwards)
kanye_westIt was the breath of fresh air Hip Hop needed. Marking his arrival as a talented producer, Kanye West became synonymous with his incredible contribution to Jay-Z’s classic The Blueprint. In 2004, after a near fatal accident, Mr West dropped The College Dropout, a Hip Hop odyssey filled with soul, wit, honesty and a swagger which would later become his trademark. Four albums and many award shows later, Kanye West has reached a pinnacle which only he could dream of and with his musical creativity showing no signs of stopping, expect his plaudits and ego to grow from the next decade onwards.

THE SECOND CARTER (2004)
lilwayneNo one could have predicted the superstar status Dwayne “Lil’ Wayne” Carter would reach after hearing him rhyme alongside his New Orleans natives as part of the Hot Boys. From the age of 15, under the guidance of Baby and Slim, Lil’ Wayne’s advancement up the rankings of Hip Hop’s elite had gone unnoticed until 2004, when the first of his Carter trilogy was released. If the first Carter caught people’s attention, the sequel had everyone nodding along in unison. After many mixtapes and collaborations, 2008 was Weezy’s coronation year – breaking records with The Carter III with awards to match. With rock album Rebirth scheduled for 2010, only time will tell what else Lil Wayne has in store for Hip Hop over the next decade.

BEEF IS ON THE MENU (2000-2009)
50 Cent ja ruleWhilst the nineties showed the full on consequences of where disputes could lead to, the decade had definitely taken on board the lyrical side to Hip Hop squabbles, with a huge number of rivalries occurring. Ignoring the biggest lyrical battle of the noughties (for now), beefs included 50 Cent vs Ja Rule, Fat Joe vs 50 Cent, Rick Ross vs 50 Cent, Eminem vs The Source magazine and Jay-Z vs Jim Jones among many others. Whilst they often made for intriguing mixtape content and entertainment (see 50 Cent’s Fat Joe warning videos) the majority of them had done little for the careers of those involved and were quickly forgotten about. Hopefully in 2010, we’ll see less beef and more organic outputs of music.

RAP’S ELITE PRODUCE A BLUEPRINT FOR ALBUMS & BATTLING (2001)
nas jay-z
A period which will forever stand in the chronicles of Hip Hop history. Amidst the chaos and travesty of the September 11th attacks on the Twin Towers, Jay-Z’s album release on the same day was the last thing on the minds of the world as all eyes and prayers were with the thousands of lives affected by the tragedy. After America began to pick itself up from the emotional wreckage, the Hip Hop community found itself in the presence of the first official classic of the new millennium in Jay-Z’s Blueprint.

Boasting soulful samples and a lyrically superior Shawn Carter, the gauntlet was thrown by the Roc’s superstar for the title of ‘Best Rapper Alive’. Whilst briefly addressing the haters who were taking shots at his throne, Jay-Z reserved his special attention to Queens’ residents Mobb Deep and Nas on the “Takeover” track. Spitting harsh, somewhat truthful verses at the Mobb and Nas, many declared Jigga the winner of this supposed battle.

But little was known of the onslaught which God’s Son had in store for Hova. In an incredible retaliation, Nas came back with one of the most venomous diss records in history, “Ether”. Nas’ onslaught dissected the Jigga man in every way possible, from his musical “thievery” to his physical appearance. Whilst afterwards, more barbs were traded between the two emcees, they never came close to the colossal records which were the “Takeover” and “Ether”.

What must be remembered from this battle isn’t who won but what it did for the Hip Hop scene: it provided two great albums from two legends, a battle which many artists wouldn’t be able to withstand. To round it off, the two protagonists collaborated on Nas’ Hip Hop Is Dead album, putting aside any ill feeling they may have had. The last great Hip Hop battle, possibly ever.

IN MEMORY OF … (2000-2009)
michael jackson shooting
Whilst death certainly wasn’t a highlight, it has been a sadly prominent feature in the world of music this decade. Over the last ten years, the losses which the Hip Hop world has had to deal with have been untimely and tragic. In early 2000, the Latin American superstar Big Punisher died of heart failure whilst in August of 2001, the RnB princess Aaliyah lost her life after a plane crash, leading to an investigation over the weight of the contents being carried on board.

More tragedy struck when Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes of TLC fame was killed in a car accident in April 2002 and later that year, the scene lost Hip Hop royalty when RUN DMC‘s Jam Master Jay was gunned down in a recording studio on October 30th 2002. As Proof, DJ Screw and DJ AM were all sadly taken before their time, the world was in shock when it was announced on June 25th 2009 that the King of Pop Michael Jackson had died, suffering a cardiac arrest. Whilst the world continues to trudge on after every death, those who have left us will continue to live on for decades to come.

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