❤️ 5 For 4 in Feb ❤️
Limited time only!
Behind the Beats: Celebrating 50 Years of Hip-Hop Through the Eyes of Studio Legends

Behind the Beats: Celebrating 50 Years of Hip-Hop Through the Eyes of Studio Legends

From its inception on the streets of the Bronx to dominating the globe, hip-hop ain't just beats and bars. It's the heartbeat of generations, reflecting both struggles and triumphs. 50 years in, and hip-hop's still got its groove on, influencing everything from your kicks to global politics. One thing’s for sure: hip-hop isn't just music; it's life.

Celebrating 50 years of hip-hop on vinyl, we present pivotal albums in release order, featuring insights from the creatives behind them and thoughts from avid vinyl collectors on their favorite hip-hop records.

 

1/ 'The Message' by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five (1982)

This album is a pioneering work in the hip-hop genre, featuring the title track "The Message," which is often credited with introducing social commentary to hip-hop music. It's a reflection of urban life and struggles, setting the stage for future socially conscious rap. 

 

 

2/ 'Raising Hell' by Run-D.M.C. (1986)

A groundbreaking album that fused rock and rap, most notably with their cover of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way." It played a pivotal role in bringing hip-hop to mainstream audiences.

 

3/ 'Licensed to Ill' by Beastie Boys (1986)

Beastie Boys' debut album, it was the first rap LP to top the Billboard chart. With hits like "Fight for Your Right" and "No Sleep Till Brooklyn," it showcased the group's unique blend of hip-hop and rock.

 

4/ "Push It" by Salt-N-Pepa (1986)

With their groundbreaking hit "Push It" Salt-N-Pepa didn't just push boundaries, they shattered them, making waves in the male-dominated hip-hop scene and securing a GRAMMY nomination. This infectious track not only got everyone dancing but also played a pivotal role in paving the way for future female artists in the genre, proving that hip-hop had a feminine side that was just as powerful and influential.

 

5/ 'Paid in Full' by Eric B. & Rakim (1987)

Rakim's intricate lyricism and Eric B.'s DJ skills made this album a hip-hop staple. The title track, with its iconic "Thinkin' of a master plan" line, never fails to get us moving!


6/ 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back' by Public Enemy (1988)

A politically charged album that tackled issues of race, media bias, and the state of America. Songs like "Fight the Power" became anthems of resistance.

 


7/ 'Straight Outta Compton' by N.W.A. (1988)

A raw, unfiltered look into the streets of Compton, California. This album introduced gangsta rap to the world, with its explicit content and commentary on police brutality.

 

8/ '3 Feet High and Rising' by De La Soul (1989)

Known for its playful lyrics and eclectic samples, this album is considered a foundational work in the alternative hip-hop movement as its positive vibe that contrasted with the gangsta rap narratives of the time. With standout tracks like "Me Myself and I" and "Eye Know," the record was a critically acclaimed celebration of individuality.

 

9/ 'All Hail The Queen' by Queen Latifah (1989)

'All Hail The Queen' by Queen Latifah burst onto the scene, showcasing her versatile talent with hits like "Ladies First" and "Wrath of My Madness," paving the way for female artists in a male-dominated rap world. With its empowering anthems and fierce beats, the album not only elevated Queen Latifah to hip-hop royalty but also played a pivotal role in the promotion of women's voices in the genre.

 

10/ 'The Low End Theory' by A Tribe Called Quest (1991) 

With iconic tracks like "Scenario" and "Check the Rhime," this album broke new ground in the hip-hop genre with its seamless blending of socially conscious lyrics amongst a sonic tapestry of intricate jazz-infused beats.

 

We asked influential vinyl collector Vinyl Stooge to share why it's one of his favorite records: 

"'The Low End Theory' is one of my go-to hiphop albums. A Tribe Called Quest are Hip-Hop royalty and The Low End Theory'  is their crown jewel. With thought provoking lyrics and powerful jazz infused beats, ATCQ solidified their reputation as pioneers of conscious rap with this album.  I particularly enjoy how Q-Tip's smooth flow compliments Phife Dawg’s more brash lyrical style. I believe most HipHop heads would agree that The Low End Theory'  is a masterclass in hiphop and a must listen album. But what I do know for sure is that whenever I’m craving some solid Hip-Hop beats, I usually throw on The Low End Theory' by A Tribe Called Quest."

 

11/ 'The Chronic' by Dr. Dre (1992)

Dr. Dre's debut solo album introduced the world to the subgenre of G-funk, which was all about melodic synths and slow, heavy beats. It's a West Coast classic that was the launchpad of fellow icon Snoop Dogg.

 

We asked influential vinyl collector Steve Kouta to reflect on why it's a must-have for any serious vinyl collection:

"Dr Dre's 'The Chronic' is one of those quintessential albums from the 90s that still holds its own today. The album was Dre's first solo project after leaving NWA, and is a perfect example of the 'G-Funk' style of hip hop he popularised in 1990s. The Chronic' is also credited with spearheading the careers of Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, and Warren G due to their heavy presence throughout the record.I love Dre''s extensive use of P-Funk samples throughout this album, with 'Let Me Ride' and 'The Roach' being clear stand outs. Although Dre's impact on NWA is undeniable, it's ' The Chronic' that cemented him as a major player in hiphop, and paved the way for him to become one of the most influential producers in the music industry."

 

12/ Rage Against The Machine's self-titled (1992)

Rage Against The Machine's self-titled exploded onto the music scene, blending a revolutionary mix of rap, metal, and political fury, with tracks like "Killing in the Name" and "Bombtrack" that became rebellious anthems of resistance. 

 

Here, Vinyl.com Chief Marketing Officer, Alli Galloway reflects on the timeless appeal of this record:

"Rage Against The Machine's self titled album fuses hip-hop, punk and metal in ways that have never been replicated at such an impeccable standard. Zack de la Rocha's anger fuelled, highly political lyrics represent the voice of the downtrodden, executed with intensity and power that is rarely matched by other rappers.  Then, when you add the mastery of Tom Morello's mind-melting guitar work, which he made sound like a DJ scratching on a turntable, it's just one of the most explosive sounds I've ever heard - to this day. 'Killing In The Name' got all the glory, and rightly so, however songs like 'Bombtrack', 'Bullet In The Head' and 'Know Your Enemy' are about as fierce as you can get on a microphone, and still relevant today. An absolute beast of an album."

 

 

13/ 'Dead Serious' by Das EFX (1992)

With iconic tracks like "They Want EFX" and "Mic Checka," Das EFX's debut album is like a wild rollercoaster ride through the land of tongue-twisting, playful, and infectious hip-hop, bringing the unique "iggity" style to the forefront.

We asked Founder of HipHopNumbers Ben Carter to chat about the significance of this record: 

"In 1992 literally nothing sounded like Das EFX, by design. When the duo met they were attending Virgina State University, and they've stated their distance from New York allowed them to create a style and a sound wholly unique, one not influenced by either coast. I can't imagine what it would have felt like to press play on this in 1992. Their flow transcended even their own reputation, it has become a constant refrain in hip-hop. The album is not just laced with these inventive flows, but also their unique brand of lyricism, which brought together the tradition of boastful rap with at times nonsensical phrases and words. Listening to a Das EFX song is fun, and this album is a joy start to finish. It sounds vital to this day, and surprisingly for such a popular album, it sounds like nothing else released since. No-one could recreate their style.

 

14/ 'Enter the Wu-Tang' by Wu-Tang Clan (1993)

A raw, gritty album that introduced the world to the Wu-Tang Clan's unique style and ethos. 

We asked multi-GRAMMY-nominated Mastering Engineer Chris Gehringer (Sterling Sound) to share his experience on working on this seminal record: 

"I was working at the Hit Factory in 1993 when they came in to master 'Enter the Wu-Tang'. RZA spent hours listening to cassettes, DAT tapes, and watching Kung-Fu videos (on VHS!) to use as skits for the album interludes. We had this huge, old rear-projection TV that we couldn’t move, so we had to run wires from that TV in the lounge into my studio to record the interlude skits. I didn’t realize back then that it would become one of the biggest hip-hop records of all time.”

 

15/ '19 Naughty IIIby Naughty By Nature (1993)

Following an excellent debut album, Naughty By Nature proved that they could recreate that magic with '19 Naughty III' which contains their lead single "Hip Hop Hooray". Production was handled entirely by group member KayGee, who has one foot in the clubs and the other one on the street corner – reflective of the group as a whole.

 

16/ 'Black Sundayby Cypress Hill (1993)

Cypress Hilll's 'Black Sunday' smoked its way into the hearts of fans with iconic tracks like "Insane in the Brain" and "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That," establishing the group as pioneers of West Coast hip-hop. With its unique fusion of hard-hitting beats and cannabis culture, the album elevated Cypress Hill to new highs and became a defining soundtrack for the early '90s hip-hop scene.


17/ 'Ready to Die' by The Notorious B.I.G. (1994)

From drug dealing to rap stardom, Biggie's debut album is a gritty narrative of his life. Songs like "Juicy" and "Big Poppa" remain timeless hits – you're guaranteed to hear those tracks played once at every BBQ!

 

 

18/ 'Illmatic' by Nas (1994)

Nas' 1994 debut album ' Illmatic' captured the essence of growing up in Queensbridge, New York. With hit tracks like "N.Y. State of Mind" and "The World Is Yours," its vivid storytelling and top-tier production became a cornerstone in the cultural narrative of hip-hop.

 

19/ 'Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter' by JAY-Z (1999)

With hits like "Big Pimpin'" and "Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up)," this album not only lit up the charts but also solidified  JAY-Z's standing as one of the rap game's elite, influencing both the sound and the business of hip-hop for years to come.

We asked GRAMMY-nominated Recording & Mixing Engineer Tatsuya Sato to reflect on his journey working on this timeless release: 

"I worked with JAY-Z for the very first time during the formative years of my engineering career in the late '90s, when he and the rest of the Roc-A-Fella camp record 'Vol 3... Life and Times of S. Carter' at Sony Music Studios in New York City. Not only did this lead to working on numerous other projects with JAY-Z and Roc-A_Fella artists such as Beanie Siegel and Kanye West, it also helped open many doors to build up my career to where it is today. Those early days were incredibly inspiring and educational, and helped shape me into the engineer I am today.”

 

20/ 'All Eyez on Me' by 2Pac (1996)

Released in 1996, 2Pac's 'All Eyez on Me' was a seminal work that redefined the landscape of hip-hop, becoming one of the best-selling rap albums of all time. Touching on themes of race, inequality, and personal struggle, it is an artistic triumph from the legend.

 

 

21/ 'The War Reportby Capone-N-Noreaga (1997)

Capone-N-Noreaga's 1997 cult classic,  'The War Report' is an adrenaline-pumped ride through the gritty streets of Queens, giving listeners a front-row seat to the raw, unfiltered realities of city life. The duo's chemistry was explosive, and with bangers like "T.O.N.Y. (Top of New York)" and "L.A, L.A," they not only carved out a niche in East Coast hip-hop but also waved the flag high for the hardcore, underground rap scene.


22/ 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill' by Ms. Lauryn Hill (1998) 

From the GRAMMY-winning single "Doo Wop (That Thing)" to the introspective ballad "Ex-Factor," this groundbreaking debut album continues to resonate with listeners and critics alike with its poignant lyrics that touch on spirituality, love, and social issues.


23/ 'The Marshall Mathers LP' by Eminem (2000)

This controversial yet critically acclaimed album from Eminem delves into his struggles with fame, his personal demons, and his alter ego, Slim Shady. Includes the hit track "Stan", which perfectly encapsulates Detroit rapper's technical prowess and storytelling ability.

 

24/ 'The Notorious K.I.M.by Lil' Kim (2000)

Lil' Kim's 2000 extravaganza, 'The Notorious K.I.M.' feels like stepping into a ritzy, no-holds-barred party where the queen bee rules with sultry rhymes and unparalleled swagger. With unapologetic anthems like "No Matter What They Say" and "How Many Licks?," the album didn't just light up the charts (it was the best-selling female rap album of the 2000s!) – it further cemented  Lil' Kim's legendary status as a trailblazer for fearless femininity in hip-hop.

 

 

Outkast's 2003 double delight, 'Speakerboxxx/The Love Below', is like opening a vibrant treasure chest of Southern hip-hop and funk-infused R&B, each side showcasing the unique artistry of Big Boi and André 3000. From  Big Boi's groove-laden "The Way You Move" to  André 3000's irresistibly catchy "Hey Ya!", this double album didn't just shake up the music charts—it shook up the whole dang Polaroid picture! It's a kaleidoscopic adventure that not only solidified  Outkast's legendary status but also showcased how two distinct musical visions can harmoniously coexist in one groundbreaking project.

 

26/ 'Under Construction' by Missy Elliott (2002)

Missy Elliott's 2002 masterpiece, 'Under Construction' is like stepping onto a futuristic construction site where hip-hop meets infectious funk and electrifying beats. With jams like the sassy "Work It" and the throwback gem "Gossip Folks" featuring Ludacris, Missy didn't just give us bops – she handed over blueprints on how to redefine hip-hop! This album wasn't just a commercial success; it was a cultural moment, proving once and for all that Missy's innovative prowess and musical vision had no bounds.

 

 


27/ 'The College Dropout' by Kanye West (2004)

Kanye West's 2004 debut album ' The College Dropout' defied the established norms of hip-hop at the time by incorporating soulful samples and topics like religion, education, and self-empowerment. With standout tracks like "Jesus Walks" and "Through the Wire," the album catapulted the Ye into stardom.

 

28/ 'Madvillainy' by Madvillain, MF DOOM and Madlib (2004)

This cult classic is an iconic collaboration between producer Madlib and rapper MF DOOM. With standout tracks like "Accordion" and "All Caps," it is a joyride through a kaleidoscopic hip-hop landscape, packed with mind-bending beats and cryptic, multisyllabic rhymes.

 

29/ 'Modal Soul' by Nujabes (2005)

Frequently referred to as a pioneering record for the lo-fi hip-hop genre, this album is is like a warm cup of tea for your soul, blending hip-hop beats with elements of jazz and soul to create an ethereal, introspective soundscape. Featuring gems like "Feather" and "Luv (sic) pt. 3," this cult classic has garnered a global fanbase, reminding us that music can be both groovy and deeply emotional.

 

30/ 'Donuts' by J Dilla (2006)

Released just days before J Dilla's untimely death, 'Donuts' is an instrumental hip-hop masterpiece. As heard on tracks like "Don't Cry" and "Workinonit", it's a testament to Dilla's genius as a producer and his lasting influence on the genre.

 

 

 

 

Kid Cudi's 2009 debut, 'Man On The Moon: The End Of The Day', is like an interstellar journey through the ups and downs of the human psyche, paving the way for a whole new era of introspective hip-hop. With cosmic hits like "Day 'n' Nite" and "Pursuit of Happiness (Nightmare)," the album didn't just top charts; it became a guiding light for anyone seeking solace in the vast universe of music. 

 

32/ 'Pink Fridayby Nicki Minaj (2010)

 

Nicki Minaj's 2010 debut, 'Pink Friday' introduced us to a glitzy, glam-filled world where fierce bars meet infectious pop hooks, marking the arrival of hip-hop's new queen. With sassy anthems like "Super Bass" and "Fly" with Rihanna, the album didn't just dominate the charts – it also painted the town pink, proving Nicki's undeniable reign in both hip-hop and pop realms.

 

33/ 'good kid, m.A.A.d city' by Kendrick Lamar (2012)

A cinematic journey through Kendrick's youth in Compton, this album is both a personal narrative and a commentary on the larger societal issues that African-American communities face.

 

34/ 'Dorisby Earl Sweatshirt (2013)

 

Earl Sweatshirt's debut album is like diving deep into a murky, lyrical labyrinth, revealing raw tales of adolescence, introspection, and complex wordplay. It not only solidified Earl's reputation as a lyrical wunderkind but also added a fresh, introspective voice to the ever-evolving hip-hop tapestry at the time.

 

35/ 'To Pimp a Butterfly' by Kendrick Lamar (2015)

Often considered as  Kendrick's magnum opus, this album is a rollercoaster of jazz, funk, and hip-hop, layered with razor-sharp social commentary that dives deep into the complexities of race, fame, and self-worth. With unforgettable tracks like "Alright" and "King Kunta," this album didn't just top charts; it became an anthem for social movements, inspiring a whole new generation.

 

 

 

Travis Scott's 2016 ' Birds In The Trap Sing McKnight' is like a neon-lit roller coaster ride at night, offering a blend of auto-tuned anthems and atmospheric trap bangers that resonate deep in the hip-hop ethos. With electrifying hits like "Goosebumps" and "Pick Up the Phone," the album didn't just soar on the charts—it also solidified Scott's position as a maestro of moody, genre-blending soundscapes.

 

37/ 'DAMN.by Kendrick Lamar (2017)

 

This album earned the beloved rapper a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize! From the dynamic rhythms of "DNA." to the contemplative tones of "FEAR.,"  Lamar's lyrical agility shines through, consistently delivering unexpected and innovative rhymes. This brilliance is further enhanced by top-tier production from industry giants like Anthony "Top Dawg" TiffithSounwaveDJ DahiJames Blake, and Steve Lacy. 

 

38/ 'Flower Boyby Tyler, The Creator (2017)

 

Tyler, The Creator's 2017 masterpiece 'Flower Boy' is to take a whimsical ride through a lush, self-reflective garden. A garden that continues to reveal layer upon layer of vulnerability, growth, and artistry. With blooming hits like "See You Again" with Kali Uchis and "Who Dat Boy" featuring A$AP Rocky, the album didn't just turn heads—it redefined  Tyler's artistic identity, and became a beacon for self-discovery in hip-hop.

 

 

39/ 'ASTROWORLDby Travis Scott (2018)

 

Did you even experience 2018 if you didn't hear "SICKO MODE" multiple times in the club?! Taking inspiration from the bygone Six Flags Astroworld amusement park in Houston, where  Travis spent his childhood, this album not only topped charts but also secured a GRAMMY nomination. Lauded for its eclectic fusion of trap, psychedelic, and electronic sounds, the record masterfully conjures a haunting and mysterious ambiance.

 

40/ 'Invasion Of Privacyby Cardi B (2018)

 

Cardi B's 2018 debut, 'Invasion Of Privacy' feels like a rollercoaster ride through the Bronx with a global superstar, as she delivers a blend of unapologetic anthems and bold narratives. With catchy hits like "Bodak Yellow" and "I Like It," the album didn't just break records—it also cemented Cardi's place in the hip-hop scene, making her a beacon for fierce and fearless women everywhere.

 

41/ 'Swimmingby Mac Miller (2018)

 

Mac Miller's 2018 introspective journey, 'Swimming' saw him navigating the serene yet deep waters of self-reflection, growth, and resilience. With heartbreakers like "Self Care" and soul-soothing song "Small Worlds" the album didn't just tug at heartstrings – it left an unerasable mark as a testament to Mac's profound artistry and the beauty of human vulnerability.

 

 

 

Roddy Ricch's 2019 debut album is like a VIP tour through modern hip-hop, offering everything from introspective narratives to bass-thumping bangers that you can't help but play on repeat. 

Here, Diamond-certified Mastering Engineer Nicolas de Porcel reflects on the whirlwind success of this album, which features monster hit "The Box":

"I had the opportunity of mastering Roddys album, 'Please Excuse Me for Being Antisocial'. From the moment I was sent the first mix, I knew it was going to be a classic. This album represents the disruptive soundscape we are known for in California. When “The Box” charted at #1 atop the Billboard Hot 100 for 11 weeks, people said we had changed the sound of 2020. I’m grateful to have worked alongside  Derek Ali,  Cyrus Taghipour,  Curtis Bye, and  Chris Dennis on this album, who I consider top of their fields."

 

43/ 'Hot Pinkby Doja Cat (2019)

Doja Cat's 2019 album 'Hot Pink' is like a vibrant paint splash in the music world, blending infectious pop hooks with bold rap verses and oozing confidence with every note. With dance hits like "Say So" and "Juicy," the album not only became a playlist staple but also announced Doja Cat's reign as a queen of genre-blending bops and TikTok trends.

  

44/ 'IGORby  Tyler, The Creator (2019)

 

There's a reason why the rap chameleon finally won his first GRAMMY for this record. With standout tracks like "EARFQUAKE" and "A BOY IS A GUN*, his opus 'IGOR' is akin to stepping into a vibrant, genre-blurring dreamscape, where heartbreak dances to the beats of synths and soulful grooves. 

 

45/ 'RTJ4by Run The Jewels (2020)

Erupting onto the scene with their explosive album 'RTJ4', Run The Jewels, the dynamic duo of El-P and Killer Mike, delivered anthems like "Ooh La La" and "Walking in the Snow," which became soundtracks for social justice movements. With its potent mix of politically charged lyrics and collaborations with heavyweights like Pharrell Williams and Zack de la Rocha, 'RTJ4' not only rocked the charts but also fueled conversations around racial inequality and police brutality, reinforcing the duo’s reputation as the loudspeakers of the generation.

  

46/ 'The House Is Burning' by Isaiah Rashad (2021)

With irresistible tracks like "Wat U Sed" and "Headshots (4r da Locals)",  Isaiah's third album not only reinforced his reputation as a nuanced storyteller but also made waves in the hip-hop community, proving that vulnerability and effortless swagger can co-exist in the same musical space.

We asked GRAMMY-nominated Audio Engineer & Mixer Liz Robson to share what it was like working on the kaleidoscopic record:

"Working with Isaiah is like hanging out with my best friend. I really enjoy the energy he brings to the studio. 'All Herb' is a forever favorite of mine & I'm honored to have participated in the creation of 'The House Is Burning'.”

 

 

Over a decade since Mykki Blanco emerged – not just as a video art project inspired by  Lil' Kim's 'Kimmy Blanco' alter ego, but as a beacon of self-discovery –the trailblazing artist has consistently pushed hip-hop's boundaries, blending experimental sounds with club and trap vibes, while challenging the genre's historically problematic stances. With 'Broken Hearts & Beauty Sleep',  Blanco showcases a musical evolution that goes beyond genres, proving that there's no ceiling to their potential and artistry.

 

 

48/ 'The Melodic Blue' by Baby Keem (2021)

 

With viral hits like "family Ties" featuring Kendrick Lamar, Baby Keem's debut album catapulted him into the spotlight and signaled the arrival of a fresh, unpredictable voice in the ever-evolving hip-hop landscape.

We asked GRAMMY-nominated Producer Roselilah on what it was like working on "family ties" and more.

"Meeting all these amazing and talented songwriters through music is such a great privilege! And to see how this record moves every crowd around the world is just so crazy to see. Hip-hop is all about connecting. Keem put two artists from two different eras on the same track, and combined productions from producers all over the world – from Europe to the US."
49/ 'Planet Herby Doja Cat (2021)

 

Doja Cat's 2021 offering, 'Planet Her' feels like boarding a spaceship to a galaxy where pop, R&B, and rap harmoniously coexist, showcasing her versatility and star power. With cosmic hits like "Woman", "Kiss Me More" featuring SZA and "Need To Know," the album not only took over airwaves but also crowned  Doja as the captain of futuristic, chart-topping anthems.

 

 

50/ 'It's Almost Dry' by Pusha T (2022)

Pusha T's razor-sharp bars and hard-hitting storytelling shines brightly on  'It's Almost Dry'. It features an all-star cast including JAY-ZPharrell and more!

We asked multi-GRAMMY-nominated Producers FNZ on what their credit on this album meant to them:

"We were honored to have been able to contribute to this classic album – Pusha has always been artist that we've wanted to produce for since the early 'Clipse' days. Being able to produce a song for  Pusha alongside Ye & BoogzDaBeat was an amazing experience.”

 

51/ 'You Can't Kill Me' by 070 Shake (2022)

 

With her ground-breaking sophomore album, rapper and singer  070 Shake has captured the hearts of many with her cinematic approach to hip-hop. Hit singles like "Skin and Bones" and "Cocoon" provide a window into her journey of ego exploration and transformative catharsis.

Here, Multi-Platinum Horns Player & Music Supervisor Ryan Svendsen shares his experience working on the record including performing live with the star herself! Source – his Voice Notes episode:

 

"Shake had four shows at the El Rey Theatre in Los Angeles that were all sold out, and I was luckily invited to play trumpet at each of the shows.
As a horns player, I hear a lot of tracks that have fake or synth horns on it, and it crushes me because there's such a human emotion behind the instrument. You have the tone and resonance that you just can't emit through these electronic programs. And so I really appreciate them [Shake and her team] reaching out and having me be a part of it."

 

 

 

53/ 'This Is What I Mean' by Stormzy (2022)

Stormzy solidifies his standing as one of the UK's top rap maestros with his third album,  'This Is What I Mean'. With a blend of diverse styles and genres, he crafts an album that beautifully balances vulnerability with power.

 

Here, incredibly talented Programmer, Vocal Producer, Engineer and Performer Calum Landau reflects on working on the BRITs-nominated album! Source – his Voice Notes episode: 

 

"It's easily the thing I'm most proud of to date in my music career. For Stormz to open up his world to myself and so many amazing musicians and producers, and for him to lead the way and just allow us to create so freely around him was just such an exciting experience.
I think it's really formative for the UK music scene to see an artist at the top of the game create something so free and unexpected. It will really just open a lot of doors for other UK artists to create more explorative art and take a few more risks."

54/ 'NO THANK YOUby Little Simz (2022)

Following her Mercury Prize-winning album 'Sometimes I Might Be Introvert',  Little Simz dropped the soul-baring ' NO THANK YOU', which tackled the brutal ups and downs of being an independent artist. With poetic lyricism and hard-hitting flow, she details her journey to self-actualization, creating a raw depiction of her evolution.

 

 

This was the long-awaited follow-up to 2017's 'DAMN.' – and it did not disappoint! Gripping and always thought-provoking, 'Mr. Morale & The Big Steppers' saw the poetic GRAMMY-winning rapper collaborate with artists like SamphaBeth Gibbons and more.

 

Here, multi-GRAMMY-winning Mastering Engineer Emerson Mancini shares what it was like working with Pulitzer Kenny! Source – Jaxsta's One on One Livestream:

 

"Sometimes I say, 'Usually I'm not afraid'. Sometimes I still am, that time [working on MMATBS] I was – because I was like, 'This doesn't sound like his other stuff. I think it sounds awesome, but I don't know if he's going to like it.' 
That was one of the most gratifying things that I've experienced in a while. I was standing on the side of my room, and he was sitting and listening. And I just watched this look on his face of 'Oh yeah, that sounds good!'
And I was like [to myself], 'You can't fake this! Okay! Alright, alright, alright – we're in business!'"                
 

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list. Hip-hop is endless. Hip-hop is forever. 

Once upon a time in the boogie-down Bronx of the 70s, hip-hop burst onto the scene, and let’s be real, it wasn't just a phase. DJ Kool Herc, the OG of the decks, spiced up block parties with his sick "breakbeat" technique, laying the very bricks for our DJing foundations. Fast forward, and we got rapping, breakdancing, and graffiti joining the party – the fab four of hip-hop!

Flash to the 80s: Enter the titans. Run-D.M.C.'s 'Raising Hell' was not just an album, but a revolution, blending rock and rap in a way that had us all raising our hands! And, shoutout to Public Enemy for waking us up with 'It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back' and N.W.A. for keeping it raw with 'Straight Outta Compton'.

The 90s? This was the golden age. The East Coast-West Coast saga took the mic, and Biggie’s 'Ready to Die' and 2Pac’s 'All Eyez on Me' became the anthems of the streets. From A Tribe Called Quest's jazzy 'The Low End Theory' to Nas' iconic 'Illmatic' to the funky rhythms of OutKast’s 'Aquemini' to Ms. Lauryn Hill's game-changing 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill', the 90s had it all.

 

 

Then Y2K hit! JAY-Z's 'The Blueprint' is as it sounds, often heralded as a masterpiece, and it also introduced Kanye West's production prowess to a broader audience. Eminem came through with 'The Marshall Mathers LP', and boy, did Slim Shady have stories to tell! Madlib and MF DOOM? Their album 'Madvillainy' remains one of the most iconic collaborations in history. Missy Elliott had us working it out on the dance-floor with 'Under Construction'!

The 2010s was all digital baby! Kendrick Lamar’s albums have straight-up masterclasses in storytelling, while the Odd Future collective took over the internet – making people like Tyler, The CreatorEarl Sweatshirt, and Frank Ocean household names.

And now? With streaming, it's a whole new world with every rhyme slinger getting their shot – and a simultaneous resurgence in the popularity of vinyl with rap heavyweights like Little Simz, Cardi B, and Doja Cat defining a whole new era. Billboard reports that vinyl sales have been growing for the past decade, with rap and hip-hop accounting for 17.3%.

 

 

From the block parties of the Bronx to the global stages of today, hip-hop has undoubtedly shaped the soundtrack of generations. So whatcha waitin' for? Time to crank it up, fam!