Here at LyricallyRap we believe you can’t forget who blazed the path for the entire genre of hip-hop. The 1990’s are considered the golden era of hip-hop music. An outgrowth of the “new school hip-hop movement“, it is characterized by its diversity, quality, innovation and influence on all future artists. We’ve decided on ten artists, in no particular order, from the golden age of hip hop to spotlight. Enjoy!
True lyrical rap genius, Nas, helped set the stage for the entire hip hop revolution on the 90’s. His inspiring, lyrically intelligent bars, along with some stellar production on “If I Ruled The World” set the benchmark pretty high for any other MC’s.
Dre began his career as a member of World Class Wreckin’ Cru in 1985, but gained fame as a member of NWA and Death Row Records. During the early 1990s, Dre was credited as a key figure in the crafting and popularization of West Coast G-funk, a subgenre of hip hop characterized by a synthesizer foundation and slow, heavy beats.
NWA consisted of artists Ice Cube, Eazy E, Dr. Dre, Arabian Prince, with DJ Yella, and MC Ren joining later. Straight Outta Compton, while technically released in 1989, marked the beginning of the new gangsta rap era as the production and social commentary in their lyrics were revolutionary within the genre. NWA also sparked the very impressive solo careers of almost all of the original members.
Snoop’s music career began in 1992 when he was discovered by Dr. Dre and featured on Dre’s solo debut, “Deep Cover”, and then on Dre’s solo debut album, “The Chronic.” His debut album sold almost a million copies in the first week of its release, “Doggystyle” became certified quadruple platinum in 1994 and spawned several hit singles, including “What’s My Name?” and “Gin & Juice”.
Ice Cube is another artist who got his big breakthrough while performing with NWA. His third solo album The Predator was the first album ever to debut at #1 on both the R&B/hip-hop and pop charts. Ice Cube then used his success as a rapper to parlay that into a very lucrative career in the movie biz, probably most known for the “Friday” movies which he also wrote.
The Notorious B.I.G.
Considered one of the greatest rappers of all time, Biggie Smalls, is an icon in the rap game. His accolades include many awards from almost too many organizations to count. As for his lyrical style: AllMusic described Wallace as having “a talent for piling multiple rhymes on top of one another in quick succession”, while Time magazine wrote that he rapped with an ability to “make multi-syllabic rhymes sound smooth.” Biggie is definitely top 5 artists of all time in my book. Sadly we lost him way too soon. It would’ve been nice to see how his career developed if it weren’t for his untimely death.
Tupac is considered by many to be one of the most significant rappers of all time. Much of Shakur’s work has been noted for addressing contemporary social issues that plagued inner cities, and he is considered a symbol of resistance and activism against inequality. He is one of the best selling musicians of all time having sold over 75 million records worldwide. Many artists to this day owe their careers to tupac.
Wu Tang Clan
“The best to come off the island since the Wu Tang Clan”, rhymes Pete Davidson on a recently released track. This shows to this day the inspiration of the Wu Tang Clan. Originally formed in 1992 in Staten Island, New York they were comprised of rapper-producer RZA and rappers GZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and Masta Killa. In 2008, About ranked them “the No. 1 greatest hip hop group of all time” while Kris Ex of Rolling Stone called Wu-Tang Clan “the best rap group ever”. In 2004, NME hailed them as one of the most influential groups of the last ten years.
Bone Thugs N Harmony
Bone Thugs N Harmony is comprised of Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone, Layzie Bone, Krayzie Bone, and Flesh-n-Bone. They are best known for their hits, 1st of tha Month, Crossroads, and Thuggish Ruggish Bone. They also have collaborated with many artists on this list, most famously, Notorious B.I.G. with Notorious Thugs. One of the best acts to ever come out of Cleveland, Ohio, they won a grammy for Crossroads in 1997.
Dj Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince
Dj Jazzy Jeff’s classic production and Will Smith’s great storytelling and flow make this group a staple of the early 90’s rap game bringing more mainstream audiences to the genre. They won the first ever rap Grammy award in 1989 and rocked crowds for the remainder of the early 90’s. DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince have sold over 5.5 million albums in the US. They also performed together as recently as September 2019 showing they still can get at it even to this day.
The 90’s were such an influential decade in the genre that we couldn’t fit it all in one article. Let us know who you’d like to see in part two!