Beginning with N.W.A., West Coast rap, based primarily in Los Angeles, became a mainstream success. For the first time, New York was not the only city on the hip hop map. The two were rivals in many ways, fueling the East Coast-West Coast rivalry. In the late 1990s, many cities saw their own scenes find popular acclaim. These included Miami, Atlanta, St. Louis and New Orleans.
Boston is also the birthplace of The Source, America's longest running rap periodical, as well as undergroundhiphop.com, one of the more recognized websites dedicated to underground hip hop. Boston was also home to Landspeed Records, which was a dominant independent hip hop label in the 1990s and early 2000s, and home to many underground hip hop acts.
The city also produced all of the style's early stars, like LL Cool J (from Queens) and Kurtis Blow. Other influential artists from the New York area and this era that have endured through the ages are KRS-One (from the Bronx), Public Enemy (from Long Island), Run-DMC (from Queens), and the Beastie Boys (from Brooklyn). By the beginning of the 1990s, however, the West Coast had eclipsed New York in popular success. This began a rivalry which culminated in the deaths of New York MC Notorious B.I.G. and West Coast rapper 2Pac, who was born in East Harlem. In 1993 the pioneering Wu-Tang Clan from Staten Island emerged, and have continued to be influential to independent street hip hop. By the middle of the decade, Puff Daddy (from Manhattan), the Notorious BIG and Mase reinvigorated East Coast rap to popular acclaim with a very pop-oriented approach to hip hop. The East Coast also bred several hard-edged stars during this time, like the legendary Big Pun, Busta Rhymes, DMX (from Yonkers) and Nas, culminating in the breakthrough of Brooklyn's Jay-Z late in the decade. New York also produced a vital underground in the Native Tongues Posse, led by alternative hip hop crew A Tribe Called Quest, which also included Long Island's De La Soul. 50 Cent & his G-Unit clique, Ja Rule, Mobb Deep, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, and Fabolous are a few successful rappers/groups of the 21st century from the New York area. Brooklyn New York is Known to have Birth the greatest Hip Hop stars ever.
The main movers of Twin Cities Hip Hop came together to form the group Headshots, a precursor to the Rhymesayers Entertainment label. Members of this group included Slug, I Self Devine, Micranots, Musab, Siddiq, and Ant. Slug was one of the main artists to move into the foreground, setting the tone for the style of music to follow in the years to come. Many new artists, such as Brother Ali, are beginning to gain national attention.
Two notable pioneers in the D.C. hip hop scene are DJ Kool, whose 20+ year career includes the hit "Let Me Clear My Throat", as well as guest appearances on tracks by Redman, Mya and Rampage, and DC Scorpio. Although DC Scorpio only released three singles in the late 80's, the video for "Stone Cold Hustler II" was a staple on BET's Rap City for months after it's release. Though considered more go go than straight hip hop, Stinky Dink, who had a major hit locally with his 1991 release "One Track Mind", and Fat Rodney are both considered forefathers in emceeing in the D.C. area.
The 90's saw an expansion of D.C. hip hop's scene. 3LG, also known as Three Levels of Genius, were a cornerstone of the D.C. hip hop scene. Combining a 4-piece band with complex lyics, 3LG paved the way for many underground acts in the D.C. area, winning 6 Washington Area Music Awards for Best Hip Hop Group throughout their career. Head-Roc and Platted Mind, two of the emcees from 3LG, were also members of the group Infinite Loop, which included One Two, Noyeek the Grizzly Bear and Omega Red among its expansive roster of members. Priest Da Nomad and Storm the Unpredictable are two established emcees who started making a name for themselves in the mid-90's. Though actually hailing from the Northern Virginia metropolitan area, Team Demolition is also a notable group in the D.C. hip hop scene, and was one of the first to independently release and distribute their music on record and CD, garnering some buzz off the strength of their 1998 single "Dirty Gusto". Asheru and Blue Black, also known as the group Unspoken Heard, are well known in the underground hip hop scene; Asheru is best known nationally for performing the theme song for the Adult Swim cartoon The Boondocks.
Notable acts emerging since 2000 include K-Beta, Flex Mattews, Poem-Cees and Wale. Wale is currently generating a lot of buzz, in part to his work with producer Mark Ronson, and was listed in the November 30, 2007 issue of Entertainment Weekly, as one of 8 people to watch in 2008. Wale's song "Breakdown" was featured in the sports video game Madden NFL 09.
Houston has produced hip hop artists such as Mike Jones, Slim Thug, Lil Flip, Chamillionaire,Magnificent, Paul Wall, Bun B and Pimp C of UGK,Brooke Valentine, Trae, Z-Ro, Big Hawk, Big Pokey, Chingo Bling, Devin the Dude, DJ Screw, Fat Pat, Lil' Keke, Michael 5000 Watts, Scarface, Rob G and the legendary Geto Boys.
As Sumthin Fresh, the group appeared regularly on KNON FM 90.9. Initially, they appeared as guests on Nippy Jones Freaky Fresh Friday afternoon show and after teaming up with DJ Snake for music production, they were regulars on the "All Hardy Def Party" radio show which became the metroplex's hottest radio show at the time. The radio show, which was hosted by DJ Snake, Big Al, and Casanova Rock, was most popular to young Dallas hip-hoppers who had no other options or outlets for rap music. Every Wednesday night, from 9pm til Midnight, Dallas/Fort Worth listeners were deluded with local artists, local sounds along with underground beats which provided a better listen for the hip-hop audience than the local R&B stations which were not yet sure if Dallasites were ready to enjoy hip-hop mainstream.
Sumthin Fresh was inspired by tension between DJ Snake and local hip hop radio jock, Dr. Rock aka Cleo Turner who is a Dallas hip-hop radio legend in his own right. This inspiration led to the diss song entitled "Oak Cliff" which was aimed at Dr. Rock's crew called the Fila Fresh Crew. Fila Fresh consisted of Rock, Fresh K (Kurtis) and Doc-T (Tracy) who later became known as D.O.C. after Rock introduced the young rapper to his childhood friend Dr. Dre and later signed with Eazy E's Ruthless Records. Fila Fresh answered the diss by Sumthin Fresh with a song called "Toughest Man Alive" which was released as a maxi-single and was co-produced by Dr. Dre himself.
Sumthin Fresh became local superstars and Bhumble Bee, feeling that Sumthin Fresh was a bit soft, decided to change their name to Nemesis. Nemesis released their first album entitled, "To Hell and Back" on their independent Get Off Me Records label. Ironically, Bhumble Bee left the group shortly after they signed with Profile records due to creative and philosophical differences between himself and the producers. Eazy Roque, also called it quits in support of his longtime friend and partner Bhumble Bee.
This left MC Azim behind as the lone MC with the group and now needing to deliver on their recently signed deal with Profile Records. Big Al (R.I.P.), one of the groups producer/deejays then manned a microphone in order to help complete the project and reinvent the group's sound forever to feature more of Bass oriented sound featuring beats by DJ Snake.
There have been various reincarnations of the rap group which infused random affiliates such as Ron C, Joe Macc, and Mubuda.
The group's last known recording is 2000's, "Munchies for Your Bass, Da Return" which was developed by Big Al along with a cast of virtual unknowns such as Mubuda. Stylistically, they were inspired by many genres of music Gangsta rap, Miami bass, Metal as well as (in terms of lyrics) spirituality (greatly inspired by Islam).
Then there is Fresh Roc Productions, a hip-hop music production company which was founded in Spring of 1985 by DJ Willie Fressh aka Willie Drew and DJ Roc-D aka Dan Brown, Jr. in Dallas, TX, was instrumental in the birth of the Dallas, Texas hip-hop/rap music scene in the mid 1980's. After listening to cassette tape recordings of New York mix shows which showcased pre-recorded turntable mixes by deejays like DJ Red Alert, DJ Marley Marl, DJ Chuck Chillout, and DJ crew the Latin Rascals, the duo of local party deejays decided to create Fresh Roc in order to create pre-recorded hip-hop/r&b mixes for sale to the public as well as radio publicity.
Fresh Roc became well-known for their creativity by recording their mixtapes via multi-tracking hardware. The crew's 4-track mixtapes were highly sought after by high school kids in the Pleasant Grove section of Dallas, Texas. The crew soon inspired the creation of the "Freaky Fresh Friday Mix Show" hosted by DJ Nippy Jones on community radio station KNON (then 90.9 FM and now 89.3 FM). Nippy Jones, known for featuring live Deejays in the studio like DJ Scratchmaster FDS now known as DJ Dallas Scratch (who introduced the guys to Nippy), was approached by FRP with the concept of showcasing pre-recorded mixes on his show. Nippy was blown away after sampling the work of this duo and decided to showcase them every Friday afternoon on his show which aired Monday through Friday from 12noon til 3:00pm.
This show quickly became one of the most listened to programs in the city of Dallas and facilitated Nippy's move to commercial radio station K104FM (KKDA) in 1987. Nippy continued to feature FRP and their growing roster of Deejays/Producers like DJ Jam Kutter, DJ Davy Def, DJ Sir Snoopy, DJ Curly, Mixmaster Jamm, Winston Flood, DJ B-Insane, and DJ Tip (feat Funky Lee). These Deejays became producers who attracted the most talented MC's in the city and created a title wave of local rap recordings to fuel the rap scene in Dallas and created a foundation and platform for successful artists today.
In 1986, Willie Fressh urged best friend and confidant Michael Sharp to join the organization in order to provide structure and focus to the group. Sharp, recognizing the potential and talent of the FRP roster, quickly formed Razor Sharp Artist Management and began seeking venues for these artists to be heard. Unfortunately, at the time, there were no venues available for young rappers to showcase their skills in Dallas. Sharp decided that if these artists would be showcased, then the best move would be to create venues for them to perform. Behind the scenes, Fressh and Sharp worked along with their entertainment lawyer, Randy Bowman, who also worked with Tommy Quon and his protege, Vanilla Ice.
In 1987, Sharp began setting up shows for his acts in Bowling Alleys, Armouries, Recreation Centers, Skating Rinks, apartment clubhouses, Schools auditoriums, and even as regular guest entertainers at the McKinney Job Corps. FRP became a powerhouse of deejays, producers, rap artists, singers and dancers who went on to provide command performances and release various recordings between 1987 and 1994.
Local Artists who participated with Fresh Roc, enjoyed enormous regional and statewide success, but none were quite able to explode onto the national scene. Fressh Roc included the following acts: MC K-Cold, Miss Vee, Dizzy Def, Gemo, T.Y.E., AGLOVE, K.A.O.S.S., Full Effect, Philly Boy, Sir Snoopy, STO, AMD-Criminal of Violence, Devo X, Mad Wisdom, MC Jesse Jess aka Kottonmouth, Mecca X, Mark Dog Productions, MC Nikki, Elite Gangsters, Michael Sheffield, Mannish D, Infrared, Bo and Solo, UpTighT, BKM-10, NX, Lethal MC, and Dekumposed, to name a few.
Summer of 1987, FRP was the driving force behind the conversion of a fading teen skate spot called "Fast Times" which was transformed into Club Countach (see Lambourgini). Countach was the first Dallas-area club to successfully merge various cultures from Anglo, African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American, and more. There was very little violence thanks to a strong presence of off-duty Garland police personnel. Club Countach wasn't the first hip-hop venue in the Metroplex, but it was the largest with a capacity of about 3000. Club Countach was host to parties, concerts, and live radio broadcasts which quickly became the hottest destination for hip-hop lovers all across the metroplex and launched many artists professional careers. In Early 1988, FRP hooked up with local radio celebrity, Dr. Rock in order to create a Saturday Night Extravaganza that was broadcast all over North Texas via the airwaves of K104. This is where the Dallas music scene showed the most promise due to the increasing number of venues created to expose local artists and their ideas.
After Countach faded in early 1990, Fresh Roc Productions made local music history as their acts: MC K-Cold, Miss Vee, AGLOVE and Gemo along with K.A.O.S.S., became the first hip-hop artists to ever perform at Deep Ellum hotspot, Club Trees in 1990. They later performed before a capacity crowd as the opening acts for the Geto Boys (Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill) at the same Club Trees. FRP then became regular performers at the first Hip-Hop Club in Deep Ellum called Club Americana. After Fresh Roc disbanded in 1995, DJ Willie Fressh continued to work under his production company called Knee Deep Productions, with such notables as Erotic-D, MC Breed, Nemesis (rap crew), Ra'koo Nation, DJ Snake, Ron-C, Bumble-B, D-Kru, Litefoot (Credited as "Litefoot and Big Will" as writers on the score for motion picture "The Indian and the Cupboard" starring Litefoot), Liz Mikell, DeJuan, Gugu, MC E-Rock, Top Dolla aka Richie Rich, Quint Black, Dezire (Fila Fresh), MC Azim, Daze and Raggtop, Mayhem aka Corey Johnson, Khrome & Bone, Doeski, Mike Grayson, Gangster C, Willi Will, Los Hill and Groveside.
Also in the moment of truth comes DJ EZ Eddie D, remixer and producer for over 24 years. Being the closest thing to a hip-hop historian that Dallas has ever known, he has worked with the early pioneers as well as many of the current up and comers in the Dallas hip-hop scene. From his early days growing up in Finneytown (a mostly caucasian suburb in Cincinnati, Ohio) to his 23 years in Dallas it's no surprise to find his influences are all over the musical map. With a collection containing everything from R&B to Classic Rock, Funk to Retro and Blues to Hip-Hop, his studio is the Mecca that record collectors dream of. His main focus today is fusing all of these genres with hip-hop beats creating a distinctive sound all his own. In 1982, Dallas DJ The Master Mixer taught Eddie how to blend records and also introduced him to the radio station KNON 89.3 "The Voice of the People". He interned and moved his way up the ranks, working with DJ Cisco Soul & the Party Patrol and Nippy Jones of the "Fresh & Freaky Friday Show"(later KKDA). Nippy helped groom him for his own time slot. In 1987 station manager Craig Taylor gave him that chance with his first show airing Thursday nights 9-11. The show moved a few times finally landing on Saturdays 5-7pm where you can still tune in weekly for "Knowledge Dropped-Lessons Taught(Vol.2)". It is the only source Dallas has for true underground hip-hop and being a public radio station is a perfect forum for his philosophies on politics, religion, racism and social responsibility. Tune in to 89.3 on Saturdays 5p.m. to 7p.m. "Knowledge Dropped-Lessons Taught".
Things began to blossom out when a four-man crew came about. The four-man Dallas crew Mad Flava were brief players in the mid-'90s "weed-hop" scene that followed the breakout success of Cypress Hill. Comprised of MCs Cold Chris the Soulman (real name: Chris Parker) and Don Kasaan, DJ Baby G the Cut Selectah, and producer/MC Erich "Hype Dawg" Krause, Mad Flava procured a deal with Priority Records after upping their profile with support gigs throughout Texas for established artists like KRS-One, A Tribe Called Quest, and Cypress Hill themselves. Concurrent to the popular explosion of Cypress Hill was the House of Pain phenomenon of 1992-1993. The Muggs-produced "Jump Around" had popularized the notion of a Caucasian MC. Mad Flava's main man, Cold Chris, was white and he and his group smoked prodigious amounts of marijuana. Everything pointed to Priority having a hit on its hands in From tha Ground Unda, the Flava's debut album. But litigation over sample licensing and distribution problems hung up its release, and by the time Ground finally arrived in late 1993, the Flava's brief window of opportunity had closed. A half-hearted promotional campaign from Priority did little to drive interest in the group, and soon Mad Flava faded back into the Dallas underground, casualties of a fickle hip-hop market.
So basically Dallas has a sound of both East and West coast influence, but with Houston southern hospitality inspired by the late D.J. Screw made Dallas a major market. The whole Swisha House movement got a lot of attention in this city. So if the City of Dallas is feeling you, then you have a chance at blowing up in the music industry.
Then in the late 90's came Erykah Badu American R&B, soul, and hip hop singer and songwriter, whose work encompasses elements of jazz. She is best known for her role in the rise of the neo soul sub-genre, and for her eccentric, cerebral musical stylings and sense of fashion. Early in her career she was recognizable for wearing very large and colorful headwraps. For her musical sensibilities, she has often been compared to jazz great Billie Holiday.Working and touring with her cousin, Robert "Free" Bradford, she recorded a 19-song demo, Country Cousins, which attracted the attention of Kedar Massenburg, who set Badu up to record a duet with D'Angelo, "Your Precious Love," and eventually signed her to a record deal with Universal Records. Vanilla Ice,is from suburban Texas.
With the helped of Dallas Producers including "Jah-Born" who produced On & On, On & On (live), & On. Robert"Free"Brandford who produced No Love, & Apple Tree, Badu's highly acclaimed debut album, was released in early 1997 and debuted at #2 on the Billboard charts. Lead single "On & On" reached #12 on the singles charts in both the U.S. and UK. Badu received notice for her introspective lyrics and jazzy, bass-heavy sound, and was hailed as one of the leading lights of the burgeoning neo soul genre. Her sophisticated style of singing drew many comparisons to Billie Holiday. Baduizm eventually went triple platinum and, along with "On & On," won Grammy Awards at the 1998 ceremonies. Currently she just released her album New Amerykah February 26, 2008. She recently form an band called The Cannabiniods featuring talented producers and D.J.'s Dallas in still growing and The underground scene is expanding.
Though there was no major acclaim until the very end of the 1980s, West Coast artists grew in stature by the middle of the decade. These hits included Ice-T's "6'n da Mornin'" (1986), one of the first gangsta rap songs, and Toddy Tee's "Batterram." Ice-T's Rhyme Pays (1987) brought critical acclaim for the West Coast. With the success of N.W.A and N.W.A. and the Posse soon after, West Coast hip hop moved quickly towards the mainstream. N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton completed the transition of West Coast hip hop to the forefront of American popular hip hop, but it was 1992's The Chronic by Dr. Dre that established the style's permanence. Death Row Records was the prominent West Coast record label. Founded by Suge Knight the label included Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and 2Pac. Another notable west coast group from the time was Latin group Cypress Hill who, like Ice-T, also dabbled in the alternative rock scene and gangsta rap. Other prominent Los Angeles artists of the 80' & 90's are Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Low Profile, Kid Frost, Above The Law, MC Eight and his group C.M.W., DJ Quik, WC and the Maad Circle, Freestyle Fellowship, Snoop Dogg, The Pharcyde, Tha Alkaholiks, Coolio, Warren G, Tha Dogg Pound, Mack 10, Ras Kass, Xzibit, WC, Psycho Realm, Jurassic 5, and Dilated Peoples.
The Chronic was the beginning of what was known as G-funk, and included such stars as Snoop Doggy Dogg and Warren G. Its release came at a pivotal period, simultaneous with the release of Nirvana's Nevermind, and American music went through a watershed moment. There was a backlash against the late 1980s heavy metal bands, which were seen as cheap and formulaic. Nirvana and Dr. Dre shared an anti-establishment attitude which resonated with the country's youth.
Since Eazy-E and Tupac died, West Coast rap has died down a bit with the exceptions of elder statesmen Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg as well as Xzibit. Recently the West Coast has made a comeback with Compton rapper The Game. He sold 5 million records on his first album titled The Documentary, due to the success of rapper 50 Cent. He was also known to sign with G-unit Records, but was booted out because of his un-loyalty. Although things looked dire for The Game (and the West Coast in general, being that it was being renovated by The Game) he struck back with his now famous G-Unot campaign that looked at everything from 50's possible steroid abuse to his penchent for snitching. He has since called a cease-fire with the release of The Doctor's Advocate. The Doctor's Advocate (featuring several famous West Coast acts such as Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, and Tha Dogg Pound) marked a semi-return for the Left Coast. The new acts rising from L.A. are G-Unit records signee Spider Loc and The Game's entire Black Wall Street Organization.
In Oregon, hip-hop culture is also alive and well, thriving in the population centers of Portland and Eugene. The most recognizable figures in Portland hip-hop are Bosco "Bosko" Kante's and Terrance "Cool Nutz" Scott's Jus Family Records, the nationally recognized turntabilist DJ Wicked, and the Sandpeople group, which is loosely affiliated with Seattle's Oldominion.
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