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The golden age of hip hop

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The golden age of hip hop

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The golden age of hip hop, derivative of old school hip hop, began with the popularity of Run-DMC's album Raising Hell in 1986 and ended with the popularity of G-Funk around 1993. It was characterized by ubiquitous soul and funk samples (ala James Brown and Curtis Mayfield) and Afrocentric lyrics. The golden age was overwhelmingly based in New York City.

During the golden age of hip hop, rappers like Rakim, KRS-ONE, and Chuck D advanced the wordplay, delivery, and possible subject matter of rapping. Groups such as De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, and Leaders of the New School combined soul-laden production with positive messages as a reaction against the predominant gangster posturing of numerous 1980s rappers. During this period, Def Jam (founded by Run of Run DMC's brother, Russell Simmons) became the first independent hip-hop record label.


Socially conscious rap

Social consciousness was key to golden age hip-hop. While KRS-ONE discussed the rectification of violence and moral and ethical issues in the ghetto, De La Soul refrained from heavy-handed politics and remained in the realm of calm and secure lyrics. Groups such as A Tribe Called Quest took the two opposites and combined them into intelligent and relaxed output. For many fans of hip-hop ATCQ's The Low End Theory and Midnight Marauders, both rather sophisticated albums, are considered to be the standard of golden-age hip-hop.

Many duos in the golden age of hip-hop also fit the conscious mold. Eric B. & Rakim's Rakim furthered both technique and subject matter for generations of rappers to come, while Eric Barrier's sparse and soulful beats ingrained the stereotype of early 1990s hip-hop. Gang Starr, a consistently evolving group, started with stereotypical golden age beats courtesy of DJ Premier and tough, assertive rhymes, eventually evolving into a solo project for Guru (see Jazzmatazz), and reuniting again to reminisce about prior lifestyles and to criticize the current condition of hip-hop. De La Soul took a similar turn, first as a carefree group, then evolving into a street-smart, thuggish and conscious machine, and then back again as a collective critic of modern hip-hop.

Post-golden age

A few contemporary artists remain true to the golden age hip-hop standard, such as People Under The Stairs, Jurassic Five, and Little Brother. These groups are commonly referred to as "retro-rap" rather than "golden-age," perhaps due to the realization that golden-age hip-hop is no longer en vogue or relevant to current sociopolitical conditions.

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See also

Hip hop/Rap
DJing (Turntablism) - History (Roots - Timeline)
African - American (East - West - South)
Abstract - Alternative - Chopped & Screwed - Christian - Country-rap - Crunk - Electro - Electro hop - Freestyle music - Gangsta - G-funk - Ghettotech - Golden age - Hardcore - Hip hop soul - Hip house - Horrorcore - Hyphy - Instrumental - Jazz rap - Latin rap - Miami bass - Mobb - Neo soul - Nerdcore - New jack swing - Old school - Pop rap - Rapcore - Ragga - Reggaeton - Snap music - Urban Pasifika

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