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Black (Hip-Hop) Music Month Timeline: ’88 – ’91

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1988 marked the year that Hip-Hop took center stage. With the help of Yo! MTV Raps it became more than an underground fad and quickly moved onto becoming a worldwide phenomenon.  It was the year that the parental advisory sticker opened the door to rap’s freedom of  speech. It also marked the emergence of Hip-Hop into mainstream music.It’s hard to imagine a world without Hip-Hop’s influence over it. Hip-Hop’s prevalent presence can be seen in clothes, movies, and all forms of media. As it continues to grow into popular culture, we can see it also influence other genres of music. Its fate has been sealed knowing that as Hip-Hop continues to grow and mature so will its influence on culture. In five timelines of four-year increments, AllHipHop will provide a brief glance at how far Hip-Hop has come.  June is Black Music Month, after all.              1988• Def Jam Records founders Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin part ways, with Rubin going on to establish Def American. Lyor Cohen names president of Def Jam. •The Source Magazine is founded as a newsletter by Harvard students Dave Mays and Jon Shecter. •UGK release their cassette tape only debut The Southern Way.• Ultramagnetic MCs release their debut Critical Beatdown. •The Jungle Brothers release their debut album Straight Out The Jungle. On “The Promo” they introduce a young Q-Tip who along with the JBs, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul eventually form the core of Native Tongue.•February 12, 1988 – Spike Lee’s film School Daze hits theaters. •March 29, 1988 – DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince releases their second album, He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper. The album sells 2.5 million records.

•May 2, 1988 – Slick Rick aka MC Ricky D drops his debut The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. •May 10, 1988 – Boogie Down Productions drops its first album without the late DJ Scott La Rock, By All Means Necessary.•May 16, 1988 – Run- D.M.C releases their fourth album titled Tougher Than Leather. The album goes platinum.  They also star in a movie of the same name. It does not fair as well at theaters.•June – EPMD releases their debut album Strictly Business on Sleeping Bag Records. They soon become Phife Dawg of A Tribe Called Quest’s favorite group• June 21, 1988 – Big Daddy Kane releases his debut Long Live The Kane.•June 28, 1988 – Public Enemy releases their second album It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back. The album is acclaimed for its political topics, unique sampling,  and rock inspired sounds. •August ’88 – The first TV show dedicated strictly to Hip-Hop (“nationally,” so big up to Uncle Ralph, The Vid Kid and Video Music Box) airs on MTV. Yo! MTV Raps is an immediate hit and was one the highest rated shows on MTV. It featured hosts Fab Five Freddy, Ed Lover and Dr. Dre’ and exposed Hip-Hop to audiences around the world.

•August 8, 1988 – N.W.A. releases Straight Outta Compton. It goes Gold and marks the beginning of Gangsta rap’s mainstream popularization, no disrespect to Ice-T. The single “F**k the Police” earns the group a formal warning from the FBI. •September 13, 1988 – Ice-T’s second album Power is released and is the first rap album to be hit with a parental advisory sticker. Surely, you remember the cover, right?•September 17, 1988 – MC Lyte releases Lyte As A Rock. Her lyrical skills not only elevate her to be one of the top female MC’s in the game at the time but also one of the key players in rap history.1989•Brooklyn rapper The Jaz drops Word to the Jaz which features a young Jay-Z, peep him in the video to “Hawaiin Sophie,” on the strength…

•The Geto Boys, now including Scarface & Willie D, release Grip It! On That Other Level.•January 3, 1989 – The Arsenio Hall Show debuts and will go on to feature a number of prominent rap acts including Snoop Dog and A Tribe Called Quest during its five year run.

•February ’89 – 2 Live Crew releases As Nasty As They Wanna Be. Its explicit lyrics and overall raunchy nature leads to an uproar which ultimately has it banned from being sold in the artist’s home state Florida. The group is later arrested for lewdness after a near pornographic performance in Miami.  They later go to court for the act and are found not guilty. This opens the door for artists to be freely expressive sexually in their music. •February ’89 – Rap receives its own category at the Grammys. However the category would only be a part of the pre-show and not aired on the actual programming. Rappers such as Salt N Pepa, The Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff as well as LL Cool J boycott the Grammy show. •March ’89 – De La Soul releases 3 Feet High and Rising. It is praised for its free spirited use of sampling and their unique freedom of speak. •March 17, 1989 – LL Cool J drops Walking With a Panther and gets clowned for being a little too early with the champagne flossy raps. •May – The MTA declares victory over one the four elements of Hip-Hop, Graffiti. They remove all of the graffiti reddened cars from line service in New York. • June 16, 1989 – The D.O.C. releases his debut No One Can Do It Better, produced by Dr. Dre.

•June 30, 1989 – Spike Lee’s film Do The Right Thing hits theaters with Publics Enemy’s “Fight The Power” featured prominently throughout the movie. •November ’89 – Queen Latifah, one of the few female rappers of that time with mainstream visibility, releases her debut album All Hail The Queen. She is praised for her feministic views and positive approach.•July ’89 – The Beastie Boys release Paul’s Boutique. The initial response was average at the most but it is now hailed as a classic.•August ’89 – After a tour promoting Straight Outta Compton, Ice Cube announces that he is leaving the group over financial discrepancies. 1990• Bobbito Garcia and DJ Stretch Armstrong begin broadcasting The Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show from Columbia University’s WKCR.       •March ’90 – MC Hammer releases his second album Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Em. It goes on to sell more than ten million copies. A milestone in rap sales.•March ’90 – Salt N Pepa release their third album Blacks Magic. Thanks to the smash single “Let’s Talk About Sex” the album is celebrated for its honest discussion of sex. •March ’90 – “The Humpty Dance” which was featured on Digital Underground debut album Sex Packets becomes a crossover hit and popular dance. The album makes it to The Source 100 best Rap Albums list.

• April 15, 1990 – The sketch comedy show In Living Color debuts on the FOX Network and will feature many prominent Hip-Hop acts performing at each episodes conclusion. •April 17, 1990 – A Tribe Called Quest releases their debut album People’s Instinctive Travels and The Paths Of Rhythms. •May – Ice Cube releases his first solo album AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and it goes platinum. Further solidifying Gangsta rap’s place in mainstream music, it features production from The Bomb Squad.• September 4, 1990 – LL Cool J drops Mama Said Knock You Out. Produced by Marley Marl, call it a comeback. •September 10, 1990 – The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air airs debut on NBC starring rapper The Fresh Prince aka Will Smith. • October 16, 1990 – Vanilla Ice drops his second album To The Extreme which features “Ice Ice Baby.” The second rap song to hit #1 on Billboard. The album has been certified 7X platinum [Ed. Note: If you are one of those seven million, explain yourself]

•December 4, 1990 – New Rochelle, NY based rap outfit Brand Nubian drops their debut One For All.1991•March 3, 1991 – Rodney King, a Black man, is brutally beaten by four White police officers. The incident is caught on tape. Rap artists such as Ice Cube speak out against the horrific incident in song. This is one of the first of many times that the rap community would come together for a cause that affects the community that many of them derive from.• March 19, 1991 – Yo-Yo, part of Ice Cube’s Da Lench Mob, drops her debut Make Way for the Motherlode.•May 13, 1991 – De La Soul drops their second album, De La Soul Is Dead, and declares “The Daisy Age” is a wrap.

•May 28, 1991 – N.W.A. releases their second album Efil4zaggin. Shortly after, Dr. Dre leaves the group, hires Suge Knight and joins Death Row Records. •July 23, 1991 – Rap group Main Source releases their debut album Breaking Atoms. It features the single “Live At The Bar-B-Que” which unveils a seventeen year old rap prodigee who calls himself Nasty Nas.•July 12, 1991 – The John Singleton directed film Boyz N The Hood hits theaters. It includes Ice Cube making his acting debut and earns an Academy Award nomination. •July ’91 – Digital Underground releases the project This Is An EP. The single “Same Song” debuts the then unknown rapper, and their roady, Tupac Shakur.

• August 13, 1991 Cypress Hill release their debut album Cypress Hill.•September 24, 1991 – A Tribe Called Quest releases their classic The Low End Theory which blends Jazz grooves with exacting rap lyricism.• November 12, 1991 – Tupac “2Pac” Shakur release his debut 2Pacalypse Now.•December ’91 – Gilbert O’Sullivan sues rapper Biz Markie for the sampling of his song “Alone Again” without consent. He wins the case and this sets the stipulations for artists when sampling. From that point they can no longer create multi-layered sounds out of multiple samples. The Bomb Squad could not have been too happy.

Black (Hip-Hop) Music Month Timeline: ’88 – ’91 (click here)

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