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May 09, 2008



I remember fondly that year. It was the first time I really gave hip hop any value. Previously I thought it was an endless quest for the best novelty record, but in 1988 it got smart (with lyrics that actually meant something and weren't so simple metrically), became REALLY funky (and less drum-machine herky-jerky), and was impossible to ignore. A lot of the big artists that year really HAD peaked, and their careers went slowly downhill.

There are others of a slightly later generation that insist 1994 was the year hip hop peaked (and I can see their argument, lots of good records that year: Nas, Smif & Wesson, O.C., Scientifik, Gang Starr, Jeru, Organized Konfusion, etc.)


That was a great show.

I definitely remember hearing those zero-db drop-outs in "Nation of Millions" and thinking "wow, this is something really, really different". And when I saw a local skinhead put it on at a party, then shouting out ALL the lyrics, I knew hip-hop had turned a big, big corner.


"hip-hop, or 'rap' music as it was more generally referred to back then..."

According to at least one source, rap is something you do, while hip hop is something you live. But yeah, 1988 was an amazing year in music. Better than '98, anyway.


I was a sophomore at UC Berkeley that year. I was totally into Public Enemy, NWA, and rap music in general. Public Enemy doesn't hold up so well for me, but Too Short does, LL Cool J, and a few others. It was a good year for rap, and rap was something new and different back then. There was also Digital Underground...EPMD holds up well.

I'd have to say that the ass kickingest rap came out later, like Tupac, UGK, Geto Boys, but 1988 was a good year.


I'll never forget the first time I heard Eric B. and Rakim. I was visiting my brother, who was at college at U of Minnesota. He had a roommate from the Chicago projects who has all the latest stuff. He played some NWA, which I hated, and then he put on "Follow The Leader" and my conception of rap was changed forever. Rakim was definitely the first rapper I ever heard who consistently brought a jazz sophistication to his approach to the beat. I mean you could hear the Ella Fitzgerald influence and it was awesome. I still think he's the greatest.

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