20yrs Ago in Hiphop.


1996  line

  • 2Pac releases his fourth album, “All Eyez On Me,” hip-hop’s first double-disc of all-original material and his first album for Death Row Records. It becomes a hit and raises the rap star’s profile even higher.
  • Underground sensation Jay-Z begins a budding friendship with the Notorious B.I.G. and releases his first two mainstream singles, ‘Dead Presidents’ and ‘Ain’t No N*gga.’ Both are moderate hits and help build anticipation for his debut album.
  • Cleveland rappers Bone Thugs-N-Harmony release, ‘The Crossroads,’ the second single from their critically-acclaimed 1995 album, “E. 1999-Eternal.” With it’s heartfelt lyrics and funereal production, it becomes a huge hit and is nominated for a Grammy.
  • Alternative rap group The Fugees release their second album, “The Score.” A stirring mix of reggae, rap, and soul; the album is one of the most acclaimed of the year and the group members, (Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Pras) are thrust into the national spotlight.
  • 2Pac releases the inflammatory b-side single, ‘Hit ‘Em Up.’ Dissing the Notorious B.I.G. and Bad Boy Entertainment; he also claims to have had sex with B.I.G.’s estranged wife, Bad Boy ingenue Faith Evans.
  • Nas finally releases “It Was Written,” his follow-up to the landmark “Illmatic.” With the lyrical focus shifting from street poetry to a glamourized criminal lifestyle; and the production becoming more slick and accessible; he is bashed by hip-hop purists for selling out to a pop audience.
  • Dr. Dre abruptly announces he’s leaving Death Row Records. Declaring that gangsta rap is a ‘dead’ genre, he goes on to form a new label, Aftermath Entertainment.
  • Will Smith stars in the action-sci fi flick “Independence Day”, raising his profile as an A-list celebrity in Hollywood.
  • Jay-Z’s debut album, “Reasonable Doubt” is released to much praise from critics. Despite all of the accolades, it barely makes a dent on the charts.
  • After leaving a Mike Tyson fight in Las Vegas, NV; a car carrying Suge Knight and Tupac Shakur is riddled with gunfire. Though Suge only suffers minor injuries, 2Pac–after fighting for his life for seven days in a hospital–dies from his wounds. The hip-hop nation goes into shock and mourning for the fallen rapper.
  • Southern rap duo Outkast release their second album, “ATLiens.” It is critically acclaimed for it’s positive outlook, progressive lyrics and a more futuristic production style.
  • The Notorious B.I.G. is almost killed in a car accident in New Jersey. With his leg partially shattered, he is forced to walk with a cane.
  • Eminem, a White rapper from Detroit, releases his debut album, “Infinite,” on a small indie label. Despite displaying a flair for clever, witty rhymes; the album goes unnoticed by fans and critics.
  • A Tribe Called Quest release their fourth album, “Beats, Rhymes, & Life.” For the first time in their storied career, the trio is bashed for releasing a half-hearted album.
  • Two debuts by two new female rappers, B.I.G. protege Lil Kim and ingenue Foxy Brown–albums that feature a heavy emphasis on sex and materialism–signal a change in direction for female MCs in hip-hop.


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