New York Rappers
THIS BLOG IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION!
Armageddon (b. 1974), from Bronx, New York, has been rapping since the 5th grade. His pursuit of a rap career began in 1985 with a rap clique called Wild Style, which consisted of five kids rapping and singing for fellow students at a Bronx public school. Later, at the still very early age of 16, Geddy, as he is affectionately called, met Fat Joe and quickly became a part of Terror Squad, the crew that then consisted of Fat Joe and Keith Nut and later Big Pun. The group has come a long way since its inception.
In the years leading to Terror Squad’s biggest hit record ever, “Lean Back,” Armageddon stayed busy writing, performing, and producing. Described by Fat Joe as “the deepest lyricist in the group,” he has produced and written over a dozen records for Fat Joe, Big Pun, and Terror Squad, collectively. He’s also credited with co-writing tracks featured in hit films such as Fast and Furious and Rush Hour. Additionally, Armageddon helped produce music for the WCW Wrestling Organization. One of his biggest accomplishments to date is Fat Joe’s 2001 platinum album Jealous Ones Still Envy which he executive produced
* ATCQ (A Tribe Called Quest)
A Tribe Called Quest is an American hip hop group, formed in 1985. It was composed of rapper/producer Q-Tip (Kamaal Ibn John Fareed, formerly Jonathan Davis), rapper Phife Dawg (Malik Taylor), and DJ/producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad. A fourth member, rapper Jarobi White, left the group after their first album but appears to have rejoined the group since 2006. Along with De La Soul, the group was a central part of the Native Tongues Posse, and enjoyed the most commercial success out of all the groups to emerge from that collective. Their innovative fusing of hip hop and jazz has had a lasting impact on hip hop music, helping to expand the art of hip hop production. Many of their songs, such as “Bonita Applebum”, “Can I Kick It?”, “I Left My Wallet in El Segundo”, “Scenario”, “Check the Rhime”, “Jazz (We’ve Got)”, “Award Tour” and “Electric Relaxation” are regarded as classics.
They released five albums in eight years (the first one being in 1990 and the last one in 1998), the first three LPs were highly acclaimed, but the group disbanded in 1998. In 2006, the group reunited and toured the U.S., and planned to release an album after some works in the studio. The group is regarded as iconic pioneers of alternative hip hop music, having helped to pave the way for innovative hip hop artists. Allmusic calls them “the most intelligent, artistic rap group during the 1990s”. In 2005, A Tribe Called Quest received a Special Achievement Award at the Billboard R&B Hip-Hop Awards in Atlanta. In 2007, the group was formally honored at the 4th VH1 Hip Hop Honors.
Anthony Cruz (born March 9, 1972, in Brooklyn), better known as AZ is an American rapper of Dominican & African American descent. He is known for being a long time and frequent rhyme partner of Nas, and also a member of hip-hop group The Firm alongside Nas, Foxy Brown, Cormega and Nature.
In a top 10 countdown of the 10 Most Underappreciated Rappers—Most Underrated Rappers of All Time by About.Com, AZ was listed as number one on the list.
AZ first became known by appearing on Nas’ landmark 1994 album Illmatic on the song “Life’s a Bitch”, as well as featuring vocals on the opening track The Genesis. He was the only guest feature to appear on that album. AZ signed with EMI, and soon released his debut album Doe Or Die in 1995 to critical acclaim, but meager commercial success. The album’s lead single, “Sugar Hill”, became AZ’s only major commercial success as a solo artist, reaching #25 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and achieving Gold status. AZ’s EMI contract was transferred to sister label Noo Trybe Records/Virgin Records when the EMI Label Group was shut down. In 1997, he and Nas appeared in a Sprite commercial. Also in 1997 the group The Firm with AZ, Nas, Nature, and Foxy Brown released their only album as a group, The Album. The album featured production from well known producers such as Dr. Dre and the Trackmasters and generated much hype, but was generally viewed as a disappointment. The group disbanded after just this one album. In 1998 AZ released his second solo album, Pieces of a Man. The album fared well but didn’t chart quite as well as his debut and didn’t feature a crossover single like “Sugar Hill”.
* Beastie Boys
Beastie Boys are an American hip hop trio from New York, New York. The group consists of Mike D (Michael Diamond), MCA (Adam Yauch), and Ad-Rock (Adam Horovitz).
The Beastie Boys began as a hardcore punk band in 1979, first appearing on the compilation cassette New York Thrash before releasing their first EP, Polly Wog Stew, in 1982. After achieving moderate local success with the 1983 release of their experimental hip-hop 12″ Cooky Puss, they made the transition to hip-hop in 1984 and a string of successful 12″ singles followed by their debut album Licensed to Ill in 1986 which received international critical acclaim and commercial success. As of 2010, they have sold 22 million albums in the United States alone and 40 million albums worldwide.
They are one of the longest lived hip-hop acts worldwide and continue to enjoy commercial and critical success in 2011, nearly 25 years after the release of their debut album. On September 27, 2007, they were nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2009, the group released digitally remastered deluxe editions of their albums Paul’s Boutique, Check Your Head, Ill Communication and Hello Nasty. Their eighth studio album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, is due to be released on May 3, 2011.
The Beatnuts are a New York-based hip hop group and production duo from Queens, New York City. Its current members are JuJu and Psycho Les. JuJu (born Jerry Tineo on December 4, 1968) is Dominican American from Corona and Psycho Les (born Lester Fernandez on April 10, 1972) is a Colombian American from Jackson Heights. The Beatnuts are the only Latino members of the Native Tongues collective. Although only peripheral members, they are routinely acknowledged by Q-Tip. The Beatnuts were originally a trio before Kool Fashion, now known as Al’ Tariq, left the group to start a solo career. The Mighty V.I.C. (Groove Merchantz, Ghetto Pros) was also a member of The Beatnuts’ production team for a while.
JuJu and Psycho Les grew up in different communities in Queens, New York. Psycho Les started producing beats and DJing at age 15 under aliases including DJ Les Jams and DJ Incredible. At a high school in Flushing, Queens, a friend DJ Loco Moe introduced Les to fellow producer JuJu. While crate digging, both Beatnuts ran into hip hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa. Bambaataa introduced them to Native Tongues members including De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and the Jungle Brothers. At this time, JuJu and Psycho Les were DJing parties under the alias Beat Kings. The Jungle Brothers claimed that they were not kings, but rather two nuts for their comical nature and the fact that they were crazy enough to carry hundreds of records to every show they played. They thus changed their name and “it stuck.” The two Beatnuts members later met up with rapper Kool Fashion.
Early production work
The Beatnuts entered the recording industry in 1990 producing two tracks for the electronica group Stereo MCs. Over the next two years, they produced songs for rappers including Common, Pete Nice and DJ Richie Rich and Kurious, as well as a full album for Chi-Ali. As of 1992, JuJu had not appeared on a record, but fellow Beatnuts rappers Fashion and Psycho Les appeared on tracks that he produced. In 1993, The Beatnuts produced more songs for the artists they had previously collaborated with as well as Fat Joe, Suprême NTM and Da Youngsta’s. At the same time, The Beatnuts made their name as remix specialists by remixing songs for MC Lyte, Da Lench Mob, Naughty by Nature, Jomanda and others.
Lamont Coleman (May 30, 1974 – February 15, 1999), also known by his stage name Big L, was an American rapper who made significant contributions to the New York City music scene in the 1990s as a member of the hip hop collective D.I.T.C. He was shot and killed in February 1999 before releasing his second album. Coleman rose to underground fame after the release of his debut album, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous.
Born in Harlem, Big L grew up with Cam’ron (who was known as Killa Cam at the time). Big L was regarded as one of the best of his time and along with Lord Finesse recorded many of his hits such as “You Know What im About” and “Yes you May (remix)”. Big L also regularly references in his lyrics (139th Street & Lenox Avenue). Big L began rhyming in 1990 and his first professional appearance came on the B-side of “Party Over Here” by Lord Finesse in 1992, the song was the remix to “Yes, You May”. Around this time, L also joined Lord Finesse’s Bronx-based hip hop collective Diggin’ in the Crates Crew. Big L also founded Harlem rap group Children of the Corn with fellow aspiring MC’s Killa Cam, Murda Mase and Killa Cam’s cousin Bloodshed while Darll “Digga” Branch provided production. Unfortunately the group folded in 1997 when Bloodshed died in a car accident. In 1993 Big L signed to Columbia Records and released his first single “Devil’s Son”. Big L’s debut solo album, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous, was released in March 1995. The album featured guest appearances from a number of artists, notably Jay-Z, Kid Capri, Lord Finesse, and then-unknown Cam’ron. Two singles, “M.V.P” and “Put It On”, were released from the album, both of which reached the top twenty-five of Billboard’s Hot Rap Tracks
Christopher Carlos Rios (November 10, 1971 – February 7, 2000), better known by his stage name Big Pun (short for Big Punisher), was a Puerto Rican rapper who emerged from the underground rap scene in The Bronx in the late 1990s. He first appeared on albums from The Beatnuts, on the track “Off the Books” in 1997, and on Fat Joe’s second album Jealous One’s Envy in 1995, on the track “Watch Out”, prior to signing to Loud Records as a solo artist. Big Pun died of a heart attack at age 28.
Rios grew up in New York City’s South Bronx neighborhood and is of Puerto Rican descent. By all accounts from Pun’s family, his early years were very difficult, including witnessing his mother’s drug abuse, his father’s death, and a stepfather who was very hard on Pun. According to his grandmother, Pun would become angry and self-destructive, punching holes in the walls of his family’s apartment. He used video games as an outlet for his frustration. His favorite video game was Bad Dudes. Rios dropped out of high school and for some time was homeless staying in abandoned buildings or at friends’ homes.
Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997) was an American rapper. He was popularly known as Biggie Smalls (after a character in the 1975 film Let’s Do It Again), Big Poppa, and The Black Frank White (after the main character of the 1990 film King of New York), but primarily by his stage name The Notorious B.I.G..
Wallace was raised in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. When Wallace released his debut album Ready to Die in 1994, he became a central figure in the East Coast hip-hop scene and increased New York’s visibility at a time when West Coast artists were more common in the mainstream. The following year, Wallace led his childhood friends to chart success through his protégé group, Junior M.A.F.I.A.. While recording his second album, Wallace was heavily involved in the East Coast/West Coast hip-hop feud, dominating the scene at the time.
On March 9, 1997, Wallace was killed by an unknown assailant in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles. His double-disc set Life After Death, released 15 days later, hit #1 on the U.S. album charts and was certified Diamond in 2000 (one of the few hip hop albums to receive this certification). Wallace was noted for his “loose, easy flow”, dark semi-autobiographical lyrics and storytelling abilities. Since his death, a further two albums have been released. MTV ranked him at #3 on their list of The Greatest MCs (Rappers) of All Time. He has certified sales of 17 million units in the United States. He was ranked in the top rappers of all time list as the 4th top rapper of all time in Top5list.com behind only to Tupac, Eminem and Jay-Z.
* Black Sheep
Black Sheep is an alternative hip hop duo from Queens, New York, composed of Andres “Dres” Titus and William “Mista Lawnge” McLean. The duo is from New York but met as teenagers in North Carolina, where both of their families relocated. The group was an affiliate of the Native Tongues, which included the Jungle Brothers, A Tribe Called Quest, and De La Soul. It debuted in 1991 with the hit song “Flavor of the Month” and later released its first album, A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, which gained them praise and recognition in the hip-hop community for the album’s unique rhythms and intelligent lyrics.
Black Sheep was the first hip-hop act to appear on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno after the departure of Johnny Carson. Black Sheep was also one of the first groups to parody gangsta rap (still in its infancy when A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing was released) in the hilariously over the top “U Mean I’m Not.” In the song, Dres describes in detail killing his sister, his parents, and his letter carrier. At the end, he is roused from his sleep and tells his friends bewilderedly, “I dreamed that I was…hard.”
* Black Star
Black Star arose from the underground movement of the late 1990s, which was in large part due to Rawkus Records, an independent record label stationed in New York City. They released one self titled album. Though the record achieved little commercial success, they (and other members of the Native Tongues Posse) helped shape underground alternative rap and helped bring it further into the mainstream eye. Both have gone on to greater commercial and critical success in separate solo careers.
Black Star’s emergence into the hip-hop scene came at a crucial point in music history. Following the deaths of both Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur, hip-hop was consumed in a world of chaos. Black Star attempted to bring reconciliation in the wake of these violent deaths. The self titled album contains various references to Biggie and Tupac, and attempts to create reconciliation in the hip-hop world: “I said one, two, three. It’s kinda dangerous to be an M.C. They shot Tupac and Biggie. Too much violence in hip-hop.”
Beyond the allusions to Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, the introduction to Definition  serves as a musical homage to the artists. To begin, ‘Definition’ suggests the anti-violence theme by looking all the way back to 1988. Boogie Down Productions’ ‘Stop the Violence,’ has the following chorus: “One, Two, Three, the crew is called BDP, and if you wanna go to the tip top, stop the violence in hip hop.’ ‘Definition’ begins with another homage to BDP, beginning the song with a modernized replica of KRS’s chant at the beginning of Remix for P is Free.
A sample contained in the song “Brown Skin Lady,” is from the film Chameleon Street and has generated the often repeated and often misattributed quote, “I’m a victim brother. I’m a victim of 400 years of conditioning. The man has programmed my conditioning. Even my conditioning has been conditioned!”
In 2001, Black Star performed “Money Jungle” with Ron Carter and John Patton for the Red Hot Organization’s compilation album Red Hot + Indigo, a tribute to Duke Ellington, which raised money for various charities devoted to increasing AIDS awareness and fighting the disease
In 2005, hip hop website TheSituation.co.uk reported Kweli has said that a new Black Star album was “in the pipeline”. On Talib Kweli’s Myspace he posted up a video saying that “We’re going to find Mos Def and put it on camera that there will be a second Black Star album.”
In 2006, Mos and Kweli appeared together in the movie Dave Chappelle’s Block Party, alongside Erykah Badu, Common, Jill Scott, Dead Prez and The Fugees, among others. They even contributed a new song, “Born & Raised”, to the movie’s soundtrack.
In August 2010 during a House of Blues performance in Houston, Texas, Talib Kweli leaked a recently recorded and upcoming Black Star track to the delight of the fans.
In early 2011, a new song rumored to be from the second Black Star album was leaked via DJ J Rocc from Stones Throw Records. The song is reportedly produced by Madlib and is untitled as of late. The snippet only includes a verse by Mos Def, but adlibs by Kweli are heard near the end of the snippet.
* Brand Nubian
Brand Nubian is an American hip hop group from New Rochelle, New York, consisting of three MC’s: Grand Puba (born Maxwell Dixon, on March 4, 1966), Sadat X (formerly Derek X, born Derek Murphy, on December 29, 1968) and Lord Jamar (born Lorenzo Dechalus, on September 17, 1968), and two DJs: DJ Alamo and DJ Sincere. Its debut album, One for All is one of the most popular and acclaimed alternative hip hop albums of the 1990s, known for socially conscious and politically charged content inspired by the teachings of the Nation of Gods and Earths.
Brand Nubian formed in 1989 after Grand Puba’s original group, Masters of Ceremony, split up. Its first single, “Brand Nubian,” was released in 1989. Signed to Elektra Records by A&R man Dante Ross, its debut album, One For All, was released in 1990. Generally acclaimed, the album drew fire for militant Five-Percenter rhetoric on tracks such as “Drop the Bomb” and “Wake Up.” The controversy helped sales, although the album was still not a great commercial success. To date, the album has sold 350,000 units. A version of the Fab Five Freddy-directed video of the single “Wake Up,” featuring a Black man in white-face makeup, was also banned from MTV. On that channel and from official WEA sources, this image was replaced by a Baptist preacher. The singles “Slow Down,” “All for One,” and “Wake Up” all became hits on Billboard’s Hot Rap Tracks chart in 1991.
Shortly after its debut release, Sadat X and Lord Jamar began having problems with Grand Puba, which caused him to leave the group, along with DJ Alamo, to pursue a solo career. Lord Jamar and Sadat X enlisted DJ Sincere to join the group in 1992. The same year, Puba released his solo debut, Reel to Reel, which featured the hit single “360 Degrees (What Goes Around)”.
Later in 1992, the Puba-less Brand Nubian released a hit single of its own, “Punks Jump up to Get Beat Down”. The track was met with controversy over blatant homophobic content, referencing the Sadat X line “I can freak, fly, flow, fuck up a faggot/I don’t understand their ways; I ain’t down with gays.” Despite the controversy, the single charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 77. Later versions omitted the line and replaced it with different lyrics, including the version on the greatest hits compilation The Very Best of Brand Nubian
Buckshot (born Kenyatta Blake in Brooklyn, New York) is an underground rapper, famous as the leader of Hip Hop supergroup Boot Camp Clik, and the group Black Moon. He has released one solo album, two with producer 9th Wonder, four albums with Black Moon and four albums with the Boot Camp Clik.
Raised in Brownsville, Brooklyn, Buckshot a.k.a. Buckshot Shorty, began rapping in neighborhood rhyming ciphers. In high school, he befriended 5ft, DJ Evil Dee and Mr. Walt, who would evolve into the super production team Da Beatminerz.
In 1992, Buckshot, 5ft and DJ Evil Dee, formed Black Moon. The trio released the single, “Who Got Da Props?” in 1993, which reached #86 on the Billboard Top 100 charts, landing them a recording deal with Nervous Records. Later that year, Black Moon released their first full-length album, Enta Da Stage to positive critical acclaim.
The album featured appearances by Havoc of Mobb Deep, as well as future Boot Camp Clik members, Tek and Steele of Smif N Wessun.
In 1994, with Dru-Ha, the two left Nervous Records and formed Duck Down Management. That same year, Buckshot signed and oversaw the creation of Smif N’ Wessun’s debut album Dah Shinin’, as well as adding Heltah Skeltah (Ruck a.k.a. Sean Price, and Rock) and O.G.C.: Originoo Gunn Clappa (Starang Wondah, Top Dog, and Louieville Sluggah) to Duck Down’s roster. During the summer, Buckshot took part in the collaboration the Crooklyn Dodgers (Buckshot, Masta Ace and Special Ed), releasing a single by the same name, on the soundtrack of Spike Lee’s, Crooklyn.
* Busta Rhymes
Trevor Tahiem Smith, Jr., better known by his stage name Busta Rhymes (born May 20, 1972), is an American rapper, songwriter, producer and actor. Chuck D of Public Enemy gave him the alias Busta Rhymes after NFL wide receiver George “Buster” Rhymes.
Busta was born in Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York, to Jamaican parents Geraldine Green and Trevor Smith
Early career with Leaders of the New School (1989-1991)
Busta’s musical career began at the age of 16 as a member of the hip hop crew Leaders of the New School along with fellow Long Island natives Charlie Brown, Dinco D, and Cut Monitor Milo. He went to Uniondale High School class of ’92. LoNS began recording in 1989 and released their debut album A Future Without a Past in 1991 on Elektra Records. In early 1992 the group appeared on A Tribe Called Quest’s posse cut “Scenario,” in which Busta’s climactic verse propelled him into the cultural consciousness. In 1993, they released T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind’s Eye). Soon after, however, internal problems arose because of Busta’s increasing popularity, and the group broke up on the set of Yo! MTV Raps. They broke up multiple times earlier in their career, like Busta not driving the LONS members to a music festival because he wanted “to get dome” from a girl.
Cameron Giles (born February 4, 1976), better known by his stage name Cam’ron or “Killa Cam”, is a Grammy-nominated American rapper and actor. He is the founder of the hip-hop group The Diplomats (also known as Dipset), and also of The U.N. (Us Now) group
Cameron Giles was born and raised in Harlem, New York. He went to school at Manhattan Center High School, where he would meet his long time friends Mase and Jim Jones. He was a promising basketball player alongside Mase, however, he was unable to take advantage of various scholarship offers due to a poor academic record. He instead enrolled in a college in Texas, even without graduating from high school, but soon dropped out and returned to Harlem where he began selling drugs before starting his rap career. He began his musical career in the mid 1990s, rapping alongside Big L, Mase and his cousin Bloodshed in a group called Children Of The Corn. However, after Bloodshed’s death in a car accident in 1997, the group disbanded and the remaining members continued solo careers.
1998: Confessions of Fire
A year before Big L’s murder in 1999, Cam’ron was introduced to The Notorious B.I.G. by Mase who was signed to Bad Boy Records at the time. Biggie was so impressed by Cam’ron that he introduced him to his partner Lance “Un” Rivera who signed Cam’ron to his Untertainment label, distributed by Epic Records. His debut album, Confessions of Fire was released in July 1998 and included singles such as “3-5-7″ (which was also featured in the movie Woo), and “Horse and Carriage” featuring Mase which reached the R&B Top Ten and just missed out on reaching the pop Top 40. The album achieved gold status and made the Top 10 of both the pop and R&B charts.
2000: S.D.E. (Sports, Drugs & Entertainment)
In 2000, Cam’ron was working with music executive Tommy Mottola and released his second album S.D.E. (Sports Drugs & Entertainment) on Sony/Epic Records. With features from Destiny’s Child, Juelz Santana, Jim Jones, N.O.R.E., and producer Digga, it included the relatively successful singles, “Let Me Know” and “What Means The World To You”. The album reached Number 2 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and Number 14 on the Billboard 200.
2001-02: Come Home With Me
After demanding a release from Sony/Epic Records, Cam’ron signed with his childhood friend and new manager Damon Dash to Roc-A-Fella Records in 2001, alongside artists such as Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, Freeway and Memphis Bleek. A reported $4.5 million record deal was agreed upon with and Damon Dash and his Roc-A-Fella partners Kareem Biggs and Jay-Z in the form of a record advance. His third and most successful album Come Home With Me was released in 2002 featuring guests such as Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, and Memphis Bleek, and production from Just Blaze, Kanye West and The Heatmakerz. It included the hit singles Oh Boy and Hey Ma which both featured The Dipmomats newest member and protégé; Juelz Santana. The album achieved platinum status and served as a stepping stone for Cam’ron’s group The Diplomats to sign with Roc-A-Fella.
Germaine Williams, better known by his stage name Canibus, is a Jamaican-born American rapper. He is a part of supergroup The HRSMN. Canibus rose to fame in the mid-nineties. Canibus is well-known for his extensive vocabulary and vivid imagery, as well as creating intricate rhyme schemes, complex phrases and concepts that he uses in order to provide an artistic depth to his music.
Germaine Williams was born on December 9, 1974 in Kingston, Jamaica. He is of African, Jamaican, and Irish descent. His father, Basil Williams, is a former Jamaican cricketer. The family moved frequently, living in The Bronx, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Miami, Buffalo, and London due to his mother’s career requiring constant relocation. Canibus stated that he was an introverted child growing up. After completing high school in 1992, he spent a year working for AT&T and another year as a data analyst for the U.S. Department of Justice. His interest in computers and the Internet led him to study computer science at DeKalb College in Atlanta.
He began rhyming in the mid-’90s and by 1995 formed a duo called T.H.E.M. (The Heralds of Extreme Metaphors) with Atlanta rapper Webb (now called C.I., also known as Central Intelligence). While he was with Webb, he took part in a legendary cypher with the Wu Tang Clan family in Buffalo, New York, which earned him respect from the rap veterans. In 1996, T.H.E.M. split and Canibus teamed with businessman Charles Suitt.
Debut album (1997–1998)
Canibus’ debut album Can-I-Bus came out in September 1998. The song “Second Round K.O.”, produced by Wyclef Jean, was a success, with the video featuring Wyclef and a cameo appearance by boxer Mike Tyson. Despite eventually being certified Gold, critics panned the album, criticizing both Canibus’ subject matter and Wyclef’s beats, most of which were considered inferior to both “Second Round K.O.” and the artists’ previous collaborations.
The original album contained a lot of socially concerned material. Some songs talked about the corruption within the U.S. government, AIDS, and the modern-American homicide issues.
* Capone, from the Capone-N-Noreaga duo
In 1996 the duo signed with Penalty Records; it also appeared in The Source magazine’s Unsigned Hype column. In 1996, before the group’s debut album was completed, Capone was imprisoned for a parole violation, and Noreaga finished the debut album, The War Report, with the help of various other QB/NY hip-hop acts. The album was met with critical and commercial acclaim; it saw the group partake in the conflict between Death Row Records and Bad Boy Entertainment, making it a more widespread East Coast/West Coast rivalry, responding to Tha Dogg Pound’s single “New York, New York” with its own “L.A., L.A.”
In 2000, the group released its sophomore effort, The Reunion, on Tommy Boy Records. Similarly star-studded, the album went platinum, but suffered from mixed reviews. Additionally, Capone was once again sent to prison before its release for violating a probation sentence on gun possession, which undermined promotion of the album. Soon after, in 2001, Capone-n-Noreaga jumped ship to prominent label Def Jam. As Tommy Boy retained the rights to the names Capone-n-Noreaga and Noreaga because the company claimed that the duo owed it more recordings, the group shortened its name to CNN, and Noreaga billed himself as N.O.R.E. (or NORE) for his solo work. The duo recorded a new album in 2003 called What up 2 Da Hood, with a lead single, “Yes, Sir,” which was issued on mixtapes and promoted by a video. The single failed to make an impact, and the album was shelved. It was released later in 2004 as a mixtape (What Up 2 Da Hood Thugged Out).
In the same year, the duo found itself implicated in a non-fatal shooting between rival hip-hop groups, one of which included emcee Lil’ Kim, after a chance encounter outside New York radio station Hot 97. Capone-n-Noreaga have denied any involvement in the shooting, for which the group was not charged. In early 2005, Def Jam released Capone from his contract while retaining NORE; Capone released his debut album, Pain, Time, and Glory, in the same year.
In 2006, NORE brought up the possibility of a Capone-n-Noreaga reunion and a new album. CNN released Channel 10 on March 17, 2009, taking the name from a song off The War Report. Channel 10 is put together with the assistance of long time friend DJ EFN. The first single off their third studio album is titled “Rotate” which was produced by Ron Browz and features Ron Browz & Busta Rhymes. DJ Premier, Havoc, and The Alchemist–among others—provided production for the album.
In recent interviews, both Capone and NORE have spoken of an upcoming album similar to The War Report, titled Report the War, where they would reverse each individual track, such as “Money Bloody” opposed to “Bloody Money.” It is speculated this album will be released sometime after both their new solo albums are released
* Chubb Rock
Chubb Rock (born Richard Simpson on May 28, 1968 in Jamaica) is a New York-based rapper who released several commercially successful hip hop albums in the early 1990s. A former National Merit Scholar, Chubb Rock was a pre-med student who dropped out of Brown University to pursue his musical career.
Discovered and Produced by his first cousin DJ / Producer Howie Tee. Chubb Rock first appeared on the national scene with his 1988 self-titled debut “Chubb Rock” and 1989′s “And the winner is…” The latter produced the Minor hit “Ya Bad Chubbs” which garnered air play on Yo! MTV Raps during that time.
His 1991 release entitled The One, reached #13 on Billboard’s “Top Hip-Hop/R&B” chart for that year. Three singles from that release, “Treat’em Right”, “Just The Two Of Us” and “The Chubbster”, made it to #1 on Billboard’s “Top Rap Single” chart list for the same year.
The following year saw the release of I Gotta Get Mine Yo, a release which features guest performances from Grand Puba Maxwell, Poke, and Rob Swinga. This release also helped fledgling music producers Trackmasters, on their rise to prominence, as they handled production duties on the recording. Chubb Rock also makes an appearance on MC Serch’s 1992 song, “Back to The Grill.”
Chubb Rock was a member of the 1995 incarnation of the Crooklyn Dodgers, a rap act that also featured O.C. and Jeru The Damaja. His backup dancers started their own group, A.T.E.E.M, and released their debut A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ But A Sandwich in 1992 on Select Records.
In 1996, he appeared on the Red Hot Organization’s compilation CD, America is Dying Slowly, alongside Wu-Tang Clan, Coolio, and Fat Joe, among others. The CD, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African American men, was heralded as a masterpiece by The Source magazine.
* Coke La Rock
Coke La Rock (aka Coco La Rock) is an old school New York City rapper who is often credited as being the first MC in the history of hip-hop.
In November, 2010, Coke La Rock will be inducted into the High Times Counterculture Hall of Fame at the annual ceremonies at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam. He was born on April 24, 1955.
Kool Herc and La Rock
La Rock was a friend and musical partner of DJ Kool Herc, who himself is generally considered to have laid down the foundation for hip-hop music starting in 1973. Although it has been written that La Rock comes from Jamaica, in reality his parents were from North Carolina. La Rock joined Kool Herc for his first party, in 1973, to celebrate Herc’s sister Cindy’s birthday. It wasn’t until about the fifth or sixth party that he took the name Coke La Rock. The name came to him in a dream. Before that time, he had no name and did his rapping out of sight from the audience, so no one knew who was doing the rapping. His original raps were usually shout-outs to friends, but gradually the poetry emerged. He originated such phrases as “You rock and you don’t stop” and “Hotel, motel, you don’t tell, we won’t tell” (which was immortalized on the first Sugarhill Gang single Rapper’s Delight although La Rock received no credit.
La Rock’s raps were always purely improvisational, unlike those of later 70s-era rap groups—such as the Furious Five L Brothers Funky Four and Cold Crush Brothers ; who wrote down and also rehearsed their rhymes and created elaborate routines. According to La Rock, while rapping “at first I would just call out [my friends'] names. Then I pretended dudes had double-parked cars; that was to impress the girls. Truthfully, I wasn’t there to rap, I was just playing around.”
Nonetheless, La Rock’s raps (which were very much in the Jamaican tradition of “toasting”) would, as with much else at Kool Herc’s parties in the mid-1970s, serve as a basic model for other hip-hop artists that would come onto the Bronx music scene by the end of the decade. La Rock himself has argued, in a reference to two pioneering New York City narcotics dealers, that “me and Herc were to hip-hop what Nicky Barnes and Frank Lucas were to drugs.”
Cory McKay (born 1970) , better known as Cormega or “MC Cor”, is an American emcee best known for his vivid and poignant narratives about inner-city life.
Born in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Cormega grew up in the Queensbridge Housing Projects in Long Island City, Queens, forming childhood friendships with future rappers such as Nas, Mobb Deep, Nature and Capone-N-Noreaga. When he was 4, he witnessed his mother’s murder. After that, he moved in with his father and stepmother who had recently returned from Dallas, Texas and moved back to New York City.
He was featured on Hot Day’s “Going Straight Up” from his album “It’s My Turn”. He was also featured on Blaq Poet & DJ Hot Day’s track “Set It Off” from their album “Without Warning” in 1991.
Cormega was sentenced to 5–15 years in prison for armed robbery in 1991. Despite his incarceration, Cormega gained some attention following a shout-out from Nas on his song “One Love”, from the critically acclaimed Illmatic album.
Cormega was released from prison on appeal after serving almost 4 years in New York’s Mid-State Correctional Facility. Following his release in 1995, Cormega became determined to pursue rapping. Nas let him guest on a song entitled “Affirmative Action” for his second album It Was Written. The song also featured AZ and Foxy Brown, and became The Firm’s first appearance. Based on his performance, he was signed to Def Jam and recorded an album called The Testament. Based on the buzz from “Affirmative Action,” Nas, his manager Steve Stoute and producers Dr. Dre and Trackmasters joined to produce The Firm. Cormega was replaced with another artist, Nature, because either he would not sign a contract with Stoute or Stoute felt Nature was a better rapper. This led to an alleged altercation between Cormega and Nature. Cormega’s dispute with Stoute also ended his friendship with Nas. Following the end of his membership in The Firm, Alex Trojano contributed in producing his album The Testament. Meanwhile, following a falling-out over creative differences with his manager Chris Lighty and Def-Jam imprint Violator Records, his debut album The Testament was indefinitely shelved. During the recording for The Testament Cormega responded to Nas’ “One Love” in the form of a letter also entitled “One Love”.
* Cory Gunz
Peter Pankey, Jr. (born June 22, 1987) is a rapper, better known by his stage name Cory Gunz, and the son of rapper Peter Gunz. Gunz is currently signed to Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records, After Platinum Records and Universal Motown. He is a native of the Bronx. He was first signed by Tommy Mottola to Casablanca Records and Def Jam Recordings.
More recently, Jay-Z shepherded him into a joint venture through The Island Def Jam Music Group. He was featured on a remix of Rihanna’s “If It’s Lovin’ That You Want”. Gunz The Apprentice 3 – Season Finale has amassed over 55,000 listens on the mixtape website Datpiff. He also contributed a verse to the original version of Lil Wayne’s A Milli before it was replaced with new verses by Wayne for the album version. In early 2010 Cory Gunz inked a deal with Young Money Entertainment, Cash Money Records, After Platinum Records and Universal Motown. Gunz has also worked with actor and musician Nick Cannon. He is featured in Lil Wayne’s single “6 Foot 7 Foot.”
Cory Gunz is also the star of MTV’s “Son of A Gun” – a reality show that follows Cory after he signed by Young Money/Cash Money. It also features Nick Cannon and Peter Gunz. 
* Cuban Link
Felix Delgado (born December 14, 1974), better known by his stage name Cuban Link, is a Cuban rapper.
Delgado was born in Havana, Cuba in 1974. He and his family emigrated to the United States in 1980 and settled in the Morrisania section of the South Bronx neighborhood of New York City. When Delgado was growing up, hip hop music was rising in popularity in his neighborhood. Delgado took on stage name Cuban Link and associated with fellow rappers Big Pun and Triple Seis in a trio under names Caribbean Connection and Full-A-Clips.
Cuban Link and Big Pun both made guest performances on The Beatnuts’ single “Off the Books” in 1997. They joined the local rap group Terror Squad, and Link performed on the track “Tell Me What You Want” from the group’s self-titled debut album. Link previously did guest appearances on Squad members’ solo albums: Big Pun’s Capital Punishment and Fat Joe’s Don Cartagena. Cuban Link was signed to Atlantic Records and began recording his debut album 24K. Big Pun died on February 7, 2000, so Link wrote single “Flowers for the Dead” in Pun’s honor. However, without Pun’s mediation, contract disputes between Fat Joe and Cuban Link and leaks prevented the release of 24K.
In April 2001, during an album release party for Angie Martinez at Jimmy’s Bronx Cafe, Cuban Link got in an altercation and had his face slashed when he was trying to break up a fight between Fat Joe and rapper Sunkiss. By that time, Cuban Link left Terror Squad. He released a mixtape, Broken Chains, in 2003 put together by DrenStarr & Roy P. Perez© . He joined independent label Men of Business in 2005 and released album Chain Reaction. It included singles “Sugar Daddy” (featuring Mýa) and “Scandalous” (featuring Don Omar) and combined some reggaeton sound as well.
A Hip hop group consisting of Jadakiss, Sheek Louch and Styles P.
The official Record Producer for and signed to D-Block Records. He has many production credits for songs by members of the D-Block camp.
Also known as A.N.W. They’re consisting of Trav (Bed-Stuy, New York), St.Raw ( 183rd Street, Bronx ) Also known as TEAM ARLISS. And Bully (Yonkers, NY) and Bucky (Philly, PA).
D-Block’s underground group that was founded in 2005 that is featured Snyp-Life and has released their first mixtape called Y.O. Stomping Grounds.
A.P. (About Paper)
Known as D-Block’s Live Wire. Has released a mixtape with Large Amount, called Large Paper
New York City, New York
Years active 1990–2011
Labels Zyx Records
Tommy Boy Records
Big L (deceased)
The Diggin’ in the Crates Crew, also known as D.I.T.C., is a New York-based hip-hop collective, deriving its name from the art of seeking out records to sample for production. Its members have achieved substantial and consistent recognition in both underground rap circles, often collaborating with undiscovered talent and underground artists (Madlib produces the first track on A.G.’s new album) alongside the most commercial of rappers (Puff Daddy, Nelly and Lil Wayne have been featured on Fat Joe’s albums and Buckwild has produced for Biggie Smalls, Jay-Z and 50 Cent). All of its members are from the Bronx, with the exception of Big L (from Harlem) and O.C. (from Brooklyn).
One of the most beloved hip-hop crews in rap music, D.I.T.C. (an acronym for “Diggin’ in the Crates”) consists of veteran rappers, DJs, and producers dedicated to the true essence of rap music: original lyrics and strong beat-savvy productions sampling dusty vinyl. With their dedication to hip-hop purity, members Showbiz & A.G. (Andre the Giant), Diamond D, Lord Finesse, Fat Joe, O.C., Buckwild, and the late Big L have at least one classic album under their belts. Although they never reached the success of their multi-platinum peers, individually they became successful by maintaining their integrity and earning major respect within the rap community.
Lord Finesse (born Robert Hall) is a legendary MC-turned-producer who has produced tracks for Notorious B.I.G. (“Suicidal Thoughts” off of 1994′s Ready to Die) and Dr. Dre (“The Message” off of 1999′s 2001). As a young MC, he would travel to any borough in New York to battle their best rapper and win. He shopped his demo to various record labels and eventually dropped the first of several records, his 1990 classic Funky Technician. The record had 5 tracks produced by his good friend Diamond (formerly Diamond D), a former member of the rap group Ultimate Force.In the mid-’80s, he was turntable scratching at late-night park parties, often competing with area top DJs (Showbiz was once his nemesis.) In 1992, this producer showcased New York City’s underground talent and his rap skills on his debut Stunts, Blunts and Hip Hop.
Bronx native Fat Joe became the first Latino rapper in New York to secure a significant solo deal with a major label with his 1993 debut, “Represent”. In 1998, his Don Cartagena release went gold (500,000 copies sold). Showbiz & A.G. were the first to adopt the do-it-yourself attitude by releasing their 1992 debut EP, Can I Get a Soul Clap, practically out of the trunk of their cars. Showbiz, a name he stolen from an old Richard Pryor record, pioneered taking an instrumental and looping voices over it. His partner A.G. was known as the Bronx’s “punchline” rapper. Through the mid-’90s, he was a prolific producer, producing tracks for primarily underground rap acts. In 1999, A.G. restarted his rap career with his solo CD Dirty Version.
Meanwhile, another Bronx native named Buckwild, who once started out as Lord Finesse’s apprentice in his production company, started producing tracks around 1994. He later delivered melodic beats for rap heavyweights like Fat Joe, Notorious B.I.G., Big L, Royal Flush, Mic Geronimo, and Big Pun. He also produced Black Rob’s 2000 hit “Whoa!” reaching #43 on the Billboard Hot 100 and also gave him more exposure. But it was his first at-bat, producing tracks for O.C.’s Word Life in 1994, that established him as a vital producer in the underground rap scene. O.C., one of hip-hop’s most energetic lyricists, was an up-and-coming MC before Word Life. After the album’s release, he made numerous guest appearances on other D.I.T.C. members’ records while maintaining a low profile.
The final member of D.I.T.C. was Big L, a rapper who is now widely regarded as one of the greatest emcees of all time, particularly because of his uncanny ability to produce rap punchlines. Calling himself the “flamboyant MC”, he dropped his debut record, Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous on Columbia in 1995. He was gearing up for a comeback, with a second CD due for release on Rawkus, when he was killed on February 15, 1999. The crew came together later that year for a memorial concert at Trammps in New York (anthologized by a series of CD releases), and recorded a self-titled group record in 2000
* De La Soul
De La Soul
East Massapequa / Amityville, Long Island, New York, United States
Tommy Boy/Warner Bros. Records
De La Soul is an American hip hop trio formed in 1987 on Long Island, New York. The band is best known for their eclectic sampling, quirky lyrics, and their contributions to the evolution of the jazz rap and alternative hip hop subgenres. The members are Kelvin Mercer (Posdnuos, Mercenary, Plug Wonder Why, Plug One), David Jude Jolicoeur (Trugoy the Dove, Dave, Plug Two) and Vincent Mason (P.A. Pasemaster Mase, Maseo, Plug Three). The three formed the group in high school and caught the attention of producer Prince Paul with a demo tape of the song “Plug Tunin’”. Prince Paul was also sometimes referred to as Plug Four. The Plug names are alleged to come from the numbers that each bandmate’s microphone was labeled on the soundboard. Posdnuos was always plugged into plug one, Trugoy was plugged into plug two, and so forth.
With its playful wordplay, innovative sampling, and witty skits, the band’s debut album, 3 Feet High and Rising, is considered a hip hop masterpiece. It is also the band’s biggest commercial success to date, with their subsequent albums selling progressively less, despite receiving high praise from critics. A measure of 3 Feet High and Rising’s cross-over appeal was the fact that it was voted Album of the Year by NME, a title better known for its taste in guitar-based music. De La Soul has influenced numerous other hip hop artists such as Camp Lo, The Black Eyed Peas, and Digable Planets. They were also influential in the early stages of rapper/actor Mos Def’s career, and are a core part of the Spitkicker collective. They are the second longest standing Native Tongues Posse group, after the Jungle Brothers.
In 2006, the group won a Grammy for their collaboration with Gorillaz on the single “Feel Good Inc.
Also known as
The Diplomats, also popularly known as Dipset, are a Harlem-based hip hop group founded by Cam’ron and Jim Jones in 1997. The original members of the group were Cam’ron, Freekey Zekey, and Jim Jones ; who all grew up together in Harlem. Juelz Santana would later be added to the group in 2000.
The first commercial appearance of the group was on Cam’ron’s 2000 album S.D.E., released on Epic Records. During this period, various members of the original group consisting of Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Juelz Santana, Freekey Zekey, and others, were first signed together as a group to Roc-A-Fella Records from 2001 to 2004, though they are now signed to their own label, Diplomat Records. Each individual artist, however is signed to a different label, including E1 Music, Asylum, and Def Jam, among others. Edgar Regis is also among one of the original members.
The group came to further popularity in 2002 with the release of Cam’ron’s third album, Come Home With Me. The lead singles were platinum hits “Oh Boy” and “Hey Ma”, which both featured group mate Juelz Santana. The group followed Cam’ron’s solo album shortly after with their debut album Diplomatic Immunity released in 2003, which featured remixes of both songs, as well as lead single “Dipset Anthem” which peaked at #64 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart. The double-disc album was a success and quickly became certified gold by RIAA under two months after its release. By the time of the release of their 2004 followup, Diplomatic Immunity 2, additional members Hell Rell, 40 Cal., and J. R. Writer had joined the group
Earl Simmons (born December 18, 1970), better known by his stage name DMX, is an American rapper and actor who rose to fame in the late 1990s. His stage name pays tribute to the Oberheim DMX drum machine, an instrument he used when he made his own rap beats in the 80′s. To date, his best-selling album is his 1999 album …And Then There Was X, which featured the hit single “Party Up (Up in Here)”. In 2002, DMX wrote an autobiographical book titled E.A.R.L.: The Autobiography of DMX.
In 1984, he began to beatbox. DMX was the beatboxer and his partner Ready Ron was the rapper. His name came from the Oberheim DMX drum machine. In 1991, Gabriel Grevenstuk from The Source magazine praised him in its “Unsigned Hype” column, which highlighted unsigned hip-hop artists. Later, he was signed to the Columbia Records subsidiary Ruffhouse in 1992; under that label he released his debut single “Born Loser”, which did not get much airplay. However, Ruffhouse promoted many other artists on its roster rather than DMX and so agreed to release him from his contract eventually. In 1994, he released a second single, “Make a Move”. In 1997, he made a successful guest appearance on LL Cool J’s “4, 3, 2, 1″. Additional guest spots on Mase’s “24 Hours to Live” and “Take What’s Yours”, and The LOX’s “Money, Power & Respect” created an even stronger buzz. DMX also made a cameo appearance in the Sum 41 music video for “Makes No Difference”.
In February 1998, he released his debut major-label single under Def Jam Recordings, “Get At Me Dog”, which was certified gold by the RIAA. His first major-label album It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, which included the single Ruff Ryders Anthem, was released in May 1998 and debuted on the top spot on the Billboard 200 chart in the U.S. It earned Simmons numerous comparisons to Tupac Shakur and sold over four million copies. Soon after the release of the album, DMX was nearly imprisoned for allegedly raping a stripper in the Bronx but was cleared by DNA evidence. Later that year in December, DMX released his second album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood. It entered the charts at number one (and stayed there for 3 consecutive weeks) with 670,000 units shipped in the first week alone. The album eventually went 4x platinum. DMX was the second rapper to have two albums released in the same year debut at number one on Billboard’s Top 200, the first being Tupac Shakur.
* Doug E. Fresh
Douglas E. Davis (born September 17, 1966), better known by the stage name Doug E. Fresh, is an American rapper, record producer, and beat boxer, also known as “the Human Beat Box”. One of the early pioneers of beatboxing, Fresh is able to accurately imitate drum machines and various special effects using only his mouth, throat and a microphone.
Although this slum beat dude he began his recording career as a solo artist as one of the last artists on Enjoy Records and one of the first on Vintertainment Records (the same New York-based label owned by Vincent Davis that would later make a name of Hip-Hop artist Joeski Love and bring R&B icon Keith Sweat to ultimate fame), it was when he and a new team of DJs known as The Get Fresh Crew (Barry Bee and Chill Will) along with a newcomer named MC Ricky D (who would later achieve fame as Slick Rick) came to fledgling New Jersey-based Hip-Hop label Reality/Danya Records the following year and recorded “The Show” (which borrowed the melody of the Inspector Gadget theme), and “La Di Da Di”, a tune that was completely voiced by MC Ricky D and backed by Doug E’s beat box for the entire duration of the song. It was when both of these songs were released on a single (particularly 12″ single) that broke him (and Slick Rick) into stardom. Both “The Show” and “La-Di-Da-Di” are considered two of the all-time greatest early hip hop classics, and, as such make up one of the first and only Hip-Hop singles to have two hit songs on the same disc.
“The Show” peaked at #7 in the UK Singles Chart in December 1985.
Unfortunately, Slick Rick would leave the group almost a year after the single was released leaving many wondering what happened to him until 1988 when he became a Def Jam artist and released his debut album The Great Adventures of Slick Rick. Doug E. Fresh and The Get Fresh Crew soldiered on, now officially signed to Reality/Danya and releasing two albums from that period — Oh, My God! from 1986 (which includes the hit song “All The Way To Heaven”) and The World’s Greatest Entertainer from 1988—both of which are now long out of print and extremely rare. The main single from the album The World’s Greatest Entertainer was “Keep Risin’ To The Top” which was named after Keni Burke’s then-obscure 1981 hit “Keep Rising To The Top”, which, thanks to being sampled in Doug E. Fresh’s song, has become Keni’s signature tune. Doug E.’s “Keep Risin’ To The Top” also samples the main chorus phrase of Heatwave’s 1976 classic, “Ain’t No Half Steppin”, which Big Daddy Kane also sampled that same year for his song of the same name.
In 1992, after a four-year hiatus, Doug E. Fresh joined with MC Hammer’s label, Bust It Records and issued one album, Doin’ What I Gotta Do, which (despite some minor acclaim for his single “Bustin’ Out (On Funk)” which samples the Rick James 1979 single, “Bustin’ Out”) was a commercial failure.
Mel Jason Smalls (born January 4, 1979), better known as Drag-On, is an American rapper from The Bronx, New York City.
Drag-On was originally signed to Interscope Records under the Ruff Ryders Entertainment imprint, where he released his successful debut album, Opposite of H2O, which debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 and eventually sold over 500,000 copies and earned a gold certification from the RIAA. After leaving Interscope, Drag-On joined Virgin Records and released his second album, Hell and Back in 2004. The album failed to gain the success of his debut, only reaching 47 on the Billboard 200, and was quickly dropped from Virgin. He also appears in the 2003 film Cradle 2 the Grave as Miles and in the 2001 film Exit Wounds.
Divine represents and hails from Brooklyn, New York City and Fort Greene, Brooklyn by way of Rhode Island. He was born and raised in Newport, Rhode Island (renowned as the “Mecca of the Jazz [music] world”) for most of his early life and teenage years (which explains his strong affinity to Jazz music, although he didn’t actually grow up on it – he credits the music of all the Jazz greats that played the Newport Jazz Festivals while he was still in his mother’s womb and a small child, knowing now that those sound vibrations still reached his ears and sank into his sub-conscious), and he also lived in Rhode Island’s capital city Providence (which literally means “Divine Guidance”) as a young kid. Always highly intelligent and mature beyond his age, Divine began traveling regularly outside of Rhode Island in his early teens to New York City, and Philadelphia, observing and absorbing the different styles and distinct cultures of these two cities. Highly spiritual and charismatic, Divine grew up listening mostly to East coast (New York) Hip-Hop from the “Golden Era” (1986-1989), this, and his spiritual ideology/theology (he’s a so-called “Five Percenter”) is the influential foundation of his musical/lyrical style and content, as well as his strong personal connection/relation to and affinity for New York City, particularly the borough of Brooklyn (“Medina”). Divine is heavily embedded in Hip-Hop music and has been writing, recording, and performing since the age of ten. His musical style and sound is reminiscent of the “Golden Era” (1986-1989) in Hip-Hop when the likes of Eric B. & Rakim, KRS-One, Slick Rick, and EPMD, etc. reigned. Divine captures and epitomizes the modernization and personification of the sound and vibe from that era in his entire persona, presence, lyrical and musical style, sound, and vibe; and brings back the originality, diversity, and lyrical complexity, which was once the cornerstone of Rap music. He counts Rakim, Kool G Rap, and KRS-One as some of his greatest influences, as well as a few other past and present artists. His poetics and style is most similar to, and inspired by the legendary Rakim, with slight elements reminiscent of Nas, and the sound of his voice ranging between these two great artists; yet he still maintains his own originality and uniqueness. Nevertheless, this has brought him strong comparisons to both of these artists, and there is no doubt he will continue to be compared to them – especially and particularly Rakim, as Nas was. However, emphatically put, Divine is the only similarity between Rakim and Nas
* Eric B. & Rakim
Eric B. & Rakim were a hip-hop duo composed of DJ Eric Barrier (born November 8, 1965) and MC Rakim (born William Michael Griffin Jr.).
Hailing from Long Island, New York, the pair are generally considered by hip hop enthusiasts to be one of the most influential and innovative groups in the genre. During hip hop’s “golden age” of the mid-1980s to the early 90s, the duo was almost universally regarded as the premier MC/DJ combo in hip hop. The two had a potent chemistry and each represented the height of innovation in their respective roles: Rakim was the master lyricist, an innovative talent who pushed the art of hip hop lyricism to new creative heights with his use of internal rhyme, sophisticated metaphors, and with a methodical-yet-effortless delivery; the duo’s beats built on the hard-hitting sound of Run-D.M.C. by adding James Brown samples and Eric B’s scratching skills, setting the stage for hip hop’s late-1980s/early-1990s infatuation with samples from the Godfather of Soul.