Before there was The Roots, there was Stetsasonic, the original hip hop band. Boasting a roster that included legendary producer Prince Paul, the six-man outfit were a unique addition to the scene, and their 1988 LP In Full Gear marked their critical apex. In celebration of the 30th anniversary, we’re breaking down the samples throughout that classic LP!
Once hip hop Enter[ed] the Wu-Tang, things were never the same. The ‘93 record provided a blueprint for a new East Coast sound, launched the careers of all nine members and quickly became one of the most esteemed hip hop records of all time. In this edition of Behind…, we’re celebrating a quarter-century by breaking down the samples on Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)!
Slick Rick is one of hip hop’s great storytellers. His 1988 debut, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick, has since become the gold standard of narrative hip hop, a lewd and crude retelling of Rick’s oft-unsavoury exploits. In this edition of Behind…, we’re looking at the samples scattered throughout Rick the Ruler’s landmark LP!
Pete Rock’s PeteStrumentals, released by BBE in 2001, is the legendary producer’s first instrumental LP. A distillation of old school sampling and ‘90s sensibilities, the record finds Rock playing in the musical sandbox he helped create throughout the preceding decade, pulling jazz and soul into hypnotic boom-bap reimaginings.
AZ’s 1995 debut was both a critical and commercial success, though it’s largely been lost amongst the swathe of top quality East Coast records. Far more than just a companion piece to Nas’ Illmatic, Doe Or Die remains a gem of ‘90s hip hop. In this edition of Behind…, we explore the samples that underpin the essential effort.
Impressive rhymes, innovative sampling and bold style: Ultramagnetic MC’s were some of the golden age’s most vibrant characters. In this instalment of the Behind… series, we’re breaking down their very particular style via the samples littered throughout their 1988 debut, Critical Beatdown!
When NYC rappers Mos Def and Talib Kweli called themselves "best alliance in hip hop," they weren’t wrong. Twenty years after the release of their sole LP, 1998’s Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Black Star, we look back at the samples that helped make the album such a subdued and pithy statement.
Ice-T’s Power, his 1988 sophomore album, found him expanding on the niche he’d helped create - gangsta rap - just one month after N.W.A’s genre-defining debut. In celebration of the 30th anniversary, we’re looking at the samples on the Afrika Islam-produced LP!
JJ Fad’s Supersonic, though hardly a masterpiece, was the first effort out of Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records, presaging 1988 efforts by N.W.A and Eazy himself. The charting album and its hit singles helped establish the label, a move which helped Straight Outta Compton make history. For the 30th anniversary, we’re breaking down the samples on the indispensable record.
Sweet Tee’s It’s Tee Time - her only record - remains an important but oft-overlooked slice of 1988 hip hop. Though hardly influential, the record found a new artist collaborating with one of the most successful pop-rap producers of the day, Hurby Luv Bug, to create a lighthearted and surprisingly versatile LP.
The Jungle Brothers’ debut LP, Straight Out The Jungle, paired upbeat jazz samples with positive Afrocentricity. This then-novel vision kickstarted jazz rap and marked the beginning of the Native Tongues collective, a loose group of likeminded artists whose vision would leave an indelible mark on ‘90s alternative hip hop.
As hip hop itself turns 45, we’re looking back at the first ever breakbeat compilation and the man behind it. A collection of hip hop favourites that bridged the gap between park parties and the very first studio recordings, we’re tracking the influence of Paul Winley’s Super Disco Brake’s across four decades of blossoming culture.
Straight Outta Compton: the definitive gangsta rap album. It made legends out of Eazy, Cube and Dre, setting the stage for a five-year period of commercial dominance that established the West Coast as a hip hop powerhouse. In this instalment of Behind…, we’re diving into the samples that help keep the record as exciting and incendiary as it was 30 years ago.
Follow The Leader - Eric B. & Rakim’s sophomore album - was released on July 25, 1988. The album, which boasts some of Rakim’s most commanding verses, is steeped in old school sensibilities that would soon give way to the more socio-political bent of ‘90s hip hop. In this instalment of Behind…, we’re looking at a classic from one of hip hop’s most formidable and influential duos.
Though emcees such as Roxanne Shanté and Antoinette had been releasing standalone singles for some time, MC Lyte’s 1988 debut, Lyte As A Rock, was hip hop’s first solo female LP. A critical and commercial success, it paved the way for female emcees throughout the ‘90s and beyond. In this edition of Behind…, we break down the impressive and oft-hilarious trailblazer.
One of the most important albums of all time, Public Enemy’s It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, is turning thirty. In celebration of hip hop’s most revered LP, we’re taking a look at the samples that underpin PE’s magnum opus.
In this, the second part of our breakdown of Public Enemy's It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, we cover from "Night of the Living Baseheads" to "Party For Your Right To Fight."
Big Daddy Kane’s 1988 debut, Long Live The Kane, remains an important milestone in hip hop. Kane’s lyrical dexterity and fast-paced delivery would influence artists such as Nas and RZA, helping shape the ever-evolving art of hip hop. In honour of the 30th anniversary, we’re breaking down the samples throughout the classic debut!
Joey Badass was yet to graduate when he released 1999, his career-launching debut mixtape. Now, six years on, the tape that launched his career is finally on Spotify. We take a look at the samples underpinning Joey’s debut, exploring production from DOOM, Lord Finesse, Knxwledge and many more.
As part of our focus on Madlib, we're delving into his extensive and intimidating catalogue. This week, we look at his four multi-instalment album series: Beat Konducta, Rock Konducta, Mind Fusion and Madlib Medicine Show.
Boogie Down Productions’ second album, By All Means Necessary, is 30 years old. The classic 1988 LP helped shape politically-conscious hip hop, spurred by the untimely death of a founding member of the group. In this piece, we look back at the seminal album and the samples that underpinned it.
Daytona, Pusha T’s third solo album, is finally here. After three years of waiting, and a handful of false starts, the seven-track, Kanye produced record marks the beginning of Yeezy season. In this instalment of our Behind… series, we look into the samples underpinning Pusha’s new effort.
Whilst almost all industry awards shows are a race to the bottom, The GRAMMYs are impressively terrible. In order to make sense of it all, we’ve looked into two key questions: why is hip hop so consistently maligned, and what are the hallmarks of a GRAMMY winning album?
Samples and interpolations are two of the most artistic ways to pay homage. Repurposing classic tracks and lifting from deep cuts shows both appreciation and knowledge, equal parts a reference and a flex. In our third Purple piece, we look at five great Prince samples.
Zach Braff is best known for his role as JD on Scrubs, but his influence over the show's soundtrack made him an unlikely mid-2000s tastemaker. From Scrubs to Garden State, we look at the generation of indie music that Braff helped popularise.
Tyler The Creator's fourth album, Scum Fuck Flower Boy, has cemented him as one of hip hop's most engaging emcees. Conor looks at his long come up, from reviled edge-rap poster boy to uncommonly introspective artist.
The Roots' tenth studio record, Undun, is a triumphant concept album exploring the tragedy of urban poverty and the role of opportunity in inner-city crime. We look at the acclaimed LP and the forces that influenced it, including The Roots' already long and prosperous career and their then-new gig on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Conor reflects on the short-but-sweet career of piano-rock group Jack's Mannequin, the trials that shaped them and the heartfelt music they left behind.
Leaks: a fact of life and the bane of the music industry. Internet-era artists must contend with the unpredictable and high-stakes reality of unauthorised leaks, an ever-present threat that costs them time and money... but who actually leaks music? From unscrupulous hackers to devious colleagues and untrustworthy critics, here's a look at how unreleased tracks emerge.
Toro y Moi might have emerged from the 2010 Chillwave movement, but a spate of fantastic records have proven Chaz Bundick's versatility. Though he's long been an indie darling, are we taking him for granted? Here's a primer on Toro y Moi's bumper career.
Donald Glover and Daniel Dumile are the creators behind two of hip hop's foremost alter-egos. Their different approaches to their aliases helps illuminate the strange intersection of music and theatre, a seldom discussed aspect of popular music.
At the turn of the century, rap supergroup Deltron 3030 crafted one of hip hop's finest concept albums. Conor Herbert breaks down the rise of the members - Del The Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator and Kid Koala - and looks back at their seminal LP.
Conor Herbert discusses classic underground NYC crew Monsta Island Czars, tracking the careers of its most notable members in the 20 years since its formation.