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A monster year in Rap.

By Brian Published 4 months ago 3 min read

There was many "you had to be there" moments in Rap music. I don't think there was one year in the genre's history that's romanticised more or fonded over the most.


By Brian Salkowski

The year 1996 was arguably one of the best years ever for hip hop2. Despite the tragic loss of 2Pac, the genre continued to evolve and grow, with artists pushing boundaries and exploring new themes and sounds. The albums and singles released during this year have had a lasting impact, influencing future generations of artists and shaping the direction of rap music.

The style of rap music in 1996 was diverse and transformative, with several significant developments:

1. Gangsta Rap

This was a dominant style in 1996, characterized by explicit lyrics about urban life and crime. Notable artists included 2Pac and Nas.

2. Alternative Rap:

Artists like OutKast, The Fugees, and Lauryn Hill blurred genre boundaries, incorporating elements of funk, soul, and reggae into their music. This style was known for its innovative beats and conscious lyrics.

3. East Coast vs West Coast:

The East Coast-West Coast hip hop rivalry was a feud between artists and fans of the East Coast and West Coast hip-hop scenes in the United States, especially from 1994 to 1997. This rivalry shaped the style and content of the music during this period.

4. G-Funk:

A subgenre of gangsta rap that became popular in the 1990s, G-Funk incorporates multi-layered and melodic synthesizers, slow hypnotic grooves, a deep bass, background female vocals, the extensive sampling of P-Funk tunes, and a high-pitched portamento saw wave synthesizer lead.

5. Mafioso Rap: A hardcore sub-genre founded by Kool G Rap in the late 1980s. It is the pseudo-Mafia extension of East Coast hardcore rap, and is characterized by themes and lyrics about organized crime.

6. Boom Bap: A style of production in Rap music. It is usually recognized by an acoustic drum loop/break that is then chopped up and played using a sampler such as the Akai MPC or the SP1200.

These styles often overlapped, with artists drawing from multiple influences to create their unique sounds. The year 1996 was a time of exploration and innovation in rap music, with artists pushing boundaries and experimenting with new styles.

East Coast Dominance

The where: Originated from the East Coast of the U.S., particularly in New York City. Known for its lyrical complexity, storytelling, and social commentary . It often emphasizes intricate wordplay, metaphors, and clever rhymes. Musically, it tends to feature samples from jazz, soul, and funk, creating a more laid-back and jazzy vibe.

It is aggressive and confrontational, with dense, metaphorical lyrics and socio-political themes. Portrays a life lived in poverty and crime.

Rap music has undergone significant changes since 1996, evolving in terms of style, themes, and production methods:

1. Diversification: Rap music has become increasingly diverse, with the emergence of numerous sub-genres such as Latin, Christian, and feminist rap. This diversification has allowed for a broader range of voices and experiences to be represented in the genre.

2. Rise of Female Artists: With Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown laying down the template in 1996, the 21st century has seen a rise in female rap artists like Nicki Minaj, Cardi B, and Missy Elliott. These artists have brought new perspectives and challenged the traditionally male-dominated landscape of rap music.

3. Technological Advancements: The late 1990s and early 2000s brought significant technological advancements that transformed the production and distribution of rap music. The rise of digital audio workstations (DAWs) allowed producers to create beats more efficiently, while the internet facilitated the independent distribution of music.

4. Emotional Rap: Artists like Lil Uzi Vert have introduced a new genre of hip-hop that focuses on emotional experiences and heartbreak. This represents a shift from the traditional themes of wealth and luxury that dominated earlier rap music.

5. Global Dominance: Rap music has transformed from a niche subculture into a global phenomenon, becoming the most dominant genre in the world. This has allowed for the widespread dissemination of its messages, reaching a vast audience that transcends traditional boundaries.

In conclusion, rap music has evolved significantly since 1996, reflecting changes in society, technology, and the music industry itself. It continues to push boundaries and innovate, ensuring its relevance and impact in the contemporary music scene. 1996 was a landmark year in the history of rap music. It was a year of profound change and growth, marked by iconic album releases, chart-topping singles, and the tragic loss of one of the genre’s biggest icons. The legacy of this year continues to resonate in the rap music of today, underscoring its significance in the genre’s history.

rap90s music

About the Creator


I am a writer. I love fiction but also I'm a watcher of the world. I like to put things in perspective not only for myself but for other people. It's the best outlet to express myself. I am a advocate for Hip Hop & Free Speech! #Philly

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