Hip-Hop’s Annus Mirabilis

Look at the following list:

Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

N.W.A, Straight Outta Compton

Slick Rick, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick

EPMD, Strictly Business

Boogie Down Productions, By All Means Necessary

Big Daddy Kane, Long Live the Kane

Ultramagnetic MC’s, Critical Beatdown

Eazy E, Eazy-Duz-It

Eric B. & Rakim, Follow the Leader

Biz Markie, Goin’ Off

Salt-N-Pepa, A Salt with a Deadly Pepa

DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince, He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper

Jungle Brothers, Straight Out the Jungle

Now, consider this: All of these albums were released in one twelve-month period, in 1988.

I could keep going. Marley Marl, In Control, Vol. 1. Kool G Rap & DJ Polo, Road to the Riches. King Tee, Act a Fool. Ice-T, Power. 2 Live Crew, Move Somethin’. Too Short, Life is…Too Short.

What, exactly, happened twenty years ago that enabled so many artists to release so many albums of such high quality is such a short period of time? What created hip-hop’s annus mirabilis; “year of miracles”?

Today, Wednesday, March 5, 2008, 2 pm ET, I’ll be on WNYC/93.9 FM’s Soundcheck, with John Shaefer, talking to John and RS.com (Rolling Stone) editor Kyle Anderson, attempting to address this very question. (Later on, I’ll also be talking about with John about my VIBE piece on Palestinian hip-hop.) RS.com has their own analysis, here, and Soundcheck has a link, in case you missed the live broadcast. Let’s see if we can move somethin’.



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