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Influential Groups of My Hip Hop Life

by Clayton Ruley

As Hip Hop has grown to the cult phenomenon it is now I remember the times when there wasn't Hip Hop throughout commercials, television and American culture period. Remember when Yo MTV Raps and Rap City was the only shows when you could see your favorite rap video? Remember when positive Hip Hop artists like KRS-One, A Tribe Called Quest and Public Enemy were speaking that ish and people actually brought it? Yeah those were different times. Groups were thing to be in when I started coming into my own as a Hip Hop listener.

The back and forth between a crew of hungry emcees was a sure sign that you weren't just in it for yourself but embraced the idea of "I got your back, you got mines" Collectivity was the name of the game and these following groups were staples of my tape (later CD) collection and is probably why I would rather fly high with my team than be in space by myself. Check my list out and give me your feedback. Shouts to the pioneers of the 70's and 80's also. I know I didn't get to you specifically but your place in Hip Hop is unquestioned.

Native Tongues - This supergroup featured A Tribe Called Quest, The Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, Black Sheep, Leaders of the New School, Queen Latifah and Monie Love among a few others. This group is my top team because they gave respect to where black people came from and also moved forward with new innovative sounds.

Personal Musical Highlight: "Buddy (Remix)"

Boot Camp Clik - Original Gunn Clappaz, Smif N Wessun, Black Moon and Heltah Skeltah make up this awesome team of hard beats and rhymes. The group mostly talked about neighborhood struggles and skillz on the microphone.

Personal Musical Highlight: "Headz Ain't Redee"

Hit Squad - This short lived team consisted of EPMD, K-Solo, Redman and Das Efx. All members had their specialities. Das had that sewer flipping flow, K-Solo was a situation storyteller, Red was a grimy dirt kicking rhymer and EPMD were like Voltron E they formed the collective heads. The Def Squad was hot but it wasn't the same!

Personal Musical Highlight: "Headbanger"

Wu-Tang Clan -First Supergroup to first get individual deals after coming out as a group. You people know the names and each continue to bring different styles to Hip Hop. Special to me because they brought the chinese flicks to Hip Hop and the RZA beatmaking hasn't been duplicated (and never will).

Personal Musical Highlight: "Triumph"

N.W.A. - We all know what the initials stood for and this group brought hype to the Los Angeles style of living and spoke on what was going on even if that meant having the FBI trailing them around the country. Ice Cube was my favorite of the bunch but Eazy E. was the pioneer who cultivate the look and style of the group. Dr. Dre was coming off the success of the World Class Wrecking Crew (along with DJ Yella) but provided that West Coast sound we take for granted now! They made their own path and that's why they made my list. I remember when my brother had to sneak the tape into the house and we listened to it with our ears to the speakers. This group prompted the Advisory labels to start appearing on music.

Personal Musical Highlight: "Express Yourself"

Death Row - This group came to the forefront of Hip Hop with the Deep Cover soundtrack and Dr. Dre's introduction of a young Long Beach cat named Snoop Doggy Dogg on "Deep Cover". Then Dr. Dre brought us the classic The Chronic and it was a free for all. Daz, Kurupt, The Lady of Rage, RBX, crooner Nate Dogg and D.O.C. among other came through the door swinging hits. Suge Knight had (and still) has rumors swirling. about his attitude and history but it didn't matter. The sounds this group gave the people was crazy for its time and onward. I'm not even talking about the Tupac era of tha Row because that was towards their end of influence.

Personal Musical Highlight: "Deep Cover"

Bad Boy - In the mid 90's West Coast Hip Hop dominated the airwaves and television sets and Hip Hop looked to be a "G Thang" for life. That was until Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs came through with a rock faced MC named Craig Mack and dropped "Flava In Ya Ear" followed by the Brooklynite named Christopher Wallace b.k.a. Biggie Smalls or The Notorious B.I.G. Biggie (along with a young Queens cat many said was the next Rakim named Nasty Nas) grabbed the attention from Snoop, Dre and the rest of the West. Other members included Mase, Black Rob and The Lox along with singer Faith Evans. Lil' Kim joined in from time to time to help her homie out!

Personal Musical Highlight: "All About The Benjamins (Remix)"

Dungeon Family - This group gave us Goodie Mobb, Sleepy Brown and Outkast among others. Cool Breeze told us all to "Watch For The Hook". This team put ATL on the map. Outkast came out and we can never figure their style, even to this day. I wasn't feelin the whole Cadillac music thang but was hooked as soon as I heard "Elevators". No one in the South needs to call themselves King before paying respect to this group especially those 'Kast boys!

Personal Musical Highlight: "Watch For The Hook"

Diggin' In The Crates Crew (D.I.T.C.) - A team full of NY rappers and producers, D.I.T.C. lives on but it's missing my favorite: Harlem's own Lamont  "Big L." Coleman. Fat Joe, Diamond D, Showbiz and A.G., Buckwild, O.C. and Lord Finesse were underground in media stature but not in their talents. They talked about the street tales, the women and their lyrical prowess but in a hard way I don't see many doing again.

Personal Musical Highlight: "Thick"

Boogie Down Productions (B.D.P.) - KRS-One, D-Nice, Kenny Parker, DJ Scott LaRock (R.I.P.) among others formed this team of progressive artists. KRS was the leader and left later to persue a solo career but B.D.P.'s impact on Hip Hop: the ability to do conscious rap and get critical acclaim from publications and the streets will never be forgotten. Along with Public Enemy this team taught and should continue to teach people who doubt that people will listen to knowledge. That's why they were so influential in my Hip Hop life.

Personal Musical Highlight: "South Bronx"


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