The international hip hop realm is utterly incomplete without mentioning the nonstop hits and undeniable contributions that the best New York hip hop artists have made so far.
Hip-hop music has seen several noticeable changes on so many levels during the past few decades. Legends were made, some legends died and a few superstars passed away too soon, making everyone numb for quite a while. Today, you will know about some of the best New York hip hop artists who are still making #1 Billboard records with their triumphant success stories to influence every soul on earth who loves Hip hop. For them, it’s not just music; it’s their religion.
Jay-Z was born Shawn Corey Carter on December 4, 1969, in Brooklyn’s drug-infested Marcy Projects. He adopted hip hop and rap as an outlet to wind his mind up from all the muck up that surrounded him, and then, in 1989 he appeared on Yo! MTV Raps for the first time.
Carter began rapping at an early age as a means to escape the drugs, crime, and deprivation that engulfed him in the Marcy Projects. In 1989, he collaborated with the rapper Jaz-O—an older artist who functioned as a mentor—on a song called “The Originators,” which earned the pair a spot on an episode of Yo! MTV Raps. During this time, Shawn Carter adopted the moniker Jay-Z, which was a tribute to Jaz-O, a play on Carter’s childhood pet name “Jazzy,” and a connection to the J/Z subway stop near his Brooklyn home.
Jay-Z remained largely unknown until 1996, when he and two pals, Damon Dash and Kareem Burke, launched their own record company, Roc-A-Fella Records. Jay-debut Z’s album, Reasonable Doubt, was completed in June of that year. Although the album only charted at No. 23 on the Billboard 200, it is today regarded as a classic hip-hop album, with songs such as “Can’t Knock the Hustle,” featuring Mary J. Blige, and “Brooklyn’s Finest,” a duet with Notorious B.I.G. Reasonable Doubt launched Jay-Z as a rising hip-hop artist.
Jay-Z shook the hip-hop world in 2003 by launching The Black Album and stating that it would be his final solo album before quitting. During his lyrical break, Jay-Z focused on the business side of music, becoming president of Def Jam Recordings. Jay-Z, as president of Def Jam, signed successful performers such as Rihanna, Ne-Yo, and Young Jeezy, and aided Kanye West’s move from producer to a successful recording artist.
Jay-Z announced his return to music in 2006, with the release of his new album Kingdom Come. He quickly followed up with two additional albums: American Gangster in 2007 and Blueprint 3 in 2010.
In a matter of years, the Notorious B.I.G. transitioned from a Brooklyn-street hustler to the savior of East Coast hip-hop to a sad victim of the culture of violence he described so brutally on his albums. In death, the man known as Biggie Smalls became a symbol of the mindless violence that afflicted inner-city America in the latter years of the twentieth century. His musical legacy, which was actually fairly substantial, is frequently overshadowed by the atmosphere of martyrdom that surrounds him.
Christopher Wallace, the Notorious B.I.G., was born on May 21, 1972, in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant borough. Despite being a brilliant student, he dropped out of high school at the age of 17 to live on the streets. He began dealing crack for a living after being drawn in by the money and flamboyant manner of local drug dealers. He recorded several demos on a friend’s four-track. The produced tape ended up in the hands of Mister Cee, a DJ who works with Big Daddy Kane; Cee then forwarded the cassette to hip-hop magazine The Source, which gave him a good write-up in a regular feature on unsigned musicians. Because of the exposure, he drew the attention of Uptown Records producer Sean “Puffy” Combs who took him in for recording.
On a 1993 remix of Mary J. Blige’s hit “Real Love,” the newly dedicated rapper made his musical debut. Ready to Die, his first album, was released in September 1994, and the lead single, “Juicy,” earned gold. The follow-up smash, “Big Poppa,” went platinum and reached the Top Ten on the pop and R&B charts. Tupac Shakur, a West Coast gangsta sensation, was shot many times in the foyer of a New York recording studio in November 1994 and mugged of thousands of dollars in jewels. Shakur recovered and alleged Combs and his former friend Biggie of plotting the assassination, which both of them vehemently denied.
The eerily entitled Life After Death was a huge, guest-laden double-disc record that looked meant to rival in ambition and mythic scale with 2Pac’s All Eyez on Me. Interestingly, it debuted at number one, selling almost 700,000 records in its first week of release and remaining at the top for four weeks. “Hypnotize,” the first song, earned platinum and peaked at number one on the pop chart. Nearly two years after its debut, “Sky’s the Limit” was incredibly successful, while Life After Death was certified ten times platinum.
Curtis Jackson, better known as 50 Cent, is a hip-hop musician and entrepreneur best known for his street smart raps and rags-to-riches life story. He resorted to rap after a drug habit and violence and rose to fame with the album Get Rich or Die Tryin’ in 2003.
The album, Power of the Dollar, was bootlegged and included Jackson’s aggressive approach — on the tune “How to Rob,” he describes intentions to steal from celebrities such P. Diddy, Jay-Z, Mase, and Missy Elliott. Jackson was the victim of a horrific gunshot event in 2000, which left him with many wounds. After his recuperation, he returned to music and recorded several low-budget records with his buddies Lloyd Banks and Tony Yayo as G-Unit.
Eminem and Dre produced 50 Cent’s debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’. It was a mainstream hit, eventually selling 9 million units. “Wanksta” and “In Da Club” have powerful hooks that helped them become crossover musical successes. On tunes like “Candy Shop” and “Just a Lil Bit,” Jackson continued to rap about drugs, criminality, and sex on The Massacre. With the publication of the album Animal Ambition in 2014, Jackson maintained his position in the business.
Nicki Minaj was born in the Caribbean and relocated to New York when she was five years old. She overcame a tough upbringing to become a renowned hip-hop musician. Lil Wayne, her labelmate, refers to her as “an idol” who has “gone far beyond anything I could have dreamed.”
Minaj created avatars for herself in order to redefine herself. “Cookie” was an early form, followed by “Harajuku Barbie,” before eventually settling on Nicki Minaj.
In August 2009, she joined with Lil Wayne’s Young Money label, becoming the label’s first female artist. She cemented her burgeoning reputation by appearing on the We Are Young Money compilation album in 2009, as well as working with Mariah Carey and Robin Thicke.
By early 2010, there was a lot of buzz about Minaj’s debut album, which was set to be released that autumn. She released her debut song, “Massive Attack,” in April of that year, followed by “Your Love.” She won Best Hip Hop Female at the annual BET Awards two months later. Lil Wayne received the prize, which she dedicated to him. Pink Friday was published in November of that year, and eight singles were issued to promote it. It reached triple platinum and garnered mostly good feedback.
Minaj’s Super Bowl performance in 2012 drew nationwide attention. She appeared in the game’s popular halftime show alongside Madonna. Minaj followed up with the album Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded. The song was a major hit, hitting the top of the pop, R&B, and rap charts. The first hit record was the catchy dance song “Starships.” “Pound the Alarm” and “Va Va Voom” quickly followed. The next year, she sang “Roman Holiday” at the Grammy Awards.
Minaj served as a guest judge on the season 12 premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race after opening off 2020 with the Meghan Trainor duet “Nice to Meet Ya.” She subsequently collaborated with Doja Cat on a remix of “Say So,” which became Minaj’s first single to top the Billboard Hot 100.
Public Enemy, an American rap group whose complex, nuanced sound and extreme political message catapulted them to the top of the late 1980s and early 1990s list of most popular, controversial, and iconic hip-hop musicians. Chuck D (original name Carlton Ridenhour; born August 1, 1960, Queens, New York, U.S.), Flavor Flav (original name William Drayton; born March 16, 1959, Long Island, New York), Terminator X (original name Norman Lee Rogers; born August 25, 1966, New York City), and Professor Griff were the original members (original name Richard Griffin; b. August 1, 1960, Long Island).
Public Enemy was founded in 1982 by a group of African Americans largely from the suburbs at Adelphi University on Long Island, New York. The effect was Public Enemy, who brought radical Black political viewpoint to pop music in an unexpected manner on albums with titles that read like party invitations for libertarians and warning posters for rightists: Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987), It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988), Fear of a Black Planet (1990), and Apocalypse 91: The Enemy Strikes Black (1991). (1991).
After splitting from Def Jam, Public Enemy continued to release songs on different indie record companies into the twenty-first century. Even though tracks were not well received, albums such as Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp (2012), The Evil Empire of Everything (2012), and Man Plans God Laughs (2015) received favorable feedback.
Alicia Parker is a fashion enthusiast studying at the University of California. She contributes to Daily Music Roll as a music blogger and writes a review of various music on a daily basis