The greatest empires of Hip Hop – Part. 1

The greatest empires of Hip Hop – Part. 1

Throughout its history, Hip Hop has experienced multiple evolutions and revolutions. These evolutions have generally been embodied by collectives that have dominated and reigned over Hip Hop, sometimes being at the top of the charts, sometimes in the underground. Each of these groups has brought innovation to Hip Hop and made history to the point that they have become staples in the history. Some of them were real empires, others were more like a collective of rappers or groups that were able to impose themselves.

A look back at the greatest Hip Hop empires, collectives and crews:

No Limit Records

Founder: Master P

Glorious period: 1994-2002

With a typical southern style, the New Orleans label is a real institution in its hometown. The arrival of Snoop Dogg in 1996 after his departure from Death Row gave the label international visibility. 

Notable achievements:

Diggin In The Crates Crew (D.I.T.C)

Founder: Diamond D

Glorious period: 1992-1998

The collective manages over the years to build a reputation in underground circles with both raw productions based on the use of Jazz and Funk samples.

Notable achievements:


Founder: Q-Tip

Glorious period: 1999-2002

The Soulquarians embody the rebirth of the fallen Native Tongues movement of the early 90’s with Afrocentric, Jazz and Soul-inspired productions. With a collective of rappers, crooners, beatmakers and instrumentalists, the productions will oscillate between Neo-Soul and Jazz-rap.

Notable achievements:

Top Dawg Entertainment

Founder: Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith

Glorious period: 2011-2021

Although the label was founded in 2004, the success of the label will arrive in the early 2010s with an authentic yet modern rap. The label marks the most genuine achievements while being among the most qualitative of the 2010s. 

Notable achievements:

Cash Money Records

Founder: Birman

Glorious period: 2004-2015

Founded by Birdman, the New Orleans label will explode thanks to the albums of Lil Wayne in the mid-2000s. Drake will take over in the early 2010s with a very pop-oriented rap song.

Notable achievements:

Boot Camp Clik

Founder: Buckshot & Dru-Ha

Glorious period: 1993-1996

Often in the background and forgotten compared to the Wu-Tang Clan, the Boot Camp Clik, and more particularly Black Moon, will be the investigator of a hardcore and violent rap. However, Enta Da Stage will be one of the albums which will mark the rebirth of the New York rap with Enter The Wu Tang. The following realizations of the collective will be less marked but nevertheless always as qualitative.

Notable achievements:

Hit Squad

Founder: Parrish Smith & Eric Sermon

Glorious period: 1988-1993

As a collective, the Hit Squad is not the most outstanding, however, they realized individually exceptional achievements. The productions of the duo EPMD will be tinged with Funk with an innovative use of sample at this period for a groove as dancing as killer. On his side, Redman illustrates himself in a comic rap almost absude whereas Das EFX invent a unique rolling flow.

Notable achievements:

Ruff Ryders

Founder: Joaquin “Waah”, Darin “Dee” & Chivon Dean

Glorious period: 1998-2004

At the end of the 90’s, the New York rap mainsteam was led by Nas and Jay-Z. However, the Ruff Ryders roster will dominate the charts for a few years thanks to the achievements of DMX and Jadakiss. The productions of Swizz Beats will represent the musical identity common to the roster.

Notable achievements:

Find the second part of the article:

By Grégoire Zasa

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