1993 to Infinity… Hip Hop Future Throwback styles come back around

Posted on 21 January 2012
By Andy Johnson
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Hip Hop was just 14 years old in 1993. Coming of age and pushing the boundaries of rebellion against the early rap crews and Bboys who originally broke out of the Bronx.

The best way to see how hip hop changed during the early 90s and how that energy is taking hold again today is to explore the two stand out albums of the year, Wu Tang Clan’s Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle.

Both records, released exactly 18 years ago last November, created the blueprint for a new direction, with Snoop shaping the laidback West Coast style and the Wu Tang laying down the foundations for Hardcore Hip Hop.

The excitement of tearing off the wrapper on the way home from the record shop and wondering what curse filled delights lay behind the Parental Advisory Explicit Lyrics label is still palpable to the soul.

Doggystyle and 36 Chambers sound as fresh today, due to the way the records transcend their art form. But their timeless stature is also due to their forward looking nature – projecting cycles of styles.

Reaching back in time to use the best of the P Funk sound and the Wu Tang kung fu movies, mixing the inspirations with their own world visions and manifesting themselves in a new and captivating form.

In creating their own universe the Wu Tang were able to rise above the impending East Coast Vs West Coast rap rivalry and put their own flag on the music map.

The RZA along with cousins the GZA and Ol’ Dirty Bastard formed one big crew of unsigned MCs, took the DIY ethic and applied it to a five year plan to dominate the music industry with a unique blend of Eastern philosophy, visceral raps and martial arts fllm samples.

Under the leadership of The RZA, they released a group album, yet managed to retain the freedom to release albums by solo members on different labels.

RZA’s vision was a direct backlash against the electric guitar tuned A&R suits, who wanted to push them into producing party jams.

Each of the The Clan’s nine members boast a unique style on the mic, which together forms a higher cinematic sound, best found on C.R.E.A.M, Da Mystery of Chessboxin’ and Protect Ya Neck.

To spread the word further Staten Island’s finest took to the streets with cassette tapes of their best tunes. No doubt if they were launching their Wu Tang empire today – they would be releasing free online mixtapes and giving major labels the run around.

On the opposite side of the country Doggystyle was taking 20 year old records by George Clinton and breaking new ground.
Fresh from the glory of Dr Dre’s The Chronic and under the NWA producer’s guidance, Snoop captured imaginations worldwide with the realism of life on the mean streets of L.A.

With unforgettable hooks by Nate Dogg, breakout performances by Warren G and the Tha Dogg Pound, it took The Chronic’s raw energy and established a deeper groove and the G Funk era was born.

Vibrating through the air and mixing with the potent weed smoke, the bassline driven tunes took the Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield influence uptempo and the layered tracks continued to resonate after multiple listens.

Snoop’s album is pure unadulterated street hustler bravado, with Aint No Fun becoming an instant classic and Snoop gazing into the future to ask: “How many hoes in ’94 will I be bangin’?”

The Doggfather even took NYC block party anthem Slick Rick’s Lodi Dodi and added his own Long Beach, sun kissed laidback twist.

Doggystyle’s distinct personality, which is still being emulated today, was certified four times platinum by May 1994 and has since sold eight million copies worldwide.

Bring the cycle forward to 2011 and both Snoop and The Wu have released new albums that signal a return to their debut form, Doggumentary and Legendary Weapons.

Snoop has been touring in support of his new record and remembering Nate Dogg who died in March this year, with a performance of Doggystyle in full at a sold out Lovebox in London.

The RZA is now masterminding a new empire in movies with his own kung fu flick Man With The Iron Fists, with Quentin Tarantino pals Eli Roth and Pam Grier in post-production.

Wu Tang remain a popular live act today – with the kids born in 1993 now becoming fans. The GZA recently said: “ODB was right, Wu Tang is for the kids. We’re getting older – but the kids at the shows are staying the same age.”

Taking The Clan’s DIY ethic in a new direction are L.A. rap collective Odd Future – releasing mix tapes through their website, led by rapper/producer Tyler The Creator, with many mini groups within their set – MellowHype (Hodgy Beats and Left Brain) and The Jet Age of Tomorrow (Matt Martian and Hal Williams).

Essential 1993 Hip Hop mixtape

Snoop – Lodi Dodi
Wu Tang – Da Mystery of Chessboxin’
Souls of Mischief – 1993 to Infinity
Snoop – Ain’t No Fun
Wu Tang – Method Man
Pharcyde – Passing Me By
Naughty By Nature – Hip Hop Hooray
Wu Tang Bring Da Ruckas
Redman – Time 4 Sum Aksun
Onyx – Slam
Dr Dre – Dre Day
Run DMC – Down Wit the Kings
Wrecks N Effect Rump Shaker

This article is an excerpt from the 1993 Future Throwback Über zine – out now in all good indie retailers across Liverpool.