The second segment of our hip-hop family tree looks at the most important era.
Family is everything. The odds are uncontrollable, and blood binds a family together, creating an inseparable bond. Hip-hop artists are no different than the rest of us when it comes to family, and entire waves of cousins, brothers, sisters, and parents have shared success in the rap game. Sometimes it’s difficult to discern who’s related for real, and who’s just a close friend or mentor that has earned the title of “cousin” or “uncle.” For the purpose of this family tree, blood or marriage are the only determining factors of relation.
In the first piece of the hip-hop family tree segment, we explored the families that gained stardom during the Old School Era. While many hip-hop purists believe the Old School to be the most important era in hip-hop, I disagree. Think of it like a pyramid. The base must be sturdy, secure, and strong enough to support both growth and the weight above it. Run DMC, NWA, KRS One - legends such as those are the base of hip-hop. The body of the pyramid would be twice as hard to craft though. It’s more than double the size, which means the materials and workload combined are quadrupled. Can you imagine how strenuous a task it would have been to create something that could reach the same commercial and critical success of Raising Hell? Or how impossible it may have seemed to top an album like Straight Outta Compton? During the Golden Era, those feats were accomplished.
The Golden Era of hip-hop was akin to the Renaissance. The spread of ideas and the creation of art was at its finest. The genre grew to become more eclectic as the culture spread. In the late 70’s and 80’s, most rap music was derived from either rock-n-roll samples or disco instrumentals. As hip-hop grew as a culture, so did the sound. The music that permeated ethnic neighbourhoods such as Jazz, Blues, Gospel, and Soul, began to influence artists in their work. Producers such as J. Dilla, DJ Premier, RZA, Timbaland, Jermaine Dupri, Swizz Beats, Mannie Fresh, and Q-Tip, composed some of the best hip-hop records ever during their time. While rap music began its metamorphosis into the commercial machine it is today, families that were once entrenched in poverty began to ascend the stairway of economic prosperity.
The Miller family, headed by Master P, gave the world a vivid glimpse into the lifestyles that defined the New Orleans streets. Three cousins, RZA, GZA, and Ol’ Dirty Bastard, helped create one of the best hip-hop groups of all time. That's just the tip of the iceberg though. During rap’s Renaissance, these are the relatives that launched successful careers.