In its four-plus decades of existence, hip-hop has always been steadily evolving. Like all evolutionary paths, hip-hop’s hasn’t moved in a straight line. For every decision that moved the genre forward as a whole, there were artistic niches and splinter groups that either went flourished before rapidly going extinct or moved on into their own lane entirely.

In this series, we’ll look to introduce our readers to some of the more interesting branches and subgenres that sprouted from the hip-hop family tree and give a primer of some essential tracks.

Our last edition spotlighted a scene that is still vibrant over two decades after its invention. This week, we’ll highlight a hyper-active genre that built up locally over decades, burned bright on the national stage for a brief time and fizzled out quickly thereafter.

Put your stunner shades on, fam. It’s time to talk about Hyphy.