1995 - A Year In Rap

The output of 1995 arguably typifies what is often referred to as the ‘mid 90s sound’, with filtered and layered grooves accompanying crisp programmed drums at a tempo generally far lower than in previous years. The general trend for decreasing tempos peaked in ‘95 with a significant proportion of single releases barely breaking the 90bpm mark. 1995 is also notable for the rise of a darker more melancholy production style with even the darkest of backdrops (Mobb Deep’s Shook Ones Part 2 for example) scoring as unlikely club hits. There were of course also a host of more typically upbeat club tracks, Blahzay Blahzay’s ‘Danger’ and ODB’s ‘Shimmy Shimmy Ya’ being good examples. Below is a snapshot of some of the year’s key events, produced this time with the assistance of Dream Door’s hip hop timeline:

- 2Pac is shot in what appears to be a robbery outside of a New York recording studio only days after being found guilty of sexual assault. He checks himself out of the hospital and appears in court in a wheelchair for his sentencing. He immediately accuses the Notorious B.I.G. (a former friend) and Puffy Combs for orchestrating the attack. Nonetheless, he begins serving his five-year prison term.

- Brooklyn rapper Jay-Z releases the underground single, ‘In My Lifetime.’ With his clever wordplay and quick delivery, he quickly becomes a word-of-mouth sensation in New York.

- Eccentric Wu-Tang Clan member, Ol’ Dirty Bastard gains notoriety by picking up food stamps in a limousine while appearing on MTV. He is promptly arrested.

- 2Pac releases his third album, ‘Me Against the World’ while still in prison. It’s more thoughtful and introspective approach earns him the biggest critical praise of his career and his legend grows among hip-hop fans as he showcases his more tortured and self-conscious side.

- At the Source Awards, Suge Knight publicly insults Sean “Puffy” Combs onstage adding fuel to the ever-growing tensions between the East Coast and West Coast and the feud between his L.A. based Death Row Records and Combs’ New York based Bad Boy Entertainment.

- While filming the video for the song ‘New York, New York,’ members of the Death Row Records group Tha Dogg Pound are shot at.

- Eazy-E (pictured), gangsta rap icon and co-founder of N.W.A., announces that he has full-blown AIDS. After only a few days at Cedar-Sinai hospital for treatment, he dies from pneumonia.

- Notorious B.I.G. signs his proteges, the Junior M.A.F.I.A. to the small Untertainment Label. Their debut album, “Conspiracy” is a moderate hit and provides a showcase for a young female rapper named Lil Kim.

- Will Smith stars in the buddy-cop action film “Bad Boys”. It becomes one of the biggest hits of the year.

- Chicago-bred female rapper Da Brat releases her debut album, ‘Funkdafied’. It becomes the first album by a solo female rapper to go platinum.

- Bad Boy Entertainment’s empire continues to grow with platinum-selling R&B albums by Faith Evans and the girl-group Total.

- Snoop Doggy Dogg is acquitted of second-degree murder charges.

- At the end of the year, Suge Knight bails 2Pac out of prison and immediately signs the embattled rapper to Death Row Records. With Knight’s hatred of Sean “Puffy” Combs and 2Pac’s belief that the Notorious B.I.G. conspired against him; the conflict between Death Row and Bad Boy Entertainment intensifies.

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