I've been a fan of hip-hop all my life. I've seen so many changes, styles, fads, trends, rhyme styles, everything.
We have a lot of people who've influenced the game. The typical big names. What about the people everyone tend to forget to give credit and pay respect to?
Here are some great visionaries that I want to show respect to.
The most slept on influences in hip hop.
I rarely see anyone give Q-Tip is props on the production front. As a rapper he's always credited for being one of the legends of conscious hip-hop. I think he's a legend in hip-hop period but when I bring up Q-Tip as one of the greatest producers ever people look at me like "Huh?"
J.Dilla. Rest in peace. He's considered one of the greatest producers in hip-hop history. Who did he get his style from? Q-Tip. Kanye West one of the greatest artists ever. The way he produces he learned from Q-Tip. Pharrell Williams sings Q-Tip's production praises every chance he gets and says he learned and wanted to start music because of Tribe Called Quest.
Any best producers of all time lists without Q-Tip in the top 3 is fugazi.
I know lately he's been on one. Threatening people with the draco. Having conflict with every artist imaginable. Using gym equipment awkwardly and incorrectly but what people don't realize is that Soulja Boy was one of the most important forward thinkers in hip-hop history.
While every rapper was still trying to sell cd's out the trunks of their cars like Master P and E-40. Soulja Boy reached more people in a more efficient way. A computer.
Crank Dat wasn't the first dance song. You had the humpty, tootsie roll, etc but I think Crank Dat was the most popular we've ever seen. So many dance songs followed. "My Dougie," "The Jerk," etc.
Soulja Boy was trapping off youtube everyday. He made that shit the move and a marketing tool. He was pumping out videos whether it was of him freestyling with his homies or him dancing with Arab to random songs. He was building his name and brand through the internet while everyone complained about it because they didn't understand it yet.
He finessed Kazaa (File sharing site) and with doing so, In a twisted way Soulja Boy invented the "rapper spam." How many times were you looking for a song on the internet and you find it but when you finally hear it it's another rapper song and you would get pissed. Soulja Boy started that. So in a sense Soulja Boy has also started hell.
Think about artists who careers took off thanks to the internet. Chief Keef career comes to mind. All the videos from his crib while he was on house arrest. Many artists doing cover songs on youtube and getting discovered (Justin Bieber). Alessia Cara career took off from youtube.
Soulja Boy is a legend.
808 & HEARTBREAKS
When Kanye announced that his next album after "Graduation" would be completely done in autotune I flipped the fuck out negatively. Not because I hate autotune. I grew up on Roger & Zapp. T-Pain dope, the nigga made "Buy You A Drank" the nigga immortal. I just didn't want Kanye to use it.
"Love Lockdown" comes out and I'm like "What the fuck is this bullshit?" I couldn't believe he went from "Flashing Lights" to this. I listened to 808's one time and said fuck the album and went about my business.
3 years later in 2011 I started working on my first mixtape called "Three O'Clock Fly" when I got back from Los Angeles. I remember hearing "Amazing" in Los Angeles and I really fucked with it. I don't know if it was because I was wasted but I really felt that shit. I went back to listen to it again.
It was such a great piece of art.
Looking back on 808's it began the evolution of autotune. So far up until 808's release we heard T-Pain use it just straight forward. Kanye basically took it and pushed it as far as it could go to the point it felt like the autotune was squeezing the life out of him when he used it on 808's.
Without 808's there's no Future Hendrix. Lil Durk. Thugger. They all use autotune in the same format as Kanye did on 808's. They have their own style and spin they put on it but Kanye's 808's was the blueprint of it.
I don't know shit about Key. I don't know what hood in Atlanta he from. How old he is. I don't know anything about him and I prefer it that way. I just fuck with his artistry and how he approaches his music.
I think they called it "New Atlanta" at one point and time. I didn't really know what that was all about but all I saw were artists apart of it take Key style and cadence.
That dark, simple, trap sound I believe Key and the group he founded Two-9 started that wave. He produced some of his own shit that way too. I didn't hear anyone else on that wave before him. The shit that makes it dope is that Key just leaves it behind and moves onto experimenting with his sound he doesn't stick around once it's popular. He's already moved on from it.
Key flow is also floating around a lot in the game right now. FatmanKey is the most slept on influencer on this list for sure.
LAST TRAIN TO PARIS
It's a Diddy album. How fire could it be? How could it be influential?
This is a very important album because it changed R&B forever.
It was a album that took different genres and fused them with R&B. Electronic, Pop, etc. When you're jamming to The Weeknd mixtapes and albums thank "Last Train To Paris." When you hear Frank Ocean, thank this album.
This started Alternative R&B.
TYLER THE CREATOR (ODD FUTURE)
He and his crew took hip-hop and turned it into this underground cult. It was basically like the grunge era but more reckless.
America had no clue how to take in Tyler when he hit the scene because he just didn't give a fuck. He says what he wants does what he wants and they didn't know how to handle it.
Tyler didn't have a huge chain. Mercedes. Models and Champagne surrounding him. He was a kid who wore the same shit every show and appearance and drew on his shoes that he also wore everyday. He was the definition of "anti" but it wasn't on purpose it was because it was who he was.
He wasn't slaving to a record label he made them partners on some Jimmy Conway shit. Odd Future was a machine and in my opinion the best machine I've ever seen in Hip-hop.
I went to a Tyler The Creator show here in St.Louis and seeing all these kids hang onto all his words was scary. Mosh pits. Relentless crowd surfing. Girls showing their titties wthout a fucking care in the world it was a rock concert on steroids.
The music videos Tyler were directing and creating were so outside the box and creative. We haven't seen videos like the ones that Odd Future made. AT ALL. I've never seen a bad Tyler The Creator video.
Just think about all Odd Future has done.
- Successful TV Show
- Successful Carnival and Music Festival
- Successful Clothing Line
- Successful Clothing Store
- This nigga Tyler makes furniture. FURNITURE MY NIGGA!
- He had the first rap commercial on the Golf channel ever.
Now when you see Tyler today he's encouraging people to be free thinkers but he's a bit more tame. It's the same message he had 5 years ago but it's more calm. He's on his Pharrell "You can do it too" campaign. We're seeing the growth.
He influenced the game heavily on the business side and music side.
We all know Dame from the Roc-A-Fella era. I'm not here to speak on that. Dame Dash changed hip-hop with the start of the Creative Control era.
Remember when you would watch music videos on Rap City and they were directed by Hype Williams and Little X? Those videos would cost 6 figures a pop.
Dame Dash said fuck that and got a bunch of Canon DSLR's had cameramen shoot videos and put the content on a multi media platform. Dame Dash and Creative Control KILLED the big budget music videos. No one paid 6 figures for rap videos ever again.
The DD172 era was so important for the game because everyone started following that blueprint. Dame opened up a gallery and it was the headquarters for all the creatives to create. Ski Beatz was in there making beats. They had the art gallery in there. They had a studio in there where rappers like Curren$y, Stalley, and Smoke DZA would always record. They made merch in there it showed artists that you didn't need a label. You just need a solid crew around you.
Dame told us that we don't need a boss. People took what he said wrong because of the context he said it in but he was right. We need to stop being scared and depending on these suits and come together and do it ourselves. We have minds just like them. We have visions just like them. We just have to put the work in and trust each other.
Dame has a talent in finding talent. He believed in Jay and pushed him. He saw something in Spitta and pushed him. He believed in Kanye having a rap career when no one else did and he signed him. He put Kevin Hart in his first movie. Say what you want about Dame but his influence is real.