10 Moments That Helped Define Hip Hop Culture

Google is reminding us all that Hip Hop is celebrating its 44th anniversary today. If it wasn’t for that day in 1973, a lot of the influence in music around every genre would be non-existent.  So, here at Culture Mag, we wanted to celebrate this anniversary by sharing some of our personal favorite Hip Hop moments throughout our lives and times before us.

Daryll’s Top 5 Hip Hop Moments


N.W.A. Pioneering Gangsta Rap

The evolution of music usually comes from one artist or group that pioneers a sound and executes it so well that they bring it to the mainstream.

N.W.A., formerly comprised of hip hop legends such as Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre, MC Ren, and DJ Yella, pioneered gangsta rap. Not only did their music birth a whole movement, but the work they did outside of the studio made an everlasting impact, too.

Are you confused? Hold on, just let me explain.

What I mean is N.W.A. created a domino effect, which means, their music set off an entire chain of events that made a significant impact on hip hop. Because their impact was so strong, I’ll only mention some of the most key parts.

  1. Dr. Dre’s creation of Aftermath
    1. When Dre builds aftermath, he also discovers Eminem
    2. Eminem builds Shady Records and discovers 50 Cent
    3. 50 Cent builds G-Unit with Young Buck, Lloyd Banks, himself, Tony Yayo, and The Game
  2. Eazy-E and MC Ren build Ruthless Records
    1. Ruthless Records discovers Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
  3. Ice Cube builds The Lench Mob
    1. Lench Mob builds We$tside Connection
  4. D.O.C, Dr. Dre, and Suge Knight build Deathrow Records
    1. They discover Nate Dogg, Tupac, and Snoop

So basically what we mean to say is, N.W.A.’s imprint on hip hop culture is crazy.

Jay-Z Releases 4:44

Man, do I love this album.

In a time where music is mostly about blowing your money on cars and clothes, Jay-Z went the opposite route and rapped about saving money. Not only did he rap about saving money, but he provided a brief 101 on what people of his stature do, which is 1) build businesses, 2) spend money wisely, 3) invest, and 4)… wait, there’s not enough space here. Read about Jay-Z’s business lessons in 4:44 by clicking here.

Other than educating his listeners, Jay-Z also does something different: he tears down his “walls” and makes himself vulnerable. Choosing to spill “the tea” on the controversy surrounding his marriage with Beyoncé and his issues with infidelity. This was such a big moment in hip hop because when you have two people as big as Beyoncé and Jay-Z, everyone listens.

Kanye West Interrupts Taylor Swift to Shoutout Beyoncé

Kanye: the musical genius, fashion guru, and speech interruptor.

This wasn’t something that set off a chain of significant events like N.W.A., nor did it educate people and let people into his personal life, but it was pure comedy. I don’t even want to explain. Just please, watch the video. 😂

Linkin Park x Jay-Z Mashup

In a world where hip hop is thought of as red, and rock&roll is thought of as blue, Jay-Z and Linkin Park decided to make purple by collaborating.

By mixing their greatest hits together, Jay-Z and Linkin Park created a mashup album that blended perfectly.

This was such a huge moment in hip hop just because it showed that both genres can live together in unity. Rest in power, Chester Bennington.

Kanye’s Formation of G.O.O.D. Music

So many of my favorite artists in the same family: Big Sean, Common, Kanye, Kid Cudi, Pusha T, John Legend…

When the hip hop world caught wind of the formation of G.O.O.D. music, the world went nuts. It’s not even fair to have so many talented artists under the same banner. We could not wait for all the music that would come from them. Unfortunately, the hype wasn’t long lived, as G.O.O.D. music only dropped 1 album, Cruel Summer.

It’s been rumored that Cruel Winter would be on the way soon, but I’m not holding my breath.

Mayam’s Top 5 Hip Hop Moments


Run-DMC Walks This Way (1986)

Just give me a kiiiis

The song that brought Run-DMC their first top five single on the pop charts, an endorsement deal with Adidas, and basically birthed a new rap-rock genre, ladies and gents, Walk This Way.

The Misseducation of Lauryn Hill (1999)

The album that broke the glass ceiling

Lauryn Hill

After success with political hip-hop ensemble, The Fugees, Lauryn joined a league of incredible women who defied any suggestions that women couldn’t make it in hip hop. A decade later, The Misseducation of Lauryn Hill racked up five Grammys, the most for a female recording artist at the time, and gave us an insight into the life of Lauryn Hill.

Kanye Speaks Out Against George Bush (2005)

We miss the Old Kanye. Politically Outspoken Kanye. Not New Kardashian Kanye.

This clip was a classic and the first person I can remember speaking out directly to the Bush Administration. In an infomercial for the Red Cross, Ye gives us a rant that ends with the infamous, “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people.” *bewildered Mike Myers face*

Jay-Z says “F U” to Noel Gallagher @ Glastonbury (2008)

Maaaaybe, you’re wrong, Noel.

In 2008 Jay-Z was invited to headline the rock heavy festival while Noel Gallagher (lead singer of band Oasis, Wonderwall) and many other hardcore “Glastonburians” had some choice words about the decision: Hov was “wrong” for the festival.  So how did Jay respond? By coming out on stage, guitar in hand, with Wonderwall blasting behind him and he rocked the show. Since then, Hip-Hop artists have continued to kill the Glastonbury stage.

Beyoncé self-titled (2013)

World STOP.

hip hop beyonce

On midnight of December 13, 2013 the world stood still when Beyoncé released an entire “visual album” with absolutely ZERO promotion. The album was named Album of the Year by Billboard and had gone to be the iTunes Store fastest selling record in the U.S. and worldwide…of all time. The album received rave reviews and gave Beyoncé her fifth consecutive number one album, selling 991,000 copies in the U.S. within the first ten days. Since the release of self-titled, other artists have done the “secret” drop including Kid Cudi (Satellite Flight: The Journey to Mother Moon) and Drake (If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late).  Self-titled came in at 14 songs with 15 complete videos, and I AM STILL NOT OVER IT, OK?


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