Stories From The People Who Lived The Music And The Mayhem Of...

Stories From The People Who Lived The Music And The Mayhem Of 1996


This is part of Complex's 'The 1996 Project: Looking Back at the Year Hip-Hop Embraced Success.'

1996 ushered in a new era of hip-hop. Street sounds clashed with commercial sounds, the divide between East and West deepened, rappers experimented with electronic beats, female MCs surged into super-stardom, and the death of 2Pac sent the entire community into chaos and grief. 

 To adequately express the impact of '96 on the hip-hop landscape, we compiled a panel of prominent music experts who witnessed the genre's metamorphosis in that pivotal year: Alan Light, former editor-in-chief of VIBE, Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, former editor-in-chief of The Source, Dan Charnas, former A&R executive at Def American and author of The Big Payback, Tina Davis, former A&R executive of Def Jam, and Kyambo “Hip Hop” Joshua, former A&R at Roc-A-Fella Records.

Watch them discuss the influence of Biggie and Puff's 1995 hits, the breakthrough of unique regional sounds, and the way in which Jay-Z's iconic Unreasonable Doubt achieved both commercial success and street appeal.