No. (Photo: Michael Conroy, AP)
There is no more relevant question in this world than who owns hip hop.
Yes, the rap artist is a unique entity. That said, hip hop has come a long way since the early 1990s when the rapper O. J. Simpson was captured on videotape killing Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. The murder of the couple by a group of friends has galvanized interest in the genre, which has become one of the most popular forms of music of the past 30 years.
The biggest names and most influential artists of the last few decades have been involved in the business since its inception in the early 1970s, but what about those of the past?
Hip hop has a lot of famous people, but none of them is as influential as Nas.
Born William “Big Baby” Marshall, rap superstar Nas’ first taste of the spotlight came in 1990, shortly after winning a Grammy Award as Best New Artist at the age of 24 as part of the “Nas Show.” From there, he went on to become one of the biggest names of the new millennium.
The first hip hop star was Jay Dee. Born William “Jay” Dee on June 10, 1948, Jay Dee had a small handprint. He is commonly credited for popularizing the dance move the “Cannonball” when he played the drums on three of the biggest-selling songs in the ’80s.
Nas was a member of the legendary rap trio the N.W.A. — a group that began working professionally in the late 1950s. Their classic album Straight Outta Compton became a cultural phenomenon with its explicit themes of violent attitudes and drug abuse.
More of that was to come in the early 1990s when Nas released Aaliyah’s hit tune “Pon de Replay.” Aaliyah’s track became a hit on the Billboard charts, and Nas’ name became synonymous with success in the hip hop world.
As the decades went by and Aaliyah’s career waned, Nas took the rap world by storm. His solo career, which spanned the 1990s to the 2002 release of In My Lifetime, proved that he was much more than just a group rapper. The album went platinum and is widely credited with launching the career of Tupac Shakur. In 2007, at age 32, Nas returned to mainstream entertainment with the release of The Blueprint, and in 2011 with his third solo album.
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