On this site I will commonly refer to eras of Hip Hop: Diamond, Gold/Golden age, and Silver.
Everyone has their own idea and opinion in which the “Golden Era” of Hip Hop was (or is) and I am no different. Now it’s easy to lump what you consider the best years of the music all in one giant ball of years 10 years 12 years some 20, but I put some thought into it and here is my reasoning
Hip Hop isn’t just music, it’s style, it’s art, it’s DJing, etc.
Some styles don’t necessarily mesh well with others, almost like sports, a passing of the torch.
Everything cannot be the Golden Era just because it was good … there has to be something after it, is everything else second place? Cannot be, and you have to give some credence and respect to the foundation
What I did was break it down into 5 year increments, 15 years of the best the genre had to offer and probably the best it ever will be
The Diamond Era (1983 – 1988)
Hip Hop of course started before 1983 but around ’83 and ’84 was when it really started to settle into its groove and emcees and B-Boying were at its apex, The Classic albums and greatest Hip Hop artists of our time made their debut (’88 was the greatest year in Hip Hop music ever period), Breaking, Graffiti, and the DJ was still highlighted … this was Hip Hop in it’s rawest and most natural form.
I label this “Diamond” because it was untouchable, the foundation for all of the future eras, it included 1988 THE Greatest single year of Hip Hop History … The Hardest of the Hardcore Hip Hop!
The Golden Era (1989 – 1993)
Again, with a different era comes a different flavor of Hip Hop, this gave us more of the Afro-centric style of Hip Hop, the Gangster rap at the tail end and less of the classic B Boy art form. This was the sophomore efforts of a lot of artists, and the debut of emcees and groups who were influenced by the previous era
The dancing was different, less breaking and popping and more choreographed moves, a harder street edge was prominent in Graff style as well.
Thisis when the masses really got into Hip Hop … when people had their favorite and most fondest memories from those who enjoyed the Diamond age as well as those who greup in 89 – 93 AND those who are coming up now, they reference these years the most.
The Silver Age (1994 – 1998)
I know I said 5 year increments but 1999 was so bad for Hip Hop it was really the beginning of a new Era (of which I have no name for)
In this writers opinion this was the last of the great hip hop albums and artists. You could tell see the evolution of style and artistry and from where it began, every artist and album produced in this era was influenced by the previous two, this was a truly dynamic time in hip hop not dominated by one specific region or style, some of the quality suffered from trying to sell records and make as much money possible, the cracking of the foundation definitely begun as 1999 and 2000 approached.