“The Miseducation Of Lauryn Hill” Turns 25: A Hip Hop Classic

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill: a title that, even after a quarter-century, evokes a blend of reverence and nostalgia. Rewind to the late ’90s—amid the flurry of synthesized beats and the rise of bubblegum pop, the music scene received a gift. It arrived as a groundbreaking album that would define a generation, unbeknownst to its creators. Lauryn Hill, already a force as part of The Fugees, embarked on a solo venture showcasing her as more than a talented vocalist. She cemented herself as a lyricist, storyteller, and visionary.

As a sonic battleground of competing genres marked the late ’90s, Hill’s magnum opus was an assertion of Hip Hop and R&B’s evolving narratives. The scene was crowded, yet The Miseducation… was impossible to overlook. Why? Perhaps it was the authenticity with which Lauryn addressed themes still seen as taboo. Or maybe it was the deft way she intertwined her Fugees legacy while establishing her own distinctive footprint. The world wasn’t just listening to another album. It was enrolling in a masterclass helmed by a South Orange, New Jersey, prodigy.

Lauryn Hill’s Lyrical Labyrinth

The Miseducation surfaced as a pivotal musical offering and a dynamic celebration of Black culture. In a time when the music industry often marginalized authentic representations of Black experiences, Lauryn Hill chose to center her work around it. The album is audibly resplendent, blending R&B’s warmth with Hip Hop’s forthrightness, Reggae’s vivacity, and Soul’s profundity.

However, the sonic elegance of the album is only half its story. Behind the melodies was a set of handpicked collaborators who became pivotal to the album’s craft under Hill’s meticulous direction. The influence of producers Che Pope and Vada Nobles is evident, layering the tracks with richness. Yet, Hill’s dual role, both in front of the microphone and behind the production desk, truly defined the album’s sound.

Further, Hill’s penmanship, a standout feature, paints portraits of her experiences in love, introspection, and empowerment. Yet, tales of Black life, romance, struggle, and triumph are interwoven with her narrative. Songs like “Doo Wop (That Thing)” caution against the pitfalls of modern love. At the same time, “Every Ghetto, Every City” reminisces about her New Jersey upbringing, offering listeners a vivid snapshot of Black communities in the ’80s and ’90s.

This album, in its entirety, is Lauryn’s love letter to Black culture. It highlights her ongoing commitment to showcasing and uplifting Black narratives in an industry that often tried to dilute them. Its legacy isn’t just in its chart-topping numbers or critical acclaim. It lies in its unabashed celebration of Black womanhood and its continued relevance to new generations.

Triumphs & Tumultuous Tidbits

Upon its release, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill didn’t just step into the spotlight. It commandeered it. The album swiftly climbed the charts, holding coveted positions and collecting critical praises like rare jewels. Beyond the numbers, though, was an evident shift in the musical terrain. Hill’s opus presented a new blueprint for blending Hip Hop and R&B, setting a standard few could match. Many of today’s luminaries, from Beyoncé to Kendrick Lamar, have tipped their hats to Lauryn’s profound influence on their artistry.

However, the album’s journey wasn’t free of turbulence. As much as it was lauded, it was also embroiled in controversies. Allegations surrounding uncredited collaborators and ensuing copyright disputes clouded the album’s radiant aura. Soon, Hill found herself at the epicenter of media scrutiny. Her every move was dissected and discussed. While she defended her artistic integrity, the controversy posed questions about the nature of collaboration in the creative process.

In a way, this dichotomy—of boundless success and poignant setbacks—mirrors the broader experience of many Black artists navigating an industry rife with both opportunities and obstacles. Lauryn’s journey with The Miseducation displayed the challenges and triumphs of creating authentic art in a world that often demands compromise.

Quarter-Century Cues: Miseducation‘s Timeless Teachings

Achieving a laudable debut at the pinnacle of the US Billboard 200, The Miseducation‘s grand entrance was but a prelude to its enduring influence. Those initial 422,000 copies sold in its opening week were emblematic of an artist capturing the zeitgeist of music meeting moment. Over time, its Platinum certifications, eight times over, further enshrined its legacy in the accounts of musical greatness.

Yet, commercial accolades are but one facet of its multi-dimensional legacy. Ms. Hill’s craft shone through each track, with deliberate choices in sampling that forged connections across musical generations. Every note and lyric had a method, a story, and an homage. Her sampling of classics, like integrating elements from Wu-Tang Clan’s “Can It Be All So Simple” into “Ex-Factor” or weaving Carlos Santana’s “Samba Pa Ti” into “To Zion,” were not mere artistic choices, but rather statements of unity in music’s vast continuum.

Today, echoes of The Miseducation are evident. Contemporary artists, from chart-toppers to indie darlings, draw from Lauryn Hill’s inspiration. They sample her, quote her, and, most importantly, they seek to emulate her authenticity. Even a quarter-century removed from its release, the album remains a touchstone, a compass pointing towards artistic sincerity, cultural relevance, and profound influence.

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The Notorious B.I.G.’s Debut “Ready To Die” Turns 29

Brooklyn, New York, in the early ’90s: The brownstone-laden streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant throbbed with an unmistakable energy. Bodegas and barbershops doubled as discussion forums, with Hip Hop as the preferred topic of debate. This was an era of boomboxes and lyrical bravado, where every street corner and park bench might be the stage for the next big talent. Enter Christopher Wallace, a figure poised to encapsulate this energy, transforming it into an album that would soon reverberate far beyond those same streets.

Few could have predicted the cultural tidal wave that was Ready to Die. Released in 1994, this masterpiece wasn’t merely another album. Biggie Smalls emerged not as a mere rapper but as a raconteur par excellence. His tales, though uniquely his, resonated with thousands who saw fragments of their own stories within his lines. The musings of a young Black man navigating the treacherous terrain of the American dream, punctuated with wit, charm, and a heavy dose of reality—Ready to Die wasn’t just an album but a statement.

Part of Ready to Die‘s allure was its audacity, much like Biggie himself. The very title served as a stake in the ground, a prophetic and sardonic claim that life was never promised, but the music could be immortal. The album sits today as a cornerstone of Hip Hop history, and 29 years on, it’s anything but an artifact.

The Architecture Of A Classic

What makes this album a masterpiece is not just Biggie’s magnetic voice or street-corner philosophies but the veritable dream team of producers and features that flanked him. Names like DJ Premier, Lord Finesse, and Bluez Brothers may not have been Billboard chart-toppers, but they were architects in the house of Hip Hop. With an eclectic roster of talents, the production feels like a symphony that resonates from Brooklyn’s brownstones to Atlanta’s suburbs. Further, tracks like “Juicy” and “Big Poppa” are masterclasses in beatsmithing.

Moreover, while many rappers of the era often succumbed to the temptation of linguistic showmanship, Biggie’s lyrical mechanics were cut from a different cloth. His wordplay was far from mere verbal gymnastics. It was a tightly choreographed ballet of metaphors and life lessons. Tracks like “Gimme the Loot” and “Things Done Changed” are dissertations on the duality of the human condition, navigating a world as dangerous as it was compelling.

Cultural Impact & Legacy

Notorious B.I.G. 1995 (Photo by Chris Walter/WireImage)

No amount of intricate production or lyrical dexterity would’ve mattered if the album hadn’t set the charts ablaze. Fortunately for Biggie and Hip Hop history, Ready to Die did just that. Certified quadruple Platinum, this debut oeuvre was less an entry into the market and more of a hostile takeover. Critics offered more than nods. They penned raving reviews that often invoked comparisons to previous benchmarks in Hip Hop.

Additionally, the album served as the roots for a tree that has extended its branches far into the various subgenres of modern Hip Hop. From the confessional stylings of Kendrick Lamar to the gritty realism of Pusha T, the ripples of Ready to Die are discernible. Not to forget, this record was the cornerstone on which Bad Boy Records built its empire. Several artists from the label owe a degree of their success to the groundbreaking nature of this project.

Ready To Die Continues To Resonate

The staying power of Ready to Die is nothing short of astronomical. Decades have rolled by, yet the album’s soul is as untamed as ever. It’s not just another album gathering digital dust in the sprawling archives of streaming platforms. It’s a living, breathing entity. A forerunner in every “best of” list and forever pulsing in the veins of a culture that refuses to forget its heroes. Biggie’s opus remains a stylistic and thematic blueprint in a climate that has witnessed the explosion of subgenres and hybrid sounds.

Almost three decades on, the incalculable contributions Biggie made to the industry and the culture at large have yet to be eclipsed. His lyricism is still studied, his flow still imitated but never duplicated. The irony? An album that so explicitly flirted with death has proven immortal. The staying power of Ready to Die is more than a tribute to an artist taken from us far too soon. It remains deeply rooted in its formative icons and a cornerstone in the ever-expanding cathedral of Hip Hop.

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Drake’s Throwback Photos Reflect On His Career’s Early Successes Amid New Album Rollout

Before the first single from Drake’s highly anticipated For All The Dogs album hits streamers at 12PM ET today (September 15), the Canadian had some throwback photos to share on Instagram early this morning. His next LP will apparently see him returning to his roots, and this new post may indicate what we can expect. Drizzy kicked things off with a zen-looking meditation space, followed by a rooftop candid of him, longtime friend Niko, and another man mid-conversation in Las Vegas.

“I believe in the phrase things change… I just never took you for one of those things,” he wrote in the caption. It’s unclear if there’s someone specific that Drake is referring to, or if he’s simply looking back on all the people who have come and gone from his life over the years. Midway through his IG carousel, the Toronto native sits in front of the piano to play a song and lays on the floor with Courtne Bianca. In the latter snap, an image of a young Champagne Papi with his father, Dennis Graham, sits on the table behind them.

Read More: Drake Previews Song With Yeat While Promoting His Latest NOCTA Glide

Drake is Feeling Nostalgic

OVO co-creator Oliver El-Khatib also makes an appearance in the second half of the post. He, Drake, and Niko all posed for the camera together in matching cheetah-print puffer jackets from The North Face. Besides showing his growth as an artist, the throwback photo dump also shows just how much the Scorpion rapper’s style has evolved over the years.

Drake is a celebrity who tends to keep his fanbase well-updated on his latest activity via social media, but even when he’s not online, it doesn’t take much for the father of one to go viral. Earlier this week, a video of him calling out his security team for allowing a fan to rush the stage during his It’s All a Blur tour hit the internet, bringing in mixed reactions. See that at the link below, and tap back in later for more hip-hop/pop culture news updates.

Read More: Drake Pushes Fan Who Rushes Stage On Tour, Calls Out Security For Lacking


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Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint 3” Turns 14

Throughout his career, Jay-Z has released a truly impressive number of classic albums. His discography is riddled with iconic music, and one of his most lauded works, The Blueprint 3, turned 14 this year. For years, Hov has been widely regarded as one of the greatest rappers Hip Hop has ever witnessed. As a matter of fact, Billboard outrightly named him the greatest rapper of all time. 

He is a legendary figure in Hip Hop, and his impact on the music scene can not be overstated. With a career spanning over three decades and 13 solo studio albums, Jay-Z has made an indispensable name for himself, not just in Hip Hop but music at large. The Blueprint 3 is an influential masterpiece that further helped solidify his reputation as a music icon. Similarly, it has had a lasting impact on pop culture and remains a key work in Hip Hop’s canon.

The Blueprint 3

FRESNO, CA – NOVEMBER 7: Rapper Jay-Z performs in support of his The Blueprint 3 release at the Save Mart Center at Fresno State University on November 7, 2009 in Fresno, California. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

The Blueprint 3 was released on September 8, 2009, as the 11th studio album by Jay-Z. Although it came at a time when Jay-Z was already a highly respected figure in Hip Hop, the album further reassured audiences about his status as one of the greats. Moreover, it has since had a significant impact on his career. The Blueprint 3 is the third installment in the Blueprint album series. It follows The Blueprint (2001) and The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse (2002). By the time the album dropped, however, it had been seven years since the second installment was released. While Jay-Z had dropped five albums and two mixtapes in between, fans hoped for a third Blueprint installment, and he finally delivered it in 2009.

Production & Musical Style

The album features a diverse range of producers, including Kanye West, Timbaland, The Neptunes, and Swizz Beatz. This blend of bright talents contributed to the album’s rich and varied sound. The Blueprint 3 showcased Jay-Z’s ability to adapt to the ever-changing musical landscapes. It incorporated elements of rap, pop, and electronic music, reflecting the evolving Hip Hop scene. Furthermore, the MC’s lyrical prowess was fully displayed on the album. With succinct verses, he addressed various themes ranging from his successful rise to the state of Hip Hop at the time.

Collaborations & Hit Singles

Jay-Z collaborated with several artists on this album, highlighting his ability to work with different talents while maintaining his artistic vision. Five of the album’s six singles were collaborations, and four of those went on to become major hits. Those four songs are some of the strongest on the 15-track album, and all achieved significant chart success. Those singles are: “Empire State of Mind” ft. Alicia Keys, “Run This Town” ft. Rihanna and Kanye West, “On to the Next One” ft. Swizz Beatz, and “Young Forever” ft. Mr. Hudson.

Commercial Success & Critical Acclaim

The Blueprint 3 debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100 chart and has been certified 3x Platinum by RIAA. The album’s first five singles all performed well on the Hot 100 chart, with “Empire State of Mind” topping it for five consecutive weeks. The song also became the first rap song to top the charts in the 2010s decade. The Blueprint 3 was Jay-Z’s 11th Billboard 200 No. 1 album and was received positively by critics and fans alike. The album subsequently picked up a total of six Grammys. 

Cultural Impact & Legacy

Songs like “Empire State of Mind” and “Run This Town” have since become cultural touchstones. “Empire State of Mind” is particularly widely appreciated for its celebration of New York City. In its 14 years, The Blueprint 3 has had a lasting impact on Hip Hop and will continue to do so. It is a revered body of work that will be relevant in pop culture and referenced in Hip Hop for generations to come.


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Remembering Tupac Shakur On The Anniversary Of His Death

On the fateful evening of September 13, 1996, the world lost an artist and a poet of the streets. The ringing of Tupac Amaru Shakur’s untimely demise reverberated across continents, touching hearts and minds that had been invigorated by his activism and musical talents.

While Las Vegas streets bore witness to the tragic drive-by shooting that claimed his life at just 25, they also became the epicenter of countless conspiracy theories. Some whispered about rivalries as others hinted at a larger setup. However, among the speculations, one fact remained unwavering—Tupac’s influence was far more significant than the life he lived. To truly understand the man behind the legend, we must venture beyond that tragic evening, back into the roots. We’re revisiting his celebrated life and career 27 years after his passing.

From Panther Roots To Hip-Hop Royalty: The Genesis Of Tupac

tupac shakur
American rapper Tupac Shakur (1971 – 1996), Oakland, California, January 7, 1992. (Photo by Gary Reyes/Oakland Tribune Staff Archives/MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images)

Beneath Tupac’s multifaceted public image was a history rich with activism and a legacy of challenging the established order. Born in East Harlem in 1971, Tupac’s formative years were intertwined with the ideals of the Black Panther movement. His mother, Afeni Shakur, was more than a guiding light in his life. She was a formidable member of the Panthers and a fervent activist. Her 1969 arrest and her subsequent acquittal in 1971 highlighted a period marked by racial tensions and intense political engagement. These surroundings heavily influenced Tupac’s growing hunger for change.

Moving from Baltimore to the West Coast, Tupac experienced firsthand the stark contrasts of racial disparities. This backdrop nurtured his artistry, enabling him to give voice to the unheard stories of those around him in his lyrics. To the broader audience, Tupac was purely a significant figure in Hip Hop. However, he had an undeniable depth, sharpened by diverse readings from Shakespeare to contemporary Black American authors. Yet, the enduring spirit of his mother, tales of Black resistance, and the profound influence of the Panthers truly shaped Tupac’s ethos. This foundation not only permeated his music but also fueled the energy behind his activism.

Gangsta Beats To Heartfelt Feats: The Sonic Journey

Rising from the underbelly of Hip Hop’s Golden Era, Tupac’s music was an authentic reflection of his experiences. His rhymes were molded by the cultural and socio-political milieu of his times. Tracks like “Brenda’s Got A Baby” and “Keep Ya Head Up” were not mere songs—they were poignant tales of the struggles Black Americans faced daily. It revealed an artist deeply empathetic to the societal ills surrounding him. Shakur used his platform to shed light on the often-ignored stories of Black American women grappling with hardships.

Tracks like “Changes” underscored Tupac’s sharp socio-political consciousness. Tackling issues from racism to police brutality, it was a clarion call for change and introspection. His lyrical brilliance was apparent, and his relevance undying. Even today, amid waves of civil rights movements, the song’s message stands as pertinent as ever.

Balancing Revolutionary Rhymes & Gangsta Rap

tupac shakur
NEW YORK, NY – JULY 19: A Tupac Shakur Two-Page handwritten & signed letter from prison. To the Deputy Warden of Rikers Island Prison for auction at Gotta Have It! store. On July 19, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)

With such a background, it was no surprise that Shakur’s artistry was interwoven with pointed social and political commentary. Yet, his activism wasn’t restricted to his music. Tupac was known for his candid, often fiery interviews where he didn’t shy away from addressing injustices, institutional racism, and the importance of empowering Black American youth.

One might argue that this alignment of art and activism was a tightrope walk, especially in the mainstream music industry. The magnetism of commercial allure is seductive. Album sales, roaring fans, global tours, and the shimmer of accolades paint an irresistible portrait. For Tupac, these trappings were merely vehicles that transported his deeper message to a global stage. He consistently dodged the trend of diluting content for broader appeal. Instead, he chose to layer his artistry with intricate narratives, pushing forth a duality of street sagas alongside passionate calls for change.

This was the fine line Tupac Shakur perpetually walked upon, each step weighed against the gold standard of chart-topping success and the moral imperative to speak truth to power. However, Tupac managed this balance with finesse. He emphasized that his gangsta rap persona and his activist inclinations were not contradictory. Instead, they were reflective of the dual realities that many Black Americans, especially successful professionals, continue to balance.

More Than A Legend

tupac shakur
HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JUNE 07: Sekyiwa ‘Set’ Shakur attends the ceremony honoring Tupac Shakur. With a posthumous Star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame. On June 07, 2023 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

The sparkle of Tupac Shakur isn’t confined merely to the beats that punctuated his music or the lyrics that have been staples in Hip Hop culture. It lies in the undying reverberations that continue to reach the corners of both the music industry and larger expanse of activism. Moreover, Tupac’s influence is palpable. Turn on the radio, and you’ll find young artists echoing his passion. Their reverence for Tupac is unmistakable, recognizing in him a pioneer who carved a space for authenticity in arenas that often seemed consumed by superficiality.

Additionally, more than an artist, Tupac was a beacon for change. It wasn’t merely about identifying problems—it was about galvanizing change and urging collective action. Today, as we remember Tupac on the anniversary of his death, it’s evident that his physical departure from this world has done little to dim his legacy. Young activists, armed with microphones or placards, champion the causes the Rap icon shed light on.

In a life punctuated by both fame and tragedy, Tupac managed to transcend the traditional confines of celebrity. He became more than just a rapper or an actor. He emerged as a symbol, representing hope. As we reflect on his life, we’re reminded that Tupac’s legacy remains immortal.

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50 Cent Rep Denies Ciara Modelling For “Curtis” Album After Rapper Slammed For Sharing NSFW Photos

Monday (September 11) was a big day in hip-hop history, particularly for fans of Kanye West and 50 Cent. 16 years ago, in 2007, the former took us to his Graduation, while the latter introduced us to Curtis. Both LPs have strong replay value and were heavily celebrated on social media amid the other ongoing Hip-Hop 50 festivities. The Power producer even chimed in on the conversation regarding his project. He shared some throwback snapshots from a marketing photoshoot that found him sharing extreme PDA with a beautiful, nearly nude model.

When Curtis Jackson first shared the photo dump, it wasn’t long before followers began calling him out in the comments. Some were under the impression that the woman in the NSFW images was Ciara. This notably sparked outrage on behalf of the performer’s husband, Russell Wilson. As Page Six points out, she and the “I Get Money” rapper dated from 2007 to 2010, leading many to naturally assume that he tapped her to pose with him. However, a rep for Fif has since provided some clarity on the situation to the outlet.

Read More: 50 Cent Hands Out Shots In The Club After Performing In Vancouver

Before She Married Russell Wilson, Ciara Spent Some Time with 50 Cent

50 Cent Ciara Concert
Ciara and 50 Cent perform onstage during Screamfest ’07 at Madison Square Garden on August 22, 2007, in New York City. (Photo by Scott Gries/Getty Images)

“Two different models are featured on the ‘Curtis’ album cover,” Amanda Ruisi explained. “Neither of whom is Ciara,” she additionally noted. While the soon-to-be mother of four tied the knot with Wilson in 2016 (following a chaotic relationship with Future), her ex has been happily coupled up with Cuban Link for some time now. Earlier this year there were engagement rumours surrounding the pair, but they’ve since denied that gossip.

If you missed the celebratory throwback Curtis photos when 50 Cent first posted them, you can check them out at the link below. Are you surprised to find out that Ciara isn’t the woman modelling with the New Yorker? Let us know in the comments.

Read More: 50 Cent Posts Seriously Sexy Ciara Throwback Pics To Celebrate “Curtis,” Trolls Mention Russell Wilson


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Gym Class Heroes “As Cruel As School Children” Turns 17

Amid a bustling music era of the 1990s, four visionaries from Geneva, New York, dared to defy the ordinary. With Travie McCoy, Matt McGinley, and Ryan Geise, Gym Class Heroes emerged as a band of friends looking to express themselves creatively. What it turned into was more than a group of music-loving misfits, but a movement. Soon, Geise and Levine would exit, leaving room for Eric Roberts to emerge on bass and Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo to pair his vocal talents with his guitar skills.

Their sonic experimentations were a heady blend of Hip Hop, Funk, and Rock that resonated far beyond charts. When Gym Class Heroes dropped As Cruel As School Children in 2006, they were venturing slightly left from their previous recordings. Released under the venerated Decaydance label (founded by Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz), an imprint of Fueled By Ramen, the Heroes found themselves in the cradle of burgeoning Pop-Punk and Alternative Hip Hop synergy.

Read More: What Happened To Gym Class Heroes?
gym class heroes
LOS ANGELES – MAY 2008: Members of Gym Class Heroes pose for a portrait in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images)

July 2023 marked seventeen years since the release of As Cruel As School Children. It is an album that marked a pivotal moment for Gym Class Heroes and embedded itself into the very fabric of the 2000s, Myspace-era, Emo pop culture. It was a pivot from their sophomore attempt (and my personal favorite Gym Class Heroes release), 2004’s The Papercut Chronicles. While the group’s breakout project was rooted deeply in experimentation with those aforementioned sonic elements helping create a sound all their own, ACASC explored a more mainstream Pop sound without losing their original essence. Hits like “Cupid’s Chokehold” showcased this balance impeccably, sampling Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America” nostalgically and freshly. The track, originally on TPC, was given a reboot for ACASC, and it skyrocketed up the charts. “Cupid’s Chokehold” enjoyed its place in the Top 5 of the Billboard Hot 100, further solidifying the band’s position in pop culture.

“The creation of As Cruel As School Children was an epic ride, to say the least.  I had no idea when we were working on that record what a profound impact it would have on my life, Gym Class Heroes fans, and the world in general,” Disashi told HNHH while reflecting on the project. “‘Cupid’s Chokehold’ on our previous album was my first set of musical contributions to our band, including guitar and some fun vocal harmonies. But As Cruel As School Children was really my first full album opportunity to showcase my songwriting ability in terms of range, production, guitar solos, and more complex vocal harmonies.”

At its heart, the album presented a musical cocktail that few dared to experiment with and even fewer mastered. The band, fronted by the charismatic McCoy, had a knack for storytelling that felt personal and universal. McCoy was no stranger to putting his deepest struggles and fears on wax. From his battles with addiction, his feelings of isolation and depression, to the ebbs and flows of his romances, listeners identified and felt a kinship with the lyricist with the help of the musicians who aided in bringing rhythmic life to his rhymes.

Read More: Travie McCoy Says Machine Gun Kelly’s Pop-Punk Era “Threw Me For A Loop”

Further, critics and fans alike noticed a sonic shift with ACASC. Where The Papercut Chronicles was a deep introspection, ACASC felt like a celebration, an anthem of youth and vivacity. Yet, beneath the buoyant melodies were sharp commentaries on love, school life, and the pains of growing up.

Take “The Queen and I,” for instance. On the surface, it seems that McCoy raps about falling for a woman who may have an alcohol abuse problem. For some, it’s not merely a song but a narrative of excess. Others believe it tapped into the roller-coaster of stardom, wrapped up in a catchy chorus that had listeners humming along, perhaps oblivious to its more profound ruminations on the pitfalls of fame. This capacity for layered songwriting marked much of the album, enticing listeners to revisit tracks and uncover deeper, previously unnoticed meanings.

Then, there’s the infectious “Cupid’s Chokehold” that hosted a look from Fall Out Boy’s lead vocalist Patrick Stump. The intertwining of Supertramp’s iconic Classic Rock refrain with fresh verses that captured the headiness of young love was a masterstroke. The music video was just as entertaining as the track itself, but beneath all of the fun is a deep appreciation. Disashi noted that this song is one that he holds near and dear, not only because of its impact.

Read More: Travie McCoy Reveals Lil Wayne’s Stylist Snooped Through His Clothes For Inspo During His Rock Era
“As our crucial creation turns 17 years old, I also have to acknowledge Roger Hodgson (of Supertramp) because I believe in giving credit where it’s due,” Disashi said. “When Cupid’s Chokehold’ made its way onto ACASC, he found it in his heart to allow our album to flourish when he could have done exactly the opposite and ruined our momentum and career. And for that, I’m truly grateful. There was a lot of hard work, sacrifice, turbulence, and magic that went into making that album what it is today, and it’s a true blessing that As Cruel As School Children is still culturally and musically relevant 17 years later.”

Yet, the brilliance of As Cruel As School Children wasn’t solely in its singles or the radio-ready tracks. Deep cuts, like “Sloppy Love Jingle, Pt. 1,” showcased the band’s ability to play with form and content. Moreover, beneath the glossy production was an undercurrent of poignant social observation. “Viva La White Girl,” for example, dissected the allure of escapism through substance abuse in fame. It presented a sharp commentary yet the music never overshadowed it.

The juxtaposition of playfulness and profundity, levity and lyrical depth, made As Cruel As School Children a standout. Seventeen years later, it remains a masterclass in blending genres, perspectives, and emotions into a cohesive whole. Yet, its authenticity made it resonate even more with its audience. Gym Class Heroes never seemed to be chasing trends or bending themselves to fit a particular mold. They were unabashedly themselves—a group of talented musicians sharing stories and experiences. In doing so, they invited listeners into their world.

Read More: Travie McCoy On Working With Drake & Lil Wayne, Tyga Relationship & The Future Of Gym Class Heroes

For those who were there during its initial release, the album is a sonic time capsule, evoking memories of a distinct era. For the newer generation, it’s an exploration into a time when boundaries in music were being stretched, redefined, and sometimes outright ignored. When I first met Gym Class Heroes in 2004, they performed at an art gallery in Arizona that housed 50 people. They were an unknown band from upstate New York who showed up with a broken trailer (which they argued about outside) and learned the show had been canceled. Still, they decided to push forward and delivered a performance as if they stood in a packed arena. They thanked the staff for letting them showcase their talents before apologizing to me for having to witness their aforementioned argument. As Travis put it at the time, “Underneath it all, we’re brothers.”

“To this day I’m still regularly overwhelmed by the feedback that I receive from GCH fans across the world,” Disashi noted to us. “[They] express the ways in which that album has positively affected their lives and brought them together with new friends, as well as how ACASC introduced them to genres of music that they previously never listened to. I became a professional musician in the first place to help people and also to bring people together, so it’s EXTRA meaningful to know that we‘ve managed to break down some musical boundaries along the way.”

In celebrating this album, we aren’t just commemorating a collection of songs. We’re acknowledging a work that defied expectations, broke conventions, and, above all, showcased that music—like school—can sometimes be as delightful, heartbreaking, and cruel as we remember. However, ACASC didn’t mark the end of the Heroes. Although a lengthy hiatus was had, they’re back in action. These days, you can catch them on tour beginning in September with All Time Low. In October, make sure to head to Las Vegas to see them at the When We Were Young festival.

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T.I.’s Sophomore Album “Trap Muzik” Turns 20

Following the release of his debut album, 2001’s I’m Serious, T.I. was dropped from Arista Records. This led to his signing with Atlantic and starting his very own label, Grand Hustle. With the push of a new major label and his very own imprint, T.I. reached a wider audience with his 2023, now-Platinum-selling second album, Trap Muzik. The influential project, which included features from Mac Boney, Jazze Pha, 8Ball & MJG, and Bun B, peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard 200. Additionally, it reached No. 2 on their R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart. For its 20th anniversary, which arrived August 22, we’re looking back on Trap Muzik‘s impact and influence.

T.I. Established His Sound On His Second Album

T.I. displayed his rap skills to the world with I’m Serious. However, the album did not perform well commercially and was not warmly received by critics. He made sure to outperform his debut with his second album. T.I. established his own signature style, reaching new creative and commercial heights in the process. Trap Muzik is not what many people may consider “trap music” nowadays, but it painted a picture of “the trap” in its lyrics, laying the foundation for the subgenre.

The album revolves around life in “the trap” and the circumstances that come with the lifestyle of trapping. T.I. displayed some of the earliest iterations of trap music with hard-hitting street anthems like “Rubber Band Man” and “24’s.” He also shared different outlooks on the lifestyle with songs like the Kanye West-produced “Doin’ My Job.” With a uniquely Southern style and varying perspectives, Trap Muzik set the bar for T.I.’s signature sound in future works.

T.I.’s subsequent albums pushed him even further into mainstream success. After establishing his sound on Trap Muzik, he naturally progressed to securing his first No. 1 singles and Platinum albums. T.I. showed the growth of the themes of his sophomore effort in his later and most mature works like Dime Trap. Additionally, Trap Muzik’s impact and influence stands out in his expansive discography. It created the basis for trap music as a subgenre and was groundbreaking for not only T.I.’s career but also for the future of the South.

Trap Muzik Helped Usher In A New Subgenre

T.I. has often credited himself as the inventor of trap music, citing this album’s release date as the official birth of the subgenre. He certainly coined the term, but he was not the sole developer of what we now refer to as trap music. Artists like Gucci Mane and Jeezy made sizable contributions to the subgenre, though Trap Muzik precedes their first releases. Many label the album as gangsta rap or, more broadly, as Southern hip hop. T.I.’s second album helped usher in the new sound of the South, regardless of how one categorizes it.

The album has seen long-term impacts as trap music went on to dominate hip hop, becoming an era-defining sound. Twenty years later, trap music still leads in hip hop and has permeated other genres, including R&B, pop, and EDM. These impacts can be traced back to T.I. in 2003. Trap Muzik helped define the sound of Southern hip hop during the early 2000s, shaping the the genre’s future.


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Benzino & Eminem’s Beef Held Slim Shady Back From Scoring 5-Mic Review From “The Source”

Of the many music genres that exist, hip-hop is arguably the best known for beef unfolding between artists. There have been plenty of legendary feuds and diss tracks over the decades, many of which are still talked about today. On Matt Hoffa’s My Expert Opinion podcast, media proprietor Benzino stopped by to discuss his long-spanning drama with Eminem, who he still hasn’t totally forgiven for what transpired between them in the past. As it turns out, at the height of Zino’s career, he actually made sure that the 8 Mile actor didn’t receive the ultimate accolade, a five-mic review from The Source magazine.

“I was the top of my muthaf**kin’ food chain,” Coi Leray’s father said while reflecting on the early 2000s. “I was the top of a damn near $75 million company when ni**as wasn’t getting money like that, I got that big money first and I was the top of that,” Benzino further bragged of his past successes. Because of his high status in the industry, the 58-year-old knew that he had the power to determine how the public was perceiving artists, especially since social media wasn’t around at the time.

Read More: Benzino Claims Michael Jackson Thanked Him For Eminem Diss

Benzino Addresses His Beef with Eminem on My Expert Opinion

“So when the Eminem thing came through ‘The Source,’ at this point, it’s getting disrespectful. So how the f**k am I gonna have this ni**a in my magazine? Would you?” Benzino told Hoffa and his co-hosts. “You’re not gonna put nobody in your magazine to give this ni**a five mics after this ni**a’s being disrespectful. You wouldn’t do it, man. Nobody would.”

Shortly before Benzino revisited his beef with Eminem on My Expert Opinion, the Detroit-born lyricist found himself at odds with another industry veteran – Melle Mel. The latter responded to Slim Shady’s “Realest” verse with a diss track of his own earlier this month but ultimately admitted that it fell short. Read more about that at the link below, and check back later for more hip-hop/pop culture news updates.

Read More: Melle Mel Hits Back At Eminem’s “Realest” Diss Track: Stream


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Tony Yayo Wants Credit For “The BBL Movement”

Soulja Boy is perhaps the rapper who’s best known for taking credit for his various achievements throughout the industry – especially those he’s able to cross off his list before anyone else. While he does have an impressive number of accolades under his belt, there are plenty of other rappers who are calling for their flowers too. Among them is Tony Yayo, who revealed in a recent episode of The Danza Project that he thinks he deserves credit for starting the BBL movement.

During their conversation, Uncle Murda credited Kay Slay as “the godfather” of promoting curvier bodies on his Straight Stuntin’ magazine. “He damn near brought that to the game with them magazines,” he said. Yayo then added, “It was to the point where the [music video] director put the Dominican joint — ’cause you know [in] New York we got bad Dominicans, bad Puerto Ricans — they would put them in the joint. I’m like, ‘I might want some chocolate with the fatty in my shit!’”

Read More: Tony Yayo On “Drink Champs”: Eminem & G-Unit, Rap Beef, Street Life & More

Tony Yayo Reflects on His Career with Uncle Murda

As he continued to blow up, Yayo eventually decided it was time to bring the bodacious bodies from magazine covers and posters to his own videos. “That’s why in ‘So Seductive’ I had Buffie the Body. She was the first BBL you seen in your life,” the New Yorker recalled. So when you think about it, I started the BBL movement! Give me my props! I started the BBL movement. I did! Not me personally, but I started the movement … That was ’04, ’05, ’06. Slay was rocking hard, but I put that shit on the forefront with the video ‘So Seductive.’ That was the fattest a** you seen, shout out to Buffie.”

Back in Tony Yayo’s day, BBLs were much more rare and therefore sought after. At this point, however, cosmetically enhanced bodies have become a commodity, causing more people to lean back toward embracing their natural look. Read what haters have been saying about Blueface’s baby mama’s BBL at the link below, and check back later for more hip-hop/pop culture news updates.

Read More: Jaidyn Alexis’ BBL Criticized By Social Media After Blueface Shows It Off


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