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Hip-Hop Is Not What It Is Today

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I remember the first time I heard California Love on the radio in the summer of 1996.  There was something about it that caught my attention.  Maybe it was the synthesized voice of Roger Troutman (aka the original T-Pain) or the crazy Mad Max-inspired video.  In either case, I couldn't help but nod my head to 2Pac's steady flow and Dr. Dre's smooth production.  That was the first of many rap singles that I would go on to buy.  Some kids thought I was just trying to be cool, but I wasn't out to impress anyone.  I'd run home and hope the new Biggie video would sneak into the "MTV Top 20 Countdown," or that someone would order it on "The Box."  And of course, I'd stay up late to watch "Yo! MTV Raps" on Friday nights.

I was naive enough to believe that Hot97 and MTV were my only sources for new music.  I'm almost ashamed to admit that I listened to Puff Daddy and Mase as recently as my freshman year of high school.  I didn't know any better then, but as time went on, I began to come across more lesser-known artists who were talking about more than their money, cars, and jewerly.  Some of the sites I've linked were instrumental in providing news, tour dates, and album reviews during those early stages.  I became fully engaged in the underground hip-hop scene, picking up two or three new and certified classic albums every week.  The order didn't really matter -- I heard In My Lifetime...Volume I before Reasonable Doubt; Wu-Tang Forever before Enter the 36 Chambers.  I picked up Life After Death before Ready to Die, and Illmatic after It Was Written.  I bought One Day It'll All Make Sense and Resurrection only after listening to Like Water For Chocolate.  Those artists, along with the likes Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Pharaoah Monch opened my eyes to the true essense of hip-hop music.

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