Hip Hop culture has made many milestones as a genre, business and lifestyle. Rappers, singers, songwriters, managers, publicists and everyone in between have built Hip Hop into what it is today, and the road wasn’t easy. Like Black history, Hip Hop history is full of struggles and overcoming adversity. Without the dedication, toil, and artistry of those who fought for Hip Hop, the world of music would be a little less bright. In celebration of Black history month, check out the five times Hip Hop has made Black history below.
The year was 1980. Up until that point, no-one had ever witnessed a rapper perform on television. Kurtis Blow, real name Kurt Walker, braced the Soul Train stage and made history. Performing his breakout hit “The Breaks,” Blow set the standard for live Hip Hop performance. Along with being the first televised rapper, Blow was the first rapper to sell 500,000 copies of his single and certify Gold status for the “The Breaks.” He was also the first rapper to have a record released from a major label.
Before streaming sites and music videos, radio DJs were the tastemakers held responsible for constantly breaking new music to the masses. With Hip Hop programming being more sought out now than ever before, the world has one radio station to thank for their vision. KDAY 1850 AM, based out of South L.A., was the first radio station to have all Hip Hop and R&B programming. KDAY introduced their all Hip Hop all the time radio format in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. KDAY was known notoriously for their community service events and legendary line-up of voice jockeys and DJs, one being Dr. Dre.
Tours have always been a major financial beneficiary for artist. Almost everyone’s fave has toured in attempts to bless their fans with a live performance. While rap tours are the norm in 2016, before 1984 you had to be lucky enough to be in the thick of hip-hop culture to witness a live performance. The Fresh Fest, which featured Run D.M.C., Kurtis Blow, Newcleus, The Fat Boys, and Whodini was the first official hip-hop tour. The 27 date road show amassed $3.7 million in sales setting the standard for rap tours for many years to come.
Only a few of the world’s top rappers have earned the right to call themselves multi-platinum artist. The first to do so was MC Hammer with his sophomore album Please Hammer Don’t Hurt Em. With his most popular single “U Can’t Touch This” gracing the tracklist it is no surprise that the album sold a total of 22 million units to date. The album was released under Columbia/EMI Records in 1990 and ranked number one for 21 weeks on the Billboard 200. “U Can’t Touch This” has been featured on a number of movie soundtracks and commercials worldwide strengthening it’s popularity and securing itself as one of the top selling rap albums in history.
Lil Wayne has been a prolific figure in Hip Hop since his debut in 1996. With singles like “Bling Bling,” “A Milli” “6 Foot 7” and “Lollipop,” the Louisiana born rapper is known for releasing hit after hit. In 2012 Lil Wayne made history for surpassing Elvis Presley with the most hits on the Billboard chart . This came after the release of The Dedication 4. To date Lil Wayne has 44 hits on the Billboard Charts ranging from number 1 to 97.