With Hip-Hop’s 50th year anniversary quickly approaching this Friday, it’s only right we honor and pay homage to the greats that paved the way for the genre of rap as a whole. 

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Insert Rostrum Records, who continues to celebrate two decades of amplifying artistry and independence. Today, they premiered their new short-form documentary titled Top Shelf 1988, bringing fans back to the time they released their first-ever project, the compilation album titled Top Shelf 1988.

The story goes… Top Shelf’s Lower East Side studio became the go-to safe spot for artists to create magic freely, without the pressures from the music industry. Unfortunately, things took a left turn after a riot broke out in August 1988, right outside of Tompkins Square Park. After the mayhem, producers came back to the studio to find everything had been looted, including their masters. 


Years later, these masters were recovered… and hence, Top Shelf 1988 was born. The new documentary features never-before-seen interviews and recording footage, with music from Hip-Hop legends including Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, Craig G, MC Lyte, Special Ed, Doug E. Fresh, Jungle Brothers, Grand Puba, Masta Ace, Dres (of Black Sheep), Smooth B (of Nice & Smooth), Grandmaster Caz & Melle Mel, and Chubb Rock.


Benjy Grinber, CEO of Rostrum Records, states, “‘Top Shelf 1988’ is most importantly about showing love to iconic legends in Hip-Hop, and I’m so glad this documentary is out in the world to shed light on these artists once again. The album was the genesis of what Rostrum Records is today, and seeing how far the label has come over the last 20 years is very rewarding. I hope this documentary reaches new and old fans alike with the magic of CLASSIC Hip-Hop.” 

The documentary is narrated by Hip-Hop journalist Rob Markman, giving viewers a front row seat into the creative process of all artists involved in the project. The compilation album can be listened to here, on all streaming platforms.