50 Years Of Hip-Hop (Part 3): Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Nicki Minaj, LL Cool J and A$AP Rocky

50 Years Of Hip-Hop (Part 3): Pete Rock & CL Smooth, Nicki Minaj, LL Cool J and A$AP Rocky

This year marks the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, with a legendary DJ Kool Herc party in the Bronx on August 11, 1973 commonly cited as its glorious moment of inception. To celebrate for a special edition of Music Week, we asked over 100 names – featuring everyone from Chuck D and Kanya King to top executives, broadcasters, managers, producers and more – to pick and salute one album that impacted their lives and pushed hip-hop culture forward…


“Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa and Big Daddy Kane were the soundtrack to my childhood. Then, in 1991, I heard the song that changed my life forever: They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.) from Mecca And The Soul Brother. It’s legendary producer Pete Rock duetting with the amazing lyricism of a young teenager CL Smooth, who to me is easily one of the best, yet most overlooked, rappers ever to bless the mic. When I first heard the horns sampled in T.R.O.Y. it impacted me emotionally. The track entered my soul – it’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard. CL Smooth’s melodic rhyming style on For Pete’s Sake was so stimulating to my mind as a child and I had never heard production like that before, it was almost like there were four or five separate songs pulled together in one track. Mecca And The Soul Brother was the gateway for me to understand my own path to hip-hop. It was an amazing album using beautiful and not stereotypical jazz samples. This album is a work of art, a true masterpiece.” Charisse Beaumont (Black Lives In Music) 



“Nicki Minaj had long been one of the most exciting rappers before the release of Pink Friday, often credited, rightly so, for stealing the show when guesting on other artists’ tracks. Pink Friday proved conclusively, and there was never really any doubt, what an incredible lyricist Nicki is and what a spectacular talent she possesses. That album, with its singles and remarkable videos, established Nicki as a truly global superstar as well as one of the world’s most unique pop stars.” Louis Bloom (Island Records UK)

“Nicki Minaj is a rap icon and on this album she delivers on so many levels. Lyricism, creative and, of course, the hardest bars. My favourite songs on the album are Roman’s Revenge, when we hear Nicki go back-to-back with Eminem and the masterpiece Moment 4 Life featuring Drake. When this album was released, I felt like Nicki interrupted the global music industry and dominated in a very male-heavy hip-hop scene. Nicki Minaj continues to represent rap culture to its fullest and I look forward to her new album.” Dellessa James (Amazon Music UK) 


LL COOL J – RADIO (1985)

“Sonically, this is the most amazing rap album of all time. There was simply nothing that had been released like it before. LL Cool J and Rick Rubin completely rewrote the rules and created a new rap album blueprint. I was so captivated by the songs on the album and the production of the sound, and given its success, I wasn’t the only one. It is an unquestionably epic album through and through.” Tony Harlow (Warner Music UK)


“This is a very important record for me. I was in NYC the day it came out. I was missing home and my daughter, who was only a few months old at the time. I played this record on loop and walked around the city for hours in the sun. It gave me the energy and inspiration I needed. The album had the whole city jumping. I was lucky enough to be invited to the album release party that night at an art gallery called The Hole. Rocky passed through and thanked everyone for supporting him. It was the sound of NYC at the time and, to me, is still a timeless record. Long live Yams.” Chris Wareing (AEG Presents)

Click here to read more about our special edition of Music Week celebrating 50 years of hip-hop.

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