The Notorious B.I.G.
Fear of a Black Planet
All Eyez on Me
Boogie Down Productions

Rap » Hip-Hop/Urban » Hardcore Rap

While the term can refer to several different musical sensibilities, Hardcore Rap is marked by confrontation and aggression, whether in the lyrical subject matter, the hard, driving beats, the noisy sampling and production, or any combination thereof. Hardcore rap is tough, streetwise, intense, and often menacing (although the latter isn't always the case; there is room for humor and exuberance as well). Gangsta rap is the style most commonly associated with hardcore rap, but not all hardcore rap revolves around gangsta themes, even though there is a great deal of overlap, especially among hardcore rappers of the '90s. The first hardcore rap came from the East Coast during the late '80s, when artists began to move away from party rhymes and bragging about their microphone skills; their music and language began to reflect the gritty, often harsh urban surroundings in which it was usually created and enjoyed. Before any specific formula for gangsta rap had been invented, artists like New York's Boogie Down Productions and L.A.'s Ice-T were committing detailed observations of street life to tape; plus, Public Enemy's chaotic sound collages were setting new standards for production power, and N.W.A. celebrated the bleakness of the ghetto and the gangsta lifestyle with an over-the-top machismo. In the early '90s, hardcore rap was essentially synonymous with West Coast gangsta rap until the 1993 emergence of the Wu-Tang Clan, whose spare, minimalistic beats and haunting string and piano samples became a widely imitated style. With its slamming, hard-hitting grooves and street-tough urban grit, hardcore rap became hip-hop's most popular crossover style during the latter half of the '90s, its subject matter now a mix of party anthems, gangsta's money/sex/violence obsessions, and occasional social commentary. Artists like the Notorious B.I.G., DMX, and Jay-Z became platinum-selling superstars, and Master P's brand of gangsta-oriented Southern hardcore also became a lucrative commercial force, even if it didn't produce crossover hit singles on the same level.

Hardcore Rap Artists Highlights

The Notorious B.I.G.
The Notorious B.I.G.
Boogie Down Productions
Boogie Down Productions
Wu-Tang Clan
Wu-Tang Clan
Public Enemy
Public Enemy
Jay-Z
Jay-Z
EPMD
EPMD

More Hardcore Rap Artists

Hardcore Rap Album Highlights

Fear of a Black Planet
Public Enemy
Fear of a Black Planet
All Eyez on Me
2Pac
All Eyez on Me
We Can't Be Stopped
Geto Boys
We Can't Be Stopped
The Great Adventures of Slick Rick
Slick Rick
The Great Adventures of ...
Straight Outta Compton
N.W.A
Straight Outta Compton
The Predator
Ice Cube
The Predator

More Hardcore Rap Albums

Hardcore Rap Song Highlights

Title/Composer Performer Stream
Bring the Noise Public Enemy
My Name Is Eminem
Big Poppa The Notorious B.I.G.
A Dream Faith Evans / Jay-Z / The Notorious B.I.G.
Mo Money Mo Problems The Notorious B.I.G.
C.R.E.A.M. Wu-Tang Clan
Method Man Wu-Tang Clan
Shame on a Nigga Wu-Tang Clan
Izzo (H.O.V.A.) Jay-Z
Damn It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta Geto Boys

More Hardcore Rap Songs

Other Styles in Hip-Hop/Urban