The Production Era (’90-’93)
Things started to shift from the importance of the word into the importance of the music. This is perhaps the most critical point for Chicago Hip Hop as things swung into full gear. The Technic 1200s were being frequented by the likes of names such as Twilight Tone, Tone B Nimble, 33 1/3, Archive, Spin, Ram, Diamond Kut, pns, G Most, Third Rail, & Kaze.
Gmost gets a spot over at Gramaphone records and builds up the first official Hip Hop wall. Around the same time, Hip House expanded it’s rap section as well. DJ V had the Raphouse record store going on on the South side. Cliff Livingston was doing some semi-regular Hip Hop shows at The Rivera.
On the Graf tip, you had SB, DC5, J Force, UAC, &TAC up everywhere. Regular Hip Hop hang spots were in Wicker Park’s Triple X (gear and graf accessories) & Lit Ex (book store w/reg mc & poetry open mic sessions). There were semi-regular club events at spots like -clubs: The Oak Theater, AC Club, China Club, Shelter (Phat Fridays), and B-side Cafe.
Beyond the popular Hip Hop club nites there were equally important more underground & illegal parties thrown, mainly in Lofts, around the city; 811 loft, Vision Village, Love Loft (kids would rent this spot from local legand, Wesley Willis, and have parties while Mr. Willis played his Casio in the background), 500 W. Cermak, No Palace Studio, Cafe Graf, 162 N. Jefferson, etc…
(Nov 18th): Local MC, D.A. Smart is disqualified from The Regal Theater city-wide music competition after performing his acappella piece “Black People Ain’t Prejudice, We Just Mad”. It was said he was disqualified because his message may have been considered offensive to White people.
Raw Material & Def Intelligence E.P. (early release from some of the members of the crew later to be better known as M.A.T.S and/or No Pity Committee)
Black A.G.-”No Typa Drugdeala” 12″
Richard Davenport a.k.a 3D is murdered. R.I.P
Common Sense grabbed some attention by winning the Source’s Unsigned Hype in the Oct. 91 issue. This eventually led to his deal with Relativity.
Prince Akeem (w/Chuck D & Flavor Flav)-”Time To Come Correct” 12″ & video [Produced by Plee Fresh]
Slang opens his Slangwear store down on 95th
A year after of the crew name being made known, the Dem Dare (Twilight Tone, Reg Noc, Claydough, etc…) Crew throw some classic Hip Hop events at the Alcatraz & The Hot House.
Tung Twista releases a few singles then followed by his Runnin Off at Da Mouth LP making him the first artist on the Loud/RCA label and more importantly, the first Chicago MC with a major label deal. In ‘92 he continued to break more records. This time by being the first Hip Hop artist in the Guiness Book Of World Records as they clocked him as the world’s fastest rapper.
The Metro has an all local Hip Hop show on April 2nd featuring He Who Walks Three Ways, O Type Star, Steady Serv & Discover (Unison crew), Twista, F.A.T.E, Ang 13, & Mental Giants. The show is closed with a freestyle session with most of the above mentioned as well as many others (including myself).
Big Lip Promotions (Duro & crew) have the club scene on lock with the classic open mic/artist showcase spot Lower Links which was the meeting ground and foundation for many of the crews that would come out during and after this point. Later they also had success with events at the Avalon & Smart Bar. Who knows what to say when I say, “Who got big lips?”
Ten Tray release the Realm Of Darkness LP on Smash/MCA making them 1st Chicago Hip Hop group to release an album on a major label. Initially making it’s debut as the Rap Sheet, but due to legalities they soon after become known as the Flypaper. The Flypaper is a key publication figure in Chicago’s Hip Hop journalism history. At the time, it existed as well of information from the Chicago underground scene. If there was Hip Hop happening in Chicago then chances are they covered it.
Well respected Graffiti artists, Zore & Rafa open a spot called 935. They sold graf gear, shell toe adidas, fat laces, local tapes (ex: Stony Island), & other items that represented the essence of Hip Hop.
Whether you were in need of new music, graf supplies, gear, Hip Hop videos or who knows what else, the place to make that score was The Yard which was the brainchild of DJ Jesse De La Pena and friends.
E.C. drops his first piece of wax and just can’t stop or is it can’t be stopped?; The Invisible Man EP (feat. Sista Ang) (’92), Ease Back EP (’93), Ill State Of Mind Double LP(’93)
Underground favorites, Kinetic Order, became the first artists to ink a deal with Chameleon records which was a new subsidiary of Elektra. However, the label fell apart before anything was released.
Must have underground tapes by Stony Island “Slowly On the Southside” (3 song demo) & The Grass Is… (You Can’t Bluff Father Time or Fool Mother Nature EP) were in regular rotation in many a walkman and car stereo thru out the city. The best way to get your hands on one of those gems was to catch them at one of their shows
Chicago Rocks magazine makes it debut and focuses on local Hip Hop artists with a strong connection with the Graf scene in Chicago also.
Dialing 708-918-RAGE connected you with the RAGE Hip Hop info line which kept callers updated on local events, new releases and featured exclusive freestyles and verses from a variety of national artists (ex: Kool Keith, Kurious, Godfather Don, Pudgee, Coolio, etc…). All arranged and managed by a four-track wired to the phone line…
Rage Cage Productions compiles a compilation demo titled “Out Of The Cage Into Confinement” (feat. Rubberoom, Undaground Soulution, etc…) and embarks on a mission to give New York a taste of the flavor in Chicago. However, only after getting a few tapes out and receiving some positive responses, while in the Stepsun Records office their vehicle is broken into and only the bag of demo tapes are stolen…
Disco Dave of WGCI’s “Rapdown” show passes away (R.I.P)
Common-Can I borrow A Dollar? LP
J.G.-”Put Down the guns” 12″ (w/Ten Tray, Rhyme Poets, Prince Akeem)
The popularity of Mixtapes swept the Midwest and DJ Third Rail started his “Subway Hip Hop” series Mixtapes & Mixx Massacre of The Molemen drops “A View From The Underground: Fat Tape 1″.
In June, WJPC 950 AM becomes known as Rap Radio and sports a new sound as a 24 hour Hip Hop station
Hip Hop Phenomenon: On March 5th, Zore & Rafa give a Graffiti art exhibit. They hads some of their work on exhibit, a room with a full wall burner top to bottom, a full size wall piece of Afrika Bambaataa done by Rafa and a few blank walls for Writers who came thru to put their work up on. All that plus performances from the likes of Dead Poets Society, Knomadz (their first show), Stony Island, Ang 13, & The Grass is…