To celebrate XXL‘s 150th issue, here’s a look back at the 150 most important people, places and things in hip-hop over the last 16 years. The list covers artists, events, labels, execs, fashion, beef, lifestyle and more. You can pick up the magazine on newsstands or download the digital version for the full scoop on who and what made the list and why.
Compiled by Dan Buyanovsky, Eric Diep, Kathy Iandoli, Sowmya Krishnamurthy, Amy Linden, Dan Rys, B.J. Steiner, Tzvi Twersky and Jeff Weiss
> Jay Z (pg. 56) -
“M.J. at Summer Jam, Obama on the text/Y’all should be afraid of what I’m gon’ do next,” Jay Z boastfully warned on 2009’s “On To The Next One.” And he was right. Who else on Earth — let alone within hip-hop — had the pull to bring out Michael Jackson at rap’s biggest event, as he did in 2001, and grow to be buddies with the current president of the United States a decade later. ”He’s always had that ‘it’ factor,” says industry vet Kevin Liles, who has known the Brooklyn native since the early 1990s. “Jay pushes boundaries—not just to be different but to inspire the culture and dream bigger.”
It took years of empire-building for Hov to position himself as the most lionized entity in hip-hop—and maybe all of music—but there’s no doubt that that’s what he’s become since dropping his debut album in 1996. He’s combined the verbal precision of The Notorious B.I.G., the business acumen of Jimmy Iovine, the spokesmanship of Russell Simmons and the dreams and ambitions of every kid across America to position himself as rap’s most beloved and emulated figure.
And after countless hits and verses, 13 No. 1 albums, founding Roc-A-Fella and Roc Nation, multiple endorsements and deals, Hov is proving he’s still got it. “Jay’s lasting legacy is his ability to evolve,” Liles says. “To always bet on himself and continue to propel his reach while maintaining relevancy.”
> Snoop Dogg (pg. 56)
> The RZA (pg. 57)
> Pharrell (pg. 57)
> Dr. Dre (pg. 58)
> Eminem (pg. 59)
> Rick Ross (pg. 60)
> 50 Cent (pg. 62)