21 Great Hip-Hop Acts We Know You’ve Forgotten
A common truism is to say that "history is written by the winners." When it comes to the story of hip-hop, most fans seem to only remember the Greats - the artists that have made an undeniable impact in the course of hip-hop history. Warm memories are associated with the Greats. Nobody forgets Rakim, Nas, OutKast, Run-D.M.C., Snoop Dogg, Jay Z or the Wu-Tang Clan. Their place is permanently etched in canon and they will not be soon forgotten. Their names will cause chills to run down the spines of hip-hop's most dedicated fans
Of course, the successes are only one part of hip-hop history. Thousands of acts have released hip-hop albums over the years which means there are plenty of groups that have slipped through the grasp of time. Not everybody who releases an album can be a huge, generational-defining star. Some lacked talent. Some lacked luck.
The forgotten stories of hip-hop need to be told as well to remind us that chance is fleeting and you need to make the most of a given opportunity even if you never truly succeed. With this in mind, XXL has compiled a list of 21 great hip-hop acts that have been largely forgotten through time. These acts might not have been the biggest stars but their legacy continues to exist through their music.
Today, we celebrate the forgotten.
Raw Fusion was a Digital Underground spin-off project created by DU member Money B and DJ Fuze. The group had a rawer and more hardcore element than the funk-based records that Digital Underground produced. Most of the tracks had a distinctive experimental style that focused less on flows and more a stripped and rugged feel. The group released two albums, Live From Styleetron and Hoochiefied Funk.
The College Boyz were a short-lived group signed to Virgin Records that hailed from Los Angeles. Originally, calling itself RMG., the group is best known for it's 1992 single, "Victim Of The Ghetto," that peaked at #68 on the Billboard Top 100 and #4 on Billboard's Rap Charts. The group is, perhaps, best known for producing R.O.M aka Romany Malco, a successful television and movie actor from films like The 40-Year Old Virgin and the television show Weeds.
Nine was a rapper from the Bronx who released two albums on Profile Records in the 1990s. Known for his low, gravelly voice and distinctive flow, Nine achieved minor success with his single, "Whutcha Want?," that peaked at #50 on the Billboard Top 100 charts.
Kings Of Swing
Kings Of Swing were an hip-hop act that was active in the late 1980s and early 90s. Notable for being one of the few groups of having two male rappers and a female rapper named DJ Cocoa Chanel. The group is perhaps best known for their single, "Nod You Head To This" which was named as one of top hip-hop singles of 1990 in Ego Trip's Big Book Of Rap Lists.
The Whooliganz were a teenaged rap group hailing from Beverly Hills, California that were part of DJ Muggs' Soul Assassins crew consisting of Cypress Hill, House Of Pain and Funkdoobiest. The group released one album, Make Way for the W, that produced the singles "Put Your Handz Up" and "Don't Mean Nothing." The two teenaged members, Mad Skillz and Mudfoot, have gone on to much success after the group disbanded as super producer, The Alchemist, and television and movie star, Scott Caan, respectively.
Top Quality was a rapper from White Plains, New York that was signed to RCA Records. After initially appearing in The Source's Unsigned Hype column, he caught the eye of EPMD's Parrish Smith where he became a member of the famed Hit Squad. Top Quality released one excellent album, Magnum Opus, in 1993 before disappearing.
Long Beach rapper Domino is best known for Billboard Top 10 hit, "Getto Jam" and it's follow-up, "Sweet Potato Pie," which reached #27 in 1993. Domino had the unfortunate luck of being compared to similarly melodic Long Beach native, Snoop Doggy Dogg, and couldn't escape the comparisons in his career. He did enjoy commercial and creative success on his self-titled debut album that went Gold in 1993.
Ahmad is best known for his quirky nasal vocal style reminiscent of Pharcyde's Fatlip and his nostalgic 1994 single, "Back In The Day" that was released when he was 18 years old. Despite "Back In The Day" being his only major hit, Ahmad has gone on to become an accomplished songwriter for artists such as Flo Rida and LMFAO.
Trends Of Culture
Trends of Culture was a rap group from the 1990s rap group best known for releasing one LP, Trendz, in 1993. The group had a dark, gritty sound reminiscent of their contemporaneous New York acts Black Moon and Wu-Tang Clan.
Sleestack'z were a rap group consisting of J-Nailz, Dwella, Nic & Oxx, that released one excellent but largely forgotten album, Behind The Iron Curtain, on Ichiban International in 1995. Not much is known about the group but they released one quality single, "Ruination/Crystal Clear," as promotion for the record.
Yaggfu Front is notable as being the first rap group from North Carolina to be signed with a major label when the group hooked up with Mercury/Polgram in 1994. The group's name is acronym for "You Are Gonna Get Fucked Up (if you) Front" and released one album, Action Packed Adventure, that petered out after selling only 200,000 copies.
Choclair is a Canadian rapper of Jamaican descent hailing from East Toronto. Choclair was part of the influential hip hop group, The Circle, which were pioneers in Canadian hip-hop. Choclair is perhaps best known to American audiences for his 1999 hit, "Let's Ride," that landed at 37 on Billboard Top Rap Singles chart.
JT Money started his career as the leader of influential Miami hip-hop crew, Poison Clain. In 1999, he went solo and dropped the hit single, "Who Dat," that eventually reached number 5 on the Billboard Chart and won the on Top Rap Single at the 1999 Billboard Music Awards.
City High was a hip-hop and R&B collective that achieved great success with the release of their 2001 single, "What Would You Do?," from their 2001 self-titled debut. The song would reach number 8 on the charts and snag the group a Grammy nomination the following year. The group would achieve success with one more single, "Caramel," that would land at #18 on the Billboard charts before the group petered out and disappeared.
Sporty Thievz were an NY rap group that hailed from Yonkers. The group is best known for their 1999 parody song, "No Pigeons," a send-up TLC's smash single "No Scrubs." "No Pigeons" would receive a ton of radio play that year and would eventually peak at number 12 on the Billboard charts that year. Despite the parody song, the group was noted for their lyrical skill and achieved success with songs such as "Cheapskate" released on Ruffhouse Records.
The U.N. - not to be confused with Cam'ron's Diplomat-affiliated U.N. - were a NY hip-hop collective associated with Busta Rhymes' Flipmode Squad. The U.N. is best known for producing Hempstead spitter, Roc Marciano, who would go on to release two critically acclaimed LPs in the early 2010s. The U.N. released one underrated album, UN Or U Out?, in 2004, although, the project failed to grab much attention.
Krumbsnatcha is an east coast rapper associated with the Gang Starr Foundation in the late 1990s. Over the years, Krumb has released numerous underground albums, EPs and singles while making a wide range of guest appearances on various albums.
Latryx was a San Francisco Bay Area alternative hip-hop group consisting of noted underground rappers, Lyrics Born and Lateef the Truth Speaker. The group released one critically acclaimed LP, The Album, in 1997 before breaking up to do a range of solo projects over the years. Recently, the group announced that they will be releasing a reunion album in November.
Miilkbone was a Naughty By Nature affiliate that was signed to Capitol Records in the early 1990s. Miilkbone's 1995 debut album, Da Miilkcrate, achieved minor success with the release of his singles, "Keep It Real" and "Where'z da Party At?" In 1999, Miilk appeared on the Death Row compilation album, Chronic 2000, and released a new album in 2001 before disappearing, again.
Cool Breeze was a Georgia rapper associated with the Dungeon Family that released one solo album, East Point's Greatest Hits, in 1999. Breeze is best known for "Watch For The Hook," a Dungeon Family collaboration featuring OutKast and Goodie Mob on the track. In 2001, he joined up with the two rappers from Sniper Unit to form a new group called the Calhouns. They released one album, Made In The Dirty South, before Cool Breeze disappeared from the music scene.