More than four decades after hip-hop has evolved tremendously since its humble beginnings in The Bronx, Rostrum Records is celebrating how far the culture has come in the form of a new compilation record. Top Shelf 1988 features previously unheard records from a slew of legendary artists including Big Daddy Kane, Masta Ace, MC Lyte and more.

The story behind the unearthed recordings from some hip-hop’s most influential acts is undeniably dope, with the new compilation many years in the making. As the story goes, a small studio on Manhattan's Lower East Side became a safe-haven for artists to work on perfecting their craft and to put industry pressures to the side.

Unfortunately, the Top Shelf 1988 studio faced a terrible fate when a riot took place in August 1988 outside of Tompkins Square Park, with police and demonstrators clashing. After the chaos died down, the producers returned to work to find their equipment—and masters—were stolen during the riots. Shortly thereafter, the studio closed its doors and the status of the stolen content remained curiously unknown until now.

“Top Shelf 1988 is many years in the making,” Rostrum Records President Benjy Grinberg shared in a statement. “I’m so honored that we're a part of this momentous album. Our hope with the release is that it will inspire people to rediscover all the amazing music from this era. It's really a celebration of the artists and the artistry of the time.”

Now, after over 30 years, the recordings have now been revived and released via Rostrum Records. Take a listen to the compilation below, as well as check out a video of Big Daddy Kane reflecting on the journey to Top Shelf 1988, below.

Tracklisting For Top Shelf 1988:
1. Biz Markie
2. Big Daddy Kane
3. Craig G
4. MC Lyte
5. Special Ed
6. Doug E. Fresh
7. Jungle Brothers
8. Grand Puba
9. Masta Ace
10. Dres (of Black Sheep)
11. Smooth B (of Nice & Smooth)
12. Grandmaster Caz & Melle Mel
13. Chubb Rock

Rostrum Records
Rostrum Records

See 60 Hip-Hop Albums Turning 20 in 2018

More From XXL