On this day in hip-hop history, MC Lyte establishes herself as a premier emcee, Scarface releases a slept-on banger, P.M. Dawn drops an underrated album, VH1 pays proper homage to hip-hop and Black Thought is born.
1989: MC Lyte drops Eyes on This
MC Lyte’s sophomore album, Eyes on This, came in 1989. The album was released a year after her classic debut, Lyte as a Rock, and featured production work from her crew, Audio Two, as well as Grand Puba and Marley Marl among others. The effort further established Lyte a premier emcee, birthing three hit singles, including “Cha Cha” (which it No. 1 on Billboard‘s Rap Singles chart), “Cappuccino” and “Stop, Look, Listen,” both of which also landed in the Top 10.
In a 2016 interview, Lyte explained what is was like to enter hip-hop as a teenager in a male-dominated industry.
“I think to step into this hip-hop game at 16 years old, and all of these older guys [were] dominating this industry and this field/genre of music, and I just came in like, ‘Hey, I want my space, give it to me.'”
1995: PM Dawn’s third album, Jesus Wept arrives
P.M. Dawn’s overlooked third effort, Jesus Wept, arrived in 1995. While it failed to receive the same amount of fanfare as the group’s first two releases, Of the Heart, of the Soul and of the Cross: The Utopian Experience and The Bliss Album…? (Vibrations of Love and Anger and the Ponderance of Life and Existence), the project contained a few standouts, including “Downtown Venus,” which contained a sample of Deep Purple‘s 1968 hit “Hush.” The group is often overlooked in discussions about artists who’ve had a widespread impact on hip-hop, but the Jersey City, N.J., group’s expansive sound and vulnerable lyrics have subtly influenced a new generation of rappers who look to brush off conventionalism in favor of exploring wide-ranging sounds and themes, while embracing their “otherness.”
“Kanye West, T-Pain, OutKast … but you can’t mention P.M. Dawn without mentioning De La Soul, and you can’t mention Arrested Development without mentioning P.M. Dawn,” group member Doc G told Rolling Stone in 2011. “Everybody begets somebody. We had the weirdness. Now it’s okay to be weird; it’s okay to wear bizarre things.”
2000: Scarface releases Last of a Dying Breed
One of Houston legend Scarface’s more slept-on solo projects, Last of a Dying Breed arrived in 2000. The album was his first solo effort following 1996’s The Untouchable, and contained one of his hardest-hitting songs to date, the confrontational, personal, “Look Me In My Eyes.” Angry, brooding Scarface is always compelling, and he was both of those things on this album.
“When the beat come, I already read and researched my shit,” he said in 2012 of his writing process. “Secondly, when I know what I’m going to say, and I hear a beat, and now I’m coming up with rhyme schemes. Rhyme patterns. The first three or four words are the most important part of the song, to me.”
2000: Psycho Realm releases their sophomore album
Los Angeles-based rap group Psycho Realm dropped their second album, A War Story Book 1, in 2000. The album had only two features, Crow from the Street Platoon and regular collaborator B-Real of Cypress Hill on “Show of Force.”
2004: VH1 Hip-Hop Honors debuts
The VH1 Hip-Hop Honors debuted in 2004, looking to pay homage to rap veterans who made an indelible impact on hip-hop culture and music. Vivica A. Fox and MC Lyte hosted the first-ever ceremony, which honored DJ Hollywood, Kool Herc, KRS-One, Public Enemy, Run-DMC, Rock Steady Crew, Sugarhill Gang and 2Pac. The show was met with success, especially from hip-hop fans were were itching to see an awards program that paid proper respect to influencers who paved the way in hip-hop. Among the highlights were the DJ set, which featured Kid Capri, Doug E. Fresh and Grandmaster Flash, as well as performances by the Beastie Boys, Nas, Public Enemy, MC Hammer, Sugarhill Gang and Common.
1971: Black Thought is born
On Oct. 3, 1971, Tariq Luqmaan Trotter, better known to the world as Black Thought of the Roots was born. The Philadelphia-bred rhymer is easily one of the best emcees in rap history, known for his ability to weave complex ideas into intricate rhyme patterns. His work with the Roots has brought him much success since their debut in 1993, and Thought remains one of the best lyricists in rap today. In late 2017, he popped up on Funkmaster Flex‘s show to remind everyone that he’s nobody’s peer, he’s the “sum of all fears,” with one of the illest freestyles ever.