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Hip-Hop at 50

Whirlwind D and his Cambridge Audio setup

On this date, at 1520 Sedgwick Ave in The Bronx, DJ Kool Herc (often afforded the title Godfather of Hip-Hop), first mixed two of the same records to create a seamless breakbeat. It was marks the first hip-hop party, as it was a back-to-school party, and 2023 marks 50 years since that moment when hip-hop was birthed.

It is important to note that much debate surrounds this narrative for a whole variety of reasons. But we’re going to take it as an opportunity to celebrate hip-hop’s rich history, which permeates so much of our modern culture.

As part of our celebrations, we’ve curated a playlist of hip-hop tracks that span the music’s recorded culture. We begin in 1979, when the first hip-hop records appeared on labels such as Enjoy, Sugar Hill and Paul Winley before plotting a course, playing one track from each year until we arrive at 2023.

We know rap existed before 1979, but this is generally used as the starting point for records because this was the moment that the rappers and DJs from the parties and park jams would ply their craft on vinyl recordings for the first time.

For this playlist, we have focused on US and UK hip-hop, but hip-hop exists across the world and it’s worth noting that by choosing only one track per year, many highly influential artists are not included in the list (alongside some greats whose music is not yet on streaming services). Having said that, we’ve aimed for a wide cross section of artists who have always celebrated the culture of hip-hop within their music and we hope you find this diverse collection of tracks both informative and dope at the same time! Enjoy.