There’s a reason why the golden decade of hip hop was the ’90s. Golden age hip hop is characterized by its diversity, quality, innovation, and influence on the genre. The music was experimental and the sampling from old records was eclectic. So it’s no surprise that the ’90s are making a come back in today’s hip hop world with many artists having a ’90s flow to their music.
When it comes to echo the sound of ’90s MCs, Joey in undoubtedly at the top. He stuffs syllables into every line with a style heavily reminiscent of Cormega’s rhyme barrages and DOOM’s scruffy mystique. He’s so reminiscent of ’90s hip hop with the flow to his music. Even his debut mixtape was titled 1999, and it’s got old beats by J Dilla, DOOM and Lord Finesse. Joey has received heavy comparison to late rapper Big L and to Nas during his Illmatic era. His single “Unorthodox” features the trademark piano chops and cuts of vintage DJ Premier production. The Ecko deal should have included a time machine.
As a musical cousin to UGK and 8Ball & MJG, Big K.R.I.T. has managed to keep southern funk alive without compromising his lyrics. He rarely seems to aim for the strip clubs, opting for spiritual guidance instead of sexual deviance at his most powerful. Therefore, his music strikes the balance between ratchet and reverend, oscillating between the dance floor and the confessional. King Remembered In Time is ideal for rattling drop-top trunks in the summer and would have fit right in with Southern ’90s rap.
The 22-year-old somehow delivers a style that feels like the past, present, and future of hip hop, whilst also maintaining a lyrical voice that is distinctly his own. Astro’s technique was no doubt influenced by late ’80s, early ’90s hip hop, but it also feels current. Because the flow and feel of modern commercial rap are so different from Astro’s style, it’s easy to see how he is brought back the vintage methodology. His relentless flow over boom bap beats is a salute to hip hop at its finest hour, teleporting us to the streets of pre-gentrified Brooklyn that might be found in Spike Lee’s film Crooklyn. In double homage, Astro shows respect to two of hip hop and BK’s finest, Biggie and Jay-Z, through moments of flow emulation, mentions, and line citations.
Murs weaves clever and often humorous rhymes inspired by old school hip hop. Throughout his career, he has proved to be equally capable of grim street-level reality and heady consciousness, without resorting to the often preachy elements of conscious hip hop. For example, he’ll rhapsodize about the banal, like hanging on the porch with homies smoking weed, and like a chameleon, he’ll adapt to any situation.
Aesop Rock’s intricate flow and strange verbose bars made him an underground hip hop legend. He’s always in the discussion of smartest rappers of all time and when Matt Daniels analyzed his vocabulary, he found that he used more than 7,000 different words in his songs. He cites Public Enemy, BDP, KMD, and Run DMC as early influences. Listening to Aesop Rock is an active listening process trying to decipher what he’s saying.
ASAP Nast was one of the first members to join the hip hop collective ASAP Mob back in 2007. Nast made his official debut on ASAP Rocky’s early song “Uptown” and then he appeared on two Live.Love.ASAP songs, “Purple Swag: Chapter 2” and “Trilla”. Specifically, his style is deeply rooted in ’90s East Coast hip hop, omitting the trap and southern hip hop influence that some of the other ASAP Mob members have. Nast is also able to “adapt his flow to match beats of all styles and eras”. Additionally, his verses are usually boastful and full of multi-syllable rhyme schemes.
Muddled with internal rhyme schemes, self-loathing and drug-induced visions, both his early and late work sound rooted in the powerful lyricism that allowed rap to flourish in the mainstream during the ’90s. Earl’s startling efficiency catches your attention, but it’s the brutal honesty that makes you stay.
Bishop identifies with 2Pac’s fatherless background. His top rappers are Nas, Jigga, DOOM and KRS-One. His mixtape Nehruvia has him spitting over J Dilla and DOOM beats… oh no, not this again. Some say he’s Joey Bada$$ 2.0. He fits the bill for ’90s rappers in a young and troubled kind of way.
That’s my list of 8 hip hop artists from today that have a ’90s flow to their music. Thanks for sticking to the end.
What’s your opinion? Let me know down in the comments!