The extraordinary impact of hip-hop music over the past three decades is undeniable. At the forefront of this global phenomenon stand artists who broke new ground, both musically and politically. This unique reference work provides substantial entries on the most revolutionary hip-hop artists and innovators, past and present, and offers in-depth coverage of each icon's influence in shaping hip-hop music. This encyclopedia will help students and general readers uncover the historical and cultural framework of hip-hop as it extends to more recent artists. From Run DMC, the legendary group credited with bringing rap to the mainstream, to Salt N Pepa, the first all-female groups to stake their claim in the male dominated world of hip-hop, to Kanye West's breakout career as a producer and rapper, this encyclopedia recovers the histories of important artists both inside and outside the hip-hop mainstream, while examining the varied and ever-changing forms of the music.
Comprehensive profiles are enhanced by sidebars highlighting such topics as rivalries between artists, the importance of geographic region, musical innovations (including sampling technologies), legal issues, media scandals, and wider phenomena, movements, or styles of hip-hop that were sparked by a particular artist or group. Hip-hop fans will appreciate the critical analysis of the icons' social and cultural impact as well as issues of enduring significance, such as the influence of gangsta rap on youth culture. A timeline, a comprehensive introduction, numerous photos, and an extensive bibliography of print and electronic sources for further reading are included.