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Charles L. Hughes

DJ, producer, and member of Eric B. and Rakim, was born in East Elmhurst, Queens, New York. In his youth Barrier showed a musical aptitude, playing trumpet and guitar before devoting his energy to DJ-ing, a form which—by the mid-1970s—was a cornerstone of the burgeoning hip-hop movement arising in New York City's boroughs. Barrier's turntable talents eventually landed him a job as the mobile DJ for New York radio station WBLS while in high school. It was also during this period that Barrier met William Griffin Jr., a young MC who had adopted the name and stage persona of “Rakim Allah” in 1984 to signal his growing commitment to the Five Percent sect of the Nation of Islam a controversial but influential sect that promoted a broadly Afrocentric blend of political and spiritual advancement A prodigiously talented lyricist Rakim s complicated sophisticated rhymes found their perfect complement in ...

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Vonzele David Reed

hip hop producer and businessman, was born Sean John Combs in Harlem in New York City to Melvin and Janice Combs. Combs's childhood years were spent in Harlem, where his father worked for the board of education and as a cab driver. His mother was a model. Eager to provide for his family, Melvin Combs succumbed to the lure of criminal activity, which ultimately led to his murder in 1973. In 1982 Janice moved her family to suburban Mount Vernon, New York, in an effort to escape the growing violence and unemployment in Harlem.

Following her husband s death Janice worked as a teacher s assistant bus driver and night attendant for children with cerebral palsy His mother s determination to provide for her family influenced Combs to work after school beginning at age twelve Too young to formally apply for his own paper route Combs convinced an ...

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Beatriz Rivera-Barnes

singer, hip-hop impresario, and songwriter. Combs has also been known as Puff, Puffy, Sean John, Puff Daddy, and Diddy. Sean John Combs spent part of his childhood in Mount Vernon, New York, until in 1972 his father was murdered on his way home from a party. After the tragedy the Combs family moved to the Bronx, where Sean attended a Catholic school before going to Howard University in Washington, D.C. Dropping out of Howard, Combs became an intern for Uptown Records, and he later became a top executive until he was fired in 1992.

During his tenure at Uptown Records, Combs produced successful albums with artists such as Mary J. Blige Father MC and Jodeci After his departure he worked as a remixer and created Bad Boy Entertainment which soon became a multimillion dollar business Bad Boy signed two hit artists Craig Mack and the ...

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Andrew Du Bois

Born in Harlem and raised in Mount Vernon, New York, Sean Combs attended Howard University and started working in the music industry as an intern at Andre Harrell's Uptown Records. Combs moved quickly through the ranks, producing hits for Uptown artists such as Jodeci and Mary J. Blige. At the age of twenty-two he was made a company vice president.

In 1993 Combs left Uptown to found Bad Boy Entertainment, where he began to assemble a crew of Hip-Hop and Rhythm and Blues talent. Combs served as executive producer on both albums by Bad Boy's biggest star, Notorious B.I.G. Following the 1997 shooting death of Notorious B.I.G., Combs (who rapped as “Puff Daddy”) recorded a tribute song entitled “I'll Be Missing You.” The single was a smash hit, and it sent Puff Daddy's solo debut album, No Way Out straight to the top of the ...

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Dr. Dre  

Hua Hsu

hip-hop artist, disc jockey, and record executive, was born André Romel Young in Los Angeles, California, the son of Verna Griffin and Theodore Young. Both of his parents were semi-professional musicians. They divorced shortly after André's birth; Griffin attended college and then worked for an aircraft company. She raised André and his younger brother, Tyree, in Compton, California; she would later marry Warren Griffin Jr. and they would have a son, Warren “Warren G” Griffin III. As a child Young acquired the nickname Dr. Dre because of his great admiration for the basketball player Julius “Dr. J” Erving. Dre demonstrated a fascination with music, a passion his mother encouraged by buying him equipment and designing costumes for his performances.

In his teens Dre developed a reputation as a skilled disc jockey quickly graduating from performing at neighborhood parties to Los Angeles area nightclubs ...

Article

Dr. Dre  

Daniel Douglas

pioneering rap artist and producer and successful entrepreneur. Born Andréé Romell Young, Dr. Dre became prominent with the rap group The World Class Wreckin Cru, working shows and parties in Los Angeles. In 1986 he teamed with Ice Cube (O'Shea Jackson) and Eazy-E (Eric Lynn Wright) to form the groundbreaking group NWA (Niggaz with Attitude), releasing their first album in 1987 and subsequent records in 1990 and 1991 Dr Dre was the producer on all three albums his unique style of G funk beats became a trademark that outlasted the group All of NWA s albums went on to achieve platinum status denoting 2 million unit sales despite a lack of support from MTV and most mainstream radio stations The group was one of the first of a new genre that came to be known as gangsta rap This particular style of rap came ...

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Mark Katz

DJ and hip-hop pioneer, was born Theodore Livingston in New York City. He was the seventh of eight children born to a single mother, Mary Livingston and, except for his first three months (spent in Harlem Hospital with infant meningitis), lived his life in the Bronx.

Livingston was best known for introducing the DJ technique known as “scratching” into the art of hip-hop DJing (also called turntablism). His invention or discovery of scratching came in the summer of 1975 when he was twelve years old Already a professional DJ he was playing records in his bedroom when his mother demanded that he lower the volume Livingston had been preparing to tape a particular track and not wanting to lose his place kept his hand on the record However instead of holding it in one place he moved the disc back and forth underneath the needle The resulting scratching sound ...

Article

Katrina D. Thompson

disc jockey, hip-hop innovator, musician, and producer, was born Clive Campbell in Kingston, Jamaica, the eldest of six-children of Keith Campbell, a community activist and head foreman at a wharf garage from Kingston, and Nettie Campbell, from Port Maria, a city on the northern coast of Jamaica. As a child Clive Campbell fell in love with the active dancehall reggae culture of Jamaica and would often follow the local disc jockeys to watch them set up their sound systems before performances. Political instability in Kingston led the Campbell family to move to the affluent city of Franklyn Town In search of financial and educational opportunities for her family Nettie Campbell migrated to the United States and worked as a dental technician while studying nursing in New York She frequently sent money to her family in Jamaica along with records of the new ...

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Hua Hsu

hip-hop artist, actor, record executive, and movie executive, was born O'Shea Jackson in Los Angeles, California, to Hosea and Doris Jackson. Both his parents were employed at the University of California at Los Angeles, his father as a machinist and groundskeeper and his mother as a clerk. Though Jackson was raised in South Central Los Angeles, he was bused to the suburbs of San Fernando Valley to attend William Howard Taft High School. While in high school Jackson grew fascinated with hip hop culture; he began writing raps in earnest in ninth-grade, after winning an informal contest with a classmate to see who could compose the better rhyme. Fascinated with the pimp-turned-author Iceberg Slim (Robert Beck), Jackson adopted the name Ice Cube.

In the mid-1980s Ice Cube and two friends, K-Dee and Sir Jinx formed a group C I A ...

Article

Ice Cube was born O'Shea Jackson and raised in South Central Los Angeles, California, one of the nation's toughest inner-city neighborhoods. His parents held jobs at the University of California at Los Angeles. Cube, as he is known, composed his first Rap, or metered, rhyming lyrics, in ninth-grade typing class, and found that his music, which combined violent fantasies and bawdy humor, was well received by peers. Within a few years, Cube was rapping with a group, CIA, that performed at parties around South Central Los Angeles. In the mid-1980s, along with fellow rappers Eazy E., Dr. Dre, M. C. Ren, and D. J. Yella, Cube formed the group N.W.A. (usually spelled out as Niggaz With Attitude). Their gritty messages of anger and violence set them apart from more politically minded East Coast Hip-Hop artists.

Cube left N.W.A. in 1987 to pursue ...

Article

Robert Farrell

one of the founding members of the pioneering gangsta rap group NWA (Niggaz With Attitude) who has since established himself as a successful—and at times controversial—solo rap artist, film actor, and writer. Born O'Shea Jackson in South Central Los Angeles, he was encouraged by his older brother and his father to become active in sports; this helped to keep him safe from the gang- and drug-related violence of Los Angeles in the early- to mid-1980s. Inspired to pursue a rap career by early hip-hop artists like the Sugar Hill Gang, Ice Cube found moderate local success as a teenaged rapper.

In the mid-1980s, he met Andre “Dr. Dre” Young, who by 1986 was working as a producer for the rapper and former drug dealer Eric “Eazy E” Wright. Dr. Dre later became known as the influential rapper and producer behind West Coast hip hop's G-funk style. In 1986 ...

Article

Regina N. Barnett

hip-hop and DJ pioneer, was born Jason William Mizell, the youngest of Connie and Jessie Mizell's three children. The family lived in Brooklyn, New York, where his mother Connie was a teacher and his father Jessie was a social worker. Moving to the Hollis neighborhood of Queens from Brooklyn in 1975, Mizell quickly became a respected and powerful force in that small neighborhood. While Mizell was a student at Andrew Jackson High School, teachers and students alike would ask him to stop altercations between students because of his dominating presence and amiable nature. Mizell dropped out of high school but eventually obtained his equivalency diploma. Drumming, playing the guitar, and socializing with friends took up most of Mizell's free time. Mizell credited a desire to be “part of the hottest thing” as one of the main reasons for becoming a DJ in an interview with DJ Times ...

Article

Regina N. Barnett

rap music emcee pioneer, was born Darryl Matthew Lovelace to Berncenia Lovelace in Harlem, New York. He was adopted at three months old by Byford McDaniels, a station agent at the Metropolitan Transit Authority, and Bannah McDaniels, a nurse, who were already parents of one son, Alford. In 1970, at five years old, McDaniels and his family moved to the Hollis section of Queens, New York. For several years, he lived a fairly sheltered, comfortable life, attending Catholic St. Pascal Baylon Elementary School and spending his leisurely time hanging out with friends, playing basketball, and drinking.

In 1978 fourteen-year-old McDaniels became fascinated with hip-hop, after he and his brother Alford listened to a Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five mix tape Influenced by what he had heard McDaniels attempted to scratch a record with his mother s turntable Noticing his brother s talent Alford ...

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Ayesha Kanji

entrepreneur, music executive, and promoter, was born in Queens, New York, to Daniel and Evelyn Simmons, both graduates of Howard University in Washington, D.C. Simmons's father was a politically active schoolteacher who worked for the New York Board of Education; his mother was an artist and recreation director for the New York City Department of Parks. Simmons had two brothers; his older brother, Danny, became an artist, while his younger brother, Joey, became the rap artist popularly known as “Run” (Reverend Run) of the music group Run-D.M.C. Simmons and his brothers grew up in the middle-class Queens neighborhood of Hollis attending integrated schools in the politically charged 1960s and were influenced by their father s social activism protesting racial discrimination and promoting black empowerment Simmons s mother encouraged him to embrace both the arts and entrepreneurship but despite his sound upbringing and his ...

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Robert Farrell

entrepreneur in the entertainment and fashion industries. Simmons is one of the most influential African American entrepreneurs to arise out of the late twentieth century hip-hop culture. Starting as a manager of early hip-hop artists and cofounder of Def Jam Records, Simmons has since developed ventures in television, fashion, and film, and he has done much to make hip hop a mainstream part of contemporary cultural and economic life.

Simmons was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York, to middle-class, college-educated parents, both of whom worked for the City of New York. In 1965, the Simmons family moved to Hollis, Queens, a solidly middle-class neighborhood that began to decline as the use of heroin spread through New York in the 1970s. In 1975 the ambitious and highly style conscious Simmons began to attend the City College of New York which provided him with a social network connected to the ...