Alternative hip hop is a subgenre of hip hop which surfacedin the late 1980s during the “golden age of hip hop” – a period known for itsinnovation and reinvention of the hip hop genre.
Many artists contributed to itsdevelopment; to name a few were East Coast rappers Beastie Boys, De La Soul, ATribe Called Quest, and Jungle Brothers, West Coast artists such as DigitalUnderground, The Pharcyde, and Del Tha Funkee Homosapien, and last but notleast Southern acts like Goodie Mob, Arrested Development, and Outkast – again,just to name a few. By the time the 1990s came around, alternative hip hop sawa huge rise in popularity, but was forced back into the underground as it was ultimatelyintercepted and subsequently drowned out by a more dominant genre known asgangsta rap. As a shift happened in the late 1990s and early 2000s when thegeneral public gained a newfound interest in indie music, as well as adeclining commercial viability of gangsta rap, alternative hip hop once againhad a revival and regained its place within the mainstream.A turning point forhip hop happened in 2007 when Kanye West’s album “Graduation” and 50 Cent’s “Curtis”were released the same day, resulting in a record-breaking sales performancefor both albums. The outcome was in West’s favor, and industry observers viewit as being responsible for altering the direction of hip hop, paving the wayfor new rappers who didn’t want to follow the hardcore-gangster mold. Ben Detrickof XXL wrote, “If there was ever a watershed moment to indicate hip hop’schanging direction, it may have come when 50 Cent competed with Kanye in 2007to see whose album claim superior sales. 50 lost handily, and it was made clearthat excellent songcrafting trumped a street-life experience.
Kanye led a waveof new artists—Kid Cudi, Wale, Lupe Fiasco, Kidz in the Hall, Drake—who lackedthe interest or ability to creative narratives about any past gunplay or drug-dealing.”