Remember The Times
In honor of the 25 years that passed, take a stroll through 1995, a pivotal time in rap's golden era, filled with brewing beefs and shook ones, multiplatinum hits and rich regional diversity.
Words: Luke Fox
Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared in the Winter 2020 issue of XXL Magazine, on stands now.

Smack in the middle of the 1990s—the decade hip-hop accelerated from a walk to a sprint—the year 1995 served as a monumental one for rap and its culture. A deluge of classic albums hit the shelves (some on the same day). The best selling rap singles of all-time reigned supreme on the charts and overpowered the radio waves. The allure of the hip-hop and R&B remix gave marketers a new weapon. The dusty mixtape graduated to the majors and got the digital treatment. And clans, posses, crews and cliques began to carve out regional territory and loyal subscribers.

Over the span of 365 beat-blessed days, record labels and super teams like Death Row RecordsBad Boy RecordsWu-Tang Clan and Boot Camp Clik all dropped seminal records and expanded their reach. One must remember, 1995 was also the final full year rap fans witnessed the living greatness of both Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. The rap titans were in their prime, with crossover singles battling for Billboard chart position as friction simmered in the streets. A severe divide in sonic aesthetics between the Eastern and Pacific time zones was amplified. G-funk and gangsta rap hit full gallop, and the hard snares and cold concrete of New York City birthed some of the most influential records of the genre. A creative surge brought forth Mobb Deep’s The InfamousRaekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, Smif-N-Wessun’s Dah Shinin’ and AZ’s Doe or Die. With the benefit of 25 years’ hindsight, here’s a look at the 12 pivotal months of banging music and culture-shaping events in 1995.

A Look Back at the 12 Months of Hip-Hop in 1995

Check out more from XXL’s Winter 2020 issue including our DaBaby cover story, an introduction to DaBaby's Billion Dollar Baby Entertainment label roster, an interview with South Coast Music Group founder Arnold Taylor, who discovered and signed DaBaby, one of King Von's last interviews, how the coronavirus changed hip-hop, we catch up with Flipp Dinero in What's Happenin', we talk to Rico Nasty about rediscovering who she is as an artist, Marshmello reveals the rappers he wants to work with in Hip-Hop JunkieShow & Prove interviews with The Kid Laroi and Flo Milli, we take a closer look at how rap music gets leaked, producer LilJuMadeDaBeat shares how he made Megan Thee Stallion's hit song "Body," Kash Johns, founder of Winners Circle Publishing, discusses what makes a hot producer, get to know hip-hop's hottest new collective Spillage Village and more.

See Photos of XXL Magazine's Winter 2020 Cover Shoot With DaBaby

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