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5 People Who Influenced Hip-Hop

From Dr. Dre to Tupac, the genre has been dominated by some of the most influential musicians who have walked the face of the earth. Here are five of the most influential artists the game has seen.

Dr. Dre

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Arguably the most transformative figure in the game, Dr. Dre is behind some of the best-loved tracks – and artists – of the nineties and early noughties. Having worked with Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and Tupac, among others, Dr. Dre’s legacy is still evolving. As the co-owner of Death Row Records and the brainchild behind the ever-popular Beats by Dre, his feats as a businessman are just as impressive as his musical credentials. 

Ice Cube

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A fierce proponent of straight-up Gangsta Rap, Ice Cube is an urban lyricist who has made no apologies for the divisive nature of his tracks over the years. He poetically comments on the racial and societal divisions in modern-day America, and his tracks are often violent and abrasive. Still, his progression from his early involvement in NWA to his huge success as a solo artist in the nineties ensures that Ice Cube has cemented his place as one of the best rappers ever

Kanye West

Image credit: NBC News

Love him or loathe him, it’s impossible to ignore him. Kanye West is a self-proclaimed fashion icon, genius, and unrivalled musical powerhouse. But if you ignore his egoistic proclamations and tune into his music, there’s no doubt that Ye has an outstanding talent for producing completely relatable and emotionally vulnerable lyrics. He continues to be one of the most rapacious individuals in the public eye, but his musical achievements – particularly his classics – are a gift we can’t ignore.


Image credit: Britannica

Few names are as iconic in hip-hop as that of Tupac Shakur. Like Ice Cube, he projected his day-to-day reality into his tracks and was a lyricist concerned with progressing the civil rights of African Americans. Despite his premature death, Tupac sold millions of albums worldwide and continues to be a source of inspiration for artists worldwide. For instance, there’s no way we would have been treated to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly if it wasn’t for Tupac. And that’s just one example.

Lauryn Hill

Image credit: BBC

Lauryn Hill’s emergence changed the game for women in rap. As an original member of the Fugees, Hill had already broken down barriers for female performers in a genre that men have long dominated. Her only solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, is nothing short of a masterpiece that provides an unflinching glimpse into the soulful life of one of hip hop’s most prodigious talents.

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Final thoughts 

Restricting this article to five musicians was difficult, but we’ve done our best! It’s impossible to think of hip-hop without regarding the achievements of the above artists, and we’re grateful for their contributions to one of the most eclectic musical genres today.

Emily, a writer and retro music enthusiast at Upbeat Geek, delves into the history of music and pop culture, spotlighting legendary artists and trends. A fixture at festivals and concerts, she brings the latest in music lore to the forefront. Emily’s love for music research is matched by her enjoyment of leisurely Sunday walks with her dog, Lee, reflecting her areas of writing: music and pop culture.

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