Mary J. Blige Gets Her First Top 10 Hit: August 25 in Hip-Hop History
On August 25 in hip-hop history, Mary J. Blige put out her first Top 10 single, while The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill dropped, Bobby Brown gave us the long-awaited follow-up to Don't Be Cruel and Black Star's only album was released.
1963: Shock G is born
Gregory Jacobs, better known as Shock G, was born on Aug. 25, 1993 in New York. By 1987, he had moved to Oakland, where he formed Digital Underground, rising to fame with 1990's "The Humpty Dance." The group, which helped serve as the launching pad for Tupac Shakur, disbanded in 2008, and he also released a solo effort, Fear of a Mixed Planet, in 2004.
1992: Bobby Brown returns with 'Bobby'
Coming four years after his smash Don't Be Cruel, Bobby kept up Bobby Brown's hot streak, with five Top 10 R&B hits, "Humpin' Around" "Good Enough," "Get Away," "That's the Way Love Is" and "Something in Common," a duet with Whitney Houston, whom he married a month before the album's release. The four-year wait, he told The Washington Post, was necessary: "I took the time off for myself, to spend time with my family, to fall in love, to get my mind together as far as being ready to come back out. I think I did the right thing."
1992: MC Serch goes solo on 'Return of the Product'
After earning two gold records with 3rd Bass, MC Serch stepped out on his own with Return of the Product. Its lone single, "Here It Comes/Back to the Grill," topped the Hot Rap Singles chart but only reached No. 71 on the Hot 100.
1992: Mary J. Blige drops "Real Love"
"Real Love" proved that the success of Mary J. Blige's first single, "You Remind Me," was no fluke. It matched its predecessor's No. 1 spot on the R&B chart, but eclipsed it on the Hot 100, where it reached No. 7. With her baggy clothes, baseball cap and combat boots, she provided a strong hip-hop alternative to the glamour-queen image that had long dominated R&B. But it was more than just a look.
"There's nothing wrong with being hardcore,” Blige said. “I grew up in a neighborhood where that's all there was. If people are looking for long dresses and high-heel shoes, they'd better look somewhere else."
1993: Philip Woldemariam is killed after an argument with Snoop Dogg
Snoop Dogg's career almost ended before it fully begun after the Aug. 25, 1993 killing of Philip Woldemariam. Earlier that evening, Woldemariam, a member of the By Yerself Hustlers reportedly upset that Snoop, one of the Long Beach Insane Crips, had moved into his neighborhood, confronted the rapper, his bodyguard, McKinley Lee, and Shawn Abrams in front of Snoop's apartment. That led to a car chase that ended in Woodbine Park, where Woldemariam was shot by Lee from the passenger seat of Snoop's Jeep..
Snoop and Lee were charged with murder, with Snoop also charged with aiding and abetting. At the trial, the defense argued that the two men were acting in self-defense, with Woldemariam reaching for a gun inside his waistband before Lee fired. In February 1996, both men were acquitted.
1998: Lauryn Hill drops 'The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill'
Lauryn Hill broke free from the Fugees with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill. Fueled by three hit singles, it topped the Billboard 200 and was nominated for 10 Grammy Awards. It won five, including Album of the Year and Best Female R&B Vocal Performance for "Doo Wop (That Thing)." The record blended hip-hop with and old-school approach that Hill said was by design.
"[I wanted to] write songs that lyrically move me and have the integrity of reggae and the knock of hip-hop and the instrumentation of classic soul," she told Rolling Stone. "[My engineer and I worked on] a sound that’s raw. I like the rawness of you being able to hear the scratch in the vocals. I don’t ever want that taken away. I don’t like to use compressors and take away my textures, because I was raised on music that was recorded before technology advanced to the place where it could be smooth. I wanna hear that thickness of sound. You can’t get that from a computer, because a computer’s too perfect. But that human element, that’s what makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I love that."
1998: Xzibit releases '40 Dayz & 40 Nightz'
He was still a few years away from his platinum breakthrough Restless, but Xzibit's second record, 40 Dayz & 40 Nightz, helped paved the way on the strength of its first single, "What U See Is What U Get." It turned out to be the biggest hit for the future Pimp My Ride host, reaching No. 3 on the Rap chart and No. 50 on the Hot 100.
1998: Nicole Wray arrives with 'Make It Hot'
After being featured on Missy Elliott's Supa Dupa Fly as a teenager, Nicole Wray got signed to Elliott's The Goldmind label with her debut, Make It Hot, following in 1998. Elliott wrote and produced much of the album, although Timbaland produced the title track, which turned out to be her biggest hit, peaking at No. 5 on the Hot 100.
1998: Monifah releases 'Mo'hogany'
Monifah established herself with her 1996 debut, Moods...Moments, which had been co-produced by Heavy D. He returned for the follow-up, Mo'hogany, with Queen Latifah, Mario Winans and Jack Knight also contributing. The record went platinum on the strength of the Top 10 single, "Touch It." Her last album, Home, came out in 2000.
1998: Black Star introduces the world to Mos Def and Talib Kweli
Two of the most important MCs in hip-hop -- Mos Def & Talib Kweli -- arrived on Black Star's debut. With gangsta rap dominating the airwaves for most of the '90s, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star helped bring back socially conscious lyrics into the mainstream.
“We were respected in the underground scene because our content was straight-up New York: lyrics, MCs," Kweli told Complex. "But ‘Definition’ worked for Funkmaster Flex and it worked on New York radio because it fit right in with the trend of what was going on in hip-hop radio.”
It turned out to be their only record as of press time, with both men launching successful solo careers. However, in February 2018, Mos Def, who changed his name to Yasiin Bey in 2011, revealed that they were working on a new record, with Madlib producing.
2001: Aaliyah Dies in a Plane Crash
Singer and actress Aaliyah Dana Haughton died at the age of 22 on this day in 2001 when the private plane she was flying in crashed while leaving the Bahamas, where she had just completed filming a video for the song "Rock the Boat." Engine failure combined with excessive cargo weight were the suspected causes of the accident, and it was reported that the pilot tried to convince his passengers that the plane was overloaded before apparently being convinced to take off.
Years later, fans and peers both continue to mourn Aaliyah's loss. "Her presence will be felt long after all of us are dead," DMX told the Boombox in a 2012 interview. "That's the thing about a great artist. Music is timeless. Music will never die. She'll never die. I think it's only in death do we recognize a person's true presence."
2006: Outkast Release Their Full-Length Feature Film, Idlewild
“The obvious choice would be to make Dre the lead and Big Boi the supporting actor,” director Ryan Barber said of Outkast's 2006 feature-film showcase. “But I gave them equal parts, and Big Boi turned out to be the big surprise."
There were some challenges, of course. "When I first told [Big Boi] you’re gonna have to learn to do these dance moves, he was like, ‘What?! I’m not gonna do any f---in’ dance moves.’ But notice how I surrounded him with women so it makes it easier to be himself?”
The film cast the duo as childhood friends whose lives had begun to take very different paths. It was an obvious parallel to their real-life relationship, as they had begun to publicly separate, most notably by releasing the solo albums Speakerboxxx and The Love Below under the Outkast name in 2003. “I think Big Boi is a great artist," Andre 3000 told Newsweek at the time, "but it’s kinda like a girlfriend-boyfriend relationship that’s at a point where you don’t hate each other, but something’s changed. You came together for a reason, but sometimes you’ve got to realize when it’s time to let loose.”
Indeed, the Idlewild soundtrack remains the group's last album, and other than a brief 2014 reunion tour the duo have pursued separate careers.