An RTÉ Culture Photo Essay the story of hip-hop

As 2FM Live brings DJ Mo K and the RTÉ NCO on Friday, 31st August, in the Rankin’s Wood tent from 8.30pm at Electric Picnic - Jim Carroll looks at the Story of Hip Hop.

The First Block Party

1520 Sedgwick Avenue, The Bronx, New York, August 1973. DJ Kool Herc and his sister Cindy put on a back-to-school party in their building. Herc spins and Cindy collects the money at the door.

The New York School

A slew of DJs followed Herc’s lead and take the music to the street. DJ Hollywood, Grandmaster Flash (pictured), Afrika Bambaataa, Grand Wizard Theodore and many more keep things fresh.

The First Rap Hit

“Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang may not have been the first hip-hop single, but it was the one sent hip-hop around the world and introduced a global audience to this sound.

Image © Sugarhill Records

The Sugarhill Gang

Rapper's Delight

The First Superstars

Run DMC were hip-hop’s first superstars and we’re not refering to their favourite Adidas runners. Hits like “It’s Like That”, “It’s Tricky” and their “Walk This Way” collaboration established the Queens’ trio as one of the most influential rappers in the game.


It's Tricky

The Militants

Public Enemy brought the noise from Long Island in 1986 and became the most exciting and vital force in hip-hop. No other group has got their message across with such excitement, intensity, daring and passion. Still a vital force today.

Public Enemy

Don't Believe the Hype

The Mavericks

Hip-hop also had room for acts who came with a twist as seen by the success of acts like A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Arrested Development and especially New York’s Beastie Boys.

Beastie Boys


The West Coast Steps Up

It wasn’t all New York: the arrival of acts like NWA, Dr Dre and his protégé Snoop Dogg showed the west coast was also in the mix. Gangsta rap may not have been born in Cali – Philly’s Schoolly D got in first with “P.S.K (What Does It Mean?)” in 1985 – but Dre and friends made it boom.

Snoop Dogg

Gin and Juice

The Tupac Years

Tupac Shakur packed a lot into his eventful 25 years on earth, between creating fascinating tracks like “California Love”, acting in films and TV shows like Poetic Justice and being a vocal player in the east coast/west coast hip-hop handbags. He died in 1986, the victim of a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas.

2Pac ft. Dr. Dre

California Love

The Original Notorious

The man with many names from the Notorious BIG to Biggie Smalls to Big Poppa, Christopher Wallace refocused attenton on New York with a string of hits. A spat with former pal Tupac Shakur dominated the narrative of his life and, like Shakur, he died violently and was shot dead in Los Angeles.

The Notorious B.I.G.


"I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man"

Many hip-hop stars have taken the culture by storm and made fortunes from other endeavours, but Jay-Z has taken this to a whole new level. Inbetween his involvement with bars, clubs, fashion brands, record labels and basketball teams, he’s still a handy rapper.


99 Problems

The Real Slim Shady Stands Up

When it came to hip-hop in the early 2000s, Eminem basically ran the game. He released a slew of hard-hitting albums, started rucks with anyone who was up for it and was one of those who took the sound into stadiums, festivals and very big hilly fields. Nine albums on, Slim Shady is still standing.

Eminem ft. Dido

Stan (Long Version)

Go West

Hip-hop has never seen anyone like Kanye West before. Previously an on-point producer for Roc-A-Fella before he hit the microphone, West is a strong rapper, a master craftsman when it comes to beats and a mouthy lad who is never far from the limelight.

Kanye West


Pop Goes Hip-Hop

Hip-hop is now a tried and tested ingredient when it comes to massive pop hits. Be it Beyonce recruiting her lad Jay-Z for “Crazy In Love” or the ease with which acts like Drake, The Weeknd, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and hundreds more use rap’s basic elements, the borderline between the two disappeared a long time ago.

Beyoncé ft. JAY-Z

Crazy In Love

The World Goes Hip-Hop

While the Yanks still dominate hip-hop, they don’t have it their own way any longer. From the energy and swagger shown by a grime star like Stormzy to the bunch of intriguing new-school Irish names like Rusangano Family and Rejjie Snow and far beyond, there’s a new class of sound and style on the rise.


Shut Up

The New Breed

There are always new kids on the hip-hop block, new challengers claiming to be the greatest of all time, like everyone from Nas to Biggie to Jigga did so in the past. In terms of the newbies and going on his albums to date, our money is on Compton’s Kendrick Lamar to stay the course.

Kendrick Lamar


The Story of Hip-Hop @Electric Picnic 2018

Following the success of its live performance at last year’s Electric Picnic and Longitude in July, 2FM Live brings DJ Mo K and the RTÉ NCO to this years Electric Picnic on Friday, 31st August, in the Rankin’s Wood tent from 8.30pm.