• Charlie Taylor

Hip-Hop Evolution S4 - TV Review


In Three Words: Drilling, Drawl, Energy

Hip-Hop Evolution is back at it again! I say this constantly when I think about this series but for every season that passes I feel grateful that it just exists and somebody that knows nothing about Hip-Hop can learn the names, inspirations & sounds from the people that pioneered every era.

As Hip-Hop fan, I hold things like these tightly. Because it becomes rarer and rarer by the year. And this season was essential for me personally because it was the first season that covered genuine gaps in my knowledge.

The episodes covered New Orleans Bounce & the rise of No Limit/Cash Money. The new sounds & pioneers of the South such as Chopped & Screwed & Three Six Mafia. The "Super Producers" such as Timbaland/Missy Elliott, The Neptunes, Teddy Riley, Kanye & J Dilla. And the birth of Mixtapes as we know them now, including the (now illegal) practise mastered by DJ Drama & Cannon & how 50 Cent, T.I. & Lil Wayne made Mixtapes an rapper's medium, not a DJ medium.

Beginning with "Bounce To This". This was the episode where I knew nearly nothing about the content covered. Of course I've heard of Master P, No Limit, Mannie Fresh,Cash Money, Juvenile, Hot Boys and all that. But my knowledge of those things are very surface level. This is where this show shines. I've probably said this in prior reviews but this Doc series does so well in entertaining the person that knows all the information but also informing the person that knows nothing about the subject. I've been both people in this season alone and it's so nice to know first-hand that they successfully cover all bases.

Anyway, the episode was very enlightening, as much as it was loud as hell, but probably a little less. I swear this episode was louder than the others. Although I'm not really into Bounce as a music genre, I highly rate the story behind it. And New Orleans specifically, the history behind the city fascinates me. This was elevated for me when Master P told his backstory.

Side Note: We need to celebrate Master P as a hustler as much as we do Jay-Z. We're too silent on P...

We don't stretch too far from New Orleans for "The Southern Lab" which could easily be seen as a Part 2 to the finale of S3. (The Dirty South) They basically take the opportunity to shout out how quickly The South evolved and gave their own contributions to the art in their own unique ways. I enjoyed the Chopped & Screwed part of this, apart from the comments on Lean. I felt like that part was glazed over. This was another episode where I don't exactly enjoy the music recreationally but respected the stories behind them.

Funny story: I was out with a friend who saw the show before I did and he said that he didn't know what "Skeet" meant until seeing the Lil Jon portion of this episode. Of course I died laughing as much as The East Side Boyz did. If you don't know what it means, please watch this episode.

"The Super Producers" was another episode that stretched across several parts of the Hip-Hop world. Starting in Virginia Beach, an unlikely hotbed for Hip-Hop at one time. That was something I never really thought about. Also how influential Teddy Riley is. I liked the pacing of this episode. Covering all the producers was an ample task but I think they gave everyone a fair shake, especially The Neptunes which are another set that I wasn't quite educated in apart from their sound. Hot take: "Grindin'" hasn't aged well. Don't @ me.

The last episode "Sweet Dreams" was a logical place to close the last season. As I stated in Episode 30 of "Diggin' In The Digits", I wasn't too clued up on the 00s Mixtape scene. We all knew that 50 Cent was a pioneer in this case and I again knew the names behind this episode. But once again, it was the stories behind it that made this episode great. I would've loved if they got 50 to interview but instead they relied on old interviews closer to the time.

It set up the next season for the introduction of Streaming and the digital age. I would predict that they would begin with Napster, Limewire etc and then go into Spotfiy, maybe DatPiff on the Mixtape end. It's a fascinating time in music & especially Hip-Hop history and I can't wait what this show will bring.

As for this season, I enjoyed it a lot, even though most music covered wasn't my cup of tea, it was the season where I learnt the most and that counts for something.

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