Ohio might not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of hip-hop, but it has a rich history and a thriving scene that has produced some of the most innovative and influential artists in the genre. From Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to Kid Cudi, Ohio has made its mark on hip-hop, and continues to do so today. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the history of Ohio hip-hop, the notable rappers and groups that have emerged from the state, and the current state of the scene.
The history of Ohio hip-hop
Ohio hip-hop has a rich and diverse history that spans several decades. From its early beginnings in the late 70s and early 80s to its explosive rise in the 90s, Ohio hip-hop has made a significant impact on the national scene. Let’s take a closer look at the history of Ohio hip-hop and the artists who have helped shape the genre.
Early beginnings and influences
The roots of Ohio hip-hop can be traced back to the late 70s and early 80s when DJs and MCs would throw parties in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. These parties were often filled with freestyle battles, and there was a strong funk and R&B influence in the music. It’s not surprising given Ohio’s rich musical history that the genre would be influenced by the likes of the Ohio Players and Zapp.
One of the earliest Ohio hip-hop groups was the Ohio Players, who had a string of hits in the 70s and were known for their funky sound. Another influential group was Zapp, a funk band from Dayton that was popular in the early 80s. Their use of the talk box, a device that allows the user to shape sound with their mouth, would be a major influence on early hip-hop.
The rise of Ohio rap in the 90s
The 90s saw a massive explosion of Ohio hip-hop, with a number of rappers and groups emerging from the state and finding success on the national scene. One of the most successful and influential groups was Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, a group from Cleveland. They blended gangsta rap with harmonies and melodic hooks, creating a unique sound that would inspire a generation of rappers. They had a string of hits in the mid-90s, including “Tha Crossroads” and “1st of Tha Month”.
Other notable Ohio rappers from the 90s include Da Brat, who was the first female solo rap act to go platinum, and Bootsy Collins, who had a long and varied career as a funk musician before releasing a rap album in 1990. These artists helped to establish Ohio as a hotbed of hip-hop talent.
The impact of Ohio hip-hop on the national scene
Ohio hip-hop had a profound impact on the national scene in the 90s and beyond. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony were especially influential, inspiring a generation of rappers with their unique style and pioneering the use of melodic hooks in rap music. Their influence can be heard in the music of artists like Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and J. Cole.
Kid Cudi, who emerged in the late 2000s, has also been a major influence on other artists, both in Ohio and beyond. His introspective lyrics and alternative sound have helped to push the boundaries of hip-hop and inspire a new generation of artists.
Ohio hip-hop continues to thrive today, with a new wave of artists emerging from the state and making their mark on the genre. With its rich history and diverse talent, Ohio hip-hop is sure to continue making an impact on the national scene for years to come.
Notable Ohio rappers and their contributions
Kid Cudi: Innovator and trendsetter
Kid Cudi, born Scott Ramon Seguro Mescudi, was born and raised in Cleveland and first gained attention with his mixtape “A Kid Named Cudi” in 2008. His debut album, “Man on the Moon: The End of Day” was released the following year and was a critical and commercial success.
But Kid Cudi’s impact on the music industry goes beyond just his success as a rapper. He has been open about his struggles with mental health and addiction, and his willingness to talk about these issues in his music has helped to break down the stigma surrounding mental health in the hip-hop community. He has also been a vocal advocate for the use of psychedelics in therapy, citing their role in helping him overcome his own mental health struggles.
Cudi’s music is characterized by its introspective and sometimes melancholy lyrics, as well as its innovative use of sound. He has been credited with popularizing the sub-genre of emo rap, which blends elements of rap and rock music, and his influence can be heard in the music of artists like Lil Uzi Vert and Trippie Redd.
Machine Gun Kelly: From underground to mainstream
Machine Gun Kelly, also known as MGK, is a rapper from Cleveland who first gained attention with his mixtapes in the early 2010s. He signed with Bad Boy Records in 2011 and released his debut album, “Lace Up,” the following year.
MGK’s music is known for its high energy and aggressive style, as well as its autobiographical lyrics. But he has also made headlines for his forays into other areas of entertainment. In 2019, he starred in the Netflix film “The Dirt,” which tells the story of the rock band Mötley Crüe. He has also made appearances in other films and TV shows, including “Bird Box” and “Roadies.”
MGK has collaborated with a number of other artists, including Camila Cabello and Yungblud, and has continued to evolve his sound over the years. His most recent album, “Tickets to My Downfall,” features a pop-punk sound that is a departure from his earlier work.
Bow Wow: Teen sensation turned entrepreneur
Bow Wow, born Shad Gregory Moss, was born in Columbus and was one of the biggest teen stars of the early 2000s. He got his start as a rapper at the age of 13 and released his debut album, “Beware of Dog,” in 2000.
Bow Wow’s music has always been aimed at a younger audience, with catchy hooks and upbeat production. But he has also made a name for himself as an entrepreneur. In 2016, he became a co-owner of the streaming service “Mogul X,” which aims to connect entrepreneurs with resources and mentorship. He has also been involved in a number of other business ventures, including a clothing line and a vodka brand.
Despite his success as an entrepreneur, Bow Wow has continued to release music over the years. His most recent album, “Greenlight 6,” was released in 2019.
Trippie Redd: Emo rap and genre blending
Trippie Redd, also known as Michael Lamar White IV, is a rapper and singer from Canton who first gained attention with his mixtapes in the late 2010s. He signed with TenThousand Projects in 2017 and has since released a number of successful albums, including “A Love Letter to You 4” in 2019.
Trippie Redd’s music is known for its emotional and introspective lyrics, as well as its use of autotune and melodic hooks. But he has also shown a willingness to experiment with different genres. His 2020 album, “Pegasus,” features elements of rock, pop, and EDM, and he has collaborated with artists from a variety of genres, including Diplo and Machine Gun Kelly.
Like Kid Cudi, Trippie Redd has also been open about his struggles with mental health, and has used his music to explore these issues. In a 2019 interview with Complex, he said, “I want to let people know that it’s okay to be sad, it’s okay to be depressed, it’s okay to be anxious. It’s okay to have all these feelings and emotions.”
Overall, the contributions of these Ohio rappers have had a significant impact on the music industry, both in terms of their musical innovations and their willingness to speak out about important issues. Their influence can be heard in the work of countless other artists, and their legacies are sure to endure for years to come.
Influential Ohio hip-hop groups
Ohio has been home to some of the most influential and innovative hip-hop groups in the United States. From Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to MHz Legacy, Ohio has produced some of the most unique and groundbreaking hip-hop music in the country.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony: Harmonizing gangsta rap
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, consisting of Krayzie Bone, Layzie Bone, Bizzy Bone, Wish Bone, and Flesh-N-Bone, formed in Cleveland in 1991. They quickly rose to fame with their unique style, which combined gangsta rap with melodic harmonies and innovative vocal techniques.
The group had a string of hits in the mid-90s, including “Thuggish Ruggish Bone,” “1st of Tha Month,” and “Tha Crossroads.” Their music was a reflection of their upbringing in Cleveland, and their lyrics often dealt with the harsh realities of life on the streets.
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony’s influence on hip-hop cannot be overstated. Their unique style and sound inspired a generation of rappers and helped to shape the direction of hip-hop in the late 90s.
Blueprint and RJD2: The Soul Position collaboration
Blueprint, born Albert Shepard, and RJD2, born Ramble John Krohn, are two Ohio musicians who collaborated on the album “8 Million Stories” under the name Soul Position in 2003. The album was a critical success and showcased the two artists’ skills as producers and lyricists.
Blueprint and RJD2 have both had successful solo careers as well, and have continued to collaborate over the years. Their contributions to Ohio hip-hop have been significant, and their influence can be heard in the music of other artists, both in Ohio and beyond.
Blueprint, in particular, has been a major force in the Ohio hip-hop scene. He is not only a talented rapper and producer, but also a successful entrepreneur who runs his own independent record label, Weightless Recordings.
MHz Legacy: Columbus underground legends
MHz Legacy, consisting of rappers Copywrite, Camu Tao, Tage Future, Jakki The Motamouth, and producer RJD2, formed in Columbus in the mid-90s. They were part of the vibrant underground hip-hop scene in the city at the time, which also included artists like Blueprint and Illogic.
MHz Legacy released their first album, “Table Scraps,” in 2001, and followed it up with “MHz Legacy” in 2012. They were known for their intelligent lyrics and innovative production, and were a major influence on the underground hip-hop scene in Ohio and beyond.
Camu Tao, in particular, was a unique and talented artist who tragically passed away in 2008. His influence on the Ohio hip-hop scene is still felt today, and he is remembered as one of the most innovative and creative artists to come out of the state.
Ohio hip-hop continues to thrive today, with a new generation of artists carrying on the legacy of Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Blueprint, RJD2, and MHz Legacy. From Cleveland to Columbus, Ohio remains a hotbed of hip-hop talent and innovation.
Ohio’s hip-hop scene today
Ohio’s hip-hop scene today is a vibrant and exciting place, full of talented artists and dedicated fans. While the scene may not have the same level of national recognition as some other cities, such as Atlanta or New York, it is a thriving community that is constantly pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop can be.
The role of local venues and events
One of the key factors in the success of Ohio’s hip-hop scene is the support of local venues and events. The Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland, for example, has been a fixture of the local music scene for over two decades, and has hosted countless hip-hop shows over the years. The venue is known for its intimate setting and its commitment to showcasing local talent.
The Newport Music Hall in Columbus is another important venue for Ohio hip-hop. The venue has a long history of hosting some of the biggest names in music, from Bob Dylan to Nirvana, and has also been a key player in the local hip-hop scene for many years. The venue’s size and reputation make it an ideal place for both established and up-and-coming artists to perform.
The Woodward Theater in Cincinnati is a newer venue on the scene, but has quickly made a name for itself as a hub for local hip-hop. The venue’s focus on community-building and collaboration has helped to foster a sense of camaraderie among Ohio hip-hop artists, and has made it a popular spot for both shows and events.
There are also a number of events and festivals that help to showcase Ohio hip-hop. The Cincinnati Hip Hop Collaborative, for example, is an annual event that brings together local artists, DJs, and producers to celebrate the city’s hip-hop culture. The event features live performances, panel discussions, and workshops, and is a great way for artists to connect with fans and other members of the community.
Ohio hip-hop collectives and collaborations
In addition to the support of local venues and events, Ohio’s hip-hop scene is also characterized by a strong sense of collaboration and community. There are a number of hip-hop collectives and collaborations in Ohio today, which allow local artists to pool their resources and support each other’s projects.
The Counterfeit Madison Music Group, for example, is a Columbus-based collective that has been making waves in the local scene for years. The group is known for its eclectic mix of styles and its commitment to pushing the boundaries of what hip-hop can be. With a focus on collaboration and experimentation, the group has helped to elevate the profile of hip-hop in Columbus and beyond.
There have also been a number of high-profile collaborations between Ohio artists in recent years. Machine Gun Kelly’s collaboration with Yungblud and Travis Barker on “I Think I’m OKAY”, for example, was a huge success, and helped to showcase the diversity and innovation of Ohio hip-hop. Trippie Redd’s collaboration with Juice WRLD on “Tell Me U Luv Me” was another standout moment for the scene, and demonstrated the collaborative spirit that is so important to the community.
Up-and-coming Ohio rappers to watch
Finally, there are a number of up-and-coming Ohio rappers who are poised to become the next generation of hip-hop stars. Arlo Maverick, for example, is a socially-conscious rapper from Columbus who is known for his thoughtful lyrics and smooth flow. Nuk, a trap rapper from Akron, is another artist to watch, with a unique sound that blends trap beats with melodic hooks.
YelloPain, a rapper from Dayton, is also generating buzz in the hip-hop world. His song “My Vote Don’t Count” went viral during the 2020 election, and helped to raise awareness about the importance of voting. With his powerful lyrics and infectious energy, YelloPain is sure to be a force in the Ohio hip-hop scene for years to come.
Overall, Ohio’s hip-hop scene is a dynamic and exciting place, full of talented artists and dedicated fans. With the support of local venues, events, and collaborations, the scene is sure to continue to grow and evolve in the years to come.
The impact of Ohio hip-hop on the global stage
Ohio hip-hop has been making waves on the global stage, with several of its artists achieving success and recognition overseas. The state has produced some of the most talented and innovative rappers in the game, who have gone on to influence the genre as a whole.
Ohio artists breaking international barriers
Kid Cudi, one of Ohio’s most famous hip-hop artists, has a huge international fanbase and has collaborated with artists from all over the world. His unique sound and style have resonated with fans across the globe, and he has been praised for his honest and introspective lyrics.
Machine Gun Kelly is another Ohio artist who has been making waves internationally. His recent pop-punk album “Tickets to My Downfall” received critical acclaim in the UK and beyond. The album showcased his versatility as an artist and demonstrated his ability to push boundaries and experiment with different genres.
The influence of Ohio hip-hop on other genres
Ohio hip-hop has also had an influence on other genres of music, with artists from outside of hip-hop incorporating elements of the genre into their own work. The band Twenty One Pilots, for example, is from Columbus and has cited Ohio hip-hop as a major influence on their sound and style.
Their unique blend of hip-hop, rock, and pop has earned them a massive following and critical acclaim. They have been praised for their ability to seamlessly blend genres and create a sound that is entirely their own.
The legacy of Ohio rap and its future prospects
The legacy of Ohio hip-hop is undeniable, and its impact on the genre as a whole cannot be overstated. Ohio rappers and hip-hop groups have consistently pushed boundaries and broken new ground, incorporating diverse influences and pushing the limits of what hip-hop can be.
From Bone Thugs-n-Harmony to Bow Wow, Ohio has produced some of the most talented and influential rappers in the game. Their contributions to the genre have been immeasurable, and their influence can still be felt today.
The future of Ohio hip-hop looks bright, with new artists emerging and the scene continuing to thrive. Whether it’s through innovative collaborations, local events and venues, or global success, Ohio hip-hop is poised to continue making its mark on the world.
With its unique blend of styles and influences, Ohio hip-hop has carved out a place for itself in the music industry. Its impact on the genre has been significant, and its legacy will continue to inspire and influence future generations of hip-hop artists.