Class of ’88: A Retrospective Dive into Hip-Hop’s Golden Year [REVIEW]

Class of 88: A Retrospective Dive into Hip-Hop's Golden Year

Class reunions are like opening a treasure chest of memories, giving us a chance to relive and appreciate the key chapters that crafted our life stories. In “Class of 88”, a fresh and dynamic hip-hop podcast, Will Smith captivates listeners by guiding them through a pivotal year in the genre’s evolution. He dives deep into the artists and milestones that left an indelible mark on hip-hop’s rich tapestry. This nostalgic trip explores the evolution of the art form, from its powerful lyrics to its rhythmic beats and groundbreaking scratches, marking a defining era in music and culture.

“Class of 88” distinguishes itself with its illustrious alumni. This series brings intimate conversations with the hip-hop titans who paved the way. Featuring icons like DJ Jazzy Jeff, Rakim, Darryl (DMC) McDaniels, Chuck D, Queen Latifah, and Salt N Peppa, it’s not just about the stories but the palpable energy they bring. Spread across eight episodes, fans are given a raw and unfiltered view—akin to an intimate backstage pass. If you ever wanted to feel the pulse of the era when hip-hop’s foundation was meticulously laid down, this series is your closest ticket.

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One key aspect that sets “Class of 88” apart is its coherent, chronological structure — a journey through time. While other podcasts may offer similar insights but often lack cohesion, this series skillfully weaves a narrative with a clear beginning, middle, and end. It methodically charts the evolution of hip-hop in a near-linear narrative, akin to observing the gradual rise of a mighty empire. Will Smith delves into the genre’s transformation, from shifts in lyrical styles to the progression of production techniques, tracing the path from local house parties to global stages. This journey is not just educational but deeply inspiring, resonating with creatives, artists, historians, and dreamers alike.

Music, the cornerstone of hip-hop, plays a crucial role in the narrative of “Class of 88”. Throughout the podcast, Will Smith and his esteemed guests often bring the spotlight to seminal tracks that defined the era. They delve deep into the stories behind iconic songs like Run DMC’s “My Adidas,” Rakim’s “Seven MC Theory,” Queen Latifah’s “Wrath of Madness,” Public Enemy’s “Yo! Bum Rush The Show”, and “Parents Just Don’t Understand” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince. Far from just glossing over these classics, the series offers insightful background stories, and as a bonus, listeners are treated to some snippets of these groundbreaking tracks.

While “Class of 88” is a compelling listen, it also serves as an enlightening masterclass. The podcast illuminates the intricate politics of the industry and the art of strategic maneuvering within it. It delves into the foundational changes that reshaped musicianship, spotlighting some truly captivating nuances. For instance, DJ Jazzy Jeff provides an in-depth look at the inception of the “transformer scratch.” The series also maps the pivotal transition from the DJ-dominated scene to the era where MCs took the limelight. And for those studying the genre, “Class of 88” is an invaluable resource packed with wisdom and knowledge.

More than just a podcast, “Class of 88” is a profound immersion into the heart of hip-hop. As episodes unfold, the undeniable essence of mastery, innovation, and unparalleled creativity that drives the genre shines through. Even for those familiar with the tales of these hip-hop icons, this narrative presents them in a fresh, compelling flow. Spearheaded by a seasoned legend with an innate gift for storytelling, the series is a must-listen for every hip-hop aficionado. And the good news is, now, you can stream the complete experience on Amazon. Audible.

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