Today in hip-hop history, Jeezy drops a southern classic, 3rd Bass arrives on the scene, Eric B. and Rakim avoid the sophomore jinx, and Craig Mack marks Bad Boy's debut.

1988- Eric B. and Rakim Drop Their Sophomore Album, Follow The Leader

The follow-up to their classic 1987 debut, Paid in FullFollow The Leader didn't gain the same commercial success as their intro to the game but it solidified Rakim's place as the architect of modern hip-hop. The lead single of the same name still stands as one of their most known songs.

"After the album dropped, I started hearing a lot of me and Eric, styles of what we was doing," Rakim told Rolling Stone in April 2018, detailing his impression of being a rapper that inspired so much of what hip-hop is today. "But at that point, to me, it was dope. I was a young cat from Long Island trying to make my way in the game. But to make your way in and the people was kind of gravitating towards what you doing, it was the best shit in the world."

1988-3rd Bass Release "Steppin' to the A.M."

Produced by The Bomb Squad, 3rd Bass' single, "Steppin' to the A.M." from their gold-selling debut, The Cactus Album, peaked at no. 5 on the U.S. rap chart. It was an early introduction the hip-hop group's style and a precursor to their biggest hit, "Pop Goes The Weasel" from their follow-up album, Derelicts of Dialect.

1994- Craig Mack Signals Bad Boy's Arrival With His Debut Single,  "Flava In Ya Ear." 

In 1994, Craig Mack emerged on Bad Boy Records to drop a certifiable hip-hop classic, "Flava In Ya Ear." One of Bad Boy's flagship artists, alongside The Notorious B.I.G., Craig Mack's "Flava In Ya Ear" was the lead single from his debut album, Project: Funk da World, and Bad Boy's first official release, setting up the label as an eventual music powerhouse. The song's remix, featuring The Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, and Rampage, is widely considered one of the best posse cuts in rap history. Mack died of congestive heart failure in 2017, but his impact on hip-hop via his hit single is significant.

"We cannot forget one of the greatest hip hop single debuts in the culture," Questlove wrote on Instagram of Mack's hit single when he passed last year. "That song was the gym routine mc’s brushed their skills on. All due respect to brother Craig Mack w/o him & his cant lose single who knows what empire #BadBoy woulda become."

2005- Trey Songz Releases His Debut Album I Gotta Make It

Trey Songz's debut album, I Gotta Make It dropped in 2005, signaling the arrival of one of R&B's most signature voices of the past 15 years. The title track, "Gotta Make It," featured Twista and a baby-faced Songz begging his girl to support his dreams while he tries to make it big,  helping the album debut at no. 20 on the Billboard 200, and setting up Songz's R&B reign.

2005- Young Jeezy Redefines Southern Hip-Hop with His Debut, Let's Get It: Thug Motivation 101

Jeezy's 2005 Def Jam debut stands as one of the most important albums in recent southern rap history. The album paved the way for an entire crop of artists who would emulate his style, as he helped redefine what southern rap's look and style. Propped up by the success of the group, Boyz In the Hood, Jeezy's solo outing debuted at no. 2 on the Billboard 200, eventually earning platinum status thanks to the singles, "Go Crazy" (produced by Don Cannon) and "Soul Survivor" featuring Akon. It's considered to be among the best rap debuts in history.

“It’s like a book from the Bible,” Collipark, who produced Thug Motivation’s “Trap Star,” told Complex on the album's ten year anniversary back in 2015.  “It’s one of those pieces of bodies of work that [laid] the ground sonically for a lot that’s going on right now. You have to look—if Jeezy and Thug Motivation was from anywhere other than Atlanta, would it have the same impact? I don’t think so.”

2005- Babyface Releases Grown and Sexy

After running the '80s and '90s with hit after hit thanks to huge artists like Bobby Brown, Boyz II Men and Toni Braxton, Babyface returned to the scene with his sixth solo outing, Grown and Sexy in 2005, proving that he could still create a soundtrack for the over 30 set if he's inclined. The album peaked at no. 10 on the Billboard 200 and no. 3 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and produced the tracks,  "Tonight It's Goin Down," ""The Loneliness" "God Must Love U" "The Getting 2 Know U."

2015- Bobbi Kristina Dies

Six months after she was found unresponsive in a bathtub at her Atlanta-area home, Bobbi Kristina died while in a coma due to lobar pneumonia. The only daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, she was 22 when she died. Her ex-boyfriend Nick Gordon was found legally responsible for her death after Bobbi Kristina's estate filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against him. Although Gordon was ordered to pay her estate $36 million in her wrongful-death case, Brown feels the punishment was harsh enough. "Because he's still walking around free," he told Rolling Stone. "Justice? If he was locked up somewhere where somebody can rape him. That's just how I feel. He raped me by taking my daughter away."


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