Hip hop's "golden age" (or "golden era") is a name given to a period in mainstream hip hop—usually cited as between the mid 1980s and the mid 1990s—said to be characterized by its diversity, quality, innovation and influence.There were strong themes of Afrocentricity and political militancy, while the music was experimental and the sampling, eclectic. There was often a strong jazz influence. The artists most often associated with the phrase are Public Enemy, Boogie Down Productions, Eric B. & Rakim, De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, Gang Starr, Big Daddy Kane and the Jungle Brothers.
The golden age is noted for its innovation – a time "when it seemed that every new single reinvented the genre" according to Rolling Stone. Referring to "hip-hop in its golden age", Spin's editor-in-chief Sia Michel says, "there were so many important, groundbreaking albums coming out right about that time", and MTV's Sway Calloway adds: "The thing that made that era so great is that nothing was contrived. Everything was still being discovered and everything was still innovative and new".Writer William Jelani Cobb says "what made the era they inaugurated worthy of the term golden was the sheer number of stylistic innovations that came into existence... in these golden years, a critical mass of mic prodigies were literally creating themselves and their art form at the same time".
The specific time period that the golden age covers varies slightly from different sources. Some place it square in the 1980s and 1990s – Rolling Stone refers to "rap's '86-'99 golden age", and MSNBC states, "the "Golden Age" of hip-hop music: The '80s" and '90s".
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