- Eminem's The Slim Shady LP is released on 2/23/1999
- The Roots' Things Fall Apart is released on 2/23/1999
- Lauryn Hill wins 5 Grammys for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill on 2/24/1999
- Jay-Z's Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life wins the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album on 2/24/1999 and boycotts show
In February 1999, the Grammy committee finally shrugged off a longtime trend of awarding their highest plaudits to (typically) white men by delivering Lauryn Hill ten nominations and five Grammys for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, including Album of the Year. Meanwhile, Jay-Z's Vol 2...Hard Knock Life won Best Rap Album, but Hov wasn't there to accept it, because Jay-Z boycotted the Grammys for not respecting rap.
That same week also saw the release of two equally crucial but diametrically opposed albums that would leave their own marks in hip-hop: The Roots's Things Fall Apart and Eminem's debut album, The Slim Shady LP. While Black Thought, ?uestlove, and the rest of The Roots would go on to change the definition of what it means to be a critical darling of rap (and what that doesn't mean for success), Eminem's reputation of being equal measures widly popular and widely reviled would redefine the legacy of white rappers, Dr. Dre, Detroit's rap legacy, and rap's place in popular culture (among other things). In other words, it was a month of All Hallmarks Everything, and one not coincidentally marked by an open rebellion of norms, too. -Foster Kamer
8. February 1999