The 30 Greatest Months in Rap History

5. July 1997

Notable Events:
- Puff Daddy & the Family's No Way Out is released on 7/1/1997
- Missy Elliott's Supa Dupa Fly is released on 7/15/1997
- Company Flow's Funcrusher Plus is released on 7/28/1997
- Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's The Art of War is released on 7/27/1997

July of 1997 was a month of narratives ending and beginning, closing and opening.

Mike Tyson was suspended from boxing for biting Holyfield's ear; Howard Stern had been fired from his Dallas radio station gig, starting his rise as talk radio's shock jock king. Rap was still reeling from the death of The Notorious B.I.G. four months earlier; Puff Daddy & the Family's No Way Out continued the grieving process. Haunted by the specter of Biggie on tracks like "Victory" and "All About The Benjamins," Puff and Bad Boy owned the summer in the wake of their loss. But while Diddy prospered in mourning and epitomizing the hip-hop conventions of the day, Missy Elliott's Supa Dupa Fly picked up on the tidal shift of Southern rap left off by OutKast's ATLiens. Elsewhere, Midwestern all-stars Bone Thugs-N-Harmony's The Art of War continued the group's reign of R&B/gangsta rap crossover with lead singles "If I Could Teach The World" and "Look Into My Eyes" (assisted by an appearance on the star-studded soundtrack for Batman & Robin). Off the charts, a long ways away from rap radio but right around the corner from Bad Boy back in Brooklyn, every cliché about rappers "starting a movement" was being put to shame as Company Flow dropped their debut, Funcrusher Plus, which also happened to be the first release of a burgeoning independent label called Rawkus Records. —Foster Kamer

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