The 30 Greatest Months in Rap History

22. July 1998

Notable Events:
- Noreaga's N.O.R.E. is released on 7/14/1998
- Beastie Boys' Hello Nasty is released on 7/14/1998
- Lauryn Hill's "Doo Wop (That Thing)" is released on 7/27/1998

At the beginning of July 1998, the summer looked all but locked down for former Fugees member Pras, who had collaborated with Mya and Ol' Dirty Bastard on the monster "Ghetto Superstar" the month before. Little did they know, another Fugees member was on her way to a new stratosphere of hip-hop success. Lauryn Hill's debut single as a solo artist, "Doo Wop (That Thing)," quickly took over radio. Separate from any group affiliations (and from an entirely harder division of rap) was N.O.R.E., the debut album of Queens-bred talent Noreaga (although "Superthug" wouldn't hit radio for another two months).

But while July saw unheard talent emerging, and previously known talent chancing it solo, it also saw the simple thrill of old dogs doing new tricks: After four years without a new album, the Beastie Boys emerged with Hello Nasty, an album that remains what is arguably the group's most left-of-center output. It was part party album, part meditative navel-gaze record—and also a callback to their New York City roots and a love letter to the lost art of old-school MC-ing. Shit was weird, sure, and it wasn't for every party, either. But it came through when it mattered, which is to say: Of everything released that month, it sounded the best when played at deafening volume, and still does. -Foster Kamer

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