- De La Soul's Buhloone Mindstate is released on 9/21/1993
- Digable Planets' Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space) is released on 9/27/1993
- Lords of the Underground's Here Come the Lords is released on 9/27/1993
- Souls of Mischief's 93 'til Infinity is released on 9/28/1993
- KRS-One's Return of the Boom Bap is released on 9/28/1993
Everybody knows about 1988, arguably the best year hip-hop has ever seen. But five years later, during the month of September, there was another, less celebrated explosion of creativity within the art form that yielded a dizzying variety of diverse musical experiments. Those who were alive and aware at the time remember the feeling. There was something in the air, and it felt like hip-hop could do anything. It was not yet all about the Benjamins, but instead about raw creativity, blending live instruments, jazz samples, and restlessly pushing lyricism to new heights. You could hear it on Souls of Mischief's debut, as the Bay Area bohemians married rigorous lyricism with rugged beats to assert a new Hieroglyphics aesthetic that would sustain them and comrades like Casual as an independent movement for decades to come.
Meanwhile, a young and hungry DJ Premier linked with super-MC KRS-One to craft a back-to-basics album whose cover featured KRS rhyming into a pair headphones. Native Tongue veterans De La Soul were building with James Brown hornsman Maceo Parker and rap phenomenon Biz Markie on Buhloone Mindstate, an album which they proudly declared "might blow up but it won't go pop."
Going pop was not a problem for Digable Planets, whose single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" was inescapable—even stations that hated rap could not resist the trio's Fred Wesley horn sample and hepcat slang. Brooklyn's Lords of the Underground also dropped their debut that month, epitomizing the prevailing underground aesthetic. As raw and uncompromising as they wanted to be, they still managed to land five singles on the Billboard charts, of which "Chief Rocka" remains both a fan favorite and a mission statement: "I amaze and astound, rhythm up and down/Smack a group of them around, let them know who wears the crown." In September of 1993 nothing else mattered. -Rob Kenner