Complex remembers the music, the artists, and the happenings that made 1996 one of the most critical years in hip-hop.

Back Issues: The Real Story Behind 'VIBE''s East vs. West Cover

Did a cover line push the coastal wars to the limit?
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The 1996 Project: Looking Back at the Year Hip-Hop Embraced Success

From the rise of female MCs to the loss of 2Pac, we remember the highs and lows, 20 years later.
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The Best Rap Songs of 1996

The year was prolific enough that picking just the 50 best rap songs of 1996 feels like settling on a puny fraction.
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Stories From the People Who Lived the Music and the Mayhem of 1996

Watch former editors and industry members talk about Puffy, Jay Z, and other influencers of the year.
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Former 'VIBE' and 'Source' Editors on How They Covered the East vs. West Beef

In part 2 of the roundtable discussion, the panelists talk about the bicoastal tension and the death of 2Pac.
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Industry OGs On the Rise of Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown, and the Fall of Death Row

In part 3 of the roundtable discussion, the panelists talk about the collapse of the West Coast label and the talents of the year's female MCs.
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Now Watch Mama: Lil' Kim, Foxy Brown, and the Rise of the Female MC

How 'Hard Core' and 'Ill Na Na' changed the game for women in rap.
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OutKast Evolved With 'ATLiens' and Forced Hip-Hop to Do the Same

If listening to OutKast over the past 22 years has taught us anything it’s that the truest act of hip-hop bravado is allowing oneself to evolve.
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Never Change: Is Jay Z the Same Rapper He Was 20 Years Ago?

Is the wannabe young Scarface of Reasonable Doubt the same person as the aging Vito Corleone who hasn’t even released new music in almost three years?
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Geto Boys’ ‘The Resurrection’ Is the Most Underrated Album in Rap History

Is this album the Houston group's greatest achievement?
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Consequence on the '96 Def Jam Holiday Party Brawl

Melee ensues when Ghostface meets Wish Bone.
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Talkin' 'Bout Houston: Bun B and ESG Remember the Year the City Broke Out

Houston's hip-hop OGs talk about UGK, the Geto Boys, DJ Screw, and the rise of the Texas sound in 1996.
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Kids Present the (Abridged) History of the Year in Rap

Watch these children cause rambunction throughout the sphere as they break down the biggest hip-hop moments of 1996.
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How Bone Thugs Took Over the Streets and Suburbs With "Tha Crossroads"

Word to Uncle Charles.
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