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- Wu-Tang Clan's Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) is released on 11/9/1993
- Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle is released on 11/23/1993
- Del the Funky Homosapien's No Need for Alarm is released on 11/23/1993
- A Tribe Called Quest's Midnight Marauders is released on 11/9/1993
- E-40's Federal is released 11/10/1993
If you wanted to give an alien a crash course in the diversity of rap in the '90s, you could do worse than playing him only albums released in November 1993. You've got three certified classics, in three genres: Tribe's Midnight Marauders and Wu-Tang's 36 Chambers, released on the same day (here's a New York rap Rorschach test: you've got $15 that Tuesday, which album do you buy?), and Snoop's Doggystyle, which dropped two weeks later. Throw in a couple cult hits from the Bay, E-40's debut and Del's slept-on sophomore gem, and your extraterrestrial pal will have a pretty good idea of what hip-hop was like at the end of its Golden Era.
For the rap historian though, November '93 is fascinating beyond just the albums that dropped that month. Looking back, you can see the tectonic hip-hop plates shifting. The month belonged to Snoop, of course. Doggystyle debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts and sold 800,000 copies its first week, then a record for a debut artist. Just 22, Snoop had already appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone, and West Coast gangsta rap was ascendant.
Back East, Tribe and Wu dropped on the same day, but the groups—and the styles they repped—were headed in different directions. Midnight Marauders was Quest's fastest selling album, but it was also their last great one. The group began to drift apart afterward, and the Tribe vibe they defined—scholarly but fun, hard-hitting sans the overt violent imagery—would soon be surpassed by the rise of gangsta culture on both coasts. Wu-Tang played a pivotal role in ushering in that shift. Their emergence signalled the return of East Coast hardcore rap, paving the way for Nas and Biggie after them, but also pushing Tribe and their contemporaries to the margins. —Jack Erwin