Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur attend 13th Annual MTV Video Music Awards
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Rap Rewind: Unforgettable Moments in Hip-Hop History That Happened in May

What happened today in hip-hop history? Here's a comprehensive timeline of every major hip-hop moment in hip-history that happened in May.


May 6 2024, Updated 6:48 p.m. ET

Some of the most transformative moments in hip-hop history went down during the month of May, forever altering the genre's trajectory.

From the release of major debut records that reshaped the rap scene to an explosive altercation on an elevator — here are some of the pivotal moments from May that have indelibly shaped the world of hip-hop.

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May 1, 1991: MTV’s ‘Unplugged’ adds its first hip-hop acts.

ll cool j on  in chicago
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LL Cool J on 7/2/87 in Chicago

MTV made history when it introduced rap acts to its iconic Unplugged series for the first time in 1991. This move marked a significant shift in the program's rock lineup, as hip-hop acts were moved to the forefront. LL Cool J, MC Lyte, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest performed during the telecast: Yo! Unplugged Raps.

May 5, 2014: Jay-Z and Solange get into a fight after the Met Gala.

The infamous elevator altercation involving Jay-Z and Solange Knowles took place in May 2014 following the Met Gala in New York City.

The fight, captured by surveillance cameras and obtained by TMZ, showed Solange physically lashing out at Hov while Beyoncé stood by. The footage sparked intense speculation and media frenzy, with rumors swirling about the cause of the altercation. Despite widespread speculation, the exact reason behind the confrontation remains a mystery.

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May 3, 1993: Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘Protect Ya Neck’ makes its mainstream debut.

rap group the wu tang clan pose for a portrait on april
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Rap Group The Wu-Tang Clan pose for a portrait on April 1, 1994

Wu-Tang Clan first released “Protect Ya Neck” through their independent label in December 1992. However, after the group signed to Loud Records, the single was re-released – kickstarting the group’s historic career.

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May 10, 2011: The world is introduced to Tyler, The Creator.

tyler the creator aka tyler okonma of odd future wolfgang kill them all
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Tyler the Creator (aka. Tyler Okonma) of Odd Future Wolfgang Kill Them All

Tyler, The Creator burst onto the hip-hop scene with his debut album Goblin in 2011, and he has not slowed down since. Songs like "Yonkers" and "She" showcased Tyler’s wit and storytelling abilities – delving into themes of mental health, identity, and alienation.

Goblin established the California native as a trailblazing figure in rap, laying the groundwork for his evolution as a musician and a cultural icon.

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May 19, 1998: DMX releases his debut studio album.

dmx attends th annual american music awards
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DMX attends 27th Annual American Music Awards

DMX's debut album, It's Dark and Hell Is Hot, was released in 1998. The album featured hits like "Ruff Ryders' Anthem" and "Get At Me Dog" and delved deep into DMX's troubled past. The freshman attempt by the New York City rapper was highly successful. It peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and sold more than four million units, according to the RIAA.

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May 24, 2000: 50 Cent gets shot nine times.

cent during playstation  e party playa del playstation
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50 Cent during Playstation 2 E3 Party "Playa Del Playstation".

50 Cent’s life and career changed forever when he was shot on May 24, 2000. The incident occurred in front of his grandmother's house in Queens, New York. Subsequently, he sustained nine gunshot wounds, leaving him in critical condition. The rapper recovered successfully from his injuries and has since become one of the most popular figures in hip-hop.

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May 28, 1996: Tupac nearly drowned while on vacation with Death Row records.

marion suge knight and tupac shakur at the shrine auditorium in los angeles
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Marion Suge Knight and Tupac Shakur at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles

According to Curtis "Kurt Kobane" Couthon, former Death Row Records producer and manager, Tupac nearly drowned while on vacation in Cabo in May of 1996.

During an interview with The Art of Dialogue, Curtis recalled an incident where Suge Knight and Tupac jumped into the ocean from a yacht. “Pac starts to drown,” Curtis said, adding, “Pac is unresponsive. They had to, you know, resuscitate him.”

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