The 1990s was a banner decade for hip-hop, birthing many of the genre’s iconic works while solidifying its place as a cultural and economic force. It was also a prolific time, when the music’s market value fused with a mainstream acceptance that precipitated a massive production boom: Hundreds of thousands of songs, and just as many (good and bad) memories.
Some of hip-hop’s legendary figures also emerged from the decade, and many went on to enjoy prolific careers. Others were not so fortunate, and went on to become laughing stocks (MC Hammer, anyone?) or, in some cases, passed away.
So now that it’s 2013, it seems an appropriate time to look back at some of the major figures from the era and check in with them. Where are they now? Let’s find out:
Highlight(s): Whut? Thee Album (1992); Dare Iz a Darkside (1995); Blackout! (1999 with Method Man)
Where is He Now?: Still making music, including the upcoming Blackout! 3 collaboration with Method Man. The artist born Reggie Noble also enjoys a prolific acting career, having appeared in such classic works as How High (2001) and Seed of Chucky (2004), along with various video game voice roles. He and Method Man even had their own short-lived TV sitcom titled Method and Red (June-September 2004).
2. Big L
Highlight(s): Lifestyles ov da Poor and Dangerous (1995)
Where is He Now?: This underground legend and lyrical genius never truly made a mainstream splash, but his influence lives on, and the respect he’s earned from peers and fans alike is undeniable. In February 1999, he was shot to death on his doorstep in Harlem. The case remains unsolved.
3. UGK (Underground Kingz)
Highlight(s): Super Tight (1994); Ridin’ Dirty (1996)
Where Are They Now?: Disbanded in 2007 when Pimp C, one half of the Houston duo, died of a Promethazine overdose in a West Hollywood hotel room. Bun B continues to make music as a solo artist.
4. The Fugees
Highlight(s): The Score (1996)
Where Are They Now?: Broke up in 2007 when, after performing together numerous times in spite of failing to record an album since 1996, Wyclef Jean and Pras Michel decided they could no longer deal with Lauryn Hill’s eccentricities. Now Lauryn tours as a solo artist, Wyclef takes ridiculous photos of himself and sometimes records music, and Pras makes films but rarely records music.
Highlight(s): It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot (1998); Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (1998)
Where is He Now?: DMX has recorded music, including the still unreleased Undisputed album, but he’s been in the public spotlight more for his legal troubles: most recently, he spent almost a year in prison for parole violation (2010-11) and was arrested in February in South Carolina for driving without a driver’s license.
Highlight(s): Me Against the World (1995); All Eyez on Me (1996); The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996)
Where is He Now?: Pac led a troubled life, filled with violent outbursts, prison time, public feuds, and an artistic genius that’s rarely been matched. In September 1996, 2Pac was gunned down and murdered on the Las Vegas strip. Officially, the case remains unsolved, but evidence outlined by Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Chuck Phillips suggests that a Compton gang called the Southside Crips was responsible.
7. The Pharcyde
Highlight(s): Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde (1992)
Where Are They Now?: Technically the Pharcyde is still recording music, but only two of the original four members remain. Their most recent album was Humboldt Beginnings (2004).
8. Notorious B.I.G.
Highlight(s): Ready to Die (1994); Life After Death (1997)
Where is He Now?: Biggie, a central figure in 90s East Coast hip-hop and an incredibly talented lyricist and storyteller, was gunned down on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles in March 1997. The case remains unsolved.
9. Goodie Mob
Highlight(s): Soul Food (1995)
Where Are They Now?: This Outkast-affiliated group gave birth to Cee Lo Green, who has enjoyed a successful solo career. The group still performs together on occasion, but has not released an album since 2004’s One Monkey Don’t Stop the Show. They reportedly have a new one coming out in 2013.
Highlight(s): Mr. Scarface is Back (1991); The Diary (1994)
Where is He Now?: The Houston bred former Geto Boys member still records music, and has made appearances in films (Idiocracy) and video games (Def Jam Vendetta).