The History of Hip Hop Music Visualized on a Turntable Circuit Diagram: Features 700 Artists, from DJ Kool Herc to Kanye West

Every genre of music has its lin­eages and fil­i­a­tions, and each gen­er­a­tion tries to out­do its pre­de­ces­sors. In no genre of music are these rela­tion­ships so clear­ly defined as in hip-hop, where good-natured bat­tles, furi­ous beefs, nos­tal­gic trib­utes, and guest appear­ances explic­it­ly con­nect rap­pers from dif­fer­ent eras, cities, and styles. Since the ear­li­est days of hip-hop, groups have formed crews and loose alliances, built their own labels and media empires togeth­er, and defined the sounds of their region. At the cen­ter of it all was the turntable, which found­ing fathers like Kool DJ Herc repur­posed from con­sumer play­back machines to elec­tron­ic instru­ments and pro­to-sam­plers. No mat­ter how far the music has come in its sophis­ti­cat­ed adap­ta­tions of dig­i­tal stu­dio tech­nol­o­gy, hip-hop’s essen­tial archi­tec­ture came from the meet­ing of two turnta­bles, a mix­er, and a micro­phone.

Pay­ing homage to that hum­ble ori­gin, the Hip-Hop Love Blue­print by design house Dorothy takes the cir­cuit dia­gram of a turntable as the basis for a map con­nect­ing 700 of hip-hop’s major play­ers, from god­fa­thers like Cab Cal­loway, Gil Scott-Heron, and the Last Poets, to orig­i­na­tors like Herc and Grand­mas­ter Flash, gold­en age heroes like Run-DMC and Eric B. and Rakim, polit­i­cal artists like Pub­lic Ene­my and KRS-One, West Coast giants like N.W.A. and Dr. Dre, under­ground and indie rap­pers, turntab­lists and star pro­duc­ers, and every­thing in-between.

Con­tem­po­rary stars like Kendrick Lamar, Drake, Jay‑Z, and Kanye appear, as, of course, do the mar­tyred icons Big­gie and Tupac. The Beast­ie Boys, De La Soul, Eminem, Nas, Juras­sic 5, J Dil­la, Mos Def, MF Doom, Kool Kei­th, Run the Jew­els… you name ‘em, they’ve prob­a­bly made the cut. The dia­gram–view­able online for free, and pur­chasable for £35.00–even fea­tures the names of ear­ly break­dancers like the Rock Steady Crew and graf­fi­ti artists like Lady Pink and Futu­ra 2000.

As in ear­li­er such charts from Dorothy, like Alter­na­tive Love and Elec­tric Love, fans may find fault with the place­ment of cer­tain fig­ures and groups, and with the choice of empha­sis. Rap abounds in mas­cu­line bravado—and at times no small amount of misogyny—but it should go with­out say­ing that female stars like Salt ‘n’ Pepa, MC Lyte, Queen Lat­i­fah, Mis­sy Elliott, and Lau­ryn Hill are as influ­en­tial as many of the biggest male names on the chart. Yet not one of them gets top billing, so to speak, here. This unfor­tu­nate fact aside, Hip-Hop Love does a very impres­sive job of cat­a­logu­ing and con­nect­ing the most com­mer­cial­ly suc­cess­ful, big-name artists with some of the most under­ground and exper­i­men­tal. Though we asso­ciate artists with par­tic­u­lar regions—Outkast epit­o­mizes the South, for exam­ple, Wu-Tang Clan is New York to the core—the blue­print pulls them all togeth­er, reach­ing out even to UK grime and trip-hop, in a schemat­ic that resem­bles one huge, inter­con­nect­ed elec­tric city. You can get your own copy of the poster online here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A His­to­ry of Alter­na­tive Music Bril­liant­ly Mapped Out on a Tran­sis­tor Radio Cir­cuit Dia­gram: 300 Punk, Alt & Indie Artists

The His­to­ry of Elec­tron­ic Music Visu­al­ized on a Cir­cuit Dia­gram of a 1950s Theremin: 200 Inven­tors, Com­posers & Musi­cians

Enter the The Cor­nell Hip Hop Archive: A Vast Dig­i­tal Col­lec­tion of Hip Hop Pho­tos, Posters & More

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

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