1998: Hip Hop’s Golden Year (A look back at 20 years ago)

As the New Year’s resolutions fall to the wayside, we can look now at what 2018 has to offer.

Let’s begin with yet another celebration: Two decades ago, this very year, more than 60 incredible Hip Hop albums were released.

Following the deaths of legendary emcees Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., Hip Hop was looking for new leaders, which led to a pivotal time for the culture.

Albums such as Jay Z’s Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, OutKast’s Aquemini, and DMX’s It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot, all dropped in 1998, and respectively – all were deemed as classics.

And let’s not forget Lauryn Hill’s game changing album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, which went on to win five Grammy Awards the following year.

Big Pun’s Capital Punishment, Camron’s Confessions of Fire, Noreaga’s N.O.R.E, and Juvenile’s 400 Degreez were all a part of that magical year in Hip Hop as well.

Pretty much every Hip Hop act that was relevant or near relevant in 1998 dropped an LP in 1998…sheesh…DMX dropped two albums, lol.

So step away from your workload and take this needed trip down memory lane…or visit it for the very first time.

Check out the images below and take a look at some of the best albums 1998 had to offer.

[Hip Hop News Now] The Roundtable Empire Unveils Promotional Packages for Aspiring Artists

The Roundtable Empire is proud to announce the unveiling of their new artist promotional packages, which are geared towards aspiring artists who are looking to gain more exposure.

“This is huge for local artists who are attempting to take their talents on the road,” said Ron Fisher, The Roundtable Empire owner and Editor-In-Chief.

“I’ve been looking for ways to better serve the area’s artists and I believe I have put something together that provides the most bang for the artist’s buck,” he said.

“I know all too well about the value of a dollar, and how it takes money to make money,” Fisher said. “The problem for most artists is that they have little to no budget, but the ambition and passion to take them to the next level.

“The Roundtable Empire will now offer promotional packages for as low as $100, there’s literally something for everyone.”

Visit theroundtableempire.com and contact The Roundtable Empire for details on these epic promotional packages. 

“Let’s work together and make history,” Fisher said.

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Dear Hip Hop…


Dear Hip Hop,

What happened to you? Are you okay? We watched your birth in the late 70’s and was intrigued by the gifts you offered our culture. Then we saw you bloom as an adolescent in the 80’s and eventually come into your own in the 90s. The 90s appeared to be your Golden Age, as you became a global sensation. Honestly, maybe that was when your identity first became compromised. The game was forever changed. What was once young and exciting now seems to be going through a mid-life crisis. Who are you trying to be? You lost yourself and in return we lost you. Nas was wrong when he said that you were dead. I know that you’re still alive…but you’re not well. You’re looks are quite deceiving, but I know you, and it’s time for an intervention.

Now a multi-billion dollar phenomenon, we barely even know you. LL Cool J taught us to how to “Rock The Bells,” now I sit back as artist like Desiigner and Future spit lyrics that only 3 out of 5 people usually get correct.  And what the hell is a Lil Uzi Vert? And are you serious about this Lil Dicky?

So many questions, but I feel like there is not enough of time. Soon there will be a changing of the guard, but I’m nervous to see who gets the baton. Yes, Drake does numbers, but do we really covet an artist who only bullies artists he knows he can body? Drake gets dissed by Joe Budden, and we get no response? If this was the 90s and Drake got dissed like that, he’d be Lil Zane to us by now.

All I’m saying is that you’re not the same and I’m calling you out. However, there is still help for you. The problem is, I just don’t know who is going to save you.

Regardless of how I feel, you still speak for our culture. I just fear that you’re not really saying anything.


Respectfully Yours,

Ron Fisher

[Hip Hop News Now] Billboard’s Top Ten Rap Albums Of 2015

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Now that 2015 is all wrapped up, it is now time to reassess and discuss the best of Hip Hop in 2015. One of the many big debates this year was “Who had the hottest album?” This is always a great debate, however, to eliminate the heated arguments and back & forth bickering we can look directly at sales numbers. As a wise man once said, “Men lie, women lie, numbers don’t.” So let’s take a look at Billboard’s Top Ten Rap Albums of 2015.

Coming in at number Ten is…


Eminem and Various Artists


[Hip Hop News Now] James ‘Ruff Bone’ White Presents “Pittsburgh State Of Mind”



Director and photographer James “Ruff Bone” White is putting on for his city and in a very special cinematic way. The Pittsburgh native and CEO of The Plug Media has put together an in-depth film documenting the “Steel City’s” Hip Hop culture. In this documentary you can catch Ruff Bone traveling from neighborhood to neighborhood capturing each hood’s movement. Within these neighborhoods you’ll discover some of the city’s hottest emcees.

“People can expect to see a side of some of these artists that you have never seen. This is going to bring out the realness. It’s more focused on artists that’s from the neighborhoods and streets within the inner city,” said Ruff Bone, “I got artists like Hardo, Deezlee, Asco, Owey, and Lua Proc. I got a dedication to Lil Brucey and a dedication to Teflon; both of them got killed. I also have some footage of Wiz Khalifa and Chevy Woods while they were doing their thing in North Carolina.”

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Young Junne

Ruff Bone may be a new name to you, but Ruff Bone has been deep in the Pittsburgh Hip Hop game for years. He first got involved with the city’s music scene in the early 90’s and soon began his very own rap career. “Just being around Pittsburgh Hip Hop at a young age was so influential,” said Ruff Bone.

As much as he believed in his emcee skills they would soon take a back seat, as Ruff Bone would find his true passion to actually be behind the camera instead of in front of it. “I always messed with cameras and then it just kind of escalated. This is back in 2004 when people didn’t really have a lot of music videos. When I started taking film serious, I started learning about programs and I put some money behind it to learn more about the craft.”


Kevin Gates & Ruff Bone

What once started as a hobby for Ruff Bone quickly turned into a profession for him and from that grew The Plug Media. “I plug a lot of different people together, that’s why my business is called The Plug.”

The Plug Media offers services such as audio production, photography & video production with graphic design and animation, and also distribution. “I have a projector screen that’s in the window, so we are able to promote artists right there on Carson Street, one of the busiest streets in Pittsburgh.”

The Plug Media

Ruff Bone & Mac Miller

Even though Ruff Bone has found his niche behind the camera, he has recently got back on the other side of the camera to appear in two upcoming movies; Concussion starring Will Smith and Southpaw featuring 50 Cent and Jake Gyllenhaal.

Ruff Bone will also receive local producer credit for an episode of Drugs. Inc that was shot in Pittsburgh and will air later this year.

The city of Pittsburgh is in for an epic Pittsburgh State Of Mind weekend. The film will be released at the South Side Works Movie Theater on March 15th at 4pm and will then be available on DVD thereafter. The DVD will be available for purchase on theplugmedia.com and other websites like amazon.com.   To celebrate the release of the documentary a CD release party is being held this Friday the 13th at The Rex Theater in Pittsburgh. DJ Afterthought, Stevie B, and Lay Lanskey will host the event. Doors open at 7pm and those in attendance will see performances by Young Junne, Tolly Bandz, Reese Youngn, Owey, and more.


Ruff Bone is definitely a “shooting star” and it looks like he’s taking the city of Pittsburgh along for the ride. If you are in the Pittsburgh area this Sunday be sure to stop by and check out the Pittsburgh State Of Mind movie premiere at the South Side Works Movie Theater at 4pm. Below you can get a sneak peek of the documentary from this trailer for the upcoming film.


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[Hip Hop News Now] ‘Empire’ Ratings Continue To Grow, Industry Shocker


Hate it or love it, Fox’s new drama Empire is a huge success. It is becoming television’s most wanted show as it continues to climb in viewership. The Hip Hop focused drama reached 10.9 million viewers with its third episode, earning a 4.3 rating among adults age 18-49. This feat isn’t just impressive, it’s amazing, and now I will explain why.

Last week Empire already achieved something special with its surge in viewers for its second episode. This is not typical for television shows because ratings usually drop significantly after the debut episode. Unlike the majority of shows on television, Empire’s ratings continue to rise after its premiere. Now please keep in mind that this is a Hip Hop centered drama filled with plenty of black actors. With that being said, there are numerous reasons why this show could have ended up as an epic fail, however, this show is proving to be far from a disappointment. Empire has got the attention of many people across the nation and Fox picked up on that immediately. The network was so fascinated with the second episode’s ratings executives already gave the nod for a second season.

The show has received rave reviews, although it has also been criticized for both its over-the-top story lines and outlandish portrayal of the Hip Hop industry. Add a 50 Cent diss to the equation and now we know we are on to something interesting.  Either way you look it at, Empire isn’t going anywhere. Just like Hip Hop, Empire is continuing to grow and gain the respect of many.

Three episodes in and Empire has become a must watch television show.


A wise man once said, “Men lie, Women lie, Numbers don’t.” 10.9 million viewers is nothing to easily overlook, but do you honestly think it is that great of a TV show? Let us know how you feel about Empire by commenting below.

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Top Five Emcees, Dead Or Alive

Top Five Emcees, Dead or Alive COVER

One of the biggest debates in Hip Hop is who is the best emcee.  It’s funny because no matter what rapper you ask, he is always the best. With every rapper boasting that they are the best and with no true criteria established to determine who is the best, we are all left with just our opinions. 

It seems like other everyday someone I know is in a disagreement that quickly turns into an argument over who are the top emcees in the game.  Whether it is a Top 10, Top 5, or even Top 3, the debate is never settled.  Here at The Roundtable Empire, we have our own opinions, but I wanted to take some time to see who my readers thought was the best.  It is always interesting to me to hear other’s perspectives.  I have done lists like these before and these debates usually end with the Notorious B.I.G., Tupac, and Jay Z, but determining the rest of the emcees is where it gets fascinating.  Some people go old school like Rakim or Big Daddy Kane.  Some folks decide based on their geographical location…people who live in Cali pick West Coast rappers…people who live in the south pick Down South rappers.  And of course you can’t forget about Eminem, he still doesn’t get his due respect from the African-American audience, but like Jay Z said, “Men lie, Women lie, Numbers don’t.”  Eminem has shattered records and has taken Hip Hop to heights that it has never reached before, but is that due to his support from the majority?  What do you think?

We also can’t forget about the underground scene.  In 2014, there are more rappers than there are listeners, but with that being said, there are more emcees that go unnoticed that truly deserve a platform.  Maybe you know of someone that can compete with anyone in the industry.

Today I want to hear from you.  I want to know your “Top 5 Emcees, Dead or Alive”. 

Be sure to comment below and let us know who you’re thinking.  

Let the debate begin. 

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