At the end of every year, the team at HipHopDX likes to review and recap the most important things that happened in our culture. We look back at the Beef’s, the best social media moments, some of the best rap lyrics in the game, as well as recognize the overall best. So check all that happened in Hip Hop in 2019 or click here if you want to see the full list of Hip Hop Awards, nominees and winners.

2019 was a tragic year for Hip Hop in many ways. We lost several key figures in the culture — from Nipsey Hussle and Juice Wrld to Jimmy “Super Rhymes” Spicer and the Geto Boys’ Bushwick Bill. 

But there was also a plethora of Hip Hop news stories that kept us entertained. Eminem reignited his long-running beef with Wild ‘N Out host Nick Cannon and his ex-wife Mariah Carey, while Tekashi 6ix9ine’s legal drama was enough to fill a book.

There were some wins, too. Strange Music fans were devastated to learn flagship artist and Tech N9ne’s faithful compadre Krizz Kaliko was planning to leave the label but during a show at Red Rocks Amphitheater, he shocked the sold-out crowd when he re-signed a contract in the middle of the concert.

Below are 12 of 2019’s biggest, most talked about Hip Hop news stories of the year. Dig in.

Tekashi 6ix9ine’s Racketeering Case

The saga of Tekashi 6ix9ine came to an anticlimactic end on December 18 when Judge Paul A. Engelmayer of the Thurgood Marshall United States Courthouse in New York City sentenced the embattled rapper to two years in prison and five years supervised release in his racketeering case. The sentence closed the chapter on one of Hip Hop’s most talked about cases in recent memory.

By the time 6ix9ine was arrested in November 2018, his outlandish behavior — both in real life and on social media — was already headline gold. But things took a serious turn when his involvement with the Nine Trey Gangsta Bloods gang finally caught up with him.

After agreeing to become the federal government’s key witness in the kidnapping and robbery case of alleged Nine Trey members Aljermiah “Nuke” Mack and Anthony “Harv” Ellison, the rainbow-loving rapper became known around the internet as “Snitch9ine” but got a heavily reduced sentence because of his cooperation. 6ix9ine is expected to be released in July 2020 and plans to resume his once lucrative rap career.

Nipsey Hussle’s Shooting Death

One of the most tragic Hip Hop news stories of 2019 was the shooting death of Nipsey Hussle. The Los Angeles-bred rapper/community activist was gunned down outside of his Marathon Clothing store on March 31, sending shockwaves through the entire Hip Hop community. Three days after his death, alleged killer Eric Holder was taken into custody and has since pleaded not guilty to one count each of murder and possession of a firearm by a felon and two counts each of attempted murder and assault with a firearm.

The impact of Neighborhood Nip’s death has been resounding. His funeral was held at the Los Angeles Staples Center on April 11 and drew thousands of people. It marked the first time a service was held at the famous venue since the 2009 death of Michael Jackson. Drake, Diddy, Rihanna, J. Cole, Killer Mike, Wu-Tang Clan, Chuck D, Pharrell Williams, Ice Cube, Atmosphere, Meek Mill, Gucci Mane and Migos’ Offset were just a few of those mourning his loss on social media. Nipsey’s legacy, however, carries on.

Japanese Bone Thugs-n-Harmony Superfan

In perhaps one of the wildest stories of the year, aspiring Japanese rapper Ryo Muranaka flew over 6,000 miles to the mean streets of Cleveland, Ohio in hopes of meeting his favorite group Bone Thugs-n-Harmony. But instead of the glorious introduction he was hoping for, the poor sap was robbed of his luggage. He was left penniless and alone until two good samaritans, local activists James Norton and Kwas Bibbs, stepped in to help. It wasn’t all for naught — Layzie Bone and Bizzy Bone both offered their assistance. Layzie even paid for Muranaka’s hotel for a couple of days to get the young man back on his feet.

Krayzie Bone told HipHopDX at the time it closely mirrored their own story — when the members of Bone Thugs were just five hopeful MCs with a dream to meet Eazy-E.

“My initial reaction was I didn’t think too much of it because we’ve had so many fans throughout our careers come from around the world to 99th St. Clair either looking for us or trying to take photos,” Krayzie told HipHopDX. “I thought it was just another fan, but when I heard this dude sold all of his belongings to come to Cleveland I was like, ‘WTH?’ I commend him for his determination and passion for what he’s trying to do because I can relate. I’m quite sure he heard our story and how we pursued Eazy-E and this is what inspired him.”

Muranaka’s temporary permission to be in the U.S. had expired, but the offices of U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Marcia Fudge said they were attempting to find a solution.

Jimmy “Super Rhymes” Spicer Dies

Jimmy “Super Rhymes” Spicer lost his battle with brain and lung cancer on September 27. The Hip Hop pioneer, who was one of the first MCs on wax, was only 61 at the time of his death. The Brooklyn native was diagnosed last year and a GoFundMe was promptly set up to help him with medical expenses. Among the many to donate to the cause was Def Jam Recordings co-founder Russell Simmons whose relationship with the late Spicer was contentious to say the least.

In a 2018 interview with HipHopDX, the “(Money) Dollar Bill Y’all” architect — one of the first artists under Rush Management — was adamant Simmons cheated him out of royalties.

“Russell Simmons actually finally gave up something toward my GoFundMe,” Spicer told DX. “For a rich ass cat, he’s as cheap as they come. He gave me $2,500. Whoop-de-doo. He still owes me royalties for ‘Dollar Bill.’ I figured that he could have come up with more than $2,500. That’s some cheap chintzy shit.”

Despite the bad blood between them, Simmons was one of the many to send their condolences via social media, along with Snoop Dogg, Questlove and Kurtis Blow. 

Juice Wrld Dies At 21

Juice Wrld was on a private jet headed for Chicago when he reportedly made the fatal decision to swallow multiple Percocet pills in an effort to conceal them from the FBI and FAA agents awaiting the plane on the tarmac. Not long after, the Chi-Town rapper fell into a seizure and was rushed to a local hospital where he later died. News of his unexpected death rippled throughout the Hip Hop community and appeared to hit some harder than others. Trippie Redd, for example, got on Instagram Live and swore off all drugs — with the exception of marijuana.

The 21-year-old was in the middle of a meteoric rise to fame at the time of his death. His hit single “Lucid Dreams,” produced by Nick Mira, originally debuted at No. 74 on the Billboard 100 but ultimately peaked at No. 2. On December 8, the day he died, the song re-entered the Billboard chart at No. 8, becoming its 26th nonconsecutive week in the Top 10. According to Rolling Stone, his on-demand audio streams jumped 487 percent to over 38.2 million in the U.S.

Dee Barnes Reveals She’s Homeless

Former Pump It Up! host Dee Barnes, who was brutally attacked by Dr. Dre in 1991, mustered up the courage in March to reveal she was homeless through a HipHopDX exclusive. Subsequently, Barnes launched a GoFundMe campaign in an effort to help her get back on her feet. The story spread like wildfire and Barnes soon found the Hip Hop community rallying around her.

“I had never asked for public help before, but I then remembered a long time ago while I was going through the assault trial in 1991 people were sending me checks for my legal fees,” she told DX. “I never cashed any of them — not one — but knowing I had that support kept me strong enough to continue to face each court date. Right now, I am officially homeless. My goal with the campaign is to regain stability, which is imperative for survivors of any trauma.”

News of her predicament landed her a spot on The Wendy Williams Show where the gracious host contributed another $15,000 along with to the campaign. Barnes credited the DX story on her GoFundMe page and The Wendy Williams Show for getting the word out. Her campaign soared from roughly $3,000 to over $30,000 in a matter of a few days.

Krizz Kaliko Resigns With Strange Music

Krizz Kaliko surprised Tech N9ne, Strange Music, Inc. CEO Travis O’Guin and a sold-out crowd at the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado when he announced he was re-signing with the Kansas City, Missouri-based imprint in the middle of his performance — a mere days after suggesting his time with the label was over.

DX was on site to capture the ceremonious moment on video and got the chance to talk to Krizz following the show. The GO! mastermind revealed it was one of the hardest decisions of his life but with the support of his wife Crystal Watson, he ultimately decided his home has been and always will be at Strange Music.

“We talk because she’s my partner just in everything in life and we talked about it,” he told DX in October. “This is my home. She’s like, ‘You’re not going to sit home and drive me crazy (laughs).’ Like literally, she said, ‘You’re going to go crazy, you’re going to drive us crazy and you’re going to be miserable. Even if you went to another label, you’re going to be miserable.’ This is such a well-oiled machine and there’s no other place like this.”

Lord Jamar Disses Eminem & Royce Da 5’9 Disses Lord Jamar

Brand Nubian MC Lord Jamar couldn’t stay off DJ Vlad’s couch this year. In fact, his regular appearances on the YouTube series earned the Hip Hop vet a VladTV Couch Potato Award as part of DX’s 2019 Turkey Awards. For whatever reason, the man couldn’t seem to stop dissing Eminem, earning him plenty of backlash along the way.

Slim Shady’s longtime friend Royce Da 5’9 was evidently tired of Jamar’s unbridled criticism and called him out on Instagram.

“First of all, you not the measuring stick of who’s real, who’s cool,” he said in part. “I don’t know what you think about us over here, or you think about me. I understand you said you respect 50, but the other niggas know who I don’t respect. I don’t care about none of that shit. You don’t have to respect me just don’t disrespect me. I don’t want no problems with nobody and I don’t want to have to fuck nobody up.”

Although it’s been a minute since Jamar has said anything about Em, he’s likely on someone else’s couch still spouting more controversial takes on Hip Hop.

Machine Gun Kelly Disses Eminem Diss On Hotel Diablo

Speaking of Eminem and disses, Machine Gun Kelly acted completely shocked when people noticed his subtle Shady diss on the song “13th Floor” from his latest studio album Hotel Diablo. “I just spent the winter livin’/After someone tried to send a killshot, missin’ me,” he rapped on the song in July, a clear reference to Em’s MGK diss track “Killshot.”

After Genius brought attention to the line, MGK hopped in the comment section and wrote, “this the ONE line from an entire heartfelt album that yall post? and with THAT caption? bruh.” Of course, there’s nothing surprising about anyone taking notice of that particular line. Em and MGK went head-to-head last year after Em initially dissed him on the Kamikaze cut “Not Alike.” Following a fleeting moment of glory — complete with a bottle of champagne — MGK quickly returned with “Rap Devil” in an effort to annihilate his critic. Em has now moved on to Nick Cannon (see below.)

Eminem Reignites Nick Cannon Beef 

Eminem came out of left field on Fat Joe’s single “Lord Above,” firing off several colorful shots at longtime foe Nick Cannon and his ex-wife Mariah Carey. According to Cannon’s team, the Wild ‘N Out host was legitimately angry, so he returned fire with not one but three Shady diss tracks — “The Invitation” featuring an intro from Suge Knight, “Pray For Him” with The Black Squad and “Canceled: The Invitation.”

While the first two were relatively playful — or as Bizarre called them, “corny” — the third escalated things to a whole new level. Cannon was able to dig up an old Shady track called “Ole Foolish Pride,” which finds an immature Em rapping, “Black girls are bitches/Black girls are dumb,” turning a seemingly innocuous beef into an accusation that Em is racist. Shady apologized for the song in 2004 on the Encore track “Yellow Brick Road.”

Speaking with DX,  Senior Vice President of Ncredible Music Chuck Kelly said Cannon and his team were shocked by Em’s initial but explained Cannon felt he had to respond. Aside from a couple of tweets demanding an apology for the first diss, Shady hasn’t responded to any of Cannon’s latests. In fact, he just recited some Hieroglyphics lyrics and encouraged André 3000 to do the same. Cannon, however, declared himself the victor.

Ja Rule vs. 50 Cent

When will it end? Ja Rule and 50 Cent have been going back-and-forth for decades. This year was no exception. In July, Fiddy clowned the Murder Inc. vet for allegedly getting thrown out of SOBs in New York City. In response, Rule posted an Instagram video of the Power exec and compared his head to various items, including the Dodge Ram logo, “old folk church mic” and a boxy, silver Scion.

Then in September, the failed Fyre Festival collaborator reminded the internet 50 was a “snitch” and provided receipts.

“Curtis is that you,” Ja Rule captioned the post. “of ALL people you know what it feel like to get yo ass whoop by me my niggas lol… SCARED FOR YOUR LIFE AS NIGGA… oh I know this paperwork is FAKE too lmao. I CHALLENGE ANY BLOG ANY NEWS OUTLET see if those officers on this paperwork exists find them interview them 50 you pee sitting down bitch ass nigga.”

Their contentious relationship began in 1999 when Ja Rule was allegedly robbed by one of 50’s affiliates while shooting a video. Although Rule confirmed the robbery, he says their beef really started after 50 was snubbed by Murder Inc. during the “Murda 4 Life” video shoot. Later that same year, 50 dropped the “Life’s On The Line” diss track aimed at Ja Rule and the bad blood has been boiling ever since.

John Witherspoon Passes Away

Comedian John Witherspoon, most famously known for his role as “Pops” in the Friday film franchise, passed away suddenly on October 29 at the age of 77. Much like his life’s work, his funeral was bursting at the seams with laughter as his famous friends got up to speak. Fellow comedic actor Shawn Wayans gave an entertaining eulogy, revealing the lone comic who talked smack about Witherspoon (spoiler alert: it was Paul Mooney).

“So we’re at the Laugh Factory and John Witherspoon is on,” he begins. And he’s killing. Me and Paul Mooney is in the back. John’s on stage doing his Mick Jagger impersonation, just destroying the whole place. And Paul Mooney’s back there – he gotta go on next – and he leans over and says, ‘Pancakes homie, pancakes. Everyone loves pancakes.’

“And what he was trying to say is, ‘Spoon is hilarious but he don’t got no edge. Now I disagree. But the one thing I’ll agree with is that everyone does love pancakes. Look at everybody here to see this man off.”

Ice Cube, who played Witherspoon’s son in the films, also delivered a moving speech about his co-star and apologized for not making Last Friday. “It’s not my fault,” he said. “Some dumbass people in Hollywood at New Line Cinema, if you wanna … you can email Toby Emmerich and Richard Brener if you feel like I feel. Yeah, you punks had two scripts and you didn’t wanna do them. That’s the real. We were tryin’ to make that movie for years and we couldn’t get it done. We got the other three and we got our memories.”

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