Kurt Cobain’s favourite hip-hop album of all time
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Kurt Cobain's favourite hip-hop album of all time

As well as being one of the most important figures of the 1990s music scene, Kurt Cobain affected way more than just the rock scene. Ever since his arrival, he has inspired countless musicians both in the rock world and in the hip-hop scene.

Nirvana rose to prominence at a time when various fringe genres were finally starting to break through. The band spent years honing their brand of melodic no-wave in dingy clubs around Washington State before Subpop came along, and even then, it was years before 1991’s Nevermind earned Kurt Cobain, and the band, international recognition.

Like grunge, hip-hop spent years on the sidelines. While its one of the most popular genres of music today, in the early 1980s, it received next to no attention from major music magazines and was frequently dismissed as a fad. Like grunge, what hip-hop needed was a definitive album. In 1986, Run-DMC offered that in the form of their third album, Raising Hell, kicking off the so-called Golden Age of Hip Hop, which lasted from 1986 to the late 1990s and intersected the emergence of grunge as the dominant form of alternative guitar music.

During this period, Kurt Cobain came across Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back – later named by the Nirvana frontman as one of his favourite albums of all time. Released in 1988, it is a daring, socially-conscious and politically-charged missile of an LP. Featuring up-tempo beats and scathing lyrics, it’s no wonder Cobain – a famously angsty and politically-minded musician – was so drawn to it. He wasn’t alone either. Several rock artists drew influence from the album, including Rage Against The Machine, who found a lot of inspiration in Chuck D’s lyrical style.

Cobain seems to have liked rap best when it was dealing with contemporary issues like racism, persecution, drug addiction and government neglect. During a 1993 interview with Billboard, he called rap music “the only vital form of music that has been introduced to music in a long time since punk rock.” [quotes via The Independent] However, there were aspects of the genre he found troubling.

Talking to Robert Lurosso in a recently unearthed 1991 interview, the Nirvana frontman said: “I’m a fan of rap music, but most of it is so misogynistic that I can’t even deal with it,” before going on to clarify: “I totally respect and love it because it’s one of the only original forms of music that’s been introduced.”