- Outkast continues to sit at the cutting edge of mainstream hip-hop with their fourth disc, "Stankonia." Equally as praised as their previous work; and containing their two biggest commercial hits thus far, the group goes from critics' darlings to superstars.
- The West Coast alt-rap scene experiences a rebirth with "Quality Control," the debut album by a six(?)-man crew called Jurassic 5.
- Eminem's second album, "The Marshall Mathers LP", is a huge hit, (eventually becoming one of the best-selling rap albums of all-time.) A more personal album than his previous one, (but even more inflammatory), it catapults Em into rap superstardom and more controversy for his homophobic lyrics. Despite a small backlash among some accusing him of cultural piracy; he maintains credibility in the hip-hop community while remaining immensely popular (and controversial) outside of it.
- Jay-Z continues his reign as the number one mainstream MC in hip-hop with "Dynasty: Roc-La-Familia", an album featuring up-and-coming artists from he and his partner, Damon Dash's record label, Roc-A-Fella Records.
- Building on his semi-reunion with Snoop Dogg on 1999's successful comeback effort "2001", Dr. Dre reunites with Ice Cube and MC Ren on the single, 'Hello,' from Cube's album, "War & Peace, Vol. 2."
- St. Louis-based rapper Nelly debuts with "Country Grammar." The album is a monster hit, it's success (and the success of rappers from New Orleans, Houston, and Detroit); prove that hip-hop has moved farther away from bi-coastal domination.
- Superstar Latino rapper Big Pun dies of heart attack at only 29 years old.
- Shunning fame and the spotlight, acclaimed MC/singer/songwriter Lauryn Hill goes into self-imposed seclusion.
- After a year-and-a-half long media frenzy, Puff Daddy is acquitted of assault charges. Unfortunately, Shyne, an up-and-coming rapper on the Bad Boy label, is found guilty and sentenced to ten years in prison for the 1999 nightclub incidient. With the trial behind him, (and Jennifer Lopez leaving him prior to his acquittal), the embattled mogul announces that he is changing his name to 'P. Diddy' in an effort to kick-start a change in direction for both himself and his label.
- At Hot 97's Summer Jam in New York, Jay-Z performs a new song called 'Takeover,' a stinging dis record aimed at the hardcore Queens duo Mobb Deep; who had been insulting the Brooklyn rapper in interviews.
- While shooting a video in the Bahamas, hip-hop/soul star Aaliyah dies in a plane crash. She was only 22 years old.
- Jay-Z releases his sixth album, "The Blueprint." The album receives the best reviews since his debut and is a monster-seller. On the album, Jay-Z includes a new version of 'Takeover,' with an additional verse aimed at Nas; igniting a sparring match between the two MCs.
- Nas responds with his fifth album, "Stillmatic." Hailed as a return to form for the once-favored MC, he likewise attacks Jay-Z on the song, "Ether." The publicity is good for both rappers; and returns the luster to Nas' slightly faded career.
- Public Enemy release "Revolverlution," a critically-acclaimed set that, while not commercially viable, re-affirms the legendary group as critics' darlings.
- Showing that southern rap has an alternative side, Nappy Roots and Field Mob, two acts from Kentucky and Georgia, respectively, release two critically acclaimed albums: Nappy Roots' eclectic debut, "Watermelon, Chicken, & Gritz;" and Field Mob's sophomore effort "From the Roota to the Toota."
- Following the career rebirth he experienced with "Stillmatic;" Nas releases two more critically-acclaimed albums; the rarities collection "The Lost Tapes," and the autobiographical "God's Son."
- Eminem stars in the film, "8 Mile", a critically-acclaimed semi-autobiographical look at hip-hop's underground. The film is a runaway success at the box-office; having the 2nd-largest opening of any dramatic film; and it's theme song, Eminem's 'Lose Yourself,' is nominated for an Oscar.
- Signed to Em's Shady/Aftermath Label, New York-based rapper 50 Cent releases the single 'Wanksta.' The song explodes onto radio and the singles' chart; leaving the public salivating for an album and creating the most buzz a debut rapper has seen in over a decade.
- The semi-revival of the Golden Age continues as DJ Jazzy Jeff releases his critically-acclaimed debut, "The Magnificent."
- Missy Elliott releases her fourth album, "Under Construction." Marrying her quirky sense of fun to a decidedly old-school emphasis on breakbeats; the album is a hit and becomes one of the year's most acclaimed.
- Legendary DJ Jam Master Jay of Run-D.M.C. is murdered outside of a recording studio in New York City. The hip-hop community pays it's respects to the 37-year-old turntablist.
- 50 Cent's debut, "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," after months of hype; becomes one of the fastest-selling albums in history and establishes the hardcore rapper as one of the biggest stars of the year.
- Snoop Dogg becomes a pitchman for AOL, Nokia, and XM Satellite Radio; and his TV show, 'Doggy Fizzle Televizzle', debuts on MTV.
- 17 years after Run-D.M.C. recorded "My Adidas", Nike signs Nelly to lucrative endorsement deals, Reebok gives Jay-Z and 50 Cent their own shoe designs; furthering hip-hop's commercial, cultural, and economic dominance of the youth market.
- The Source Magazine begins a heated feud with Eminem. Ray Benzino, co-owner of the Source and a bitter rival of Eminem's, releases a mixtape of Eminem, ten years earlier, making racist comments in an underground freestyle. The Source unleashes a full media blitz attacking the rapper, who's career is largely unaffected. After months of controversy, Eminem issues an apology and receives the support of many rappers.
- Outkast release their much-anticipated fifth album, "Speakerboxxx/the Love Below", a two-disc set that uniquely splits the two MCs, (Big Boi and Andre 3000, respectively) into two seperate albums. The unique approach works, as the album spawns "Hey Ya", (the biggest hit of the year); sells 8 million copies--(becoming one of the best-selling albums of all-time); and goes on to win the Grammy for Album of the Year, only the second hip-hop release to win the award.
- With 'crunk' music by performers such as Lil Jon and the Yin-Yang Twins becoming the dancefloor craze, artists such as Lil Flip, David Banner, and T.I. making gritty street rap; Ludacris burning up the charts and Outkast winning endless accolades; Southern rap dominates popular music. Billboard's first all-black Top Ten is made up entirely of Dirty South acts.
- Jay-Z releases "The Black Album", his supposed final release. Announcing his retirement, he leaves music behind (sort of), to focus on his business and personal endeavors, including clothing, marriage, and a partial ownership with the New Jersey Nets. Jay-Z's retirement proves to many that hip-hop artists can grow up and mature.
- Kanye West releases his debut album 'The College Dropout' in February. Singles released from the album include 'All Falls Down', 'Jesus Walks', 'Through the Wire', and 'The New Workout Plan'. Rolling Stone voted 'The College Dropout' as the best album of the year.
- After a three year hiatus, members of Destiny's Child reunited to record their fifth album, 'Destiny Fulfilled'. The album was certified three-times platinum.
- Eminem releases his album 'Encore' on November 12th, four days earlier than planned because of being leaked over the internet. The album went four-times platinum.
- 'Collision Course' EP released in November by artists 'Jay-Z' and 'Linkin Park', contains six tracks, mashups between songs by both artists. It went to #1 on the Billboard 200 chart.