To celebrate 20 years of The Hip Hop Project we look back on some of the best moments from the longest running mix show in the country.

By CosmRoks (The Voice of The Hip Hop Project, 1998-2010)

In 2003, the new nucleus of THHP was starting to click. Myself, Dj TernAround, Roper, and Dj Eves had finally established our own identity as a radio show. We were starting to forge relationships with many new artists while reconnecting with some of the vets we had respected for years. By this time, the days of artists pressing singles up on vinyl were long gone. Out with test pressings, in with the CDR (emailing .mp3’s hadn’t really caught on quite yet). We’d hit a show and our pockets would be stuffed with CDRs by the time we left. We could rip them, edit them, and have them radio ready by the next episode of the show.

At the same time, the mixtape scene was flourishing. We wanted to create a mixtape showcasing our style of mixing (cutting, blending), while spotlighting strictly Chicago artists. There were so many different flavors in Chicago’s underground. we believed we could bring them all together in 80 minutes and really create something our city could be proud of. We settled on the name “Chicago & Beyond”. The name was a salute to Chicago’s legendary CAB crew (which TernAround was affiliated). The process of compiling the material wasn’t an easy one. Since this was our first release, it really had to be perfect to us. It had to represent THHP and obviously be dope at the same time. We took some of our recent favorites, some exclusives, and a few Chicago classics and went to work. I had always looked up to E.C. Illa. Growing up on the Northside, he was a legend to all of us so it was important that we include him in the mix. At that time, he was running The Tip (the best place to get Chicago Hip-Hop music back in the day) and one day I walked in and introduced myself. I told him how we were working on a mixtape and that we would love to throw some of his new stuff on there. He said he didn’t have much new stuff, then he said “I got this unreleased song with Kanye if you want it”. I tried to play it cool like “yeah, that would be good” but I was geeked. I think that CD had a seat belt on during the car ride home because it was it was so precious. It was a good look for us at that time to get an exclusive like that. I always appreciated the fact he did that (thanks again E.C.!).

We recorded the mix during one really long late night session at our homie Bim’s home studio. We must have been at his crib until 6 a.m. finishing the mix because the whole digital mixing concept was still new to us. Thanks again Bim for opening your home up to us! TernAround and Roper did a great job fitting in so much great Chicago music.

12 years after “Chicago & Beyond”, THHP has dropped over 40 mixtapes. So here it is, the mix that started it all for us. #ChicagoAndBeyond.

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