The 1980s were a tremendously fertile time for hip hop. As the hip hop prototype gained momentum in the late 1970s, hip hop's popularity hit boomboxes around the world by the mid-1980s. A whole generation of people wanted to make a name for themselves during this significant new genre of music. Was born.
While we can't name everyone who helped create hip-hop, we've compiled a list of some of the top hip-hop artists of the '80s whose legacies have stood the test of time.
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five
Formed in the Bronx, New York in 1976, GrandMaster Flash and the Furious Five is credited with being one of the first rap groups to become popular. Known for their high energy, flamboyant style and revolutionary use of turntables, the group evolved out of late '70s funk and gave way to a new style of music known as hip hop.
The group helped cement DJing as a legitimate art form, even if it meant scratching some of his mother's favorite vinyls in the process. This slavish sacrifice was all in the name of progress. The group is best remembered for their 1982 song "The Message" from their 1982 debut album of the same name. The track shows the harsh conditions and realities of black urban life.
The group delivered often consciously crafted messages to a generation deeply impacted by the rise of hard drug use. The 1983 track "White Lines (Don't Do It)" is the most prominent example of a track urging the public to stay away from cocaine and later crack. The group is widely considered a driving force in the conscious rap movement.
In 2007, the group became the first rap group to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The group is considered one of the greatest acts of all time.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Queen Latifah began her music career in 1988 beatboxing in the rap group Ladies Fresh. Queen Latifah can be considered hip-hop's big sister as she served in the rap sphere as the tough, rugged 5ft 10 protector of the feminine. His most famous song "U.N.I.T.Y" from his third albumblack dominationIt is considered a feminist hip hop anthem.
The empowerment track served much as a response to the growing trend of labeling women in rap music as sluts and bitches. Latifah's episode features a female rapper who's confident in her rap abilities and a woman who's been gossip by many of her competitors.
Today, Latifah is probably best known to the younger generation for her successful acting career. Made his first television appearance inA madman in the playIn 1991, Latifah starred on his showlive single, which ran for five seasons.
Rakim and Eric B.
Eric B and Rakim are considered the quintessence of the DJ/MC relationship in hip-hop culture. The two began working together in 1985. Their first single "Eric B is the President" was released on the independent Zakia label. Soon after, the duo were spotted by record label 4th & Broadway Records and helped launch their first full-length project.paid1987.
Considered pioneers of new-school hip-hop, the two often experimented with using samples in their music to increase their rhymes and popularity. The duo never found mainstream success, despite being extremely popular in the underground rap scene.
The duo released their latest collaboration.Don't worry about the tech.1992 and broke up the following year after some personal disagreements. In 2016, Eric B announced on his Twitter page that the duo would get back together and performhis first world tourin more than 23 years.
Roxanne Shante, born Lolita Shanté Gooden, grew up in Queensbridge, New York. Talented from an early age, her mother entered her in her first rap competition when she was just 10 years old. Shante won this contest and walked away with a $50 cash prize.
Barely a teenager when she began to gain popularity, Roxanne Shante's freestyle ability far exceeded the skill of many of her peers in a field dominated by men much older than her. She had a God-given ability that made her one of the greatest rappers of the '80s. Roxanne found herself at the center of a hip hop rivalry now known as the Roxanne Wars.
In this fight were two Roxannes, Roxanne Shante and The Real Roxanne. Many say this rap battle has the most response records in hip-hop history. After rising to fame through these rap wars, Roxanne released two albums on Cold Chillin' Records,bad sister(1989) miThe bitch is back(1992). In 2017, Roxanne had a biopic.Roxana Roxanapremiered at the Sundance Film Festival, which dramatized her tumultuous early youth in the 1980s.
If you like Roxanne Shante and hip hop and rap in general, check out my video review ofSmithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop und Rapunder of.
Salt-n-Pepa is a groundbreaking 1980s rap duo whose members originally had no intention of pursuing a rap career. Both members were telemarketers when they started their careers and even planned on going to college. Salt-n-Pepa cared nothing for feminists who felt hip-hop's portrayal of women was too hypersexualized, and had no problem talking openly about love and sex in his music. Scantily clad, the couple had no qualms about showing off their bodies and talking about how much they love men.
With this approach to their music, the duo's popularity exploded, creating legendary hits like "I'll Take Your Man" and "Let's Talk About Sex." Almost emblematic of '80s hip-hop, the video for the 1986 hit "Push It" captures the fire and fun of rap's golden age with footage from a live performance. In 1989, the duo were nominated for the first rap Grammy, but declined to attend the ceremony when it was determined their category would not be televised. The duo is still active today, performances are plannedMay 2022in Las Vegas, Houston und Kansas City.
Clown Prince of Hip Hop Biz Markie began his career performing in nightclubs in New York City and the DMV area. A beatboxer extraordinaire, Biz Markie was a welcome comic relief in the game when hip-hop was dominated by gangsta-rap's violent and profane lyrics.
Biz Markie, a big goofy guy, had no problem being the butt of a lot of jokes. His single "Just a Friend" from his 1989 album cemented Biz's place as a rap class clown. The track has often been cited as one of the best songs of the 1980s. Biz had rhymes that took her time but still contained raps that people could listen to or improvise.
With a successful music career in the 1990s and early 2000s, Biz eventually became interested in television and acting. His most notable role is in the 2002 film An Alien Parody of himself.Men in Black II🇧🇷 Successful and relevant in the 2000s, Biz sadly passed away in 2021 due to health complications.
Though not a rapper, DJ Spinderella was an integral part of the all-female rap duo Salt-N-Pepa in the 1980s. Born Deidra Roper, she was recently introduced to Salt-n-Pepa producer Herbie "LuvBug" Azor and the group performing at the 1986 Westchester Music Festival.
Salt-n-Pepa's original DJ, Latoya Hanson, was becoming weird and the group needed a replacement. DJ Spinderella was only sixteen when she joined the duo, proving that girls can rap just as well as men. The delicacy of her turntable would not only elevate Salt-n-Pepa, but solidify her own individual legacy as one of the greatest female DJs of the '80s.
In 1988, he received a tip from his bandmates about the track "Spinderella's Not A Fella (But A Girl DJ)". DJ Spinderella, who remained a part of Salt-N-Pepa for almost three decades, announced on hisInstagramwho "disappeared" from Salt-N-Pepa in January 2019.
Slick Rick emigrated from south London to the Baychester area of the Bronx in the late 1970s and attended the renowned Laguardia High School of the Arts in New York, where he studied fine arts. During his time here, he met rapper Dana Dane. They banded together to form the Kangol Crew and began performing at hip-hop battles in New York.
Rick went solo and released his first solo album.The Great Adventures of Slick Rickin 1988. The album was monumental, peaking at #1 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop chart. The album was one of the first hip hop records to go platinum. Not afraid to wear bright, bold colors that would be considered too feminine in an era when a tough, tough exterior was common for rappers, Slick Rick is remembered as one of the most prominent fashion icons of hip-hop's golden age. referred to as Hop.
After his last album in 1998, Slick Rick continued to explore the fashion sphere and became one of the first rappers to successfully balance high fashion and streetwear. In 2020, Rick returned to the rap game, appearing on Westside Gunn's album Who Made the Sunshine on their song "Goodnight."
Sparky D, born Doreen Broadnax, grew up in Brownsville, Brooklyn. In 1984, when Sparky was 19, she was dating rapper-producer Spyder D. The two rappers worked together, and Sparky had a guest appearance on her friend's song "Placeing the Beat." Less than a year later, Sparky released her first solo song "Sparky's Turn (Roxanne You're Through)".
This was one of the first records in response to the infamous Roxanne Wars of the mid 80's and the first to call out Roxanne directly to Shante. Sparky D and Roxanne Shanté would eventually team up for the 1985 EPround 1🇧🇷 The female rapper had a similar appeal to Roxanne Shante as Sparky was also a young hip-hop artist who could rap her male peers in circles. Following the success and notoriety of the rap wars, Sparky released his first album.This is the world of Sparky-D1988.
Sparky D cites MC Sha Rock as a light and mentor on her journey as a rapper and constantly sings his praises in interviews and performances. Sparky, who is currently inactive in his rap career and has described the hip-hop lifestyle as harmful and toxic to his spirit, enjoyed a brief gospel career in the early 2000s, earning the 2007 Gospel Choice Awards for the song "This is." for the Church".
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Special Ed gained popularity during hip-hop's golden age of the mid-1980s. As a teenager, he began dating fellow rapper neighbor Howie Tee. Together they released Ed's first demo tape and in 1989 he released his first album.The youngest in office.
The album charted on the Billboard 200 and reached the top 10 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. The hit "I Got It Made" comes from his successful album. Known for their high-spirited and sophisticated performances, Special Ed proved their popularity with women and were no accident in hip-hop.
His legacy is still felt today as rap queen Nicki Minaj gave him well-deserved attention with her track "Barbie Dreams," confirming his place as one of the greatest male rappers of the '80s.still doneIn 2004, according to his Linkedin, Special Ed started a media company called SEMEDIA, which operates out of Fort Mill, South Carolina.
Legendary rapper and DJ MC Lyte is widely credited as pioneering female hip-hop artists of the 1980s. With her soft, soulful voice, one can sense that MC Lyte wanted to be an inspirational voice for her peers and her generation. .
In 1987, at the age of 16, MC Lyte released his debut song "I Cram to Understanding U (Sam)" about the effects of drug addiction on personal relationships. MC Lyte had a desire to be more than just a pretty face in hip-hop. The prolific rapper often displayed intelligence, emotionality, and directness in her performances that went well with her feminine nature.
He often raps about demanding respect from his romantic interests and from the wider world. release of his first album,Lyte like a stonevia Atlantic Records. Their first eponymous single from this album followed the trend of promoting themselves to assert their dominance among their competitors, male or female.
Run-DMC, consisting of members Joseph "Run" Simmons, Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell and Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels formed the group in the early 1980s in his hometown of Hollis, Queens. Run DMC is considered one of the most influential artists in the hip hop history. In 1983, Run-D.M.C. He released his first singles "It's Like That" and "Sucker MC's" on Profile Records.
The following year the group released their first album.Run DMC, which reached the gold disc. Sporting massive gold chains, Adidas tracksuits and sneakers, the rap group became fashion icons and defined a defining moment in rap history, ushering in hip-hop's "New School" era.
All and their cousins have been desperate to emulate the legendary rap group's effortlessly cool looks in hopes of perhaps replicating the same success with their own musical endeavors. Run-DMC is the first rap act to achieve many major hits.
His accomplishments include being the first hip hop act to have a video appearance on MTV, the first hip hop act to grace the cover of Rolling Stone, one of the first hip hop acts to have a Grammy nomination, and first hop on the pop charts with a Top 10 rap album.
The group has had quite a prolific career and has still hosted occasional reunions as of 2012, despite losing member Jam Master Jay to gun violence in 2002. In 2016, the group received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award for their significant contributions to hip hop.
Easy E was a West Coast rapper who, along with fellow Dr. Dre and Ice Cube founded the group NWA. A high school dropout, Easy E worked as a drug dealer for a time. With his income he founded the label Ruthless Records with music manager Jerry Heller. While still active in the NWA, Easy E released music as a solo artist.
Known for his incomparably aggressive and edgy performance and unique voice that made him easily recognizable and distinctive on radio, Easy E was heavily influenced by artists in the transition from late '70s funk to prototypical hip-hop. He released his first studio album.Eazy-Duz-Itin 1988. The album was largely ignored by the mainstream, although it was highly regarded by Los Angeles' underground rap scene.
This was the only album release of his life as Easy E sadly died in 1995 from pneumonia caused by AIDS. Ten months after his death, his label Ruthless Records posthumously released Easy E's second and final studio album.Str8 de tha Streetz de Muthaphukkin Compton🇧🇷 This album cemented his image as a hardcore 80's rapper in history. His story is portrayed in the F. Gary Gray-directed film Straight Outta Compton, the 2015 biopic about the NWA.
Monie Love is a British rapper originally based in New York since 1989. At the time, she was one of the few foreign hip-hop artists to gain recognition in the United States. She first rose to prominence as a protégé of Queen Latifah, then took up rap as a member of the alternative hip-hop collective Native Tongues.
Her first musical appearances came in the late 1980s on Queen Latifah's Grammy-winning women's single "Ladies First," proving that her raps were on the same level that her rap godmother Queen Latifah had raised her to, which he subsequently took Solo hits like "I Can Do This" which became a UK Top 40 hit in early 1989.
Wanting to explore other creative avenues, Love began her career in 2004 as a radio host on WPHI-FM 100.3 in Philadelphia. Here he moderated the morning show for over two years. He currently has a radio show onXM-SatellitenradiocalledLadies First Radio mit Monie Loveand hostmoney in the morningat radio station Boom 107.9 in Philadelphia.
Gran Papi Kane
Big Daddy Kane began his career in 1986 as a member of the Juice Crew. Two years earlier, he had befriended Biz Markie, and the two had co-written some of Biz's best-known raps. With superhuman breath control, Big Daddy Kane achieved faster beats and proved that rap should be treated like a sport that requires Olympic levels of mental and physical stamina.
In 1987, Kane signed to Cold Chillin' Records and debuted his single "Raw," which became an underground hit. He released his first studio album.Viva Kanein 1988. The album included the hit "Ain't No Half Steppin."
A year later, he released his second album, which topped the charts.it's a father thing🇧🇷 The singles "Smooth Operator" and "I Get The Job Done" were among the most popular tracks on the album. Kane continued to release albums throughout the 1990s, although she made time to pursue acting. He made his film debut in the 1993 western.groupLike father time.
Sha Rock started out as a break dancer in the Bronx. Affectionately called the "mother of the mic," she is considered the foundation artist for all MCs. Originally a member of the rap group The Funky 4 + 1 More, the group received mainstream attention just before the early 1980s.
Sha Rock has never released an official album and there is very little music to explore online, but her influence as a seminal female figure in the early days of hip-hop has been felt deeply by generations. What little music is available to her on the internet is alongside Grandmaster Flash, another hip-hop pioneer.
The two can be heard on live radio in 1981, freestyling to the beat of Chic's 1979 "Good Times." Sha Rock has received many awards for her contribution to hip hop, including the Women of Distinction Award from the Hip Hop Culture Center in Harlem , New York.
The Long Island rap group has released their debut album3 feet high and ascending1989 with great critical acclaim. Soon after, the trio became a prominent member of the Native Tongues posse, along with other artists such as A Tribe Called Quest and Queen Latifah. The group had a unique neo-psychedelic sound that set them apart from their peers.
Billed as "alternative rap," the group broke with the traditional rap conventions of the time, preached a message of love and peace, and rose to fame as the "hippies" of the rap game.
In 1990, the group received the first of four Grammy nominations for their song "Me, Myself and I" from their debut album. His second albumfrom the soul is everythingIt wasn't as successful, but it remains a cult classic among fans of the group. Those lucky enough to own a physical copy of the album will remember the comic book concept, with skits throughout the album that include a cartoon to accompany the audio.
The 1991 album is largely unavailable on streaming services due to too many samples violating copyright, but the album can be heard on YouTube. For a time the group battled record labels for ownership of their music, but in 2021 neo-soul rapper Talib Kweli revealed the group had finally gained ownership of their music.
Born Dwight Arrington Myers, Heavy D was born in Mandeville, Jamaica and moved to Mount Vernon, New York in the early '70s. He experienced the early days of rap music and learned from then-Grandmasters The Flashes and Run DMC.
In high school he mixed his own demo tapes. In high school, he formed the group The Boyz with his high school friends DJ Eddie F, Trouble T-Roy, and G-Wiz. They created a demo tape that fell into the hands of André Harrell, Def Jam's CEO. At the time, André was in the process of starting his label, Uptown Records, making Heavy D & The Boyz among the first to sign.
They released their first album through Uptownbig lifein 1987. But it would be his second albumgreat oarthis would propel Heavy D into the mainstream. He quickly became a sex symbol known as "the overweight lover". A fashion icon, Heavy D helped normalize taller bodies by showing that taller people can be sexy, cool and classy.
During the 1990s, Heavy D released three more albums and eventually explored acting. His first film role was in the 1993 thriller comedy.Who is the man?He played his last role in the comedy in 2011.Turmangriffwith Ben Stiller and Eddie Murphy. Heavy D died of a pulmonary embolism a few days after the film's release.
Bronx-born rapper Antoinette was first introduced to the rap scene with the help of producer Hurby "Luv Bug" Azor. Much of Antoinette's popularity is attributed to her trouble with MC Lyte. Obsessed with the skills of her competitor MC Lyte, she dedicated her 1989 albumWho is the bossTaunt MC Lyte by presenting himself as fierce competition.
His raps were delivered with a foundation in his voice that could rock his competition. He often wore a huge, thick gold chain in his videos and performances, a very common thing in hip-hop at the time. He released his second albumBurn at 20 belowin 1990 and has not been published since.
He published a book titled in 2019"Everything that glitters: from attitude to gratitude",where he details the reasons for his departure from the rap game, hoping the book will inspire people struggling in similar circumstances.
The rap group Public Enemy originally formed in 1982 on the Adelphi University campus on Long Island, New York. Formed by Chuck D, Hank Shocklee, Bill Stephney and Flavor Flav, the group began collaborating at their college radio station. The group was widely known for injecting radical black political ideologies into popular music.
While not as lyrically violent as their contemporaries, it should come as no surprise that Public Enemy was boycotted by older white suburban audiences for their Afrocentric message aimed at inspiring revolution among black people. His most famous release to date isnation of millions, which brought the messages of the Black Panther Party and Malcolm X back to the general public.
The group, which released continuously from the 1990s to 2020, had a revolutionary impact on hip-hop that is highly recognized in society and politics. her latest albumWhat will you do if the grid goes down?, which was released in 2020, received widespread acclaim, peaking at #26 on the US Billboard chart and #2 on the UK Top Hip-Hop & R&B Albums chart.
One of the few rap artists on this list who isn't from New York City is the Jersey group Sugar Hill Gang, who rose to fame with the hit song "Rapper's Delight" off their debut album in 1979.Sugar Hill-Bande.The group was formed by music producer Sylvia Robinson, founder of Sugarhill Records. The single, which became a staple of the old-school hip-hop generation, became a Top 40 hit, peaking at number 36 on the Billboard 100.
The Sugarhill Gang's biggest draw was the fact that they helped launch a new style of music that many thought was just a fad. Their upbeat and catchy rhythms got people excited about this next phase in music history. To this day, many people rock to the bang-bang boogie beat of his seminal music, which helped put hip-hop on the map.
The group released 3 more studio albums before disbanding for the first time in 1985. They reunited almost a decade later and released their final album.Jump on him!in 1999. The group reunited for several world tours over the next two decades, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the release of "Rapper's Delight" and the formation of the group in 2019.
Lady B started her rap career after graduating from high school. While in college, he started hanging out at Kim Graves, Philadelphia's hottest nightclub at the time. During her club days, she became friends with the late DJ Lawrence Levan.
Her hit "To The Beat Y'all" was instrumental in the acceptance of women in hip-hop and opened the door for female rappers to come out from under her. Throughout her career, she remained true to her love of hip-hop and became a radio talk show host for various stations in Philadelphia.
Lady B is considered a hip hop researcher and has given many lectures on the cultural significance of hip hop. She credits rap pioneer MC Sha Rock as a luminary and draws inspiration from her as a hip-hop teacher. Lady B has received many prestigious awards, including the Philly Urban Legend Award in 2002 for pioneering rap music, and has received two Lifetime Achievement Awards.
Bronx-born rapper KRS One began his rap career in 1987 as one third of rap group Boogie Down Productions. After starting over 5 projects as a member of Boogie Down Productions, KRS One ventured onto his account in 1993 with a solo debut. . albumThe Return of the Boom Bap.
Released by Jive Records, the project received generally positive reviews. KRS One is best known as the rapper who introduced Jamaican Zunguzung-like beats to American rap culture with tracks like "Remix for P is Free," which he released while he was still part of Boogie Down Productions.
During their 25+ year career, KRS One have released more than a dozen hip hop albums. Considered by his peers to be incredibly curious and spiritually intelligent, he is a pioneer of the conscious rap movement that began with Grandmaster Flash. The rapper has spoken at more than 500 universities including Harvard, Yale and many more. Your project 2020between the protestsIt was met with generally positive reviews.
NWA is widely regarded as one of the largest and most influential groups in the history of hip hop music. Its members were some of the earliest and most important promoters of the controversial gangsta rap subgenre. The group received much controversy during their time for their overtly violent and misogynistic lyrics, which mostly worried Caucasian parents about their children's impressionable minds.
The group released their legendary album.straight out of comptonin 1988. The group is credited with helping to bridge racial musical lines in the late 1980s with their conspicuous appeal to white suburban Americans. Dr in April 2016.
A few days earlier, the group was introduced to theRock'n'Roll-Ruhmeshalle.
Born Ramona Parker, Ms. Melodie first entered the rap scene as a member of the rap collective Boogie Down Productions. With only one solo album to his career, 1989's "Diva," he has become a major influence on the rap game, appearing on many gigs with Boogie Down Productions.
Ms. Melodie, highly respected for her aggressive and outspoken manner, serves up mindful bars mixed with light humor and thundering confidence that earned her a place as one of the biggest hip-hop artists of the '80s, for which she shared with her fellow rapper KRS One was married 5 years and divorced in 1992. Sadly for the rest of his life, he died in 2012 from an undisclosed illness.
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