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Hip Hop Music History: 1980s

Updated on March 15, 2017

Grandmaster Flash

Grandmaster Flash is one of the first hip hop artist to burst onto the scene. Famous for the line, "It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me woner how I keep from going under".
Grandmaster Flash is one of the first hip hop artist to burst onto the scene. Famous for the line, "It's like a jungle sometimes it makes me woner how I keep from going under". | Source

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Early Years

Grandmaster Flash, Kurtis Blow, Fat Boys, Slick Rick, Eric B & Rakim along with a handful of others broke onto the scene creating rap in the late 70s and early 80s.

From 1984-1989 rap had a host of talent that made some classic hip hop hits. Performers such as Fresh Prince, Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, Boogie Down Productions and Tone Loc.

N.W.A.

N.W.A. was comprised of Easy E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Wren and DJ Yella.
N.W.A. was comprised of Easy E, Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, MC Wren and DJ Yella. | Source

Geto Boy's Albums

Top Songs
The Geto Boys
On That Other Level
The Resurrection
We Can't Be Stopped
Making Trouble
Till Death Do Us Part
Uncut Dope
The Foundation
Greatest Hits
Best of....
 
Geto Boys have thus far released 11 albums as a group.

Rap Groups

There were tons of rap groups during the 1980s when hip hop exploded. Below are the top groups during the 80s.

1. Run DMC: This band is definitely the most famous of the 80s era. They have had many hits including: Mary, Mary, Down with the King and My Adidas. Run DMC, famously teamed with rock band Aerosmith to make, "Walk this Way".

2. N.W.A.: One of the reasons a parental advisory sticker is attached to music. The originators of gangsta rap, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Easy E, MC Wren and Yella, they made many hits then split up and had successful solo careers. Some of their top hits are: Straight Outta Compton and 100 Miles and Runnin.

3. Geto Boys: Scarface, Bushwick Bill and Willie D comprised the Texas rap group called The Geto Boys. One of the most famous rap songs ever is their hit called, "Minds Playin' Tricks on Me".

4. Public Enemy: Chuck D and his sidekick Flava Flav made hard, hitting political music that shook up the music industry. Fight the, is one of the top rap songs of the decade.

5. Beastie Boys: This Brooklyn born threesome produced some huge hits such as: Brass Monkey, Fight for your Right and Paul Revere. They eventually mixed rock with their music in later albums.

Too Short

Too Short AKA Short Dog is a rap artist from Oakland, California. He made lots of hits in the 80s, 90s and in the 2000s.
Too Short AKA Short Dog is a rap artist from Oakland, California. He made lots of hits in the 80s, 90s and in the 2000s. | Source

Gangsta Rap

Below are the originators of gangsta rap.

1. N.W.A.: This band pushed the limits of what can be said in music. Hardcore West Coast beats and lyrics.

2. 2-Live Crew: This group along with N.W.A. got the ball rolling on Congress inventing Parental Advisory stickers for albums.

3. Too Short: Too Short mostly raps about women and being a player.

4. Ice T: Famous for being a television and film actor, Ice T first burst on the scene as a gangsta rapper.

Salt 'N Pepa

Salt 'N Pepa was a top female hip hop group in the mid to late 1980s. The music they made got lots of radio play.
Salt 'N Pepa was a top female hip hop group in the mid to late 1980s. The music they made got lots of radio play. | Source

The Ladies of Rap

Lots of females entered the rap game especially in the late 80s. Below are the top ladies of hip hop during the 80s.

1. Salt 'N Pepa: Everyone knows the big hit, " Push It", that was Salt 'N Pepa. Those two along with Spinderella made being a female hip hop group cool to say the least.

2. Queen Latifah: The Queen has went on to bigger fame and fortune with a television career but she is also the most famous female solo hip hop artist of the 80s. My favorite song by Latifah is "Just Another Day".

3. J.J. Fadd: This group blew up after having Dr. Dre produce the beats for the music. Another Hoe and of course Super Sonic went mainstream as hip hop and pop radio stations played them.

4. MC Lyte: In a way MC Lyte was the first woman gangsta rapper. She flowed seamlessly and her song called Roughneck is a classic in the hip hop world.

Hip Hop

Rap

L.L. Cool J

L.L. Cool J was one of if not the biggest rap star of the 80's. Later in his career he began making R & B music as well as rap songs.
L.L. Cool J was one of if not the biggest rap star of the 80's. Later in his career he began making R & B music as well as rap songs. | Source

Best Rap Songs of The 80s (Video)

My Top 5 of the 80s

1. L.L. Cool J: What can I say? Easily the best of the 80s and one of the best of all time. L.L. Cool J has an aura around him on stage and you can tell it is easy for him. My favorites are: I'm Bad, I Need Love and Goin' Back To Cali.

2. Too Short: His lyrics can be a bit dirty but the beats are tight and his flow is clear, smooth and easy to understand. His best songs, in my opinion, are Life is Too Short, Get in Where You Fit In and In the Trunk.

3. Geto Boys: The way these guys connect with each other passing the flow back and forth is awesome. Scarface is one of the best solo artist in rap history as well. They have so many songs that are good but my favorite CD is We Can't be Stopped.

4. Tone Loc: Loc did not stay on the music scene long but he made an impact with his smooth flow. His hits Funky Cold Medina & Wild Thing are classics from the era.

5. N.W.A.: The beats were by Dr. Dre and he performed vocals with Easy E and Ice Cube. Nuff Said.

Tone Loc

Tone Loc made a career in music and in film. He made music with catchy hooks that got played by lovers of all types of music.
Tone Loc made a career in music and in film. He made music with catchy hooks that got played by lovers of all types of music. | Source

Tone Loc: Funky Cold Medina (Video)

Final Thoughts......

Hip Hop began slowly in the late 70s and early 80s but, by the late 80s, it was here to stay. What transpired in this decade, set the stage for the rap explosion of the 1990s. I know some good rap artists were left out but, I named my favorites and the ones that are the most influential to the rap game.

L.L. Cool J: I'm Bad (Video)

Birthplace of the Beastie Boys (Brooklyn, NY)

© 2015 Buster Johnson

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    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 2 years ago from Auburn, WA

      These guys were geniuses. The music was both fun and had a message. I really think that Hip Hop deserves its own Hall of Fame. Lumping it in with Rock and Roll does it a disservice. It was a new art form; new music genre. Similar to the way rock and roll was in the 1950s, combining country and R&B. Hip Hop took all of those elements and created something new. Voted up and shared.