80s Hip Hop Music

Old skool rap music from the 1980s

80s Rap Music History

The Beginnings of Hip Hop

Though it was not the first rap song ever made, Rapper's Delight by the Sugarhill Gang was the first hip hop song to become really popular. The original 15 minute song was recorded in a single take in 1979 and involved the Sugarhill Gang rapping over the top of the baseline to Chic's song "Good Times". While Kurtis Blow's The Breaks reached number 87 on the Billboard Hot 100, the first single featuring 80s Hip Hop to really make a dent in the Billboard charts was Rapture by Blondie. The song went all the way to number one in 1980. It featured Blondie rapping and included references to rap pioneers Fast Five Freddy and Grandmaster Flash. Other early 80s rap songs included:

80s Hip Hop Enters the Mainstream

For the early part of the 80s, Rap made a large impression on the Billboard R&B charts, but failed to break into the mainstream, then came the big break through. In 1986, Run DMC turned an old Aerosmith tune into a 80s Hip Hop classic. Their collaboration with Aerosmith on the song Walk this Way was a smash hit. The song went all the way to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and ushered in the commercialization of 80s Hip Hop. The song made Run DMC a mainstay on MTV and they followed it up with a very popular video for It's Tricky featuring Penn & Teller.

80s Gangsta Rap

By the late 80s, some rappers rebelled against this commercialization of 80s Hip Hop. Groups like Boogie Down Productions, Public Enemy, and N.W.A. took rap in a different direction. They rapped about urban crime and the violent lifestyles they encountered growing up in the inner-city. While critics said this new direction glorified violence and indiscriminate sex, Gangsta Rappers responded that they were just representing real life in the inner-city. This new style of Hip Hop set the tone for the direction rap would take as it moved on into the 90s. Some of the top Gangsta Rap songs from the 80s were: