The 1980 Hip Hop Music Hits You Need to Know

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


In the 1980s, Hip Hop music became popular with people of all ages. Here are some of the biggest hits from that decade that you need to know.

The 1980s: A Decade of Change

The 1980s were a decade of change, with the music scene reflecting the social and political issues of the time. From the early days of hip hop to the rise of new wave and hair metal, there was something for everyone in the 1980s.

The hip hop scene in particular was booming in the 1980s, with artists like Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, and N.W.A. leading the way. These artists brought a new sound and attitude to hip hop, and their songs reflected the social and political issues of the time. If you want to know more about the music of the 1980s, here are some of the hip hop hits you need to know.

The Rise of Hip Hop

In the late 1970s, hip hop music began to emerge from the underground scene in New York City. The earliest hip hop songs were mostly party anthems or boastful tracks that celebrated the DJ’s skills. As the genre developed, topics expanded to include social issues, such as Afrocentricity, drug use, and violence. By the 1980s, hip hop was a well-established genre and had a wide range of subgenres, including rap, electro, and go-go.

The Birth of Rap

The 1980s saw the birth of rap with the release of “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang in 1979. This new style of music quickly gained popularity with both African American and white audiences, and by the mid-1980s, rap music was a staple on radio stations across the United States. The 1980s also saw the rise of gangsta rap, a subgenre of rap that often glorified violence, drugs, and crime. Despite its controversial nature, gangsta rap became one of the most commercially successful genres of the decade with artists such as N.W.A., Dr. Dre, and Ice-T achieving mainstream success.

The Golden Age of Hip Hop

During the 1980s, hip hop music began to diversify with the advent of new subgenres, such as digital music, creating a new musical form called electronic hip hop. Hip hop also became popular in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Hip hop music started to become mainstream by the 1990s due to media attention and the growing popularity of rap music.

The New School of Hip Hop

In the mid-1980s, a new school of hip hop artists emerged, influenced by the street party sounds of early hip hop. These artists were more poppy and soulful than their predecessors, and their music was often aimed at a wider audience. Some of the most popular new school hip hop hits of the 1980s include:

-Run DMC, “Walk This Way”
-LL Cool J, “I Need Love”
-The Fat Boys, “Can You Feel It?”
-Naughty by Nature, “O.P.P.”
-Salt N Pepa, “Push It”

The East Coast/West Coast Rivalry

One of the most defining aspects of hip hop music is the rivalry between the East Coast and West Coast. This rivalry came to a head in the early 1990s with the murders of two of rap’s biggest stars, Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G. This rivalry is often seen as one of the reasons for the decline of hip hop in the late 1990s.

The Death of Hip Hop

In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, a new form of music called hip hop began to form in the South Bronx area of New York City. This region was largely African American and Puerto Rican, and was suffering from high rates of poverty and crime. The young people who lived there used music as a way to express themselves and their experiences.

Hip hop music typically consists of a rapper spitting rhymes over a backing track, often with a heavy emphasis on drum beats. The lyrics are often about personal struggles or social issues. Hip hop culture includes fashion, dance, graffiti art, and MCing (rapping).

In the 1980s, hip hop music became more mainstream, thanks in part to the release of movies like “Wild Style” and “Beat Street” which helped to introduce the style to a wider audience. DJs began to create mixes of popular songs that they would then rap over, known as “breakbeats”. These mixes helped to fuel the popularity of hip hop dances like breakdancing.

By the mid-1980s, however, some people within the hip hop community began to feel that the music was becoming too commercialized and losing its original message. They believed that hip hop should be used as a tool for social change, not just entertainment. This sparked a debate within the community that continues to this day.

What do you think? Is hip hop just music or is it something more?

The Resurgence of Hip Hop

In the late 1970s, a new form of music called hip hop began to emerge in the South Bronx borough of New York City. Influenced by disco and funk, hip hop is a style of music that is characterized by rap, DJing, and sampling. Hip hop music first gained mainstream popularity in the 1980s, and it has since become one of the most popular genres in the world.

The 1980s was a pivotal decade for hip hop music, as it saw the rise of many famous artists and groups. Some of the most popular hip hop hits from this decade include “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang, “The Breaks” by Kurtis Blow, and “Walk This Way” by Run-DMC featuring Aerosmith.

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in hip hop music, with many young people rediscovering the genre’s golden age. If you’re looking to get into hip hop, or if you’re simply curious about what this type of music is all about, then check out some of the classic hits from the 1980s that are listed below.

The Future of Hip Hop

In the late 1970s, Hip Hop spread from the Bronx to other parts of New York City and then to the US East Coast, South, and Midwest before becoming a global phenomenon in the 1990s. The genre was born out of a combination of music styles including Funk, Reggae, Soul, and Disco. In the 1980s, Hip Hop music became more experimental with the advent of new technology like samplers and drum machines. This decade also saw the rise of Rap as a dominant form within Hip Hop. Some of the most iconic Hip Hop tracks of all time came out of this era including “Rapper’s Delight” by The Sugarhill Gang, “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five, and “Walk This Way” by Run-DMC.

The 1980 Hip Hop Music Hits You Need to Know

In the 1980s, hip hop music began to diversify with the introduction of alternative genres such as electro, funk, disco, jazz, and Afrobeat. There is a lot of great music from this decade that has been lost to time, but we’ve compiled a list of some of the best 1980s hip hop hits that you need to know.

-Rapper’s Delight by Sugarhill Gang
-The Breaks by Kurtis Blow
-Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – The Message
-Afrika Bambaataa & The Soulsonic Force – Planet Rock
-Run DMC – King of Rock
-LL Cool J – I Can’t Live Without My Radio
-Public Enemy – Fight the Power
-Boogie Down Productions – Criminal Minded

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