80s Hip-Hop Music: The Best of the Decade

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

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


Looking for some dope 80s hip-hop tunes to add to your collection? Check out our roundup of the best tracks from the decade!

The Birth of Hip-Hop

The 1980s was the decade in which hip-hop music was born. This new form of music emerged from the African-American community in the South Bronx in New York City. It was a time when the socioeconomic conditions in inner-city neighborhoods were at their worst. poverty, violence, and crime were rampant. And yet, out of this bleakness came a new music that would change the world.

Hip-Hop’s Beginnings in the Bronx

In the late 1970s, a group of young people in the Bronx, New York, came up with a new kind of music. It was a mix of the rhythm and blues they loved, the pop music they heard on the radio, and the Beat poetry of their heroes. They called it hip-hop.

The first hip-hop DJs were teenage parties in parks and playgrounds. They played records on portable turntables and used special techniques to mix them together. The best DJs became famous in their neighborhoods.

One of the most popular early hip-hop songs was “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang. It was released in 1979 and became a top 40 hit. It showed that hip-hop could be successful outside of the Bronx.

In the 1980s, rappers such as Run-DMC, Public Enemy, and N.W.A brought hip-hop to a wider audience with their innovative music and lyrics. Hip-Hop became a global phenomenon with its mix of rhythm, rhyme, and storytelling.

The Four Elements of Hip-Hop

Most people think of Hip-Hop as Rap music, but there are actually four elements to the culture. These elements are DJing, MCing, B-boying (or Breakdancing), and Graffiti Art. All four of these elements originate from the Bronx in New York City during the late 1970s.

The Golden Age of Hip-Hop

The 80s was a decade that saw the rise of hip-hop music. This was the era when artists like Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, and N.W.A. were making some of the best music in the genre. If you’re a fan of hip-hop, then the 80s is definitely a decade worth checking out.

The Rise of Gangsta Rap

In the late 1980s, a new style of hip-hop emerged from the West Coast that would come to dominate the genre. This new style, known as gangsta rap, was darker and more aggressive than earlier styles, with lyrics that often glorified crime and violence. Gangsta rap quickly gained popularity, especially after the release of N.W.A’s landmark album Straight Outta Compton in 1988.

The East Coast-West Coast Feud

The East Coast-West Coast hip-hop feud was a rivalry that arose in the late 1980s and early 1990s, mainly between artists and fans from the East Coast hip-hop scene, based in New York City, and the West Coast hip-hop scene, based in Los Angeles.

The rivalry began when rapper Ice-T (from Compton, California) released his album Power in 1988, which included the song “Six in the Mornin'”, a response to Schoolly D’s “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?” The song caused an uproar among many East Coast rappers, who saw it as an affront to their own style of rap. In particular, Schoolly D’s DJ Jazzy Jeff responded with the track “Put Your Hands Up”, which accused Ice-T of imitating the Philly sound.

The feud escalated further when Eazy-E (also from Compton) released the track “Real Muthaphuckkin’ G’s” in 1992, which was aimed at Ice Cube (from South Central Los Angeles). This sparked a response from Cube’s former group N.W.A., with Dr. Dre releasing the track “Fuck tha Police”. The feud reached its peak when Tupac Shakur (from New York City) and The Notorious B.I.G. (from Brooklyn) were both killed within six months of each other in 1996-1997.

The Legacy of Hip-Hop

Hip-hop music emerged in the early 1980s as a product of the creative and technological advances of the time. The music was a new and uniquely American form of expression, blending elements of mento, rocksteady, R&B, and disco. As it developed, hip-hop became a platform for social and political commentary, as well as for celebrating African American culture and pride. The best hip-hop of the 1980s captured the energy and spirit of a decade that was defined by change.

Hip-Hop Today

Though it began as a underground movement in the South Bronx, hip-hop has come a long way in the last four decades. As the genre has evolved, so has its image. In the early days of hip-hop, fashion was utilitarian; it was all about being comfortable enough to dance all night. As the music became more popular, fashion trends began to influence the look of hip-hop artists. In the 1980s, hip-hop fashion was defined by oversized shirts, jackets, and pants; while in the 1990s, rappers and R&B artists began to experiment with designer labels and expensive jewelry.

Today, hip-hop fashion is more diverse than ever before. While some artists still dress according to traditional hip-hop norms, others have completely embraced high fashion. Kanye West, for example, is known for his love of luxury brands like Louis Vuitton and Givenchy; while Jay-Z regularly wears tailored suits and classic dress shoes. As hip-hop continues to evolve, it’s likely that we’ll see even more changes in the way that artists dress.

The Influence of Hip-Hop on Pop Culture

During the 1980s, hip-hop music became a major force in popular culture. It emerged from the underground to become a dominant force on the charts, on radio, and on television. Hip-hop artists such as Run-DMC, Public Enemy, and N.W.A. brought a new sound and attitude to the music scene, and their influence can still be felt today.

Hip-hop was born in the Bronx in the early 1970s, and it quickly spread to other parts of New York City. By the 1980s, it had become a national phenomenon, with artists such as Kurtis Blow, LL Cool J, and Beastie Boys achieving commercial success. Hip-hop’s popularity continued to grow in the 1990s and 2000s, with artists such as Jay-Z, Eminem, and Outkast achieving global success.

Today, hip-hop is one of the most popular genres of music, and its influence can be seen in all aspects of popular culture. Films such as “8 Mile” and “Straight Outta Compton” have helped to bring hip-hop to a wider audience, while fashion brands such as Supreme and Bape have been heavily influenced by hip-hop style. Hip-hop is also a major force in the world of sports, with many athletes adopting the style and culture of hip-hop in their own lives.

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