The 1980s was a golden age for music, and just like pop stars of their time, talented 80s rappers made names for themselves as well. Rapping is a musical form that incorporates rhythm, speech, and street vernacular with the combination of background music and beat, and the 80s is considered to be the golden era of rap.
So who were the best rappers of the 1980s?
There were many great rappers to choose from in the 1980s, and we did our best to narrow them down to the best of the best. Here we compiled a list of the 5 greatest 80s rappers from that golden era of music.
1. Ice Cube
O’Shea Jackson, or commonly known in the music industry as Ice Cube, is one of the most famous rappers and was born on June 15, 1969. He is widely known as the person that started the “gangsta rap” style through his album “Straight Outta Compton”.
He formed the group C.I.A with Sir Jinx and later on together with Dr. Dre and Eazy-E started the rap group called N.W.A. After some misunderstanding within the group, he started his solo career in 1989. He is one of the most famous rappers on the planet, and these days is also active in movies and television.
RUN-DMC is a hip hop and rap-rock group that consists of 3 members, Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell. The group was formed in 1983 and went on to achieve a Gold record with their album “Run D.M.C.”. They are also the first group to achieve a platinum record with the album “King of Rock”. Apart from this, they were the first to achieve a multi-platinum hip hop record. Some other Run D.M.C. achievements include:
- Named greatest hip hop group of all time by MTV
- Named greatest hip hop artist of all time by VH1
- Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
- Grammy Lifetime Achievement Record
3. LL Cool J
Born James Todd Smith, he is a rapper, actor, producer, and songwriter. He become famous through his single “I need a beat” and his debut album “Radio”. He was the winner of 2 grammy awards and the first rapper to receive a “Kennedy Center Honor”. He was also included in the “100 greatest artists of all time” by VH1, and he was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2021.
4. Dr. Dre
Andre Romelle Young is the founder of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. He is one of the most influential and famous rappers of the 80s. He was credited with making the West Coast G-Funk subgenre famous.
He started his career with the World Class Wreckin’ Cru group and late on become one of the members of N.W.A. He was also the president of Death Row Records. He has also won a Grammy for best rap solo for the song “Let Me Ride”.
Dr. Dre is also involved in many tv and movie productions. Although his personal life is full of controversies, he is one of the few guys who still mentors upcoming rappers.
5. Mc Hammer
Everyone knows Mc Hammer from his hit song “U Can’t Touch This”. Born Stanley Kirk Burrell in 1962, he is a rapper, producer, dancer, entrepreneur, and spokesperson. He is what we call a complete package. He is considered the pioneer of pop-rap and the first person to receive diamond status for an album.
His first album in 1986 “Feel my power” sold more than 60,000 copies and from then onwards his popularity starts to rise and he started working with other famous rappers until his big breakout with “U Can’t Touch This”. In 1996 he filed for bankruptcy due to some issues, but he still remains a legend when it comes to 80s rap.
So those are our picks for the best rappers of the 1980s. Did yours make the cut?