In the 80s, rap was just starting to become popular. A lot of iconic rappers emerged during this time, and many of them are still well-known today. In this blog post, we will discuss the 15 best 80s rappers.
These artists helped shape the sound of rap music, and they continue to influence new artists to this day. Whether you’re a fan of old-school rap or not, you have to admit that these 15 rappers were pretty awesome!
List of the Best 80s Rappers of All Time
1. Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah was one of the most influential 80s female rappers. She encouraged her people to love one another and had an eloquent rap style that set her apart from other 80s rappers. She was also one of the first white female rappers to make it big in the 80s rap scene. She released her debut album, All Hail the Queen, in 1989 and went on to have a successful career in music and acting.
2. MC Lyte and Salt-N-Pepa
The 80s were a time of innovation and creativity for rap music, with many popular female rappers emerging. MC Lyte was the first solo female rapper to release a full album in 1988 and she’s still active today. Her 80s hits include “Cha Cha Cha” and “Cold Rock a Party.” She was also the first female rapper to be nominated for a Grammy Award in 1989.
3. Big Daddy Kane
Big Daddy Kane is one of the most influential 80s Rappers and respected hip hop artists of all time. He started his career in the mid-1980s as part of the Juice Crew, alongside other legendary acts like Kool G Rap and Biggie Smalls.
Moreover, his signature style blended elements of jazz, funk, soul music, and classic rap with a poetic flair to create an emotionally-charged sound. His iconic hits like “Ain’t No Half Steppin”, “Raw (Remix)” and “Smooth Operator” showcased his smooth delivery and lyrical dexterity.
Big Daddy Kane also helped push the boundaries of rap with his innovative sampling techniques and production. He collaborated with producers such as Marley Marl, Easy Mo Bee, and Prince Paul to create some of the most influential tracks in hip hop.
To this day, Big Daddy Kane remains an inspiration for many emcees around the world and continues to perform at concerts and festivals. His influence is evident in modern rap artists like Kendrick Lamar and J. Cole, who cite him as a major influence in their music.
This proves that Big Daddy Kane is not only one of the most iconic figures in rap history but also an artist whose legacy will continue to shape hip hop for generations to come.
4. LL Cool J
LL Cool J is one of the most successful rappers in history. He made his debut in 1985 with the album Radio and quickly established himself as an influential figure in hip hop culture. His unique style, combining elements of funk, soul, and classic rap, resonated with listeners around the world.
Throughout his career, LL Cool J has released a number of classic albums, such as Mama Said Knock, You Out, and Mr. Smith. He also became one of the first rappers to crossover into the mainstream with his hit single “I Need Love”. This song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and won him a Grammy award in 1988.
LL Cool J is also credited with popularizing the rap battle format. He famously faced off against Kool Moe Dee in the first televised rap battle in 1988. This highly publicized event showcased the lyrical skills of both rappers and elevated LL Cool J to superstardom.
Run-D.M.C. was an American hip-hop group originally consisting of Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, and Jason “Jam-Master Jay” Mizell. The group rose to prominence in the 1980s for their pioneering work with early hip hop culture and music.
Best of all, they were the first rap group to earn a gold record, the first to be nominated for a Grammy Award, and are widely credited with revolutionizing the sound of rap music. Run-D.M.C.’s style was characterized by its self-referential lyrics, heavy beats, and pop culture samples.
6. Doug E. Fresh
Doug E. Fresh is an American rapper and beatboxer. He is best known for pioneering the human beatboxing style, which became popular in hip hop music. He is also known for his unique style of delivery, often imitating the sound of turntables scratching.
Also, he first gained fame in 1984 when his single “The Show” and its accompanying “La Di Da Di” became a hit. He is credited with introducing the “beatboxing” style and has remained an important figure in hip hop culture.
7. Slick Rick
Slick Rick, also known as The Ruler, is a legendary rapper from the Bronx. He gained prominence in the late 1980s with his hit single “La Di Da Di,” which became an instant classic. His flow and masterful storytelling have made him one of the most respected rappers in the game, earning him the nickname, “The Storyteller.”
He is also credited with popularizing the use of multi-syllabic rhyming techniques and incorporating humorous elements into his rhymes. He has released four studio albums, two of which were certified gold by the RIAA. His most popular song to date is “Children’s Story,” which has become an anthem for hip-hop culture.
8. Biz Markie
Biz Markie is a well-known rapper, beatboxer, and DJ who has been in the rap music scene since the 1980s. He rose to fame with his hit single Just a Friend in 1989 and has since released several albums and performed on tour with groups such as the Beastie Boys and Digital Underground.
Additionally, Biz Markie has had a long-standing presence in the hip hop scene as an influential producer and actor. He has contributed production to albums such as Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… (1995) and his own 2004 album Weekend Warrior.
9. A Tribe Called Quest
A Tribe Called Quest is one of the most influential white rap groups of the 80s. Founded by Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, they brought a new style of rap to the game, combining jazz samples and signature flows with socially conscious lyrics.
Also, their albums The Low-End Theory and Midnight Marauders are considered hip hop classics, and their influence can be felt in the music of today’s artists.
A Tribe Called Quest opened the door for white rap groups to break into the mainstream, inspiring a generation of white rappers to follow in their footsteps.
10. Kool Moe Dee
Kool Moe Dee is a legendary hip-hop artist who was on the scene during the golden age of rap, when artists like Big Daddy Kane and LL Cool J would dominate the airwaves. Moe Dee made a name for himself with his hyper and punchy style of rap, delivering hits that still make great gym workouts to this day.
He’s best known for his 1988 classic “Wild Wild West”, which earned him a nomination for Best Rap Performance at the 1989 Grammys and a number four spot on Billboard’s Hot R&B Singles.
11. Ice Cube
Ice Cube is an influential American rapper, actor, film director, and producer. He started his rap career as a member of the legendary group N.W.A. and has gone on to become one of the most successful hip-hop artists of all time.
Ice Cube has also appeared in numerous films, such as Boyz N the Hood, Three Kings, Friday, and 21 Jump Street. In addition to his acting career, he has also been involved in producing and directing projects including The Players Club, Barbershop, and All About the Benjamins.
Ice Cube has released a number of solo albums, most recently Everythang’s Corrupt in 2018. He has also produced and written for other artists including his son OMG (formerly known as Doughboy). His music touches on a variety of topics such as politics, race relations, and social issues.
Eazy-E was a rap pioneer who revolutionized the hip hop genre through his iconic solo albums and collaborations with N.W.A, one of the most influential rap groups of all time. He was born Eric Wright in Compton, California, and began his career as a drug dealer before dedicating himself to music.
He released his landmark solo album Eazy-Duz-It in 1988 and it was an immediate success. The album featured hit singles such as “Boyz-N-The-Hood” and “Eazy-er Said Than Dunn”, which showcased Eazy-E’s unique delivery, flow, and lyrical content.
13. De La Soul
De La Soul is a hip-hop trio from Long Island, New York. Founded in 1987, the group is best known for its unique sample-based sound and its socially conscious lyrics.
De La Soul has released seven studio albums, won two Grammy Awards, and collaborated with a wide variety of artists including Gorillaz, A Tribe Called Quest and Beastie Boys. De La Soul group has been widely credited with helping to bridge the gap between mainstream hip-hop and alternative rap.
14. The Beastie Boys
The Beastie Boys are an American hip-hop group from New York City, formed in 1981. Beastie Boys have released eight studio albums, which have sold over 50 million copies worldwide. The group is an influential part of the hip-hop and alternative rock scenes, with their music spanning a wide range of genres including rap, funk, pop, jazz, and even punk.
The Beastie Boys have been credited for helping to pioneer the crossover success of rap music and bridging gaps between punk rock and rap. The Beastie Boys have won multiple Grammy awards and are widely considered one of the most influential groups in hip hop history.
15. Eric B. And Rakim
Eric B. And Rakim is considered to be the father of rap and has been credited with revolutionizing the hip-hop genre. They are known for their unique sound and lyrical prowess, which was showcased in classic albums such as Paid In Full (1987) and Follow The Leader (1988).
They are also credited with popularizing a new style of rap called “conscious rap,” which focused on topics such as poverty, racial inequality, and social injustice. Eric B. And Rakim was some of the first to introduce samples from jazz and funk music into hip-hop beats, helping to create what is now known as old-school hip-hop.
These 15 iconic rappers have all contributed to the rap genre in various ways and helped shape it into what it is today. From Ice Cube’s hard-hitting rhymes to De La Soul’s socially conscious lyrics, these artists have put their own spin on hip-hop music and created an incredibly diverse landscape of rap.
Each individual has made an impact on the genre, and their contributions will be remembered for years to come. So, when it comes to rap, these 15 artists are some of the greatest of all time.
Meanwhile, you can also check out Rappers Who Died Too Soon.
Best 80s Rappers FAQs
What rappers were popular in the 80s?
Some of the most popular rappers in the 80s were Run-D.M.C, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, De La Soul, The Beastie Boys, and Eric B. and Rakim. They all helped to shape the rap genre and create a new sound for hip-hop music.
How did rap become popular?
Rap became popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s as part of the hip-hop movement. It began to be featured in songs on the radio and soon gained a wide audience. The popularity of rap grew in the late 80s and early 90s as artists such as Run-D.M.C, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, De La Soul, The Beastie Boys, and Eric B. and Rakim began to release hit singles.
Who were the first rappers in the 80s?
The first rappers in the 80s were Run-D.M.C, LL Cool J, and Afrika Bambaataa.
Who is the king of hip hop in the 80s?
Many people consider Run-D.M.C to be the “king of hip hop” in the 80s. They helped to define the genre and pioneered the rap-rock crossover sound. They also had massive crossover success with their hit single “It’s Tricky.” LL Cool J and Ice Cube are also contenders for the title of “king of hip hop in the 80s” as they both had notable success with their albums, singles, and tours.
What rappers were the most influential in the 80s?
Run-D.M.C, LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, De La Soul, The Beastie Boys, and Eric B. and Rakim are all considered to be some of the most influential rappers in the 80s. They all helped to shape and define the rap genre and their contributions are still felt today.
Who is considered to be the greatest rapper of all time?
The title of “greatest rapper of all time” is highly contested, but many people consider Tupac Shakur to be the greatest of all time. He had an incredible influence on hip hop culture and was a major force in rap music for over a decade. Others have also argued that Biggie Smalls, Nas, Jay-Z, Eminem, and Andre 3000 are some of the greatest rappers of all time.
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John is the Senior Content writer at BandMag. With 8+ years experience in content writing and SEO, he loves talking about content creation, SEO and his dog.