The HipHop Legacy of the 1980's

Amaya Thompson, Essence Ward, Janelle Clark

Hip Hop in the 1980’s began with sounds from disco, funk, blues and jazz it shortly merged with sounds of R&B and rock. Artists of the 80’s were a mix of  artist like Run DMC who some would consider the first mainstream hip hop group, storytellers like Slick Rick, women paving the way in Hip Hop like Salt N’ Pepa,  the new age of hip hop like LL Cool J and the gangsta rappers like N.W.A. The music moved into a more realistic approach when artists began to speak on the political and social views of the world. The 80’s were a time of great controversy with poverty, the drug epidemic and the mistreatment of the black community. Hip Hop gave Africans Americans something of their own. Political Hip Hop or Gangsta Rap allowed for black people to speak without consequence and break dancing was free expression. 80’s Hip Hop also changed fashion with the need to show one’s finances in their apparel. Hip Hop in the 1980’s paved the way for the genre of hip hop we see today.

Inspiring Today...


80’s Hip Hop had a huge impact on fashion. The era of big chains and gold fronts began in the 80’s. Many artists have adopted the big chains and designer fashions. The time of expensive shoes also became more popular in the 80’s. Run DMC’s song “My Adidas”  only made it more relevant with the sponsorship of the brand Adidas. 

Social Change 

Hip Hop in the 80’s began to speak on the problems the black community faced daily.  This has continued over time with rappers continuing to bring the issues of the community to the forefront of their music. Artists such as Tupac, Nas, and Kendrick Lamar are all examples of the power of Hip Hop can bring to politics. 

Creating Culture

Hip Hop was started back in the 1970’s but it really kicked off in the 80’s with the influence of technology. 80’s Hip Hop is the inspiration for many genres we see today but also for art, language and fashion, as mentioned above, many of the fashion trends and styles seen today originated in 80’s HipHop culture. However 80’s Hip Hop also influenced other cultures, this is seen in the music of today through artists such as Drake, a rapper from Toronto, Canada. 

Women in Hip Hop

The 80’s were also the beginning of mainstream women in Hip Hop. Women rapped about social issues but they also brought a sexual aspect to it. They rapped about women and their struggles. 

Salt N' Pepa were the first women group in hip hop. Songs such as "Push "It and "I'll Take Your Man" gave them their popularity.
MC Lyte came shortly after as the first mainstream female solo artist.
Queen Latifah wasn't far behind with her popular song "Ladies First" that put her on the map.


Slick Rick’s “Children Story and J Cole’s ” 4 Your Eyes Only” show the transition of storytelling rap. 

LL Cool J the original lover boy also inspired a sound from the 80’s that is prevalent today. As shown with “I need love”  by LL Cool J and Drakes’ ” Champagne Poetry.”

Hip Hop in the 80’s changed the culture entirely. It is the basis of so many genres, styles, fashion trends, art and more.  The change to realistic rap as Ice cube calls it paved the way for the genre as we see it today.