With so much praise for the late-80s records that defined the explosion of the popularity of rap music, sometimes the earlier formative records of hip-hop are left forgotten. Since all these records are available for streaming, you can listen to these historical documents today!
Herbie Hancock - ‘Future Shock’ (1983)
Credited with popularizing instrumental hip-hop, the record-scratching glory of the #1 single “Rockit” has lived on through other artists' sampling (90 times according to whosampled.com). Hancock’s electro-funk era is, in general, a widely underappreciated collection.
The Sugarhill Gang - ‘Sugarhill Gang’ (1980)
Historians credit Sugarhill Gang as the first hip-hop studio album, recognizing the record for the epic track “Rapper’s Delight.” Though there are not many other highlights, this record’s historical significance is unquestionable.
Afrika Bambaataa - ‘Planet Rock’ (1986)
Afrika Bambaataa is a lesser-appreciated forebearer of hip-hop, and every track on Planet Rock: The Album is a testament to their legacy. Every song here circled as hip-hop albums were still a fledgling concept, and by the time they showed up on an album, each one had received legend status from those in-the-know listeners.
Kurtis Blow - ‘Kurtis Blow’ (1980)
Kurtis Blow’s debut record holds up better than some of these other albums because of heavy future hip-hop sampling, especially of the song “The Breaks.” Whosampled.com lists 126 examples of artists who have sampled this classic track.
Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew - ‘Oh, My God!’ (1986)
Indicative of the funny, absurd rap music to show up in equal measure with serious rhymes, Doug E. Fresh’s group also showed an extra sense of inclusivity that still makes Oh, My God! a fun experience.
Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five - ‘The Message’ (1982)
The title track is undeniably the most significant part, but more than any other record on this list, The Message deserves more attention beyond its one well-known song.
Run-D.M.C. - ‘Run-D.M.C.’ (1984)
Album-wise, this is the tightest record on the list. Run-D.M.C.’s debut holds up the best because it sounds more like the rap music of the future than any other progenitor of hip-hop. “It’s Like That” and “Rock Box” are still two of the best debut album singles in rap history.
Each album is on streaming services, so check out these vital parts of history right now!