Greatest Old School Rap/Hip Hop Records (1979-1985)

Rap music has always existed as an element of Hip Hop since the culture's birth in the early 1970s. The first rappers (called MCs) would rap over funk, reggae, dub, soul, and disco beats and would hold spontaneous rhyming battles that were meant to verbally attack an opponent called "freestyles" (freestyling and flowing were words used to describe the impromptu vocal delivery). Artists that laid the template for such aggressive spoken word set to a funky beat include James Brown, Gil Scott-Heron, The Watts Prophets, and The Last Poets.

By the spring of 1979, the first rap record surfaced with funk band The Fatback Band's "King Tim IIII (Personality Jock)". Later, The Sugar Hill Gang debuted in the summer with Hip Hop's most famous commercial record yet,"Rapper's Delight". This list targets critical Hip Hop records during the old school era (1979-roughly 1985) before the revolution of "cut-n-paste" music and Run-D.M.C.'s seminal Hip Hop anthem "Walk This Way" in 1986.

Hip Hop is first and foremost a culture with five important elements: the b-boys (break dancers), Graffiti/Aerosol artists, MCs, DJs, and the beatboxers. Knowledge and understanding and respect for Hip Hop and its roots are vital.

Hip Hop music on record is born by Fatback Band's "King Tim III", Younger Generation's "We Rap More Mellow", and The Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight" (Hip Hop legend Grandmaster Caz wrote the lyrics but never got credit). Important artists such as Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash also begin their careers, and some of the first socio-political-conscious records arise on the Paul Winley label through chiefly Tanya Winley. Philadelphia's legendary radio personality Lady B becomes the first female rapper to have a record, and Steve Gordon's "Take My Rap" is considered to be the first white rap record. Afro-Filipino Joe Bataan creates a hit with his "Rap-O, Clap-O", the first signs of Hip Hop's diversity. Enjoy Records and Sugar Hill Records become the defining Hip Hop labels of the old school era.

  1. Rapper's Delight - The Sugar Hill Gang
  2. King Tim III (Personality Jock) - Fatback Band
  3. Rappin' and Rocking the House - Funky Four Plus One
  4. Christmas Rappin' - Kurtis Blow
  5. Superrappin' - Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
  6. To the Beat Y'All - Lady B
  7. We Rap More Mellow - Younger Generation (a.k.a. Grandmaster Flash, et al)
  8. Rhythm Talk - Jocko
  9. Rhymin' and Rappin' - Paulette and Tanya Winley
10. Rap-O, Clap-O - Joe Bataan
11. Lady D - Lady D
12. Jazzy 4 MCs - MC Rock
13. Rhapazooty in Blue - Sickle Cell and Rhapazooty
14. Spiderap - Ron Hunt
15. Looking Good (Shake Your Body) - Eddie Cheba
Honorable Mention: Take My Rap...Please - Steve Gordon & The Koshers
This is Kurtis Blow's year. He becomes the first rapper signed to a major record label, Mercury Records, where his song "The Breaks" becomes a certified gold record. He is the first to release a Hip Hop album, to embark on a Hip Hop tour, to be featured on television ("Soul Train" in October), and the first to give rap mainstream marketability (he also opened up for The Commodores and Bob Marley on tour). Rap is still seen as a fad although several disco-Hip Hop hybrids prove successful such as "Funk You Up", "Zulu Nation Throwdown Part I", "The New Rap Language", and "Monster Jam". Casper has the first rap record in Chicago, and The Sequence become the first all-female rap crew on record. Treacherous Three's "Body Rock" is the first Hip Hop song to use rock guitars, and Blondie member Deborah Harry's "Rapture" is the first massive Hip Hop record done by a white artist.

  1. The Breaks - Kurtis Blow
  2. The New Rap Language - Spoonie Gee and The Treacherous Three
  3. Zulu Nation Throwdown Part I - Afrika Bambaataa & Cosmic Force
  4. Funk You Up - The Sequence
  5. Monster Jam - Spoonie Gee and The Sequence
  6. Rapture - Blondie
  7. 8th Wonder - The Sugarhill Gang
  8. Freedom - Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
  9. Love Rap - Spoonie Gee and The Treacherous Three
10. Adventures of Super Rhyme (Rap) - Jimmy Spicer
11. Death Mix - Afrika Bambaataa
12. Spoonin' Rap - Spoonie Gee
13. Body Rock - The Treacherous Three
14. Vicious Rap - Tanya Winley
15. How We Gonna Make the Black Nation Rise? - Brother D with Collective Effort
Honorable Mention: Papa Dean - Sister Nancy
Another great year for Hip Hop. Funky Four Plus One's "That's the Joint" becomes a seminal all-time classic record and the first Hip Hop group to perform on national television (Saturday Night Live). Grandmaster Flash's "The Adventures..." and Afrika Bambaataa's "Jazzy Sensation" are landmark recordings as well. Disco Daddy & Captain Rapp birth the first West Coast record, and the go-go group Trouble Funk has a success with its hybrid song "Drop the Bomb". Mean Machine's "Disco Dream" is the first Latin rap record, and The Evasions "Wikka Rap" is a British Hip Hop pioneering classic. Cybotron, the future creators of the electronic variant techno, usher in the Kraftwerk-inspired "Alleys of our Mind".

  1. That's the Joint - Funky Four Plus One
  2. The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel - Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
  3. Jazzy Sensation - Afrika Bambaataa
  4. Gigolo Rapp - Disco Daddy & Captain Rapp
  5. Feel the Heartbeat - The Treacherous Three
  6. Apache - The Sugarhill Gang
  7. Do It, Do It - Disco 4
  8. Let's Dance (Make Your Body Move) - West Mob
  9. Rappin' Ain't No Thang - The Boogie Boys
10. A Heartbeat Rap - Sweet G
11. Drop the Bomb - Trouble Funk
12. Wikka Rap - The Evasions
13. Disco Dream - Mean Machine
14. Alleys of Your Mind - Cybotron
15. It's Rockin' Time - Kool Kyle the Starchild
This is the year of seminal rap and the birth of a new genre in Hip Hop: electro-funk, initiated by Afrika Bambaataa's & The Soul Sonic Force's "Planet Rock", the most sampled Hip Hop record of all time (James Brown's "Funky Drummer" is the most sampled record in Hip Hop). There is a great revival of interest in the Hip Hop elements, and this subgenre steers the music away from pure disco beats. The other most important Hip Hop record of all time is Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five's "The Message" which jumpstarts political/social rap. The Cold Crush Brother's "Punk Rock Rap" is another record that fuses Hip Hop with rock, and Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force's "Looking for the Perfect Beat" is another seminal all-time Hip Hop classic. The first strands of Hip Hop soul also arise out of artists such as Planet Patrol and C-Bank ("One More Shot"), and the "Smurf" craze becomes one of Hip Hop's most important trends.

  1. The Message - Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
  1. Planet Rock - Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force
  3. Looking for the Perfect Beat - Afrika Bambaataa & The Soul Sonic Force
  4. Play At Your Own Risk - Planet Patrol
  5. Punk Rock Rap - Cold Crush Brothers
  6. Rockin' It - The Fearless Four
  7. Country, Rock, and Rap - Disco 4
  8. Pac Jam (Look Out for the OVC) - The Jonzun Crew
  9. Walking on Sunshine - Rocker's Revenge feat. Donnie Calvin
10. The Smurf - Tyrone Brunson
11. Magic's Wand - Whodini
12. Change the Beat - Fab 5 Freddy
13. Scorpio - Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
14. Body Mechanic - Quadrant Six
15. It's Magic - The Fearless 4
Honorable Mention: E.T. Boogie - Extra T's
Another successful year for Hip Hop. Jazz legend Herbie Hancock and Grandmaster D.St. release the electro-funk Grammy winning "Rockit" while Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five release their second most important recording that ranks with Afrika Bambaataa's "Looking for the Perfect Beat": "White Lines (Don't Do It)". Man Parrish also releases the seminal "Hip Hop, Be Bop (Don't Stop)". More importantly, Run-D.M.C. debut with "It's Like That/Sucker MCs'" single and begin their conquest as Hip Hop's biggest and most influential group of all time ("Sucker MCs'" is regarded as the first hardcore rap track). T. La Rock & Jazzy Jay kick start Hip Hop's biggest record label, Def Jam, as Ice T. debuts with the first "hardcore" rap as do punk rockers Beastie Boys with their first rap record "Cooky Puss". Kraftwerk venture into Hip Hop with "Tour De France", and Cybotron birth techno with their electro-funk anthem "Clear". Electro-funk remains prosperous as the Hip Hop soul movement grows with C-Bank which foreshadows Shannon's "Let the Music Play" which truly begins another Hip Hop variant born out of electro-funk: freestyle music or Latin Hip Hop.

  1. Rockit - Herbie Hancock and Grandmaster D.St.
  2. White Lines (Don't Do It) - Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five
  3. It's Like That/Sucker MCs - Run-D.M.C.
  4. Hip Hop, Be Bop (Don't Stop) - Man Parrish
  5. Al Naafiysh (The Soul) - Hashim
  6. Clear - Cybotron
  7. Buffalo Gals - Malcolm McLaren & The World's Famous Supreme Team
  8. Lookout Weekend - Debbie Deb
  9. It's Yours - T. La Rock & Jazzy Jay
10. No Sell Out - Malcolm X with Keith LeBlanc
11. The Payoff Mix - Mastermix of GLOBE and Whiz Kid's Play That Beat Mr. DJ
12. Jam on Revenge - Newcleus
13. Cooky Puss - Beastie Boys
14. Cold Winter Madness - Ice T
15. Play That Beat Mr. DJ - G.L.O.B.E. & Whiz Kid
Honorable Mention: King of the Beat - Pumpkin
Another healthy year. Run-D.M.C. continue to be a strong force in the post-seminal song era of Grandmaster Flash and Afrika Bambaataa, having their "Rock Box" video being the first rap song played on MTV. Freestyle music flourishes with Alisha ("All Night Passion"), Debbie Deb, Shannon ("Give Me Tonight"), and Nayobe ("Please Don't Go"). Kurtis Blow releases the last batch of his greatest songs before fading, giving way to newcomer Doug E. Fresh and Whodini. U.T.F.O., originally backup singers for Whodini, record "Roxanne, Roxanne" which creates the biggest and most influential all-time trend in Hip Hop. Somewhere between 50-100 response records ensue, and two of them ("The Real Roxanne" and "Roxanne's Revenge") become massive classics, opening the door for female MCs to gain massive success in the future such as MC Lyte, Salt N Pepa, and Queen Latifah. 2 Live Crew's "It's Gotta Be Fresh EP", released in late 1984, IS THE first significant Hip Hop record from the south and births what is know as Miami Bass, another Hip Hop variant alongside electro-funk and freestyle and early techno. Also, Afrika Bambaataa, "The Godfather of Hip Hop", unites with "The Godfather of Soul", James Brown, to record "Unity" which later causes an explosion in the sampling of James Brown records, a vital Hip Hop feature. Divine Sounds score a hit with their Run-D.M.C.-like "What People Do for Money" as The Fat Boys become the most comical characters in Hip Hop (later collaborating with The Beach Boys and Chubby "The Twist" Checker).

  1. Rock Box - Run-D.M.C.
  2. Roxanne's Revenge - Roxanne Shante
  3. Roxanne, Roxanne - U.T.F.O.
  4. Freaks Come Out At Night - Whodini
  5. Jam On It - Newcleus
  6. Unity - Afrika Bambaataa and James Brown
  7. One for the Treble - Davy DMX
  8. The Real Roxanne - The Real Roxanne
  9. When I Hear Music (It Makes Me Dance) - Debbie Deb
10. Egypt, Egypt - Egyptian Lover
11. Just Having Fun (Do the Beat Box) - Doug E. Fresh
12. Request Line - Rock Master Scott & The Dynamic Three
13. Jail House Rap - The Fat Boys
14. 8 Million Stories - Kurtis Blow
15. It's Gotta Be Fresh (Revelation/2 Live) - 2 Live Crew
Honorable Mention: What People Do for Money - Divine Sounds
Honorable Mention: Reckless - Chris "The Glove" Taylor with Ice T and David Storrs
1985: The last great year of old school Hip Hop before the advent of overblown sampling and "Walk This Way" which took Hip Hop into a new direction both musically and culturally. Toddy Tee releases a seminal West Coast jam that foreshadows "gangsta" rap (along with rapper Schoolly D.'s "PSK-What Does it Mean?"). Freestyle hits it big with Lisa Lisa & The Cult Jam, Nu Shooz ("I Can't Wait"), Connie ("Funky Little Beat") and Trinere ("All Night"). Miami Bass evolves and garners hits with records such as MC A.D.E.'s (Adrian Does Everything) "Bass Rock Express". Clearly, Doug E. Fresh, the king of beatboxing, owns the year 1985 as his records "La Di Da Di" and "The Show" took Hip Hop into a new direction and stand as massive influential classics.

  1. The Show - Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew
  2. La Di Da Di - Doug E. Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew
  3. I Can't Live Without My Radio - LL Cool J
  4. I Need a Beat - LL Cool J
  5. I Wonder If I Take You Home - Lisa Lisa & The Cult Jam
  6. The Roof is on Fire - Rock Master Scott & The Dynamic Three
  7. The Show Stoppa (Is Stupid Fresh) - Super Nature (Salt N Pepa)
  8. P.S.K.-What Does It Mean? (Park Side Killers) - Schoolly D
  9. Batterram - Toddy Tee a.k.a. Todd Howard
10. Alice, I Want You Just for Me - Full Force
11. Big Mouth - Whodini
12. Fresh is the Word - Mantronix
13. Don't Stop the Rock - Freestyle
14. Terminator - Kid Frost
15. A Fly Girl - The Boogie Boys
Honorable Mention: Bass Rock Express - MC A.D.E.
Honorable Mention: If I Ruled the World - Kurtis Blow
Honorable Mention: Girl (Cocaine) - Too Short
  1. Let the Music Play (1983) - Shannon
  2. I.O.U. (1983) - Freeez feat. John Rocca
  3. Play At Your Own Risk (1982) - Planet Patrol
  4. One More Shot (1982) - C-Bank feat. Jenny Burton
  5. Walking on Sunshine (1982) - Rocker's Revenge feat. Donnie Calvin