Those Hip Hop Beats: New School 80s

After groups like The Sugar Hill Gang and Grandmaster Flash, Melle Mel and the Furious Five had burst on the scene and introduced mainstream society to Hip Hop–which had been restricted to specific parts of New York City like the South Bronx–with songs like The Message and Rapper’s Delight, we began to see Hip Hop in feature films like Flashdance with Jennifer Beals. Eventually, there were films specifically dedicated to Hip Hop like Wild Style, Beat Street and Breakin’.

 Jennifer Beals - Flashdance

Jennifer Beals -…

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America decided they liked Hip Hop; percussive record scratching and other turntable manipulations, dancers spinning on their backs and heads and contorting their bodies to create various optical illusions and MCs shotgun blasting the mic with aggressive and acrobatic lyrics; this was flash and awe enough to fascinate the public.


Run DMC Group Music Poster Print

Run DMC Group…

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Run DMC jumped on the scene with a newer rock-infused sound, complete with their Nike sweat suits and sneakers, fedora hats and leather jackets. They were new, but not so novelty as subsequent acts.


Soon, we’d see acts like UTFO and the Real Roxanne, each rapper a persona and caricature of sorts, imitating the childish games of adolescent romance-play. It was entertaining to say the least.


As we left the early 80s, when old school Hip Hop had been introduced to mainstream America, we entered the mid-80s with a plethora of Hip Hop novelty acts, such as The Fat Boys, Skinny Boys and other such acts capitalizing on the novelty of Hip Hop and the ability to appear cartoonish. Not a criticism, simply a fact. Fact is, those performers are legends and pioneers.

But as we moved into the late 80s, we began to see the introduction of MTV Raps to further catapult Rap and Hip Hop commercially and socially on the small screen, and at the same time we see the beginnings of Gangsta Rap, Conscious Rap and Alternative Hip Hop.

These were exciting times, ushering in the Golden Age of Hip Hop.

Featured Image: By Laura bland (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons


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