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When it comes to innovation and new styles of hip hop music, there isn’t a decade in history that can surpass the 1980s. It seemed like every other week there was a new classic being dropped.

While the ’90s is arguably the greatest decade in hip hop history, it was the ’80s that laid down the foundation for the culture. In 1988 alone, you had countless albums dropped that would reshape how rapping and production would progress forward in the future.

From Paid in Full, Straight Outta Compton and The Great Adventures of Slick Rick to Raising Hell, Criminal Minded and 3 Feet High and Rising, here are the 50 best hip hop albums of the 1980s.

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50. Audio Two – What More Can I Say?

Released: June 7, 1988

Label: First Priority Music, Atlantic Records

Singles: “Make It Funky/Top Billin'”, “Hickeys Around My Neck”, “Many Styles / The Questions”, “I Don’t Care”

49. Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock – It Takes Two

Released: August 9, 1988

Label: Profile

Singles: “It Takes Two”, “Get on the Dance Floor”

48. Marley Marl – In Control, Volume 1

Released: September 20, 1988

Label: Cold Chillin’, Warner Bros.

Singles: “The Symphony”, “Droppin’ Science”

47. Gang Starr – No More Mr. Nice Guy

Released: April 22, 1989

Label: Wild Pitch Records, EMI Records

Singles: “Words I Manifest”, “Positivity”

46. Kool G Rap & DJ Polo – Road to the Riches

Released: March 14, 1989

Label: Cold Chillin’, Warner Bros. Records

Singles: “Poison”, “Road to the Riches”, “Truly Yours”

45. The Fat Boys – Fat Boys

Released: May 29, 1984

Label: Sutra

Singles: “Jail House Rap”, “Can You Feel It?”

44. Tone Loc – Loc-ed After Dark

Released: January 23, 1989

Label: Delicious Vinyl

Singles: “Wild Thing”, “Funky Cold Medina”, “I Got It Goin’ On”

43. Just-Ice – Kool & Deadly

Released: 1987

Label: Fresh, Sleeping Bag Records

Singles: “Going Way Back”

42. Kool Moe Dee – How Ya Like Me Now

Released: November 3, 1987

Label: Jive, RCA

Singles: “How Ya Like Me Now”, “Wild Wild West”, “No Respect”

41. 2 Live Crew – As Nasty as They Wanna Be

Released: February 7, 1989

Label: Luke, Atlantic Records

Singles: “Me So Horny”, “C’mon Babe”, “The Fuck Shop”, “Coolin'”

40. Special Ed – Youngest in Charge

Released: May 16, 1989

Label: Profile

Singles: “I Got It Made”, “Think About It”, “I’m the Magnificent”

39. Ice-T – Rhyme Pays

Released: July 28, 1987

Label: Sire

Singles: “6 ‘N The Mornin'”, “Make It Funky”, “Somebody Gotta Do It (Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy)”

38. Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush the Show

Released: February 10, 1987

Label: Def Jam, Columbia

Singles: “Public Enemy No. 1”, “You’re Gonna Get Yours”

37. Too Short – Born to Mack

Released: July 20, 1987

Label: Dangerous Music, Jive, RCA

Singles: “Freaky Tales”

36. Queen Latifah – All Hail the Queen

Released: November 28, 1989

Label: Tommy Boy

Singles: “Wrath of My Madness”, “Dance for Me”, “Ladies First”, “Come Into My House”, “Mama Gave Birth to the Soul Children”

35. Salt-N-Pepa – Hot, Cool & Vicious

Released: December 1, 1986

Label: Next Plateu

Singles: “Push It”

34. MC Lyte – Lyte as a Rock

Released: 1988

Label: First Priority Music, Atlantic Records

Singles: “I Cram to Understand U (Sam)”, “10% Dis”, “Paper Thin”, “Lyte as a Rock”

33. Schoolly D – Schoolly D

Released: 1985

Label: Schoolly D Records

Singles: “P.S.K. What Does It Mean?”

32. Geto Boys – Grip It! On That Other Level

Released: March 12, 1989

Label: Rap-A-Lot

Singles: N/A

31. EPMD – Unfinished Business

Released: August 1, 1989

Label: Fresh, Sleeping Bag Records

Singles: “So Wat Cha Sayin'”

30. Biz Markie – Goin’ Off

Released: February 23, 1988

Label: Cold Chillin’, Warner Bros.

Singles: “Vapors”

29. Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – The Message 

Released: October 1982

Label: Sugar Hill

Singles: “It’s Nasty”, “Scorpio”, “The Message”

28. Ice-T – Power

Released: September 13, 1988

Label: Sire

Singles: “I’m Your Pusher”, “High Rollers”

27. Kurtis Blow – Kurtis Blow

Released: September 29, 1980

Label: Mercury

Singles: “The Breaks”, “Throughout Your Years”, “Hard Times”

26. Jungle Brothers – Straight out the Jungle

Released: November 8, 1988

Label: Warlock Records

Singles: N/A

25. Boogie Down Productions – By All Means Necessary

Released: May 31, 1988

Label: Jive, RCA

Singles: “Stop the Violence”, “My Philosophy”

24. Eazy-E – Eazy-Duz-It

Released: November 23, 1988

Label: Ruthless, Priority

Singles: “Eazy-Duz-It”, “We Want Eazy”, “Eazy-er Said Than Dunn”, “Radio”

23. MC Shan – Down by Law

Released: August 8, 1987

Label: Cold Chillin’, Warner Bros. Records

Singles: “The Bridge”

22. DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper

Released: March 29, 1988

Label: Jive, RCA

Singles: “Brand New Funk”, “Parents Just Don’t Understand”, “A Nightmare on My Street”

21. LL Cool J – Bigger and Deffer

Released: May 29, 1987

Label: Def Jam, Columbia

Singles: “I’m Bad”, “I Need Love”, “Go Cut Creator Go”

20. Stetsasonic – On Fire

Released: December 1986

Label: Tommy Boy, Warner Bros.

Singles: N/A

19. Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force – Planet Rock: The Album

Released: December 1, 1986

Label: Tommy Boy, Warner Bros. Records

Singles: “Looking for the Perfect Beat”, “Renegades of Funk”

18. Whodini – Escape

Released: October 17, 1984

Label: Jive

Singles: “Friends”, “Freaks Come Out at Night”, “Big Mouth”, “Escape (I Need a Break)”

17. Beastie Boys – Licensed to Ill

Released: November 15, 1986

Label: Def Jam, Columbia

Singles: “Hold It Now, Hit It”, “Paul Revere”, “The New Style”, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”, “Brass Monkey”, “No Sleep till Brooklyn”, “Girls”

16. Run-D.M.C. – Run-D.M.C.

Released: March 27, 1984

Label: Profile, Arista

Singles: “It’s Like That”, “Hard Times”, “Rock Box”, “30 Days”, “Hollis Crew (Krush Groove 2)”

15. Big Daddy Kane – Long Live the Kane

Released: June 21, 1988

Label: Cold Chillin’, Warner Bros.

Singles: “Raw”, “Ain’t No Half-Steppin'”, “Set It Off”, “I’ll Take You There”

14. Eric B. & Rakim – Follow the Leader 

Released: July 25, 1988

Label: Uni, MCA

Singles: “Follow the Leader”, “Microphone Fiend”

13. Ultramagnetic MCs – Critical Beatdown

Released: October 4, 1988

Label: Next Plateau

Singles: “Ego Trippin'”, “Travelling at the Speed of Thought”, “Funky”, “Watch Me Now”, “Ease Back”, “Give the Drummer Some”

12. LL Cool J – Radio

Released: November 18, 1985

Label: Def Jam, Columbia

Singles: “I Can’t Live Without My Radio”, “You’ll Rock”, “I Can Give You More”, “Rock the Bells”

11. Big Daddy Kane – It’s a Big Daddy Thing

Released: September 19, 1989

Label: Cold Chillin’, Warner Bros.

Singles: “Smooth Operator”, “I Get the Job Done”

10. EPMD – Strictly Business

Released: June 7, 1988

Label: Fresh, Sleeping Bag

Singles: “It’s My Thing”, “I’m Housin”, “You Gots to Chill”, “Strictly Business”

9. The D.O.C. – No One Can Do It Better

Released: August 1, 1989

Label: Ruthless, Atlantic

Singles: “It’s Funky Enough”, “The D.O.C. & The Doctor, “The Formula”, “Mind Blowin’”

8. Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique

Released: July 25, 1989

Label: Capitol

Singles: “Hey Ladies”, “Shadrach”

7. De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising

Released: March 3, 1989

Label: Tommy Boy

Singles: “Plug Tunin'”, “Potholes in My Lawn”, “Eye Know”, “Me Myself and I”, “Say No Go”, “Buddy”

6. Boogie Down Productions – Criminal Minded

Released: March 3, 1987

Label: B-Boy

Singles: “South Bronx”, “The Bridge Is Over”, “Super-Hoe”

5. Run-D.M.C. – Raising Hell

Released: May 27, 1986

Label: Profile

Singles: “My Adidas”, “Walk This Way”, “You Be Illin'”, “It’s Tricky”

4. Slick Rick – The Great Adventures of Slick Rick

Released: November 1, 1988

Label: Def Jam, Columbia

Singles: “Teenage Love”, “Children’s Story”, “Hey Young World”

3. N.W.A. – Straight Outta Compton

Released: August 8, 1988

Label: Ruthless, Priority

Singles: “Straight Outta Compton”, “Gangsta Gangsta”, “Express Yourself”

2. Public Enemy – It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

Released: June 28, 1988

Label: Def Jam

Singles: “Rebel Without a Pause”, “Bring the Noise”, “Don’t Believe the Hype”, “Night of the Living Baseheads”, “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos”

1. Eric B. & Rakim – Paid in Full 

Released: July 7, 1987

Label: 4th & B’way, Island

Singles: “Eric B. Is President”, “I Ain’t No Joke”, “I Know You Got Soul”, “Move the Crowd”, “Paid in Full”

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