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10 of the Most Influential Old-School Rap Songs

1. Sugarhill Gang – Rapper’s Delight (1979)

One of the first Hip-Hop songs to be released as a single, Rapper’s Delight is an iconic song that made Hip-Hop an internationally known genre. The song, highly influenced by the disco genre, also features classic Hip-Hop lyrics written by great lyricists like Grandmaster Caz.

2. Kurtis Blow – The Breaks (1980)

Kurtis Blow, born in NYC, was the first rapper to sign a contract with a major record label bringing Hip-Hop further into the mainstream music industry. Kurtis Blow’s “The Breaks” was the first Hip-Hop single to officially go ‘gold’ making it a hugely important and influential track.


3. Threacherous Three – Body Rock (1980)

The Treacherous Three was a pioneering hip hop group that was formed in 1978 and consisted of DJ Easy Lee, Kool Moe Dee, L.A. Sunshine, Special K and Spoonie Gee. “Body Rock” is an essential 80s song full of Old School stylistic choices. Where this song really stood out among its peers was its use of rock influences which made it the first of the Hip-Hop genre to do so.

4. Funky Four Plus One – That’s The Joint (1980)

Funky Four Plus One was a revolutionary Hip-Hop group. They were the first Rap group to every be signed to a record deal and they were the first group to include a female rapper. That’s The Joint, one of their biggest hits, has been put on a pedestal by “New-Age” rappers and has been sampled by many as the years have gone on.


5. Afrika Bambaataa – Planet Rock (1982)

Despite the recent controversy surrounding him today, Afrika Bambaataa’s work in Hip-Hop will always be important to the history of the genre. During his hay day he helped reduce gang violence in New York through his group called Zulu Nation which let inner-city youth come together and battle through dance instead of violence. While he may be less known for his music, Plant Rock was a turning point for the Hip-Hop genre bringing electric influences more into the genre. 


6. The Fearless Four – Rockin’ It (1982)

Out of Harlem, New York, The Fearless Four was an American old school Hip-Hop group. Rockin’ It was their most well known single due, in part, to it being featured in the 1983 documentary Style Wars. It’s a classic Hip-Hop track that speaks the great parts of early Hip-Hop culture.

7. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five – The Message (1982)

The Message marked a landmark change in the Hip-Hop genre. Up until its release in 1982, Hip-Hop lyrics were primarily about parties, women, and bragging. “The Message” turned this stereotype on its head with raw and powerful commentaries on life and society. Its influence has continued to this day, inspiring conscious Hip Hop artists of the modern age. 

The Hip-Hop group itself was filled with some of the most influential artists of the early Hip-Hop era. Artists such as Melle Mel and Grandmaster Flash helped to propelling the genre forward placing them among the “Grandfathers of Hip-Hop.”

8. Cold Crush Brothers – Fresh, Fly, Wild & Bold (1984)

Founded in the late 70s, The Cold Crush Brothers was Grandmaster Caz’s crew. Known as one of the best rappers in the history of the genre, Grandmaster Caz helped the group to become world renowned for their incredible live performances and ‘harmony rapping’. Fresh, Fly, Wild & Bold was one of their most famous singles and really shows the talent of The Cold Crush Brothers

9. Run DMC – Sucker MCs (1984)

Released in 1984, Run DMC was a transformative group that brought Hip-Hop from Old school into the Golden Age. Sucker MCs’ sparser beats and in-your-face style went on to define much of the genre. Even today, Run DMC’s style can be felt in some of the biggest names in the genre.

10.Doug E Fresh & The Get Fresh Crew – The Show (1985)

The show was one of Hip-Hop’s greatest party tracks. Featuring the likes of Slick Rick and Doug E fresh, this unforgettable song combined incredible lyrics and beat boxing. 

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