Top 15 '80s Rap Albums

For this week's Ranked!, we decided to rank our favorite rap/hip hop albums from the '80s. Check it out!

15. Whodini, Escape

14. Public Enemy, Yo! Bum Rush The Show

13. Jungle Brothers, Done By The Forces Of Nature

12. Eazy E, Eazy-Duz-It

11. Grandmaster Flash, The Message

10. LL Cool J, Radio

9. Eric B. & Rakim, Follow The Leader

8. Run-D.M.C., Run-D.M.C.

7. Boogie Down Productions, By All Means Necessary

6. De La Soul, 3 Feet High And Rising

5. Beastie Boys, Licensed To Ill

4. Run D.M.C., Raising Hell

3. Beastie Boys, Paul's Boutique

When Paul's Boutique was released in 1989, I was in the last few days of Basic Training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. My Walkman was locked up with the rest of my civilian gear and I had been without music for over eight weeks at this point. Well, that's not entirely true: I'd heard Lee Greenwood's "God Bless America" more times than I could count and the rest of the time was filled with off-color cadences. So, you can imagine my elation when my contraband tape player was finally loosed.

But my glee was tempered when I remembered that the only music I brought with me was a cassingle of Metallica's "One" that a friend gave me before I left and a mix tape. And while the mix tape was certainly welcome--hell, Milli Vanilli would have been welcome--I wanted something new. Thank the heavens I found Paul's Boutique at the shopette the following morning.

I popped that cassette into the battered Walkman and heard a nice, slow jazzy keyboard sample (Idris Muhammad's "Loran's Dance") as Mike D gives a shout out to every type of woman he can think of. This slow build then gave way to the opening drum roll of "Shake Your Rump" and Ad Rock boasting "Now I rock a house party at the drop of a hat/I beat a biter down with an aluminum bat/A lot of people be jonesing just to hear me rock the mic/They'll be staring at the radio, staying up all night."

And I was hooked. Because he was right. I had been jonesing for more Beasties. And from the opening strains of "To All The Girls" right through to the reprise following "B-Boy Bouillabaisse" this effort did not disappoint. It is, in my humble opinion, a hip-hop tour-de-force chock full of samples from Boogie Down Productions, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, James Brown, Rose Royce, Afrika Bambaataa, the aforementioned Idris Muhammad, and others. In Paul's Boutique, the Beastie Boys unleashed on the world what is arguably their best effort and an album that seems to only get better with time.--Mr. Big Dubya

2. N.W.A., Straight Outta Compton

I was eighteen when this album came out. I was a big hip hop/rap fan and loved Run-D.M.C., the Beasties, LL, and PE. But Straight Outta Compton was different than anything I had ever heard before.

It kicked off with the following statement/boast/warning: "You are now about to witness the strength of street knowledge." And then Ice Cube took the mic and told us about Compton, a place as distant, both geographically and in attitude, as one could get from my Southern white bread suburban upbringing. Were they glorifying drugs, murder, and police brutality? Or were they truly telling us what they saw daily on the streets of Compton? I had no idea. But I knew I loved what I heard.

I loved the grittiness of "Straight Outta Compton," "Gangsta Gangsta (fast forward to 6:22)," "Dopeman," and album's signature track, "Fuck Tha Police." This album hit you hard, knocked you down, and never let you up.--Chag

1. Public Enemy, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back

They are one of the immortals, on so many lists of the greatest of all time that you've lost count. They threw you headfirst down the stairs into a world of militant raps and Bomb Squad driven beats. Public Enemy's mesmerizing raps and rage-fueled bombastic chutzpah helped pave the way for everyone who came afterward and no one was bigger, better, or more hardcore.

Their seminal 1988 release, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back, performed well on the charts and provided us with the takedown anthem of the streets, "Don't Believe The Hype," and is considered one of the most influential albums of all time. Their strong pro-black political stance steamrolled over anyone standing in their way as they unapologetically wormed their way into your heart. Chuck D's booming baritone and semi-militant lyrics made you stand at attention and listen as the sounds saturated your room with the sometimes comedic Flava Flav keeping time on the fringes.

You might love Public Enemy or you might hate them, but no one will ever walk away from hearing one of their songs and simply say, "Meh."--Dufmanno

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