Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  • Pioneering Hip-Hop Rappers Of The'80s

    Rap/hip-hop pioneers of the Sugarhill Gang (from left, Big Bank Hank, Wonder Mike and Master Gee) pose for a portrait circa 1979 before their "Rapper's Delight" became the genre's first Top 40 hit on Jan. 5, 1980. It ranks No. 2 on VH1s 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs list of 2008.
    Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  • Pioneering Hip-Hop Rappers Of The'80s

    From left, Joseph "Run" Simmons, Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels and DJ Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell of Run-D.M.C. photographed in New York, 1988. Their first single, in 1983, <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_hN1SKVx31s">"It's Like That,"</a> was listed by VH1 as No. 40 on its 2008 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs. Mizell was shot to death at his New York recording studio in 2002.
    Frank Micelotta/ImageDirect
  • Pioneering Hip-Hop Rappers Of The'80s

    LL Cool J (short for Ladies Love Cool James) has added "actor" to his repertoire since his 1985 debut album, "Radio." He was 17. His singles "I Need a Beat" and "I Can't Live Without My Radio" were seminal recordings.
    Ebet Roberts/Redferns
  • Pioneering Hip-Hop Rappers of the '80s

    The Beastie Boys, shown here in 1987, underscored hip-hop's commercial viability the year before with the album "Licensed to Ill," the first of the genre to reach Billboard's No. 1 spot.
    Ebet Roberts/Redferns/Getty Images
  • Pioneering Hip-Hop Rappers Of The'80s

    From left, a member of "Security of the First World," Terminator X, Flavor Flav, Chuck D, S1W and Professor Griff of Public Enemy pose Nov. 2, 1987, in England. They had outgrown the early-'80s start as Chuck D and Spectrum City but were still moving toward the anthem "Fight the Power" (1989), which VH1 called the greatest hip-hop song ever.
    David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  • Pioneering Hip-Hop Rappers Of The'80s

    Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force released the synthesized, rock-influenced <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lDCYjb8RHk">"Planet Rock"</a> in 1982 that highlighted his affinity for the electronic-driven music of Kraftwerk. It helped turn him into an international sensation.
    Leon Morris/Redferns
  • Pioneering Hip-Hop Rappers Of The'80s

    The first hip-hop/rappers to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five top Rolling Stone's list of the 50 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs of All Time with "The Message."
    David Corio/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  • Pioneering Hip-Hop Rappers Of The'80s

    Kurtis Blow hasn't crashed the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame but his 1980 single hit, "The Breaks," helped him break two barriers in particular: first rapper to sign with a major record label and first rap song to become a certified gold record.
    Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
  • Pioneering Hip-Hop Rappers Of The'80s

    The Fatback Band's <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tPz2cBuOnw">"King Tim III (Personality Jock)"</a> (1979) predates the release of "Rapper's Delight" by a few months so is considered the first of its kind to make it from recording studio to vinyl. The group's bigger hits soon followed: "Gotta Get My Hands on Some (Money)" and "Backstrokin'."
    Gilles Petard/Redferns
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