With the groundwork well and truly laid by the genre-warping wizardry of Bronx DJs and turntablists Afrika Bambaataa, Grandmaster Flash, Kool Herc, and Grand Wizzard Theodore in the 1970s, the heady ascent of hip-hop in the ’80s remains easily one of the most uniquely powerful maelstroms of sonic synthesis and revolutionary culture in modern music.
But while brought (and broadened) to the masses via the perfectly genre-bending brilliance of Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, N.W.A, and the Beastie Boys — not least thanks to the efforts of Joseph Simmons and Rick Rubin et al. — the story of the genre in the ‘80s has also become something of a tale of oversight, overshadowing, and textbook selective revisionism.
Sure, New York will always remains the undisputed motherland of hip-hop, and the ever-expanding lineage of the genre is always going to be most widely indebted to the trailblazing efforts of the aforementioned heavyweights, but myriad lesser-known masterstrokes at the tail end of the decade equally helped set down the ABCs for the genre’s Golden Age in the early ‘90s and the sweeping global revolution it is today. Here are 10 other hip-hop albums you should know.