The Year In Hip Hop: 1988

Introduction By @TrueGodImmortal
-There are years that truly set the tone for what hip hop becomes and shaped the eras. 1988 is one of those years. It is regarded as the starting point for the Golden Era of hip hop, and there were so many big time releases that went down that year. The albums from Schoolly D and Mantronix were both noteworthy, as was MC Hammer and his album Let's Get It Started. Salt-N-Pepa were definitely making waves this year and their album A Salt With A Deadly Pepa burned up the airwaves and lit up every boombox back then. The women of hip hop kept coming with dope music, as J.J. Fad released a project, and MC Lyte put out her ultimate classic Lyte As A Rock. MC Lyte's album is one of the best of this stacked year without a doubt.

From Eric B. And Rakim to Boogie Down Productions to Big Daddy Kane to Ultramagnetic MCs to NWA to Public Enemy to Ice T to Slick Rick to Fresh Prince and DJ Jazzy Jeff, and so many more, 1988 was truly a landmark year for hip hop. Today, we look back at the year, what it meant to the genre and the impact of it all.

As much as I appreciate and love the '90's in hip hop, I know I have to pay homage to the brilliant minds and impeccable talents of the artists that came before. I was just a young kid back in 1988, and although I heard many of the albums at the time, my appreciation for them and their creators came years later. For those who don't know or don't remember, the releases were monumental (and that's an understatement). In my opinion, this was the year that gave birth to what would later be known as true classic albums and living legends. Let me get right into the most profound and integral albums in the history of hip hop, but in no particular order.

Public Enemy releases "It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back" and DAR has covered this specific album in detail, so I won't repeat myself, but this is an album rooted in sociopolitical concepts, intelligent rapping integration of jazz, soul, funk, scratching and everything else you can imagine. This album pushed the envelope, introduced components never before used and challenged every mainstream thinker. Public Enemy gave us a masterpiece with this album and created something that has transcended time and will remain relevant decade after decade. This is truly a gem and profound piece of work.

Prior to the release of Public Enemy's album, Boogie Down Productions released "By All Means Necessary". Now let me tell you why this is so important. This album was written, produced and performed by KRS-One after the devastating loss of Scott La Rock, a BDP member. It was this album that birthed the title "The Teacher" and gave KRS the jump he needed to address issues the were plaguing the black community. This album is credited for being amongst the those that laid the groundwork for gangster rap. "My Philosophy", "Necessary", "Stop The Violence" and "Drug Trade" are amongst my favorites and each speaks to a particular subject such as conscious hip hop lyricism, violence and killing in black communities as well as the issues of stereotyping and the increase of drugs on the streets. KRS was on a whole different level and gave us a perfect album. Another gem to add to the year.

One of my favorite rap duos, Erick Sermon and Parish Smith form EPMD and debut with "Strictly Business" this year. Once again, DAR has covered this in detail, but it's a noteworthy album to say the least. These guys were also revolutionary in that they introduced a new concept of sampling, in fact they perfected it and it was this album that supported the claim. With their lighthearted and laid back party anthems, tons of DJ scratching and the best dynamic ever, they excelled. These guys packed and parcelled a perfect game changing album whose elements would be used by every rapper after them. Groundbreaking to say the least.

So far '88 is 3 for 3, so let's look at another perfect work... Eric B & Rakim release "Follow The Leader". DAR has also covered this one in depth and thank God because it's fantastic. With Eric B., the genius on the turntables and Rakim with his flawless delivery, flow and lyricism, they gave us tracks like "Microphone Fiend" "Lyrics Of Fury", and "Eric B Is Never Scared". This entire album is pure perfection and delivered flawlessly. They solidified their ranks and kept the fans entertained. Rakim proved once again he is a lyrical God.

N.W.A releases "Straight Outta Compton" and Eazy E releases his debut "Eazy Duz It", both albums of epic proportions. I love both of these because NWA definitely pushed the envelope and defined controversial hip hop. So far, everything had been coming out of the East, so it is great to see the West was cooking up some classics as well. SOC had us all ears with tracks like "Fuck The Police", "Parental Discretion Is Advised" and a couple others that definitely showed the rugged, hardcore side of the west coast. Like I said both these albums are phenomenal and are definitely considered classic Hip hop album staples.

Slick Rick, one of my all time favorites, releases his debut "The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick" and absolutely takes the entire nation by surprise with his rapping abilities. This is the album that gifted the world one of the best storytelling tracks of all time with the cleverly titled "Children's Story". This is the album that laid the groundwork for future artists and set a standard for what rap storytelling should be. Slick Rick is one of the greatest rappers of all time and this year was to thank for his debut. Pure perfection yet again.

Another fantastic release from the West and much like the others, it had pushed the envelope in its own way. Ice-T releases "Power" and with this album he addressed everything. From personal experiences, real gangster life to sociopolitical issues and real life injustices, Ice-T much like his east coast counterparts, was doing the exact same thing on the West. The tracklist is short, sweet and to the point and the lyrics are near perfection with metaphors, double entendres and positive messages (think anti-drug ones) intricately woven between the lines. Ice-T took the most relevant topics and real life circumstances and turned it into a brilliantly crafted album that would reach listeners nationwide. His work is nothing short of genius and a timeless masterpiece.

These albums and each of these artists are truly to thank for their groundbreaking work and bringing to light topics and situations that were plaguing the world. They brought awareness, empowerment and inspiration to many we now call legends. 1988 was a monumental year for hip hop. Without these debuts and sophomore projects we would have never known the Nas', Ras Kass', the Common's, and the Mos Def's of hip hop and fast forward a few more years...we definitely wouldn't have the Kendrick's, the Black Thoughts and the True God's for sure! If there is one year to thank for all the things I love about hip's 1988 and these specific albums.

Outro By @TrueGodImmortal
-1988 is a seminal year in hop hop and it will always be. We'll always remember the things that occurred and the moments that went down in the genre for this year without a doubt. The start of the Golden Era and a true mark of excellence in hip hop music. 1988, here's to you. You birthed many, many great things.



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