1988 The GREATEST year in Hip Hop Music

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I’ve designated The Golden Era of Hip Hop 1983 – 1988 a 5 year span, thought process is every year a good album or song came out cannot be the Golden Era
and that in changes and shifts in the Hip Hop content so should the era

Golden Era – Gold Chains and Sneakers
Silver Era – Fitteds and African Medallions
Bronze – Mafioso, Champagne, Drugs, etc.

With all that being said in my opinion The Golden Era’s best was the end 1988 … I consider this to be THE BEST YEAR IN HIP HOP MUSIC

The number of classic albums and singles released in 1988 is staggering; I’m going out on a limb to say there is no year that is comparable song for song album for album to ’88
(Feel free to dispute in the comments)

How can I make such a claim? Let’s go through the year … through the list, let me show you…

January

January 30

Where’s the Party At?

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People sleep on this group; they were basically DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince … with a little more edge.
Like Jeff and Prince were DC and Money and Marvelous were Marvel unfortunately at the time there was only room for one Philly group in that lane
I can’t say that the album was a classic but it had a few singles that were dope “Play it cool” and “Find an Ugly woman”

Just the beginning of the greatest year of #HipHop

January 30

Life Is… Too Short – Too $hort

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Too $hort had about 12,478 tapes out by the time 1988 rolled around, Born to Mack got him worldwide appeal and the follow up to that “Life is …” kept his momentum going with the title track and

February

February 17

What More Can I Say? – Audio Two

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All you really need is “Top Billin” to lock down this whole month! This slept on album had a few gems on it “The Questions”, “I don’t care”, and “Giz Starts Buggin”
Personally I still bang “Hickey’s on my neck” and “I like cherries” Milk and Giz were never able to capture the fire from this album but it’s a classic.

Goin’ Off

February 23

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The debut album from The Diabolical Biz Markie, this album has standouts
Nobody beats the Biz, Goin Off, Make The Music, Nobody beats the Biz, and of course The Vapors … the Juice Crew production was second to none as well
Biz and TJ swan dropped hits on this one

March

March 25

The World’s Greatest Entertainer – Doug E Fresh

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The second album dropped by Doug E Fresh and The GFC (The short Oh My God! LP was released in 1986) after the two year break and still riding off of The Show, La Di da Di, and All the Way to Heaven
TWGE included 2 Standouts: One being: “DEF = Doug E Fresh” and the other … the incredibly dope “Keep Rising to the top” … other songs of note was the Funk inspired “I’m getting ready” and “Everybody Loves a Star”
… Ironically next to no Beatbox on the album

March 29

He’s the DJ, I’m the Rapper

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What made He’s the DJ … so dope was it was LONG! It was the first Rap Double Album … it was one whole cassette but it was the first double vinyl joint
This was the Trio’s second album (Yes Trio as this site WILL recognize Ready Rock C even if Will doesn’t) It featured “Brand New Funk”, “Parents just don’t understand” of course … “As we go”
Ready rock got busy on 2 songs “Human Video Game” and “My Buddy” … Jazzy Jeff caught wreck on “Jazzy’s in the house” and “DJ on the Wheels” … it was a well-rounded release, even let us know who was the first out the Limo

April

April 14, 1988

It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back

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Public Enemy’s follow up to their classic Yo! Bum Rush The show, arguably their best album (I personally prefer Yo!) This album is one of the greatest Hip Hop albums to ever be released the classics that are on this one album

“Bring the Noise” , “Don’t Believe the Hype”, “She Watch Channel Zero?!”, “Night of the Living Baseheads”, “Rebel Without a Pause” , “Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos”, and never forget “Cold Lampin’ with Flavor”
Simply incredible

The Albums that came out already … not to be outdone

May

May 31

By All Means Necessary – Boogie Down Productions

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The Follow-up to Criminal Minded Boogie Down Productions dropped one of the most politically conscious hip hop albums ever … if you thought Nations tackled the issues the social commentary on his LP was amazing, the best thing about it though is it still BANGED
“My Philosophy” the lead single let everyone know BDP was back and the tape was a must listen, we were also treated to “Jimmy” , “I’m Still #1” , “Part Time Suckers” and it also gave way to the Stop the Violence Movement and Self Destruction
Fresh! for 1988!

June

June 21

Long Live the Kane – Big Daddy Kane

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The debut album from one of the top lyricists and icons in Hip Hop, once people heard “Raw” everyone waited for this album to drop
Then came the video for “Aint No Half Steppin” and the album dropped including “Set it Off”, “On the Bugged Tip”, and “Just Rhymin with Biz” With Scoob Lover, Scrap Lover, and a Pre Biggie Mister Cee on the backup

July

July 25

Follow the Leader – Eric B. & Rakim

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Eric B and Rakim came back off of the Greatest Hip Hop album ever created with Follow The Leader …this album seemed like it took forever to happen, even Rakim’s verse on “The R” said:
“You wonder how come the album was late, I was giving you time to get the last one straight”
The James Brown samples were mostly gone from PIF and were replaced with a lot of Jazz the lyrics were still incredible
“Follow the Leader”, “Microphone Fiend”, “To the Listeners”, “Lyrics of Fury” … it’s hard to beat those

August

August 8, 1988

Straight Outta Compton – NWA

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Depending on your thinking this is the debut album for NWA (Some count NWA and The Posse) either way, coming off “Dope Man” and “8 Ball” this album began the shift to so called “gangster” rap and definitely the excessive use of profanity and sexual themes

**Notice the difference in the type of lyrics and content to come out BEFORE this album? … it changed a lot of things in years to come**

Something different because other than Too $hort the West Coast wasn’t even thought of (Ice T as well) this changed everything once people heard “Fuck tha Police” and saw what they looked like on
“Straight Outta Compton” everyone on the block bumped it, and every white person was scared lol

August 9

It Takes Two – Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock

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You notice how they put the rapper first? That never happens … eh.
Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock dropped one of the greatest Hip Hop Songs of all time “It Takes Two” their debut album feature that song … and not much else lol It DID have Joy and Pain, there was also a video for “Times are gettin ill” but for the most part
The album’s title track was as good as it got.

August 30

Strictly Business

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Continuing in the string of debut and sophomore releases from Hall of Fame Hip Hop artists in 1988 we got introduced to EPMD
Erick and Parish Making dollars and their slow flow got comparisons to Rakim and also got teased saying their rhymes were sleep inducing
What they were was original, of all the groups out before them; none did it like E Double and The Mic Doc
the Title Track, “You Gots to Chill”, “It’s My Thing”, “You’re a Customer”, “Get Off the Bandwagon”, even a new dance “The Steve Martin”, and the greatest saga in Hip Hop History “Jane”
… This is probably the 3rd best Hip Hop album to drop in 1988

September

September 1

In Control Volume 1

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A few years after the Bridge Wars we got the Juice Crew Compilation “In Control Vol. 1” this featured some incredible production, crazy lyrics and THE greatest Posse cuts in Hip Hop ever
… also my personal favorite “We Write The Songs” with Hev and Biz”
“Droppin Science”, “Live Motivator”, and “The Symphony”… a must own for all Hip Hop fans

September 13

Eazy-Duz-It

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Eazy-Duz it was an incredible LP for multiple reasons …
It held its own against Straight Outta Compton in terms of Gangster and Vulgarity (If not surpassed it)
The production by Dr. Dre was top notch
The main artists did the LEAST (if not ZERO) writing on the entire album (Written by Ice Cube, Ren, and The DOC)
“Eazy-Duz-It”, “We want Eazy”, “Still Talkin'”, “Radio”; there wasn’t a weak song on the release

September 17

Lyte as a Rock

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The debut album from Arguably the greatest female emcee in Hip Hop (I prefer Shante) starting with the lead single “Paper Thin” and supported by “Lyte as a Rock” , “Kickin’ 4 Brooklyn” , and “10% Dis”
Lyte made a big Dent in Hip Hop (also furthered her feud with Antoinette)

October

October 21

2 Hype

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Debut Album from Kid N Play, we know what they turned all of this into (Movies, Toys, Cartoons, etc.) the former Salt N Pepa dancers dropped “Do this My way” and “Rollin with Kid n Play”, as well as the dope video for “Gittin Funky”
The two Christopher’s brought some light hearted fun to Hip Hop even while it was becoming more serious and dark

October 25

Born to Be Wild

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Album number two from Juice Crew alum MC Shan, it had a couple of standouts: “Give Me My Freedom”, “I Pioneered This”, and the BDP/Bridge War dig “Juice Crew Law”

November

November 1

The Great Adventures of Slick Rick – Slick Rick

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The Debut Album from MC Ricky D, now Slick Rick fresh off of The Greatest 12″ Ever with Doug E Fresh and The GFC signs with Def Jam and releases the Incredible TGAOSR
The album had some of everything from “Treat Her like a Prostitute” to “Hey Young World” not to mention the Hip Hop Classic “Children’s Story”
Another album with no flaws (save for Indian Girl lol)

It’s not done, there were a ton of other Hip Hop Albums that dropped in 1988 among them are

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Act a Fool – King Tee
Great album from the West Coast legend, he and DJ Pooh made magic on this underrated LP

Straight Out the Jungle – The Jungle Brothers
“Jimbrowski”, “I’ll House You” and the Native Tongue classic “The Promo are the must listens from the JB’s debut

Girls I got’em locked – Superlover Cee & Casanova Rud
I loved this album they dropped the Title track “Do the James” and “Girls act stupidly”

Dynamite – Masters of Ceremony
Grand Puba’s first group had the two bangers “Sexy” and “Redders Posse” … a lot of people don’t know it exists but its dope

They Can’t Get Enough – The Skinny Boys
I own all their albums, they mad some really good production on their releases

There’s more!

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In Full Gear
Stetsasonic’s sophomore album with the classic single “Talkin all that jazz” and “Sally”

Critical Beatdown
The Ultramagentic MC’s released the underground classic Beatdown featuring “Ease Back”, “Kool Keith Housing Things”, and “Travelling at the Speed of Thought”

Power
Ice-T’s second album known more for its cover than for the songs on it lol “High Rollers” was a dope song though

Swass
Sir Mix A Lot’s debut album the Seattle Washington rapper released the Hip Hop Classic “Posse on Broadway” and “Swass” before the backside anthem in the 90s

Tougher Than Leather
Run DMC’s follow up to Raising Hell, featured the incredible “Run’s House” and “Ragtime” … “Mary Mary” and a Movie of the same title
Let the Hustlers Play
Steady B’s THIRD album … most known for the single “Serious” as well as the remix with BDP

K-9 Posse
The K-9 Posse had 2 decent songs “This Beat is Military” and “Aint Nothing To it” … but they are more known for having Eddie Murphy’s little brother in the group

Me & Joe -Rodney O and Joe Cooley
You may only know them for having finger waves … but the song “Everlasting Bass” from the LP is also dope lol

Thank you for reading … I defy you to find another year that had as many Classic singles and albums from legendary artists as 1988 … it was an incredible year for Hip Hop

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  • DLuvhall

    Wow! I coulda sworn Lyte As A Rock came out before 88. Tough to argue against.this…

  • blckgrl

    Undisputed…it was in fact the best. Fresh for ’88, you sucks. Lol

  • blckgrl

    Smh @auto correct…..*You suckas*

  • E Boogie

    Kool G Rap and Polo also had the rapper’s name first, before the DJ.

  • mark

    1988 was the golden year for hiphop, the east was on top and the west was on the rise

  • Jermaine C Aikens

    No doubt the greatest year of hip hop!!!! 89 wasnt half steppin either. I think the first Geto boys dropped in 88 also. I think 1988 is the greatest year in black/urban music period post 1980. U had the ground breaking hiphop but also the full onslaught of new jack swing. Al B Sure, Guy, Keith Sweat, Bobby Brown and New Editions albums were all dope. And Mike Jackson,Prince,Sade,Luther, Anita Baker,Whitney, Regina Bell,Terence Trent Darby and hell the blue eyed soul off George Micheal were all in heavy rotation!!! What a year!!!

  • zeemdaddy

    88 the Great! Nothing like it. It can’t be duplicated cause the environment molded the people/music.

    If you’re spending all day face down in your tablets/smartphones/and go go gadget — get smart watches then its already too late. That music listed above came out of riding graffiti drenched subway cars, listening to real hip-hop radio stations… that actually played what the people wanted to hear, and an undeniable passion for not only making good music but a passion for competing at the highest level and being the best.

  • muscleismoney

    I can’t help but read your articles in a Mister Senor Love Daddy voice. Great stuff!