Top 50 Hip Hop Albums of the 80′s (24 – 1)


The continuation of the countdown of the Top 50 Hip Hop albums of the 80s

Here are Numbers 50 – 25

I had my own list completed to put on the site, but much in the vein of the Groups list, I figured to add more intrigue to the rankings I’d employ a few other opinions, this time there are 4 other panelists:

@RashanJamal – Hip Hop fan and Big Daddy Kane fan
@Digggame – Writer, Blogger, Hip Hop fan
@Wubanger718 – Hip Hop and obviously Wu-Tang Fan
Demarco – Hip Hop fan and emcee

Each of the panelist were given a list of Hip Hop albums which were released in the 80s (About a total of 100) they were to rank their top 50 and send the list back (They were also allowed to add any albums that were not included on the original list)

The lists were compiled and averaged out, meaning the albums got their ranks added together and divided by the number of participants (5)
If an album was ranked by one person but not by another, that album received a 51 for not being ranked and that number went into the average to make things fair

Anyway, you know all of this; lets get to the list!!

24. Eazy-Duz-It (1988) – Eazy E


My Rank: 10
Highest Rank: 10 (Me)

With the release of Straight outta Compton in the same year, this album gets overlooked but without it, NWA wouldn’t have been as big as they were in my opinion; the production, the lyrics, the humor was all perfect on this album
8 Ball, Dope Man, Boys in the Hood, and Still Talkin, there’s hard to find a weak track on it.

23. Walking With a Panther (1989) – LL Cool J


My Rank: 23
Highest Rank: 18 (Rashan)

Coming off of Bigger and Deffer Walking with a panther was almost overlooked, it had a ton of classics: I’m that type of guy, Big Ole Butt, Going back to Cali, Jinglin Baby, Smokin Dopin … the two Love songs had a lot of people dismiss it, but the album was tight, and if you question LL’s lyricism check “Nitro”

22. It’s a Big Daddy Thing (1989) – Big Daddy Kane


My Rank: Not Ranked
Highest Rank: 8 (Rashan)

The second album by Kane and his bestselling featured standouts Smooth Operator and I get the Job Done; 17 tracks a few cameos save Scoob and Scrap lover and Nice and Smooth … the album also had the Remix to Lean on Me; overall probably Kane’s best album.

21. Grip It! On That Other Level (1989) – Geto Boys

GhettoBoysGRIP IT

My Rank: 48
Highest Rank: 9 (Diggame)

Most people do not remember Making Trouble and think that this is the Geto Boys first album; it’s not … after Sire Jukebox and Prince Johnny were kicked out of the group for Willie D and Akshen Love (Scarface) they made: Scarface, Gangsta of Love, and never forget Read these Nikes
… they put Texas on the Map and the South getting away from the Miami Bass music for more of a Hip Hop sound.

20. Run-D.M.C. (1984)


My Rank: 37
Highest Rank: 6 (Wu)

9 Tracks of Dope Hip Hop From Hard Times to It’s like that (and my Personal favorite 30 Days) Darryl and Joe went back and forth over simple but dope beats and Guitar riffs and scratches by the great Jam Master Jay … the album also included Krush Groove 1 and 2 … classic!

19. Long Live the Kane (1988) – Big Daddy Kane


My Rank: 41
Highest Rank: 9 (Wu)

On the strength of Raw and Aint no Half Steppin Big Daddy Kane’s debut album is a classic; ironically as dope as he is he only has 2 Gold albums … tracks like Set it off and Just Rhyming with Biz shows off the lyrical mastery that Kane has, butting him in the top 5 lyricist on any Hip Hop fan’s list.

18. Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987) – PE


My Rank: 11
Highest Rank: 11 (Me)

The former opening act for The Beastie Boys (Imagine that) dropped the classic Yo Bum Rush the Show and changed the game they mixed Run DMC Rhymes, LL’s energy and a unheard of level of black power … with Flav providing relief Yo … was one of the most influential albums in Hip Hop.

17. He’s the DJ; I’m the Rapper (1988) – Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince


My Rank: 27
Highest Rank: 12 (DeMarco)

This tape was huge 18 Tracks … the first Double Album in Hip Hop so many great songs from: Brand New Funk to A Nightmare on my street.. the album also had the first Grammy winning song Parents Just don’t understand, this classic album even has every hip hop fan on first and last name basis with the first man out the limo.

16. Unfinished Business (1989) – EPMD


My Rank: 13
Highest Rank: 10 (Rashan)

The second album from Erick and Parrish Unfinished Business featured incredible production from E Double, the samples were crazy … When people first heard So wat cha sayin they went crazy … Please Listen to my demo, the follow up to Jane, and the debut of K-Solo on Knick Knack Patty Wack … incredible album.

15. Goin’ Off (1988) – Biz Markie


My Rank: 20
Highest Rank: 18 (DeMarco)

Debut Album from the Diabolical Biz Markie, one of the funniest albums made, and the production was outstanding. Featuring songs Pickin Boogers and The Vapors, it’s hard not to move when it’s played … and you also have The Biz Dance if you don’t know how to move.

14. Licensed to Ill (1986) – Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys Licensed to ill HIGH RESOLUTION COVER ART

My Rank: 6
Highest Rank: 4 (Wu)

Everything is classic about Licensed to Ill, from the crashing plane on the cover with “3MTA3” on it to the 5 Mics it got from The Source (The title they wanted to name the album would NOT fly then and damn sure wouldn’t now lol)
In my opinion this is one of the greatest produced albums in Hip Hop History, Rick Rubin was amazing … coming up with the track to Paul Revere!? Incredible Posse in Effect, The New Style, Brass Monkey … even Fight for your right was a banger for a while; timeless classic.

13. By All Means Necessary (1988) – BDP


My Rank: 18
Highest Rank: 5 (Rashan)

After Criminal Minded and the death of Scott La Rock, BDP went to uplift and educate and it started with 1988’s By All Means Necessary … the social commentary was outstanding with Stop the Violence and Illegal Business, and the lead off track My Philosophy is a certified timeless classic
KRS is Still #1

12. Radio (1985)


My Rank: 9
Highest Rank: 9 (Me)

The first full album ever on Def Jam, 16 years old already with I need a beat under his belt and a cameo on Krush Groove, Radio dropped and was a street anthem from I can’t live without my Radio, Rock the Bells and You’ll Rock the album has zero flaws … even featured a habitual lying Russell Simmons. Rick Rubin came extremely hard with the tracks.

11. No One Can Do It Better (1989) – The DOC


My Rank: 19
Highest Rank: 9 (Rashan)

After the Fila Fresh Crew, and cameos on the first NWA Album still very few people knew about the DOC, even though he wrote rhymes on Eazy Duz It, AND Straight out of Compton. When No one can do it better came out the streets went wild
A solo album with a true lyricist and Dr Dre producing never happened till then; from its Funky enough to The Formula … hard to describe exactly how dope the album was; had it not been for that accident he would’ve been on everyone’s top 10 list I’m sure of it.
NOTE: His voice is 70% back and Voices through Hot Vessels is supposedly coming!

The Top 10 Hip Hop Albums of the 1980’s

10. 3 Feet High and Rising (1989) – De La Soul


My Rank: 16
Highest Rank: 5 (Diggame)

So many things made this Debut a classic … the entire concept was brand new in Hip Hop, the album had TWENTY FOUR TRACKS! They sampled everything from funk to Johnny Cash
The album booklet was a comic, and they were the first Hip Hop artists to do skits … a whole game show! The gave us Buddy, Plug Tunin, Jenifa Taught me, and of course Me, Myself and I … don’t forget Potholes in my lawn … definite classic.

9. Raising Hell (1986) – Run DMC


My Rank: 4
Highest Rank: 2 (Diggame)

Triple Platinum in Hip Hop in 1986. This album had no weak points … ignited by Peter Piper and My Adidas when Walk this way hit it skyrocketed Run DMC to the top of the Rock charts AND the R&B Charts
Perfection, Run Beat boxing on Hit it Run, and the greatest and most famous 27 second Hip Hop song ever “Son of Byford” … how can you dislike this album?

8. Follow the Leader (1988) – Eric B and Rakim


My Rank: 12
Highest Rank: 8 (Diggame)

The Second album from the Emcee/DJ combo Eric B and Rakim was highly anticipated on the streets, it came out in 1988 but it felt like we waited 4 years for it. Follow the leader gave us great mellow songs and incredible lyricism from Rakim, but above all it gave us Microphone fiend … no chorus just fire!
To the Listeners and The R.. Lyrics of Fury makes this a great choice for a top 10 selection.

7. BAD: Bigger and Deffer (1987) – LL Cool J


My Rank: 5
Highest Rank: 5 (Me)

Bigger and Deffer, the second album from LL Cool J featured two of the most important Hip Hop Songs in the 80’s I’m Bad (In my opinion a top 5 Hip Hop song all time) and I Need Love which put LL on every teenage girls wall and made men pseudo macks lol
So many classics on this album so say it’s better than Radio.

6. Strictly Business (1988) – EPMD


My Rank: 8
Highest Rank: 5 (DeMarco)

EPMD’s debut album changed how we saw Hip Hop Duos, we were so use to Run DMC and that rap style, when Erick and Parrish came with the “Slow Flow” and complex lyricism combined with the funk tracks Strictly Business ran the streets for 1988
When You Gots to chill hit the streets, you’re a Customer, It’s My Thing, and the Title Track this music was unheard of in Hip Hop … No Guests, no Features, just hard beats, scratches and rhymes.

5. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988) – PE


My Rank: 3
Highest Rank: 1 (Rashan)

The first of our albums to receive a #1 vote thus far. You cannot argue that this album deserves the vote either, a lot of people think this is PE’s first release, as it completely overshadows Yo …
The production, the Relevance, the Messages … even Flav’s adlibs were on point Rebel without a Pause, Bring the noise, Don’t believe the hype, Black Steel in the hour of chaos … so many dope songs, and Chuck makes you want to put on some black gloves and go fight for or somebody or something

4. Straight Outta Compton (1988) – NWA


My Rank: 15
Highest Rank: 3 (Diggame, Rashan)

When no one outside of the West Coast knew what a Compton was NWA dropped this album and with no tour and damn sure no radio play (And no internet mind you) went DOUBLE Platinum! The lyrics by Cube and Ren were gritty and hilarious at the same time … especially with comic relief by Eazy; Dre’s production was stellar … and the social commentary (While delivered differently from PE) was dope

3. Criminal Minded (1987) – BDP


My Rank: 2
Highest Rank: 1 (Wu)

This is one of the few albums which every song can be considered a Hip Hop Classic … from Poetry to Super Hoe and the Title track; Criminal minded is non-stop dope
The beats are simple Boom Bap with some AC/DC and James brown funk and The Teacha showing us that Knowledge Reigns Supreme over nearly everyone
The Bride is Over and South Bronx …just incredible all the way around

2. The Great Adventures of Slick Rick (1988) – Slick Rick


My Rank: 7
Highest Rank: 2 (Wu)

A Five Mic in the Source album (When The source was trusted) … TGAOSR received a top 5 vote from 4 of the 5 panelists (Sure I said 7 it was because of Indian Girl, sue me!)
The album features another of what I consider to be a top 5 Hip Hop Song of all time (Children’s Story) and Teenage Love, Hey Young World … so many classics and different types of songs … The Moment I feared is an underrated classic; if it weren’t for Indian Girl it would be flawless
… but not quite powerful enough to stop …

1. Paid In Full (1987) – Eric B and Rakim


My Rank: 1
Highest Rank: 1 (Me, DeMarco, Diggame)

How could it NOT be Paid in Full? You knew it was paid in full when you saw #50
It received 3 #1 Votes, a #2 and a #3 (Dunno what Wu was thinking)

10 Tracks 3 of which has no rhyming 45 minutes long … that’s one half of a 90 minute TDK!
But every song was perfect

I don’t need to explain or type anything … lyric for lyric, song for song; there will probably never be a better album in Hip Hop
The best songs from this album is better than the best songs of any other Hip Hop album you can name

I aint no Joke
My Melody
Move the Crowd
I know you got soul
Eric B is President
As The Rhyme goes on
Paid In Full

Paid in Full
…. what happened to peace?

That’s the list, what was too high? too Low?
Any snubs? Any bonehead votes?

Let me know in the comments!

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  • Calvin Rouse (@EverydayChef)

    Hard to argue with the top ten. As I read, I thought, dayum and then dayum again, I gotta get all of these back in the library. I do think tgaosr is a tad high, #2, come on son!

    • eclectik

      Great times on remembering those joints, hey it was a collab effort and votes I wouldnt have put Great Adventures 2 (I didnt) but it’s probably top 5, Definitely Top 10 of the 80s; I appreciate the comment fam

  • P.Ligonde

    For the most part I dig the list. I think that Follow the Leader is a little overrated . I think because it had Follow Leader and Microphone fiend , 2 classics that bring it up. But I only liked those two and the R . The rest of the album was forgettable so I don’t see how it’s better than an Unfinished Business . Rakim was a better emcee but EPMD always made better albums. And I think Jazzy jeff Fresh prince are ranked WAY too high.

    • eclectik

      You know, I agree with everything you wrote to tell you the truth … that is the good thing about the list, it sparks conversation (and having more than just myself voting on it) had it just been my list, people wouldve been PISSED! lol

  • Locksmith88

    Jungle Brothers first 2, Ultramagnetic MC’s 1st, and MC Shan’s 1st? Personally I would add Shan’s and Biz Markie’s 2nd as well!

  • Ryan Beagle

    How is it even possible not to include Critical Beatdown in the top 25? Thought I’d at least find it in the top 50, but nope…and there’s something terribly wrong with that