Like everything else in life, music has its good and bad years.
In regards to rap, 1988 is that monstrous, unbelievable and unforgettable year for fans.
Being a teenage rap junkie at the time, I can recall firsthand the non-stop releasing of classic stuff throughout the year.
So why was 1988 such a big year and perhaps the best ever in rap music? Here are eight reasons (CDs) why.
Please read, reminisce and share some of your favorite rap classics released in 1988.
He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper, Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
Released in March 1988
The Fresh Prince (Will Smith) along with legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff compose an epic double album consisting of 18 songs, which is unprecedented at the time. A master storyteller, Fresh Prince proves rappers don’t have to talk tough to make hit records, while his DJ shows why he is considered one of the all-time great turntablists.
It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy
Released in April 1988
Rap icon Chuck D, legendary hypeman Flavor Flav and the crew drop the most powerful social commentary album ever in rap. Public Enemy goes all in, leaving no stone unturned on “It Takes A Nation…” From addressing the plight of blacks to fighting crime and drugs on street corners, this classic chronicles it all.
By All Means Necessary, Boogie Down Productions
Released in May 1988
With rap god KRS-One as spokesman, Boogie Down Productions sets in motion the “Stop The Violence Movement” in rap. The intellectual rapper is completely locked into his material after the murder of his DJ Scott La Rock in 1987 and pens numerous classics, including “My Philosophy,” “I’m Still #1” and “Jimmy.”
Long Live The Kane, Big Daddy Kane
Released in June 1988
Big Daddy Kane is one of the original kings of swag in rap and his first full-length effort drips with that self-confidence, flair and showmanship. Kane is one of the all-time great lyricists and as a result flaunts it loud and clear. This 10-track classic is an engaging, flawless album you can just let ride from beginning to end.
Straight Outta Compton, NWA
Released in August 1988
These guys were downright crazy, so of course, so is their classic debut. Led by rap legends Dr. Dre and Ice Cube and the late great Eazy E, NWA paint a different picture of life in America. While some are living the “American Dream,” this controversial, hard-hitting assault depicts others are living an “American Nightmare.”
In Control Volume 1, Marley Marl
Released in September 1988
Before Diddy (Bad Boy Records) and Dr. Dre (Death Row/Aftermath Records), there was Marley Marl and Cold Chillin’ Records. Marley steers home a classic compilation with a Dream Team roster, featuring Craig G, Masta Ace, Heavy D, Biz Markie, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G. Rap, MC Shan, Tragedy and Roxanne Shante.
Lyte As A Rock, MC Lyte
Released in September 1988
One of the best years ever in rap certainly wouldn’t be complete without a woman’s touch. MC Lyte, the best female rapper of all time in my opinion, simply rocks nonstop from start to finish on her debut CD. Some gems contained in this buried treasure include: “10% Dis,” “Paper Thin,” and “Cram to Understand U (Sam).”
The Great Adventures of Slick Rick by Slick Rick
Released in November 1988
After recording two classics, “La-Di-Da-Di” and “The Show,” as a member of The Get Fresh Crew, Slick Rick flies solo and delivers a project full of steady bravado and clever street tales. Rick leaves his imprint in rap music individually with the landmark tracks “Children’s Story,” “Teenage Love” and “Hey Young World.”
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