What is the Golden Age of Hip-Hop?

De La Soul
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The Golden Age (sometimes referred to as the Golden Era) of hip-hop is the period usually cited as the era of peak innovation and quality in hip-hop. This time frames vary, depending on who you ask. But almost everyone agrees that hip-hop's Golden Age falls between the mid 1980s and the mid 1990s.

The Golden Age of hip-hop was between 1987 and 1994. These were the most productive years in hip-hop history.

1994 in particular was arguably the greatest year in hip-hop. The diversity of sound, music quality and creativity levels of the Golden Age remain unmatched today.

The seeds of the Golden Age were sown in the mid-1980s with the committment to quality and innovation. As far back as 1984, "Sucker MCs"  were already becoming subjects of conversation in hip-hop circles. They would eventually be joined by "Shark N---as" and "Fakin' Jax." Originality was everything.

The poetic exploits of Rakim, Kane and G. Rap set the tone early. They leaders of the Old School established a code of conduct and shaped the cultural identity of the emcees that would follow. The emergence of a new generation of poets, such as The Notorious B.I.G., Nas and Ghostface, kept the tradition of quality and innovation going.

The Golden Age produced several notable albums that served as building blocks for today's sound. The East Coast Illmatic and Ready to Die.

The west coast had The Chronic and Doggystyle. The Dirty South had The Diary and Southernplayalisticadillacfunkymuzik. No matter where you turned, there was great music oozing from stereos all around the country.

Key Golden Age Artists:

  • Public Enemy
  • Run-DMC
  • Beastie Boys
  • Eric B & Rakim
  • Big Daddy Kane
  • Nas
  • De La Soul
  • A Tribe Called Quest
  • Gang Starr

Key Golden Age Albums: