31 Old School Rappers that Paved the Way for Hip-Hop

Old school rap has always been integral to the hip hop genre. From Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” in 1979, to Public Enemy and Run-DMC in the late 80s, these pioneers of the craft have set a high bar for modern rappers to follow.

Sugar Hill Gang is widely considered one of the best old school rap groups because they were the first to introduce rap music into mainstream culture. Their song “Rapper’s Delight” was hugely popular and inspired many other artists throughout the years. The group was also responsible for hits like “8th Wonder,” which featured iconic lyrics that still resonate today.

In this article, we are going to highlight some of the most respected and well-known old school rappers that helped pave the way towards rap and hip-hop where it is today.

31 of the Best Old School Rappers to Ever Drop the Mic

Tupac Shakur

Tupac Shakur, also known as 2Pac, was a popular and influential American rapper who left an indelible mark on the genre of hip hop music with his dynamic flow, hard-hitting lyrics, and powerful storytelling. Widely considered to be one of the greatest rappers of all time, Tupac is remembered for hits such as “Dear Mama” and “California Love.” He was tragically murdered in 1996 at only 25 years old.

The Notorious B.I.G

The Notorious B.I.G., otherwise known as Biggie Smalls or just Biggie, was another hugely successful old school rapper whose career was cut short by violence. He released two major albums before being killed in 1997 at the age of 24: “Ready to Die” and “Life After Death.” His songs are known for their clever metaphors, witty punchlines, and dark production.

Ice Cube

Ice Cube was an original member of N.W.A., which stands for Niggaz Wit Attitudes, and went on to launch a successful solo career with such albums as “AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted” (1990) and “The Predator” (1992). He is known for his vivid storytelling and political lyrics.


Nas is one of the most respected rappers in all of hip hop music. His 1994 debut album, “Illmatic,” is widely considered to be one of the best albums ever released by a rapper. He has since gone on to release several more lauded albums throughout his career, including “It Was Written” (1996) and “God’s Son” (2002).

Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre is perhaps the most successful old school rapper, having built an impressive empire with lucrative ventures in business and music. His 1992 album “The Chronic” was a milestone in g-funk rap, while his 1999 effort “2001” marked a new era of mainstream rap music.

He has since gone on to produce for some of today’s biggest stars, including Eminem, 50 Cent and Kendrick Lamar.

Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg is another iconic figure of early hip hop music who released one of the genre’s most well-known albums, “Doggystyle” (1993). He is known for his distinct voice and laid back delivery.


Eazy-E was a crucial member of N.W.A., often credited as the group’s business mind and leader in the early days. He released his debut album, “Eazy-Duz-It”, in 1988 and continued to make music until his death from AIDS in 1995 at the age of 31.

The Wu-Tang Clan

The Wu-Tang Clan are arguably the most influential hip hop collective ever assembled and their 1993 debut album “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” has been hailed as a classic ever since its release. They have continued to release music as a group and individually, with members such as Method Man, Ghostface Killah and RZA.

Method Man

Method Man is an original member of the Wu-Tang Clan and has also enjoyed success with his own solo albums like “Tical” (1994) and “4:21…The Day After” (2006). He is known for his hard-hitting lyrics, clever metaphors and humorous delivery.

Mobb Deep

Mobb Deep were one of the most influential hip hop duos of all time. Their 1995 album “The Infamous” was a landmark in street rap that featured their signature dark sound and hardcore rhymes. They released several more successful albums throughout their career before disbanding in 2012.


Run–DMC were another legendary hip hop trio, who released the genre-defining album “Raising Hell” (1986). Their music combined rap and rock elements in a way that had never been done before. They are credited as pioneers for introducing rap to mainstream audiences.

Puff Daddy (Sean Combs)

Puff Daddy is one of the most prominent figures in hip hop, having achieved massive success as both a producer and artist throughout his career. His 1997 album “No Way Out” was a huge commercial hit and featured hits such as “I’ll Be Missing You” with Faith Evans and 112.


DMX is another hugely successful old school rapper whose career was cut short by violence. He released two major albums before being killed in 1997 at the age of 24: “It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot” (1998) and “Flesh Of My Flesh, Blood Of My Blood” (1998). His songs are known for their intense energy and gritty production.


Outkast were an iconic duo from Atlanta who dominated the hip hop scene during the late 1990s and early 2000s. Their albums “ATLiens” (1996) and “Stankonia” (2000) are widely regarded as two of the best hip hop albums ever released. They are known for their unique blend of soul, funk and southern rap.

Eric B. & Rakim

Eric B. & Rakim were a pioneering duo who redefined rap music with their albums “Paid In Full” (1987) and “Follow The Leader” (1988). Rakim is widely regarded as one of the most influential and gifted lyricists in hip hop history.

A Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest were a four-man group from Queens who created some of the most creative rap music ever heard on their albums “The Low End Theory” (1991) and “Midnight Marauders” (1993). They are credited for paving the way for alternative forms of hip hop.

LL Cool J

LL Cool J made his debut with the classic album “Radio” (1985) before going on to become one of the biggest names in hip hop. He has released several albums since then and is credited for bringing a smooth, laid back style of rap to the mainstream.

Public Enemy

Public Enemy were an influential hip hop group who released their seminal album “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back” (1988). They are known for their politically-charged lyrics that tackled issues such as racism and poverty. Their sound heavily featured samples from funk records and live instrumentation.

Busta Rhymes

Busta Rhymes was another huge figure in late 1990s hip hop whose debut album “The Coming” (1996) made him one of the most popular rappers in the world. He is known for his rapid fire delivery and larger-than-life persona.

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five are one of the most influential old school rap groups to ever exist. They released their debut single “The Message” in 1982 and it quickly became a hit. They are credited for popularizing rap music around the world.

Cypress Hill

Cypress Hill were an iconic trio from South Central Los Angeles whose self-titled debut album (1991) helped launch them into superstardom. Their songs often featured Latin influences, dark humor and political messages.

Beastie Boys

Beastie Boys were an iconic trio from New York who released their groundbreaking album “License To Ill” (1986). They are credited for bringing rap music to a wider audience with their energetic live shows and crossover appeal.

Gang Starr

Gang Starr were one of the most influential hip hop duos of all time, consisting of DJ Premier and rapper Guru. Their albums such as “Step In The Arena” (1991) and “Daily Operation” (1992) have gone on to become classic cult favorites among fans.


Eminem is one of the greatest old school rappers ever, having released several critically acclaimed albums in his career including “The Marshall Mathers LP” (2000), which is widely regarded as one of the greatest rap albums ever made. His music is characterized by its dark humor and sharp wordplay.

Nate Dogg

Nate Dogg was a rapper from Long Beach, California who rose to fame in the late 1990s. He is best known for his collaboration with Dr. Dre on “The Chronic” (1992) and “2001” (1999). He has been credited for helping to popularize the G-Funk sound which dominated hip hop in the 1990s.

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

Bone Thugs-N-Harmony are an iconic five-man group from Cleveland, Ohio who released their classic album “E 1999 Eternal” (1995). They are known for their rapid flow and melodic vocals, as well as their collaborations with the late rapper 2Pac.

50 Cent

50 Cent was a hugely successful solo artist who released his classic album “Get Rich Or Die Tryin’” (2003). His no-nonsense approach to rap, as well as his streetwise charm and distinct flow, helped him become one of the most popular rappers ever.


Redman is a legendary rapper from Newark, New Jersey whose albums such as “Whut? Thee Album” (1992) are considered classics in hip hop circles. He is known for his witty lyrics and dynamic delivery which often blend comedy and social commentary.


Ludacris is another giant of the rap world who first made a name for himself in the late 1990s. He has released several landmark albums such as “Chicken-n-Beer” (2003) and he is also credited for bringing a smooth, laid back style of rap to the mainstream.

Warren G

Warren G was an influential West Coast rapper who released his debut album “Regulate…G Funk Era” (1994). He helped popularize the G-Funk sound by combining soulful samples from 70s funk records with hard hitting drums and bass lines.

Naughty by Nature

Naughty by Nature are an iconic three-man group from New Jersey who rose to fame in the early 1990s. Their music is characterized by its catchy hooks and infectious beats, as well as their uplifting lyrics about having fun and staying positive.

Big Names in the History of Rap and Hip-Hop

These are just some of the most famous old school rappers and groups that have helped shape hip hop culture over the years. Each artist has forged a unique path for themselves with their own distinct styles, making them all deserving of recognition as true legends of rap music.

Whether you’re into classic boom bap or modern trap music, these artists have had a huge impact on the genre — now it’s time to check out some of the up and coming young rappers of today.

Source link

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Enable registration in settings - general
Shopping cart