Yes, hip-hop was a gradual and communal social force that arose from dance music, black culture and spoken word stories. But as far as the mainstream goes, its heralds and champions were Run-DMC. They had a completely original image and aesthetic, were charming and fun while still keeping it real, and used a hit Aerosmith collaboration as a gateway into the predominantly white recording industry.
This music sounds a bit flat and repetitive by today’s standards, but quick and gritty was the style of 80s rap, and it’s still an easy listen. Technically, they had a couple albums before this, but they weren’t as fully realized. Overall, their sound in general was hugely influential and made Raising Hell an enormous seller, while also being just a solid musical statement. Rap would flourish and evolve to some extent over the years, but this is more or less where it started. This is one of those records that pretty obviously belongs here, I don’t think I need to belabor the point too much.
Key track: “It’s Tricky”