1984 Was The Year That Changed Everything For Hip-Hop

Hip-Hop Heads regularly debate the culture and music’s greatest years. There are usual and deserving suspects, of course. However, Ambrosia For Heads’ What’s The Headline podcast is launching a series where we make a case for those years—and some others too. As we currently live in what some consider Orwellian times, 1984 is a fitting place to begin.

Approaching seven years ago, AFH commemorated ’84 with a food for thought editorial, Can You Feel It: Why 1984 Is Hip-Hop’s Watershed Moment. That piece examined how the 1-9-8-4 took a roughly 10-year-old musical artform and permanently scaled it. For this week’s episode of What’s The Headline (embedded as video and audio below), we do the same. The conversation looks at how the year cemented the rap album, thanks to eponymous debut albums from Run-D.M.C. and the Fat Boys, as well as Whodini’s sophomore set, EscapeWhile ’84 developed new Rap stars, it flashed early signs of greatness from LL Cool J, U.T.F.O., T La Rock, Ice-T, and Roxanne Shanté. Without these crucial inroads, the history that followed over the next 37 years would have never looked the same.

Can You Feel It: Why 1984 Is Hip-Hop’s Watershed Moment (Food For Thought)

Although Hip-Hop was changing, there were seats at the table for pioneers. Artists like Kurtis Blow, DJ Jazzy Jay, and Larry Smith were deeply involved. Moreover, the culture blossomed on film—mainly thanks to Beat Street and Breakin’. Although very different, these influential theatrical films helped the diaspora of breakin’, rapping, DJ’ing, and graffiti—the four elements of Hip-Hop. The movies also helped inject Hip-Hop’s street fashion, which was rapidly changing, especially thanks to the Hollis, Queens trio. Just as Rap’s Disco roots gave way to boom-bap and Electro sounds, its look was more accurately reflected by MCs and DJs who dressed like less staged than early Rap stars. While labels like Sugar Hill, Enjoy, Profile, and Tommy Boy continued to thrive, the majors were trying to sign rap acts too. Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin’s Def Jam became a stone in the sand of ’84, building the first-ever dynasty—even before 1985’s Krush Groove.

There’s a lot to love about 1984—a year that is a crucial crossroads of what came before, and all that came after. Enjoy this discussion and a special playlist below:

Late Producer of Run-D.M.C., Whodini & The Fat Boys Honored by DJ Eclipse Mix (Audio)

Heads can catch recent AFH What’s The Headline interviews with Prince Paul & Don Newkirk, Statik Selektah, Lyric Jones, The LOX, MC Eiht, Mobb Deep’s Havoc, Duckwrth, and Lord Finesse. All episodes of the show are available wherever you stream your pods.

Here Is What Else Is Happening Of Note:

Veteran Brooklyn MC Papoose alleges that after a year-long series of projects, he will retire from rapping at the end of 2021. (Complex)

John “J.B.” Bynoe, part of the production collective Hangmen 3, has died. Bynoe worked on albums by Nas, Cormega, and Prodigy to name a few. Dart Adams was among those who confirmed the passing.

Devin The Dude has released his tenth studio album, Soulful Distance. The former Facemob member involves Odd Squad/Coughee Brothaz family Jugg Mugg, along with appearances by Scarface, Big Pokey, Slim Thug, and Lil Keke.

Marlon Craft has self-released his latest album, How We Intended. Boasting production from longtime Logic production partner 6ix, the LP features Oswin Benjamin, Chris Rivers, Katori Walker, Radamiz, and others.

DMX will reportedly have Griselda artists on his long-awaited upcoming album. (HotNewHipHop)

#BonusBeat: Ambrosia For Heads1984 Hip-Hop playlist, featuring music from Run-D.M.C., Whodini, Fat Boys, T La Rock, U.T.F.O., Kurtis Blow, Roxanne Shanté, Chris “The Glove” Taylor & Ice-T, Newcleus, and others: