Some well-known old school rap artists include Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Run-D.M.C. and The Sugarhill Gang. These old school artists brought hip-hop into the mainstream and influenced generations of future artists.
Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five were one of the most innovative hip-hop groups of their time, moving beyond the genre’s party music origins and bringing a new level of both musical and lyrical sophistication. Grandmaster Flash’s pioneering DJ work introduced innovative techniques still utilized today, such as cutting, back-spinning and phasing. The group’s lyrics, particularly those of Melle Mel, brought a new level of social consciousness to hip hop.
Emerging in 1981, Run-D.M.C. became one of the most important and influential hip-hop groups of the 1980s, taking the innovations of their predecessors and bringing them to a wider audience. The group tore down the boundaries between hip hop and pop music, and Run-D.M.C. became the first hip hop group to have gold and platinum albums, the first to be nominated for a Grammy award and the first to appear on MTV and on the cover of Rolling Stone.
The Sugarhill Gang’s legacy rests on their 1979 single “Rapper’s Delight,” the first widely-known hip-hop recording and the genre’s first radio hit. While they were pivotal in exposing the sound, the group was actually a marketing creation courtesy of Sylvia Robinson, a record producer who learned of New York’s burgeoning hip-hop party scene and attempted to cash in with a novelty single.