Rap’s Most Valuable Player: 1986

Where 1985’s selection of LL Cool J may have been an easy choice in the eyes of some, 1986 proved that this series may not be as easy as I think.

LL Cool J is another nominee for the title of Rap’s MVP for 1986 as he is still riding the success of Radio. LL might find his name mentioned throughout the 80’s and possibly the early 90’s. We haven’t even made it to my favorite album(Walking with a Panther) yet and I’ve already mentioned LL twice.

Another option for me was The Beastie Boys. Three white boys who came and revolutionized rap music with their brand of punk-rap. 1986 was the year that the trio released their debut album, Licensed to Ill(If there was an award for best album title of 1986, Beastie Boys would win hands down IMO), and became a worldwide success, achieving the first and only 5 microphone award from The Source magazine. Five mics was a big deal back then and to gain those type of props is definitely MVP-worthy.

As worthy as the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J are, the award for MVP of 1986 goes to….



From Left to Right: Jason "Jam Master Jay" Mizell, Darryl "D.M.C" McDaniels, and Joseph "Run" Simmons

Sure the group had been around before 1986, but it was the release of their masterpiece of an album, Raising Hell that allowed the group from Hollis, Queens to change the perception of how successful hip-hop music can be. It can be argued that before the release of this album, hip-hop was regarded as a passing fad that would eventually fade away with time.

Certified triple-platinum and receiving five mics from The Source Magazine, the album was benefited by the addition of Rick Rubin as a producer. Rubin, who had previously worked with LL on his Radio debut, helped popularize hip-hop music with his work on this album along with the works of the Beastie Boys. The single “Walk this Way,” which featured Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry, became one of the first fusions of rap and rock music to rock the charts. The video for the single also received heavy rotation on the MTV video network(Videos on MTV….seems so stone-age) and helped to Aerosmith find a resurgence in their careers.

There is has also been talk of this album being the start of what is known as the golden age of hip-hop music. The commercial and crossover success of Raising Hell may have helped to influence an incredible period of financial success for hip-hop music. During this period, it seemed as if the music of every credible artist was bringing something new to the table and to the ears of fans everywhere. This is the era that produced some of the best lyrical tyrants, from a Big Daddy Kane, to a Rakim or Nas, surpreme lyricism and political messages loomed within the music. Bars of Black nationalism were also present in many of the songs released during this day and age.

Raising Hell inspired an entire generation of music. That’s more than 98% of rap artists will be able to say in their entire lifetime. For that, I salute you Run-D.M.C. as the Most Valuable Players of 1986.

1985: LL Cool J
1986: Run-D.M.C.
1987: ?

R.I.P. Jam Master Jay

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