Criminal Minded, ushered in a new era for hip-hop, moving away from its dance and disco roots with a harder-edged, dancehall-inflected sound that paved the way for gangsta rap. That group’s emcee, Bronx-born KRS-One, would become one of the most influential figures in the genre, who progressed from gritty, gun-filled tracks to promoting a more conscious message based around spirituality, education and anti-violence. (His nom de stage stands for “Knowledge Reigns Supreme Over Nearly Everyone,” after all.) Another pioneering rapper, British-born, eyepatch-wearing emcee Slick Rick has been praised as one of hip-hop’s greatest storytellers; his tracks such as “Children’s Story” and “La Di Da Di” have been sampled by scores of rappers over the past three decades.
The debut album from Boogie Down Productions, 1986’s