AMP version

The 10 Dopest MCs Before 1984

Hip-Hop's heritage is rich and vast, even in the days before music videos and major label deals became the norm. There's a tendency to focus on the foundational aspect of rap's early days, but the artistry is evident in the production of labels like Enjoy and Sugar Hill, and also in the lyricism of the first emcees to make rap records.

In the mid-1980s, the success of artists like Run-D.M.C. and Def Jam Records broke down the mainstream doors for Hip-Hop. But the artform and the music itself had firmly established a standard for artistry and a generation of emcees embodied that standard.

Here are our picks for the 10 dopest emcees before 1984.

DLB of the Fearless Four



Jimmy Spicer



Mighty Mike C of The Fearless Four




Spoonie Gee



Kurtis Blow



Sha Rock of the Funky Four+One 


Busy Bee

The art of moving the crowd with fresh rhymes is epitomized in Busy Bee. And the man known as Busy Bee Starski is the template on which battle rap has been built. Bee has always had a knack for humorous wordplay and high energy stage presence, two hallmarks of emceeing. And as one of the highlighted stars in Wild Style, he became one of the most high profile "street rappers" of his era. 



Kool Moe Dee of the Treacherous Three



Melle Mel 



Grandmaster Caz of The Cold Crush Brothers

Wild Style



Chuck D and Sha Rock Speak About The Impact of Hip-Hop on 'CBS Mornings'

Portrait of American Hip-Hop musician and rapper Spoonie Gee (born Gabriel Jackson), New York, 1981. features

Spoonie Gee: Recognize The Godfather Of Rap

Virgil Abloh news

How Virgil Abloh's Design Philosophy Solves The Biggest Problem In Hip-Hop

Creative Director Virgil Abloh poses after the Off-White Fall/Winter 2021/2022 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 04, 2021 in Paris, France. news

Virgil Abloh Dies of Cancer; Louis Vuitton and Off-White Designer Was 41