In my opinion, the decade gave rise to some of the greatest rappers of all time, including the Beastie Boys, Erik B & Rakim, Public Enemy, De La Soul and Run DMC. Their live shows were filled with dope turntables, fly track suits, heavy chains, breakdancing and amazing freestyles. They rapped about serious topics like politics, the police and drugs, yet their hooks and beatbox skills could make any fan bust a move.
Many '80s movies tried to replicate the energy and lyrical flow of these rappers. Some of them were successful, others were successfully hilarious. Take, for example, these five films. They showcase both the good and bad side of '80s rap.
1. Teen Witch (1989) - "Top That" Rap
Teen Witch is the story of a nerdy teenager who finds out that she's a witch. When she turns 16 she realizes that she receives magical powers, so she uses these powers to become the most popular girl in school.
In this scene, the teen witch Louise and her best friend Polly come across a group of "funky" guys from school. Polly makes a wish to be hip, and Louise uses her powers to grant it.
This rap scene from the movie epitomizes everything that is '80s. It has a boombox, a Hawaiian shirt, high top sneakers, pastel shirts, vests, suspenders and skorts. Oh, and a cheesy rap.
2. Krush Groove (1985) - "Run DMC" Rap
Krush Groove is based on hip hop mogul Russell Simmons and his record company Def Jam Recordings. The film includes cameos and performances from some of the hottest rap acts of the time, including Run DMC, LL Cool J, the Beastie Boys, New Edition and the Fat Boys.
This is my favorite performance of the film. It features rap legends Run DMC performing "It's Like That" to a packed crowd.
Unlike the rap scene from Teen Witch, this actually features real-life rappers giving a professional performance. This is a perfect example of how popular and dynamic Run DMC was during the '80s.
3. Revenge of the Nerds (1984) - "Nerd" Rap
Revenge of the Nerds is one of those films that you'll remember far beyond the '80s. It features the exploits of a group of nerds in college who are constantly harassed by the Alpha Beta fraternity. Using their intelligence and creativity they outwit the fraternity jocks and end up being the high rollers on campus.
In this scene the nerdy Tri-Lambs give a musical performance during the end of the Greek games. Lamar comes out dressed like Michael Jackson (complete with the moves) and gives an epic performance in an already memorable scene.
If you're not quite sure it's the '80s, take a look at the computer in the beginning of the scene!
4. Coming to America (1988) - "Beatboxing Twins" Rap
Coming to America is my favorite Eddie Murphy movie. Murphy plays Akeem, an African prince who goes to Queens, New York to find a bride. He hides the fact that he's rich in order to find true love. With his personal aide Semmi (played by Arsenio Hall) by his side, hilarity ensues and you're introduced to many unforgettable characters (like Sexual Chocolate and Eriq La Sall with a Jheri curl).
In this scene, Akeem and Semmi go to a New York club to find a bride. They encounter several crazy ladies, including a devil worshipper, a gold digger, a former Joan of Arc and these rapping twins.
Check out the shoulder pads on the twins, a true sign of the times.
5. Disorderlies (1987) - "Fat Boys" Rap
Disorderlies was a hilarious comedy that featured real-life Brooklyn rappers The Fat Boys. They play three bumbling orderlies who are hired by a greedy nephew to speed along the death of his billionaire uncle. Although they're far from perfect, their good nature and lyrical flow end up giving the uncle a reason to live.
In this scene the boys are left alone in the billionaire's home with a huge stereo system, a video camera and their beatboxing skills. It's actually a well choreographed and lyrical performance.