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Thirty years ago, hip-hop was in a fertile period of invention, revolution and diversity. It began in 1986 with Run DMC’s Raising Hell taking rap music to the mainstream and effectively ended with Dr Dre’s The Chronic minting a G-funk beat that major labels were desperate to dance to. In-between, trailblazers such as Eric B & Rakim, Public Enemy, Ice-T and A Tribe Called Quest released some of the most exciting rap music committed to vinyl.
In our new issue, on sale in print and on digital from Thursday (18 February), we present a 21-page special celebrating this golden age, but for now to showcase the creativity, innovation and vision from the era here are 20 of its greatest albums.