LL Cool J
Stone Cold Rhymin'
He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper
Salt-N-Pepa

Rap » Pop-Rap

Pop-Rap is a marriage of hip-hop beats and raps with strong melodic hooks, which are usually featured as part of the chorus section in a standard pop-song structure. Pop-rap tends to be less aggressive and lyrically complex than most street-level hip-hop, although during the mid- to late '90s, some artists infused the style with a more hardcore attitude in an attempt to defuse backlash over their accessibility. Pop-rap got its start in the late '80s, when artists like Run-D.M.C., L.L. Cool J, and the Beastie Boys began to cross over into the mainstream. Shortly thereafter, rappers like Tone Loc, Young MC, and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince recorded singles emphasizing their good-humored storytelling abilities, to massive chart success; a number of other, mostly singles-oriented acts followed in their wake with similarly good-natured party tunes and novelties. With the possibility of popular acceptance very real, other artists -- around the same time -- began to play up rap's connection to R&B and dance music. This latter group often relied on samples to supply their melodies, and with the 1990 explosion of MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice, pop-rap was often derided (and, occasionally, taken to court) for its willingness to borrow hooks from well-known hit songs without altering those appropriations very much, if at all. This gave the style a not entirely deserved bad reputation, since many '90s artists continued to score big pop hits while developing their own distinctive sounds (PM Dawn, Naughty by Nature, House of Pain, Arrested Development, Coolio, Salt-N-Pepa, Sir Mix-a-Lot, etc.). Meanwhile, Dr. Dre's catchy G-funk and Puff Daddy's Hammer-esque plundering of '80s pop hits helped bring gangsta and hardcore themes to the top of the charts; by the end of the '90s, pop-rap was dominated by artists they had influenced and/or mentored, as well as artists who blended rap with urban soul.

Pop-Rap Artists Highlights

LL Cool J
LL Cool J
Salt-N-Pepa
Salt-N-Pepa
Missy Elliott
Missy Elliott
DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh ...
Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj
MC Hammer
MC Hammer

More Pop-Rap Artists

Pop-Rap Album Highlights

Stone Cold Rhymin'
Young MC
Stone Cold Rhymin'
He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper
DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh ...
He's the DJ, I'm the Rapper
Def Jam Music Group Inc. 10th Year Anniversary
Various Artists
Def Jam Music Group Inc.
Loc-ed After Dark
Tone-Loc
Loc-ed After Dark
Heavy Hitz
Heavy D & the Boyz
Heavy Hitz
Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em
MC Hammer
Please Hammer, Don't Hurt ...

More Pop-Rap Albums

Pop-Rap Song Highlights

Title/Composer Performer Stream
Hip Hop Hooray Naughty by Nature
Bust a Move Young MC
Push It Salt-N-Pepa
Ice Ice Baby Vanilla Ice
Set Adrift on Memory Bliss P.M. Dawn
I Wish Skee-Lo
U Can't Touch This MC Hammer
Ladies First Queen Latifah
Parents Just Don't Understand DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
Baby Got Back Sir Mix-A-Lot

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Pop-Rap styles