WATCH: When Hip-Hop Made the News in the '80s

Kurtis Blow
Photo Credit
video screenshot/ABC News

The '80s was a time of musical innovation. Don't believe us? Check out this 20/20 report from July 9, 1981 that goes in-depth on the then-new genre of rap music.

Just months before the broadcast, Blondie had taken the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 with their rap-incorporating single "Rapture." And while frontwoman Debbie Harry is interviewed in the piece, the 10-minute investigation rightly focuses on rap's tradition in Black neighborhoods - not only in New York, where Kurtis Blow and the Sugar Hill Gang perfected hip-hop, but even the talking, call-and-response traditions in the South in and out of churches.

READ MORE: January 1981: Blondie Releases "Rapture"

The report also showcases how advertisers were starting to utilize rap style to sell things like boom boxes (get a load of Earth, Wind & Fire in that commercial clip they show!) and even used as an educational tool. It's a fascinating slice of cultural history - and happily free of the inappropriate social panic that often accompanies such trend pieces. After all, history has definitively proved hip-hop is here to stay.

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Ron Galella, Ltd/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
She also starred in the '80s comedy 'Bachelor Party.'
Mike Duquette/Totally 80s
Happening now through January 2022 for the icon's 75th birthday.
Album cover
Her self-titled debut album spun off three Top 20 hit singles.

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