1. Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince Take Over Middle America
In 1988, Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince was unavoidable. They ruled radio and MTV with their boy-next-door single “Parents Just Don’t Understand,” picking up Grammy’s first hip-hop award for Best Rap Performance; proved their B-boy credentials on the concert show-stopper “Brand New Funk;” and moved an astounding three million copies of their sophomore double album He’s The DJ, I’m The Rapper.
Amid the complex lyrical street genius of Rakim, the fiery black nationalism of Public Enemy and the obscene ‘hood escapades of Niggas With Attitude, the Philadelphia duo came off as brazenly family-friendly. For many suburban hip-hop fans, Jeff and Prince represented their introduction to the artform. Still, the duo earned respect for never trying to walk outside their sunny confines. No tough guy posturing. Just a turntable god and a future Hollywood heavyweight who could also rap his ass off.