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The group’s music incorporates elements of jazz, funk, and soul, creating a distinct and sophisticated sound that set them apart from their peers. A Tribe Called Quest’s debut album, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm” (1990), introduced their unique approach, featuring jazz-infused samples and a playful, intelligent lyricism.

Hip Hop is one of the biggest genres of music in the world today. It has been shaped and elevated by the collective efforts of numerous talented individuals and groups. Rap groups, in particular, have played a pivotal role in pushing the boundaries of music, influencing popular culture, and leaving a mark on the history of hip-hop. We’ve seen the power of a solo emcee, but once talented emcees team up, things start to change. In this article, we explore some of the most famous rap groups that have made a significant impact on the genre.

Power in Numbers: 24 Rap Groups That Defined Hip-Hop  was originally published on

1. Run-D.M.C.

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Run-D.M.C. was a pioneering rap group that emerged in the 1980s. The group consisted of Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell. Run-D.M.C. played a crucial role in popularizing rap music and bringing it to mainstream audiences.

2. Wu-Tang Clan

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Wu-Tang Clan is a legendary rap group that originated from Staten Island, New York City. The group was formed in 1992 and is known for its unique sound, lyrical prowess, and distinctive martial arts-inspired aesthetic. Wu-Tang Clan is considered one of the most influential and innovative rap groups in the history of hip-hop.

3. N.W.A.

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N.W.A (Nigg** Wit Attitudes) was a pioneering rap group from Compton, California, that emerged in the late 1980s. The group consisted of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, DJ Yella, and MC Ren. N.W.A played a significant role in shaping the gangsta rap subgenre and addressing social issues through their music.

4. Outkast

Outkast Source:Getty

Outkast is a Grammy-winning rap duo hailing from Atlanta, Georgia. The group was formed in 1992 and consists of André “André 3000” Benjamin and Antwan “Big Boi” Patton. Outkast is known for its creative lyricism and innovative approach to hip-hop.

5. G-Unit

G-Unit Source:Getty

G-Unit was a rap group and record label that rose to prominence in the early 2000s. The group was founded by rapper 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) and originated from South Jamaica, Queens, New York. G Unit consists of 50 Cent, Lloyd Banks, Tony Yayo, and Young Buck. The group’s music often revolved around themes of making money, loyalty, and survival, resonating with a wide audience.

6. Salt-N-Pepa

Salt-N-Pepa Source:Getty

Known for their empowering lyrics, catchy hooks, Salt-N-Pepa is an iconic American hip-hop group that rose in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The group consists of Cheryl “Salt” James, Sandra “Pepa” Denton, and Deidra “DJ Spinderella” Roper (who joined the group in 1987). Salt-N-Pepa was celebrated not only for their catchy music but also for their positive messages and female empowerment.

7. A Tribe Called Quest

A Tribe Called Quest Source:Getty

A Tribe Called Quest’s music incorporates elements of jazz, funk, and soul, creating a distinct and sophisticated sound that set them apart from their peers. Their ebut album, “People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm” (1990), introduced their unique approach, featuring jazz-infused samples and playful, intelligent lyricism.

8. Public Enemy

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Formed in Long Island, New York, in 1985, Public Enemy consisted of members Chuck D (Carlton Ridenhour), Flavor Flav (William Drayton), Professor Griff (Richard Griffin), and DJ Terminator X (Norman Lee Rogers, later replaced by DJ Lord). Public Enemy is known for their politically charged lyrics, aggressive delivery, and powerful stage presence. They tackled social and political issues, including systemic racism, inequality, and the mistreatment of blacks.

9. The Geto Boys

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The Geto Boys is a rap group hailing from Houston, Texas, known for their raw and gritty style, controversial lyrics, and influential contributions to the Southern hip-hop scene. The group was formed in 1986 and has experienced various lineup changes throughout its history. The most notable members of The Geto Boys include Scarface (Brad Jordan), Willie D (Willie James Dennis), and Bushwick Bill (Richard Shaw).

10. Naughty By Nature

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Naughty By Nature, originally from East Orange, New Jersey, consists of members Treach (Anthony Criss), Vin Rock (Vincent Brown), and DJ Kay Gee (Keir Gist) they were known for their energetic and upbeat style, catchy hooks, and their ability to blend rap with elements of R&B and pop. They gained mainstream recognition with their breakout hit single, “O.P.P.”.

11. The Lox

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The Lox, is a rap group from Yonkers, New York. The group was formed in the mid-1990s and consists of members Jadakiss (Jason Phillips), Styles P (David Styles), and Sheek Louch (Sean Jacobs). The Lox rose up from their appearances on tracks by fellow Yonkers native and rap superstar DMX. Their gritty and street-oriented style, combined with their sharp lyricism and distinctive flows, quickly garnered attention in the hip-hop community. In 1998, The Lox released their debut album, “Money, Power & Respect.”

12. Dipset

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Dipset, short for The Diplomats, is a rap group from Harlem, New York. The group was formed in the late 1990s and rose in the early 2000s. The core members of Dipset include Cam’ron (Cameron Giles), Jim Jones (Joseph Guillermo Jones II), Juelz Santana (LaRon James), and Freekey Zekey (Ezekiel Giles). Dipset is known for their style,  fashion, and their contribution to the rise of the “Harlem rap” movement.

13. Migos

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Consisting of three members: Quavo (Quavious Keyate Marshall), Offset (Kiari Kendrell Cephus), and Takeoff (Kirshnik Khari Ball), Migos was a rap group that originated in Lawrenceville, Georgia, and became popular in the mid-2010s with their unique trap style and catchy ad-libs. Migos gained widespread recognition with their breakout single “Versace” in 2013, which was remixed by Drake and launched them into the spotlight.

14. De La Soul

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De La Soul is a highly influential hip-hop group that originated from Long Island, New York. Formed in 1987, the group consists of members Posdnuos (Kelvin Mercer), Trugoy the Dove (David Jude Jolicoeur), and Maseo (Vincent Mason).

15. Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five Source:Getty

Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five was a hip-hop group that emerged in the late 1970s and played a crucial role in shaping the early sound and culture of hip-hop. The group originated in the South Bronx, New York, and was formed by DJ Grandmaster Flash (Joseph Saddler) along with five MCs: Melle Mel (Melvin Glover), Kidd Creole (Nathaniel Glover), Cowboy (Keith Wiggins), Mr. Ness/Scorpio (Eddie Morris), and Rahiem (Guy Williams). They are credited with popularizing the art of DJing and introducing innovative techniques that have become fundamental to hip-hop.

16. Sugar Hill Gang

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The Sugar Hill Gang is a hip-hop group that gained fame in the late 1970s. The group originated from Englewood, New Jersey, and was formed by three members: Wonder Mike (Michael Wright), Master Gee (Guy O’Brien), and Big Bank Hank (Henry Jackson). They are best known for their groundbreaking single “Rapper’s Delight,” released in 1979. “Rapper’s Delight” is widely considered the first commercially successful rap song.

17. Three 6 Mafia

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Three 6 Mafia is a legendary hip-hop group from Memphis, Tennessee. Formed in 1991, the group initially consisted of members DJ Paul (Paul Beauregard), Juicy J (Jordan Houston), and Lord Infamous (Ricky Dunigan), with several other members joining and leaving the group throughout its history. Three 6 Mafia is known for their unique blend of dark and eerie production,and aggressive and explicit lyrics.

18. The Fugees

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The Fugees were a highly influential hip-hop group that emerged in the 1990s. The group consisted of three members: Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Pras Michel. Each member brought their unique talents and style to create a distinct sound that blended elements of hip-hop, reggae, R&B, and soul. The Fugees gained recognition with their second studio album, “The Score” (1996), which became a massive commercial success and critically acclaimed.

19. Goodie Mob

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Goodie Mob is a hip-hop group  from Atlanta, Georgia. Formed in 1991, the group consists of members CeeLo Green (Thomas Callaway), Big Gipp (Cameron Gipp), Khujo (Willie Knighton Jr.), and T-Mo (Robert Barnett). Goodie Mob is known for their distinctive Southern sound, conscious lyricism, and their contributions to the development of the Atlanta hip-hop scene.

20. Mobb Deep

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Originating from Queensbridge, New York, Mobb Deep was formed in 1991 by Havoc (Kejuan Muchita) and Prodigy (Albert Johnson) and became synonymous with gritty and dark East Coast rap.

Mobb Deep’s music captured the harsh realities of urban life, particularly in the streets of Queensbridge.

21. Gang Starr

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Gang Starr was a group composed of rapper Guru (Keith Elam) and DJ/producer DJ Premier (Christopher Martin). Active from 1986 to 2003, Gang Starr emerged from the vibrant hip-hop scene in Boston, Massachusetts, and later gained prominence in New York City.

22. Rae Sremmurd

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Rae Sremmurd is a rap duo consisting of brothers Swae Lee (Khalif Brown) and Slim Jxmmi (Aaquil Brown). The duo gained significant popularity in the mid-2010s with their infectious energy, catchy hooks, and party-oriented anthems. 

23. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony

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Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is a rap group from Cleveland, Ohio. Formed in 1991, the group originally consisted of five members: Krayzie Bone (Anthony Henderson), Layzie Bone (Steven Howse), Bizzy Bone (Bryon McCane), Wish Bone (Charles Scruggs), and Flesh-N-Bone (Stanley Howse). They are known for their unique harmonizing rap style and rapid-fire delivery.

24. A$AP Mob

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A$AP Mob is a hip-hop collective and record label formed in 2006 in Harlem, New York. The group was founded by A$AP Yams (Steven Rodriguez) and originally included A$AP Rocky (Rakim Mayers), A$AP Bari (Jabari Shelton), and A$AP Illz (Illijah Ulanga). Over time, they expanded to include more members, including A$AP Ferg (Darold Durard Brown Ferguson Jr.), A$AP Nast (Tariq Devega), and A$AP Twelvyy (Jamal Phillips). A$AP Mob came to fame in the early 2010s with their unique blend of fashion, music, and lifestyle.