The Golden Age of Hip Hop refers to roughly the mid eighties up to the late nineties when Hip Hop, in this sense the rapping and beatmaking aspect of it, was known and appreciated for its Lyrical content (MCing or Emceeing) its musical depth and its stark differentiation from other musical genres of the day. Influenced by earlier forms of music such as R and B, Jazz and The Blues; Hip Hop during this time matured and touched upon many political and social issues affecting urban America which overwhelmingly focused on the African American experience of ghettos, gang life, drugs, black identity, poverty and racism. This era is known for the flourishing of different regional styles and a freeing up of the manner in which rap music was written, composed and performed these regional styles contributed to much tension and rivalry as well. This friction was exploited by record companies to boost interest and sales. It is this rivalry along with other factors that led to a decline and eventual end of the Golden Age.

Some of the Most popular artists who helped define the era include: Run DMC, LL Cool J, Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, Kool G Rap, A Tribe Called Quest, Eric B & Rakim, Public Enemy, MC Lyte, KRS-ONE, NWA, Cypress Hill, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G, Geto Boys, Big Punisher.

Hip Hop to many fans is still very much about the quality of its content which developed during the Golden Age. As shown through the use of such vocal and lyrical devices such as using: metaphors, similes, storytelling, clever cadences, changes in tempo and word play. Modern artists talented in the application of the aforementioned vocal and lyrical devices are still very popular but have moved away from what is considered the mainstream which receives the most tv and radio airtime.

The trend in contemporary Hip Hop has become one in which the importance of image and "club friendliness" has become the defining factors and lyricism has ceased to be as important. Hip Hop has a much more Pop vibe and emphasis on material objects and hedonistic pursuits have become the main subject matter. Interestingly, Hip Hop during the early to mid eighties was also known for its rappers rhyming about self promotion and oppulent lifestyles, the Golden Age marked a shift away from that aspect of Hip Hop music.
"we're taking it back to the Golden Age (Golden Age of Hip Hop) when wack motherfuckers used to get thrown off stage"

-Immortal Technique from the song Obnoxious
by DANNY The BOSS November 10, 2007