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11 Most Popular Rap & Hip-Hop Artists According to Baby Boomers: Ranked

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In June 2024, Kendrick Lamar, fresh from his beef with Drake, filmed the music video for his new release Not Like Us in and around his old stomping grounds of Compton, California. Every bit as now as it ever was, Rap and hip-hop music emerged in the 1970s as a cultural phenomenon originating primarily from African American and Latino communities in the Bronx, New York City. Rooted in the tradition of spoken-word poetry and influenced by various musical genres including funk, soul, and disco, rap quickly evolved as a form of expression for urban youth. Using the intel provided by survey yougov.com, 24/7 Wall St. has created a list of the 11 most popular rap & hip-hop artists according to baby boomers: ranked from decently popular to ultra-popular. Continue reading to discover if your favorite made the list!

Why It Matters

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Investors can glean several insights from understanding baby boomers’ favorite rap and hip-hop artists. Understanding cultural trends and consumer behavior allows investors to identify market opportunities. From staging events to investing in memorabilia, understanding the rap & hip-hop artists boomers embrace can be very helpful for tapping into the discretionary income boomers have and are willing to spend.

11. Vanilla Ice

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  • Years Active: 1985-
  • Biggest Hit: Ice Ice Baby
  • Fun Fact: Ice Ice Baby was the first hip-hop single to reach number 1 on the Billboard charts.
  • Percentage of baby boomers with a favorable opinion: 27%

Ice Ice Latte

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Robert Van Winkle, aka Vanilla Ice, gained fame with his hit “Ice Ice Baby,” which became the first hip-hop single to top the Billboard charts. His music blended rap with pop hooks and appealed to a broad audience, including many baby boomers who were exploring hip-hop’s growing influence on mainstream music. Despite initial commercial success, Vanilla Ice faced criticism for alleged cultural appropriation and later struggled to maintain his popularity.

10. Dr. Dre

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  • Years Active: 1985-
  • Biggest Hit:California Love
  • Fun Fact: Credited with discovering rapper Eminem
  • Percentage of baby boomers with a favorable opinion: 28%

Beats by Dre

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Dr. Dre, born Andre Romelle Young, Emerged from the West Coast rap scene. Dre co-founded N.W.A., which challenged societal norms with its raw and politically charged lyrics. He later achieved solo success with his landmark album The Chronic. Dre’s influence extends beyond music; he co-founded Death Row Records and Aftermath Entertainment, shaping the careers of numerous artists. He also launched a successful line of overpriced headphones that every Gen Z kid had to have.

9. Lin-Manuel Miranda

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  • Years Active: 2002-
  • Biggest Hit: Hamilton
  • Fun Fact: Les Misérables was the first Broadway play Miranda ever attended. He was seven years old.
  • Percentage of baby boomers with a favorable opinion: 29%

Hamilton

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Representing the number nine on 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the 11 most popular rap & hip-hop artists according to baby boomers: ranked is Lin-Manuel Miranda. Miranda is a multitalented artist in theater, music, and film. He gained widespread acclaim for creating and starring in the Broadway musicals In the Heights and Hamilton, the latter earning numerous Tony awards, and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Beyond theater, he’s contributed to film soundtracks, including Disney’s Moana, for which his songwriting skills earned him an Academy Award nomination.

8.Salt-N-Pepa
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  • Years Active: 1985
  • Biggest Hit: Push It
  • Fun Fact: Push It, Salt-n-Peppa’s biggest hit was a hastily composed B-side.
  • Percentage of baby boomers with a favorable opinion: 33%

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Cheryl “Salt” James and Sandra “Pepa” Denton, along with DJ Spinderella, formed the hip-hop/rap group Salt-N-Peppa in 1985. Their catchy beats and flashy fashion sense appealed to a large demographic. The group was commercially successful paving the way for future female rappers. Though the group officially disbanded in 2002, they regrouped in 2005, and have continued to tour, although they parted ways with Spindrella in 2019.

7. Eminem

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  • Years Active: 1988-
  • Biggest HitLose Yourself
  • Fun Fact: Believing he had no chance of winning, Eminem didn’t attend the Academy Awards the year Lose Yourself (from the movie 8 Mile) won the Oscar for best song.
  • Percentage of baby boomers with a favorable opinion: 34%

Not the Candy

Eminem | 2014 MTV Movie Awards - Show
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Born Marshall Bruce Mathers III, Eminem is known for his provocative lyrics and intricate rhyme schemes. Rising from Detroit’s underground rap scene, Eminem gained mainstream attention with the release of The Slim Shady in 1999. Mathers expresses himself through his alter ego, Slim Shady, confronting controversial topics. Eminem has won multiple Grammy Awards and is one of the best-selling artists of all time, with over 200 million record sales!

6. Run D.M.C.

Run-DMC and Aerosmith | 62nd Annual GRAMMY Awards - Show
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  • Years Active: 1983-2023
  • Biggest Hit: It's Like That
  • Fun Fact: Run D.M.C. was the first hip-hop act to have a music video broadcast on MTV.
  • Percentage of baby boomers with a favorable opinion: 34%

Not really Runners

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Run-D.M.C is a hip-hop/rap group composed of Joseph “Run” Simmons, Darryl “D.M.C.” McDaniels, and Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell (until his murder in 2002). One of the most influential groups in the history of hip-hop and rap, the trio emerged in the 1980s with a fusion of rap and rock, achieving mainstream success with hits like Walk This Way (featuring Aerosmith), and My Adidas. Run-D.M.C. not only transformed the sound of rap music but also influenced fashion with their trademark Adidas tracksuits and fedora hats. Run-D.M.C. was the first rap group to earn a platinum album.

5. Beastie Boys

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  • Years Active: 1981-2012
  • Biggest Hit: Ch-check It Out
  • Fun Fact: Beastie is an acronym for Boys Entering Anarchistic States Towards Inner Excellence.
  • Percentage of baby boomers with a favorable opinion: 36%

Boys Entering Anarchistic States Towards Inner Excellence

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Michael “Mike D” Diamond, Adam “Ad-Rock” Horovitz, and Adam “MCA” Yauch (1964-2012), aka The Beastie Boys fused rap, punk rock, and hip-hop. garnering fame with their debut album Licensed to Ill, which became the first rap album to top the Billboard 200 chart. The Beasties Boys disbanded following MCA’s death, but their legacy remains.

4. M.C. Hammer

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  • Years Active: 1985-
  • Biggest Hit: U Can't Touch This
  • Fun Fact: M.C. Hammer might have become a professional ball player if music hadn’t called him away from the baseball diamond.
  • Percentage of baby boomers with a favorable opinion: 37%

Hammer Time

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MC Hammer, born Stanley Burrell, was immensely popular thanks to his innovative dance moves, catchy hooks, and flashy style. His breakout album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em produced the mega-hit U Can't Touch This. Known for his trademark parachute pants, MC Hammer crossed over into mainstream pop culture, influencing fashion and dance trends.

3. Pharrell Williams

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  • Years Active: 1992-
  • Biggest Hit: Happy
  • Fun Fact: Pharrell Williams and Timbaland are cousins.
  • Percentage of baby boomers with a favorable opinion: 40%

For Real

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Artist, producer, fashion and cultural icon Pharrell Williams lands at number three on 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the 11 most popular rap & hip-hop artists according to baby boomers. Along with his partner, Chad Hugo, Pharrell Williams revolutionized pop and hip-hop with their innovative production style. Pharrell’s solo career exploded with the release of Happy, which became a global anthem, demonstrated his enormous musical talent and positive energy. Pharrell also has two clothing lines: Billionaire Boys Club andIce Cream.

2. Ice Cube

Ice Cube 2014 | 2014 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival - Day 2
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  • Years Active: 1986
  • Biggest Hit: It Was A Good Day
  • Fun Fact: Cube has a degree in architectural drafting.
  • Percentage of baby boomers with a favorable opinion: 42%

Ice Cube, Baby

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O’Shea Jackson, aka Ice Cube, emerged as a rapper whose his talents expanded his influence to film, television, and business. As a founding member of the rap group N.W.A., Ice Cube’s raw lyrics and uncompromising style addressed social issues of the inner city. His solo career continued to push boundaries with albums like AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted and Death Certificate. Transitioning to acting, Ice Cube starred in the films Boyz n the Hood, Friday, and the Barbershop series, showcasing his versatility on screen. As a businessman, Cube established the successful Big3, a basketball league for former NBA players.

1. LL Cool J

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  • Years Active: 1984-
  • Biggest Hit: I Need A Beat
  • Fun Fact: I Need a Beat was the first song released on the Def Jam recording label.
  • Percentage of baby boomers with a favorable opinion: 42%

Ladies Love Him

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LL Cool, shorthand for Ladies Love Cool James, is number one on 24/7 Wall St.’s list of the 11 most popular rap & hip-hop artists: ranked according to baby boomers. The moniker is a nod to James Smith’s popularity with the ladies and his smooth, charismatic stage persona. The hit single I Need a Beat off of LL’s debut album. Radio (1985), poised him for mainstream success. forty years later, LL Cool J continues to make music, with his song Saturday Night Specialbeing released in June of 2024.

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