The golden age of hip hop is a name given to a period in mainstream hip hop, usually cited as being a period varying in time frames during the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s. This period of hip hop music was notable for its diversity, quality, innovation and influence. There were various forms of subject matter, while the music was experimental and involved heavy use of sampling. The artists most commonly associated with this phrase are Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, Beastie Boys, Boogie Down Productions, Eric B. & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, De La Soul, Gang Starr, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth, EPMD, A Tribe Called Quest, Slick Rick and the Jungle Brothers. Releases by these artists co-existed in this period with, and were as commercially viable as, those of early gangsta rap artists Ice-T, Geto Boys and N.W.A, the explicit sexually-orientated raps of 2 Live Crew and Too Short, and party-oriented music by artists such as Kid 'n Play, The Fat Boys, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince and MC Hammer.

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