Soul Train was one of the most influential musical variety television shows in history.  It aired from 1971 until 2006.  The show, in its 35-year history, featured performances from R&B, soul, funk, jazz, disco, gospel and hip-hop artists.  The show would occasionally feature political figures and also comedians.  Although the show mainly showcased African-American acts, it also featured prominent white pop stars that had crossed over onto the Urban/Soul music charts.

16th Annual Soul Train Music Awards Nominations

Source: Steve Grayson / Getty

The series was created by Don Cornelius, who also served as executive producer and he hosted the show for most of those 35-years.

Cornelius probably was a little reluctant to what was happening in the streets outside of disco in the early days of hip-hop but he knew he couldn’t hold off long.  The public thirst and popularity of the art form couldn’t be ignored for long.  The Sugarhill Gang would grace the Soul Train stages almost two years after the groups’ mega-hit, Rappers Delight, in 1981.

Sugar Hill Gang

Source: Anthony Barboza / Getty

It would take another two years for a hip hop act hit to the Soul Train stages and that’s when there was no denying raps impact and the mega success of the 1983 classic, The Message, by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five (really Melle Mel & Duke Bootee, but that’s another story for another time.)

Here’s when one of the greatest M.C.’s of all time graced the stage with his D.J. for a Soul Train appearance during what many would today call the Golden Age of Hip-Hop (86′ til 91′), Eric B & Rakim performing their classic, “I Know You Got Soul,” on November 28, 1987.


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