21 AND OLDER
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A member of one of the original hip-hop crews, Treacherous Three, Kool Moe Dee later became a solo star in his own right in 1986 by teaming with a teenaged Teddy Riley (later famed as the king of new jack swing) on the crossover hit "Go See the Doctor." The single earned him a contract with Jive Records, for which he recorded three successful late-'80s albums, dominated by his skillful speed-raps. A long-running feud with LL Cool J -- who stole his aggressive stance and rapping style, he claims -- gained Kool Moe Dee headlines for awhile, but he began to fade by the early '90s.
With 1987's How Ya Like Me Now, Dee struck back at the brash young generation who had forsaken their forebears; the cover featured a red Kangol hat -- the prominent trademark of LL Cool J -- being crushed by the wheel of a Jeep. The album went platinum and was followed two years later by the gold-certified Knowledge Is King, for which Dee became the first rapper to perform at the Grammy Awards ceremonies. Also in 1989, Dee worked on two important projects: the single "Self-Destruction," recorded in conjunction with KRS-One's Stop the Violence Movement; and Quincy Jones' all-star Back on the Block LP, which united hip-hop stars with their musical forebears