4. Public Enemy
Years on Def Jam: 1987-1998
Signature Def Jam Song: "Fight the Power" (1989)
Before Dre and the rise of L.A. gangster rap stunted their movement, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Professor Griff, Terminator X, and the Bomb Squad defined cutting edge rap and persuaded a whole generation to admire OG Knowledge. Chuck's voice and the hype man goat Flavor Flav reserved their space in the pantheon the moment you heard that screeching on your radio and realized it wasn't broken.