LL Cool J

Fresh Beats: When Boomboxes Ruled the Streets

Back when bigger was better when it came to portable tunes

Before you could access all the world's music on a device the size of a deck of cards, bringing songs with you involved some commitment. Perhaps the most fly, but least practical accessory ever, '70s and '80s boomboxes featured tape decks, a radio, speakers and no small amount of attitude.

Often considered a statement of presence, they were embraced by early hip hop culture and, inevitably, copied by the mainstream even as they were derisively termed "ghetto blasters". For just a hint of their cultural import, recall that a boombox blasting Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" played a key role in Spike Lee's "Do the Right Thing". Here, a look back on all the ways people used to take their tunes with them. (Above: LL Cool J in 1986)

POP IT LIKE IT'S HOT Anthony Barboza/Getty Images POP IT LIKE IT'S HOT CITY SOUNDS Barbara Alper/Getty Images CITY SOUNDS BEACH BOOM Jill Freedman/Getty Images BEACH BOOM KEEP YOUR HEAD UP Jill Freedman/Getty Images KEEP YOUR HEAD UP RIGHT TO PARTY UniversalImagesGroup/UIG via Getty Images RIGHT TO PARTY TRAVELING IN STYLE Morris Engel/Getty Images TRAVELING IN STYLE BABY BOOM Jill Freedman/Getty Images BABY BOOM ARTIST KEITH HARING WITH HIS CUSTOM DECK Polly Borland/Getty Images ARTIST KEITH HARING WITH HIS CUSTOM DECK STEREOS IN STEREO Erika Stone/Getty Images STEREOS IN STEREO WEIGHTLIFTING UniversalImagesGroup/UIG via Getty Images WEIGHTLIFTING TAILGATING Ebet Roberts/Redferns TAILGATING POSSE POSE Owen Franken - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images POSSE POSE STREET LIFE UniversalImagesGroup/UIG via Getty Images STREET LIFE CRUISING IN STYLE Joe Sohm/Visions of America/UIG via Getty Images CRUISING IN STYLE TOKYO TUNES UniversalImagesGroup/UIG via Getty Images TOKYO TUNES ALL TOGETHER NOW Janette Beckman/Getty Images ALL TOGETHER NOW PHIL LYNOTT OF THIN LIZZY Chalkie Davies/Getty Images PHIL LYNOTT OF THIN LIZZY

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