In the music
- NWA dropped their controversial album Straight Outta Compton, heralding the birth of gangsta rap. Produced by Dr Dre, it featured Easy-E and Ice Cube. Despite no mainstream media support it reached No.9 in the Billboard RnB chart.
- Soul II Soul reached the No.1 spot in the UK with Back to Life.
- The legendary King Tubby is shot outside his home in Jamaica. His murder remains unsolved, but is believed to have been the result of a street robbery.
- The Native Tongues collective is formed. It includes Afrika Bambaataa, The Jungle Brothers, Queen Latifah, A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul and kick-starts a new era of hip hop, using jazzy beats and promoting Afro-centric lyrics.
- James Brown was sentenced in Georgia to six years in prison. It followed a police chase through two different states.
- Public Enemy's Professor Griff gave an anti-Semitic speech to the Washington Times, offending the Jewish community. Public Enemy responded by firing him.
- Mica Paris released her debut album So Good, which went platinum.
- Heavy D broke through to the mainstream with his album Big Tyme produced by Marley Marl and Teddy Riley.