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This album was a great start to that career. His remains are melted in vinyl and pressed into a dozen LPs that, when played, resurrect him as the Ghostface Killah, a force for revenge incarnate. Sounds crazy right? Thanks to the narrative thread, the album flows with great cohesion. His production work is always incredibly smooth and funky. He may not be the best emcee ever, but he more than holds his own on the mic. An important album, one of the cornerstones of the rise to dominance of West Coast Hip Hop in the early 90s.
In an era when consciousness in Hip Hop was on its way out in favor of tales of violence and materialism, Jeru kept doing his thing. Insightful and profound, Jeru is relentless in his condemnation of gangsta posturing and the pimping out of Hip Hop by the big money suits, a condemnation which turned out to be highly prophetic.
This album was way ahead of its time, and an indisputable classic in the industrial Hip Hop subgenre. Weird, but wonderful. An album that sometimes goes unnoticed or slept on by many in the genre, this album is truly the greatest thing that Pusha and Malice created.
They would receive the lushest instrumentals from the Neptunes, which worked wonders for them on the album. With aggressive lyrics, booming production that ranged from murderous to upbeat to soulful to despondent at times, Game gives us an album that is beyond what any of us expected. Being You Is Great! All in all, Being You Is Great!
Because of their unique style, their undeniable chemistry and the eery vibe of the album, E. With 23 songs on Elizabeth and at over 77 minutes of playing time, this is another LONG Killah Priest album but it holds no filler material. There are no features and all production is handled by DJ Woool, which makes for a super consistent presentation that is able to keep attention despite its length — the production really stands out.
Mm… Food is kind of a concept album, as every track is compiled primarily of food-related subject matter. The food-related concept works better than you might expect, particularly when DOOM uses it as a means to cleverly diss other emcees. Food can be a challenge though — mostly because of the overabundance of skits most notably in the middle of the tracklist that are meant to thematically tie together the actual songs on the album, but that actually break its flow especially because they are sometimes stuck to the songs, so not-skippable.
This album is straight gutter, street bully rap — few have ever done this better than Sean Price did. A long, but excellent album. It could have done without the skits, but it is pretty much dope from start to finish. Essential Golden Age material. In his two decades in the Hip Hop game, Murs has released a whole bunch of excellent albums — solo as well as collaborative efforts. This may very well be one of his best, the first collaboration album he did with producer extraordinaire 9th Wonder.
Murs is another one of those rare personalities in Hip Hop who is always completely real. No fronting, no posing — just honesty and real emotion. But it is all good — at 10 tracks the album is short but sweet and there are no weak spots. After winning acclaim with a series of mixtapes and his Hell Can Wait EP , and gaining some notoriety by being dismissive about 90s Hip Hop in a high profile interview , Compton rapper Vince Staples made a big splash with Summertime 06 , his official full-length debut.
Summertime 06 is one of the most impressive debuts of the decade, the kind of album that needs a few playthroughs to fully appreciate. Summertime 06 was a big step ahead for Vince Staples since his mixtape days, and it remains his best project to date. This is DMX at the top of his game: introspective, hardcore, and emotional at the same time. Our favorite Too Short album from his extensive discography. Already a Hip Hop veteran by , Too Short came into his own on this album.
Trademark explicit lyrics, with his typical laid-back flow and music to ride to. This album is one of his most consistent ones and it contains a few classic Too Short tracks. Arrested Development is rather a unique act, with its blend of spirituality, political content, black awareness, intelligence, respect, and positivity.
A Marley Marl production from the Juice Crew golden era. Biz Markie always was the joker character from that group of artists — originally a beatboxer, but a pretty decent emcee as well. Original, both lyrically and musically. Completing the trilogy subjecting around a school theme, Kanye dropped another dope album with Graduation.
Combining the best of The College Dropout and Late Registration , Graduation saw him reaching back into his backpack and bringing good old soulful Hip Hop. The Next Step is the independently released full-length debut by Los Angeles duo People Under the Stairs, the first in a string of excellent albums.
PUTS always comes with that authentic, real boom-bap Hip Hop and this first effort is a slept-on treasure. Zion and Amp Live expand their creative and experimental sounds on the album, featuring a wide range of musical styles, laced with intelligent, socially conscious lyrics. A hard as nails release filled with uncompromising rhymes and a street essence, arguably re-pioneered by Roc Marciano with albums like Marcberg and Reloaded All about positivity and empowerment, Digable Planets sadly flew a bit under the radar in a time when gun-toting gangsta posers started to get more and more of the spotlight.
People Under The Stairs have put together a truly excellent catalog over the years, starting in with The Next Step and ending in with their final album Sincerely, the P. Stepfather is the fifth album by the Los Angeles duo — and one their best. Stepfather is a long but totally cohesive album filled with dope beats and rhymes — a testament to the fact that culturally positive Hip Hop will prove to have longevity, much more than the dumbed-down crap that was and is dominating the mainstream.
An album like Stepfather will still be listened to decades from now, whereas the bubble-gum rap that may peak for a moment will soon be forgotten. One of the earliest N. That being said, he certainly was on the top of his game here — and having Dr. The classic debut of one of the most naturally gifted and best punch-line emcees ever. Big L, rest in peace. Common has dropped quite a few excellent albums in his long career, and this one is up there with the best of them.
Meaningful, profound, captivating, intelligent, soulful, and lyrical — Black America Again has everything a Hip Hop album needs to have. Truly great from start to finish, there are no skippable tracks. Progressive, soulful, stylistic and inventive production and exceptional lyricism by Gift Of Gab, truly one of the most underrated and poetic emcees in the Hip Hop game.
Nia is a gem. Whatever you think about later-Kanye, his seminal debut album is a true classic. The ambient and psychedelic production on Brick Body Kids Still Daydream is more subdued than on past OME efforts, which complements his low-key delivery. It should be, though. Much like its predecessor Game Theory , Rising Down gives us a slightly darker sound than we were used to on earlier Roots albums. Nobody with the exception of Rakim was able to touch the mic skills of Big Daddy Kane.
Soulful and eclectic, this album almost transcends genre boundaries in its musicality. Lyrics-wise The Good Fight is more than a worthwhile listen as well — with Oddisee telling us about his experiences as an artist in the music business and life in general. The Good Fight is put together meticulously from start to finish resulting in a remarkable blend of lyrical depth, complexity, beauty, and soul.
The Good Fight is one of those albums that gets better with each spin. Souls Of Mischief — part of the Hieroglyphics collective — succeeded in dropping a West Coast album without the gangsta cliches, and that is what makes it a classic Hip Hop album that sounds as fresh today as it did when it came out. Amazing, rapid-fire wordplay by Opio, Phesto, A-Plus, and Tajai, who flow together really well with intelligent, funny, and clever lyrics.
Dope beats, dope rhymes — dope album. Ace ventures through the Brooklyn streets and goes out on tour with Fats as his unofficial manager. Universally praised, but underappreciated anyhow on account of poor sales figures. With the experience of a few Geto Boys albums under his belt, Scarface hammers out his solid debut, much in the same vein as what he did with the Geto Boys. Two superproducers working together, that has to result in something special, right?
Taken as the fantasy it is, it is a fun album with a wonderfully dark sense of humor. Excellent production and top-notch emceeing — this is a classic, strangely enough with underground as well as mainstream appeal. At this point in his career, it was clear what to expect from Brother Ali — lyrical precision, honest emotion, social commentaries, and intelligent observations.
All The Beauty In This Whole Life is another amazing album by Brother Ali — powerful and meaningful grown-up music, a breath of fresh air in a rap year filled with face-tatted mumblers dominating the mainstream. That is wrong because this one is just about as flawless as its predecessor is. Open Mike Eagle is a Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based artist who dropped some of the most interesting albums in abstract underground Hip Hop in the s — with his soft spoken-word style, poetic lyrics, and experimental production.
He approaches a variety of serious topics with dark and deliciously sarcastic humor — hence the title of the album. Coming off the distinctly underwhelming Drogas Light , Drogas Waves is another one of those Lupe Fiasco projects that show insane scope and ambition.
In fact, this is a brilliant album. With just casual listens, the whole thing will go over your head. Drogas Wave has to be approached in the same way. They stayed alive and they lived under the sea. And they dedicated their lives to sinking slave ships — so they became this super, underwater force against slavery. Elzhi is one of the most underrated emcees in the game. The Detroit lyrical giant dropped an instant classic with The Preface.
After his perfect and yes — slept on debut Word… Life in , he returns with another outstanding and slightly more accessible album. Van Ghost is a true work of art. All in all, Van Ghos t is a unique and intriguing piece of work, the benchmark against which all other albums in this rap-noir niche should be measured. The first Hip Hop band Stetsasonic came out with a bang with this album in Could he redo that acclaim with his sophomore album, The Cool?
Damn sure. In an era where conscious Hip Hop had long lost the spotlight to dumb materialism and violence, dead prez was one of the crews who kept the tradition started by Public Enemy and KRS-One alive: bringing intelligent, socially and politically charged messages over some kick-ass beats. The lyrics are written by Ice Cube, The D.
The production is handled by Dr. A little less consistent than N. The album was released after the critical acclaim of her mixtapes such as Return of the B-Girl , Thank H. Rapsody is one of the MVPs of the s — with three near-classic albums and a couple of top-quality EPs on her name. As always, Rapsody puts her mind, heart, and soul into her music — and it makes for a timeless gem of an album. Funky Technician is slept-on by many, as is Lord Finesse himself. Desire is the second solo album from Pharoahe Monch , released eight years!
Eight years is a long wait for a follow-up, but Desire was worth the wait. The album offers hard-hitting boom-bap beats with Pharoahe Monch exercising his insane flow with extreme precision and style. Producer Oktopus is one of the most interesting avant-garde producers of all time, and his instrumentals on this album are unique and progressive.
Hip Hop in its purest form. As always, Jurassic 5 brings Hip Hop with a great nostalgic throw-back vibe to it: fresh, fun and positive — much needed in the early millennium when emptyheaded gangsta-pop materialism had taken over the mainstream.
This crew from Cincinnati, Ohio dropped an underground sleeper classic with Doom. Atmospheric and melodic production complemented with clever lyrics — this is real Hip Hop at its finest. The album features production by Hi-Tek and guest appearances by Talib Kweli and Wu-Tang-affiliated group Sunz of Man, and this album can be seen as a springboard for all their careers.
On Eve Rapsody continues her exploration of black empowerment and female strength, cleverly conceptualized by naming all 16 tracks after strong and inspiring black women. Holding momentum throughout a track album is not a given, but Eve is sequenced perfectly — not a second is wasted and there is no filler. People often overlook his lyrical abilities, though. Aesop Rock is underrated as an emcee — each track on this album is a carefully created gem of lyrical genius.
Make no mistake though — this is one of the best Hip Hop releases of Add-2 is a spectacular lyricist, who combines supreme technical skill as an emcee with the ability to write intelligent, socially conscious lyrics. Add-2 touches on a myriad of important societal issues in a thought-provoking manner, this is an important album more people should have picked up on. Relentlessly dark and gritty, with especially Prodigy at his lyrical prime, Hell On Earth is another flawlessly produced Mobb Deep hit — although the extreme tough-guy lyrics and dark thematics will not appeal to everyone even if you are willing to take it all with a grain of salt.
Percee P is a criminally underrated emcee. One of the best lyricists in the game, ever. Active in the Hip Hop game since the s — and always stealing the show as a guest emcee on other peoples albums — Perseverance , his official solo debut album came out as late as If he could have gotten himself released in the early 90s, no doubt he would be widely recognized now as one of the all-time greats. As it is, this album may have come too late — in a time when Hip Hop was being watered down and dumbed down for near on a decade already and quality Hip Hop like this was not promoted anymore by the big money people.
This is a real Hip Hop album, that should have a place in any real heads collection. Superior lyrical skill, astute lyrics and produced by one of the best producers in the game: Madlib. Mayby not as ambitious and memorable as their earlier conceptual efforts A Piece of Strange and Oneirology , Rose Azura Njano is an excellent album in its right — Hip Hop for grown folk.
CunninLynguists have one of the strongest bodies of work in Hip Hop, present and past, and Rose Azura Njano is an important piece of their discography. Ghostface Killah is the most prolific and consistent artist out of the Wu-Tang camp. Starting with his dope solo-debut Ironman in , over the decades he has put together an amazingly high-quality catalog, stocked with gems and containing very few duds in contrast to most of his Wu-Tang colleagues.
First Come, First Served is up there with Dr. Dooom killing the Dr. Octagon persona. Lyrically he is in top form here: flow and delivery are excellent and the lyrics are wonderfully and characteristically bizarre. Gotta love that No Limit parody cover too. Perfectly capturing that throwback Hip Hop vibe, this Californian crew are all about flawless emceeing over dope instrumentals. Chali 2na, Mark 7even, Zaakir, and Akil can flow and harmonize with the best of them.
Much needed upbeat Hip Hop in times when materialism and violence of gangsta wannabes dominated the mainstream. This is an album that is among the most important of the aughts. The excellent follow-up to Dr. Dre just holds it down. Other than that: simply is another Dr. Dre classic.
As always with Aesop Rock, the soundscapes are innovative and exciting, and you need to really close to his next-level wordplay to get his meaning — this is another one of those artists who make music for thinking people. With this album, Prince Po and Pharoahe Monch redefined lyricism. Organized Konfusion is a cult classic that is a must-have not just for Pharoahe Monch fans, but for anyone who likes clever, layered Hip Hop. Hi-Tek comes with excellent production throughout and Talib Kweli once again proves he is a gifted emcee who can write meaningful lyrics and has the emcee skills to deliver them.
No skippable tracks on this album — quality all the way. This comeback album was a career highlight for Nasir Jones. After three acclaimed albums with Prince Po as Organized Konfusion, Pharoahe went for a harder sound on his first solo outing — and it works.
Grip It! Geto Boys is a revamped version of Grip It! On That Other Level with a couple of extra tracks added. Reloaded is the second studio album from former U. The album features guest contributions by rappers KA and Knowledge Pirate. Ever since the advent of gangsta rap, there have been tons of Hip Hop albums filled with crime talk, but Roc Marciano rises far above all the genericness. Immersive, cinematic storytelling, complemented by atmospheric boom-bap instrumentals — Reloaded is a staple of the subgenre.
Production is excellent — with some of the beats provided by a young Kanye West in top form — and lyrically Scarface is at his best, deftly balancing his trademark street tales with conscious commentaries. Great production and plain awesome lyricism by one of the best emcees ever. Too many skits and a couple of filler songs stand in the way of a higher ranking on this list, but this a classic nonetheless. Three-in-a-row for Eminem. Diamond District is the truth.
In The Ruff is that perfect example of an album with a Golden Age sound but with one leg firmly in the present as well. Oddisee is a talented producer and emcee, and together with emcees X. The Notorious B. Another problem is the skits that are used to set the tone for tracks, the skits on LAD are all quite long and stuck to the beginning of most songs, severely reducing the replay-ability of those tracks.
Undun is a dark and poetic masterpiece, different but intriguing. What can go wrong when one of the top-lyricists of the last two decades hooks up with one of the most important producers ever? Only complaint: at 34 minutes PRhyme just is too short, barely over EP-length.
It could have done with three or four more songs upon its original release as the expanded Deluxe version would prove in More so a collection of songs than an official album, this flawless project from Nas is too great to NOT include on this list. Masta Ace is one of those few artists who are able to keep reinventing themselves while turning out consistent quality. This album is no exception. Disposable Arts is universally acclaimed by Hip Hop connoisseurs, but the album sold poorly and is definitely underappreciated in that regard.
So this is not an easy listen, but for those willing to invest attention and time in it, it is a totally rewarding experience. Like the cover of the album which he painted himself , Lupe created a true work of art with the music on this album.
No one will dispute the fact he has one of the biggest classics in the game ever on his name — Illmatic — and a couple more that come close to classic status, like It Was Written and Stillmatic All of his other albums have been talked down on to some extent. But looking at his catalog there have been only one or two real duds: Nastradamus and Nasir The thematic and narrative scope of I Phantom is incredible, and even it is heavy stuff at times, this is a brilliant album. Lyrically astute and the production to back up the poignancy of the narrative — this is an important album and one that has to be remembered.
In a year where an album like Nellyville sold over 6 million units, this Mr. Lif masterpiece went largely unnoticed. A classic album is timeless, one that will still sound good decades from the date of its release. A classic album can be played again and again, without having to skip tracks. The album was well received by real Hip Hop heads and critically acclaimed, but it never got the sales or mainstream attention it deserved.
This is real Hip Hop and a true underground classic. The third album from the underrated CunninLynguists is a masterpiece from start to finish. Much darker and denser than their more light-hearted and fun first two albums, A Piece Of Strange takes us on a journey following the story of a man and those closest to him in their struggles with right and wrong, love and hate, while at the same time exploring the religion and racism that were and are so prevalent in the south.
The 16 songs contain loose connections with certain defined Biblical numerics and their interpretations. A Piece Of Strange offers excellent production and clever lyrics — the whole album is as good as it gets. The result is a phenomenal album with that classic Tribe vibe but set firmly in this era at the same time.
El-P has always been a class-A producer, an essential presence in underground Hip Hop in the late 90s, instrumental in keeping real Hip Hop alive when Puffy, Jay-Z and the mass-production rap factories from Cash Money and No Limit were flooding the market with generic rap fare. El-P has always been pushing creative boundaries and on Cancer 4 Cure its evident he keeps evolving. Music , and of course for this gem — both albums would prove to be perfect stepping stones to the monumental projects he would go on to create with Killer Mike as Run The Jewels.
Cancer 4 Cure not only showcases El-P ever-evolving production chops but also his refined delivery — his emceeing sounds better than ever, with a good mix of fairly straightforward and denser lyrical content. A few well-placed guest spots from Killer Mike, Mr.
Quality headphones are mandatory for optimal enjoyment. The Undisputed Truth is the best Hip Hop album released in Great messaging, intricate lyricism, beautiful guitar-driven bluesy rhythms crafted by Ant — and not one miss in the tracklist: The Undisputed Truth is a classic. This is without a doubt one of the best double albums in Hip Hop history. The key to its success is the smart decision to divide the album into two distinctly different parts. Wuz Here and Return Of 4 Eva did.
With this album, Big K. Iz Here was kind of disappointing. Redman is one of the most underappreciated emcees ever. With this debut album, he immediately sets a high standard for himself. No weak tracks and filled with bangers, Redman never takes himself too seriously and drops a fun party album with tight production all around. Like Water For Chocolate is just about as good as Be is though, and it is one of those rare albums that musically transcends the genre of Hip Hop but at the same time is pure Hip Hop to the core.
With jazzy and soulful production work from the likes of Questlove, J Dilla, and DJ Premier, and with Common in top form on the mic — this truly is a masterpiece that is aging like a fine wine. The third album in an incredible three-album run.
Bizarre and humorous lyrics delivered in that typical crazy Redman flow — Muddy Waters is an essential album. Released just three days before his untimely death on Feb. It serves as the perfect example and as a great inspiration for countless aspiring beatmakers and DJs, showing where talent and dedication can lead to Donuts is the defining masterpiece from an amazingly talented musician who died much too young.
Maybe because of the epicness of their first two albums, this one is often overlooked in best-of Hip Hop album lists. It should not be though. The Diary — his third solo album — is short and tight 10 full songs with only one guest Ice Cube , which makes it all the stronger. Revolutionary Vol. This album is boom bap Hip Hop at is very best. Golden Age Hip Hop fans who turned away from Hip Hop around the turn of the millennium because all the mainstream offered up was watered-down dumbed-down rap music, should check out albums like The Element Of Surprise and have their faith in and enthusiasm about Hip Hop restored.
By , Boogie Down Productions had already two very different, but equally classic albums out. The real start of an epic career that would make Em a worldwide phenomenon and one of the best-selling artists in music ever. He is one of the highest-selling artists too, with more monumental songs than anyone in the game.
The reason 2Pac is widely considered one of the GOATs has everything to do with his personality, his charisma, his star power, his poetic flair, his unique voice, the strength of his singles , and the manner and time of his death; and less with his lyrical skill or the quality of his albums. Of the five albums completed during his life, not one is flawless. Especially the second part of the album just goes on and on with what seems to be the same track over and over again, a ridiculous amount of filler really.
That half should have been left on the cutting room floor. AEOM could have been excellent if 2Pac had released the best half as a single album. All Eyez On Me as it is is not. Make no mistake: we love 2Pac and his music — we just contend that this album, while good, is not as good as is often said. The first solo album by Definitive Jux head-honcho El-P builds on the lyrically and sonically dense sound he pioneered with Company Flow, with Fun Crusher Plus released via Rawkus Records in as the benchmark album that was instrumental in keeping real Hip Hop alive.
On Fantastic Damage, he produces avant-garde digital beats and drops ill lyrics designed to make you listen carefully and to make you think. In an age of simplistic rhymes and lack of meaningful concepts, Lupe Fiasco brought intelligence and consciousness back to mainstream Hip Hop.
Servants in Heaven , Kings in Hell is the fifth studio album by legendary Philly crew Jedi Mind Tricks and arguably their best, in a series of mostly excellent albums. It is also their best-performing album commercially but still went criminally unnoticed especially when compared to highest selling and wack rap albums from the likes of Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and others like them.
The Rugged Man. But the rest of the album bangs too. Philadelphia rapper Schoolly D was all about attitude. This second album shows Schoolly D in top form — hardcore lyrics over minimalist, hard-hitting beats. Room 25 is an understated poetic gem. Noname expertly mixes jazzy neo-soul vibes with her conversational rap style. The result is a mellow sounding journey — overseen by fellow Chicagoan and multi-instrumentalist producer Phoelix — where Noname guides the listener through her light and dark thoughts, being consistently compelling all the while.
This album contains their well-known first hit singles and is solid through and through, no filler tracks here. Distant Relatives is a seamless fusion of Hip Hop, Reggae, Dancehall, and African musical elements, with uplifting afro-centric vocals about freedom, family, spirituality, and ancestry. At 65 minutes, Distant Relatives offers both quantity and quality — all killer, no filler.
Distant Relatives is aging really well and sounds as timely and timeless today as it did the day it was released. Unfortunate, because Distant Relatives is much too good to be ignored. The chemistry between Nas and Damian Marley is palpable, and they complement each other perfectly. More than a Hip Hop album — all fans of music in general need to have this one in their collections. What do you know about billy woods? Musically this album could have been part of the Def Jux realm with its dusty and experimental sounding musical backdrops.
History Will Absolve Me is a challenging and intense listening experience, but ultimately extremely rewarding. One of the best albums in , which was sadly ignored upon its release. It is standing the test of time though, so it is never too late to check it out. The Impossible Kid is the seventh studio album by Aesop Rock. Aesop Rock is a master of intelligent, poetic lyricism and on this album his flow perfectly blends with the highly original beats he crafted himself.
Overall Apocalypse 91… may lack the special spark of its two predecessors, but there are enough strokes of brilliance here as well. Apollo Brown is one of the best producers in the game today. The number of top-quality projects he has put his stamp on in this decade is amazing. Trophies is 16 tracks of straight to the point Hip Hop; no frills, no gimmicks.
There are no guest emcee appearances, no hook singers, no skits, no wasted moments — and despite the album is about one hour long, it never gets boring. In the gangsta theme still had originality and authenticity, which makes Ice T a true O. With this sophomore effort, Freestyle Fellowship really deliver the goods. Conscious, humorous, clever, versatile: emcees Mikah 9, P.
This highly original album is a slept-on lyrical masterpiece. Another Gang Starr album, another classic. After discovering their signature sound on Step In The Arena , Premier and Guru perfected it here, dropping another gem that can be played from beginning to end without having to skip any tracks. He is an incredible producer AND a great lyricist.
He is responsible for two near-flawless albums as one-third of the Diamond District trio, and he has released a string of great solo-projects. Tangible Dream is his best solo-effort of the s, along with The Good Fight This album is full of great songs. Tangible Dream offers smooth and intelligent Hip Hop of the highest quality — this album should be a part of any serious Hip Hop collection.
This album is FUN. The debut album of the Jungle Brothers , and the first album of a group affiliated with The Native Tongues collective. Dope production, dope rhymes — this is one of the many classics, arguably the greatest year in the history of Hip Hop.
Also one of the best-produced albums of It never achieved the same legendary status that the seminal release of the year — Dr. One of the biggest albums of the aughts. The fact he made a bunch of not-so-good albums had more to do with subpar production than his work on the mic. On Rip The Jacker , his fifth studio album, everything finally comes together for Canibus — resulting in what arguably is his best album. Forget 50 Cent, this is one of the best albums of Enta Da Stage is such an album.
The question was if they could do it again — and the answer is a resounding yes. Bandana is cut from the same cloth as its seminal predecessor and is just about as good. With Pinata they showed that their apparent differences only served to create a result that was bigger than the sum of the two parts; with Bandana they prove it was not a fluke.
Because of a string of mediocre later releases and probably also because of his mega-successful business dealings, Jay Z has become a love-him or hate-him kind of figure. A young, hungry and ambitious Jay Z paints a compelling picture of his life as a hustler.
With masterful production, brilliant lyricism, Reasonable Doubt shows us Jay Z at his musical peak. Markedly darker — both sonically and lyrically — than their previous albums, Guru is great and especially DJ Premier is in top form as always, cementing their combined status of one the most consistent acts in Hip Hop ever. Also part of the epic run of classic Wu-Tang solo debuts.
Brokelore is the most surprising album of the year. Excellent rhyming — lyrics and flow — and smooth, infectious beats from beginning to end. This is a near-perfect album, expertly blending traditional West Coast and East Coast Hip Hop sounds and adding a unique contemporary vibe. The mark of a classic? Endless replay value and no skips — Brokelore is such an album. Another DITC classic. Diamond D always was a producer first and an emcee second and it shows. The beats on this joint are flawless from start to finish, no need to skip tracks on this album.
This is a fantastic album, one of the best released in After having made a big enough impression with two mixtapes and his excellent debut project Bucket List Project in , year-old Chicago rapper Saba dropped a modern classic with his sophomore album Care For Me.
In an interview, Saba spoke about the mental process and how writing the songs on the album were therapeutic saying:. A lot of it had to do with losing my best friend and older cousin, [John] Walt, which is throughout the album.
Care For Me is a subtle and intimate concept album dedicated to the memory of his cousin. The emotion involved can be felt throughout the 10 tracks on Care For Me , and this is one of those albums where the instrumentals and the lyrics complement each other perfectly, the minimalist but tasteful soundscapes Saba cooked up himself serving only to enhance the poignant emotions reflected in his lyrics.
In addition to their monumental debut, the classic Enter The Wu-Tang , there were 5 outstanding solo projects by Wu-Tang Clan members released prior to this sophomore effort. Wu-Tang Forever is a double album, which is always tricky. The risk is that the album loses focus and cohesiveness, that there are some tracks that will be seen as filler material and that the album simply is too long winded.
Not the case here. Sure, it could have done with fewer tracks and certainly with fewer skits , but overall this is an excellent album and great addition to the Wu-Tang catalog. Nothing wrong with the musical backdrops by the way — a lot of dirty, dusty drums and snares, just as can be expected on an MF DOOM record — but the lyrics steal the show here. The album is filled with crazy creative imagery, humor, and dope punchlines, DOOM once again proves lyrically he is in a lane of his own.
So, how to top or even equal a classic like Illmatic? An impossible task, even if It Was Written turned out to be another excellent Nas album. Going for a more commercial-friendly sound here and there, and trying out the mafioso subgenre on some tracks, It Was Written just feels a little less tight and coherent than Illmatic does. With It Was Written Nas cemented his status as one of the most talented, all-around skilled emcees in the game. Music , forming a duo was nothing but a logical step.
Although not even their strongest outing, Run The Jewels still is one of the better projects of the decade, laying the groundwork for even better things to come. Like RTJ2 and RTJ3 , this project is aging very well, and with three straight near-perfect albums under their belts, there can be little discussion about the fact Run The Jewels is one of the greatest duos in Hip Hop history.
In his year career, KRS dropped many classic albums — this is one of his best. Lyrics, flow, delivery, message, beats, diversity — this album has everything. This is Southern Hip Hop at its finest. Real and raw, Soul Food has that genre-bending musicality reminiscent of OutKast with true lyrical depth.
One of those albums that age like fine wine and only get better as time goes by. Where most of his Wu-Tang colleagues struggled and failed… to follow-up their classic solo debuts with worthy follow-ups, Ghostface even surpassed his already awesome debut Ironman with Supreme Clientele.
If not for the little lag — with a few skits too many — in the middle of the album, Supreme Clientele would have been an absolute Hip Hop classic. Simply brilliant. A challenging listen maybe, but ultimately extremely rewarding — a milestone not just for Hip Hop, but for music in general. Sonically creative and diverse and lyrically astute — this album is standing the test of time and will always have a place among the best Hip Hop albums of all-time.
Even though The Listening was much-lauded it went relatively unnoticed. The Rennaissance obliterated all doubters and Q-Tip critics. The album is consistent as hell, 13 tracks with no filler material. Why this album is hardly ever mentioned when discussing best ever Hip Hop albums is a mystery. Everything about this album is DOPE. Production is great, Paris is a fine emcee with a dark, menacing tone of voice and the subject matter is thought-provoking.
Paak, and Busta Rhymes to spice things up some. City and To Pimp A Butterfly. No sophomore slump for EPMD. One year after their brilliant debut album Strictly Business they turned out another classic. Danny Brown hit a home run with Atrocity Exhibition. This album feels like a feverish nightmare that gives us a glimpse of the insanity, depression, and hedonism of the Danny Brown psyche. This album is deep and dark and at times over the top, both sonically and lyrically. Production is superb though, and even those who gravitate towards more traditional styles will find a lot to like here.
One of the best album covers front and back in Hip Hop history too. Few groups in Hip Hop, if any, can boast both the longevity and consistency De La Soul has shown over the years. The reason for that probably is that it has less commercial appeal than the others. Artistically it is every bit as strong, though — cohesive and consistent throughout — an artistic peak for both De La Soul and producer Prince Paul. LL Cool J at the top of his game.
Like a big fat shiny caramel apple, Apple O will either rip your teeth out on first contact or leave you with a sugar headache and an uncanny craving for more. Listening to Four Tet's Rounds is a surprisingly easy way to reconfigure your basic understanding of what music means.
Check the record as a simple method for reconciling the puzzle-piece fiddling of 's phenomenal technology with the bleeding-fingered passion of classic, hands-on-instrument wanking: Rounds is, essentially, an impassioned celebration of sourceless sound.
Here, ambitious laptopper Kieran Hebden channels pretty, tinkling melodies through his groaning hardware, pumping out majestic, multifaceted songs and fattening each of his compositions with tiny, manipulative bits. From its opening heartbeats to its soft, buzzing finish, the album sprays a fiber-optic stream of honks and rolls, beats and beeps, each ethereal pop split and looped until it fits perfectly into Hebden's haunting whole.
Blissfully weird and startlingly dynamic, Rounds is the kind of record that follows you around long after it's spun to a close, a sprawling, glitchy success that refuses to fade without having left its inimitable impression on your circuitry. Nothing was new about this album, but everything was better: Portland-based Exploding Hearts took the tried-and-true formulas of power-pop, pushed their levels into the red, and beat out one of the year's most passionate and exuberant records.
Here, songcraft takes precedence over everything: "Modern Kicks", "Sleeping Aides and Razorblades" and "Throwaway Style" all burst with infectious melody, unfettered by pretense and undistracted by overwrought production. The mentality of Guitar Romantic mirrored that of the band members themselves, who, refusing to be caught up in the trenches of retro-irony that threaten such unmitigated earnestness, embraced their pink-and-yellow sound with palpable devotion.
Frustratingly, this breath of fresh air was cut short in July when three of the band's members died in a car wreck on their way back from a San Francisco performance and promising talks with Lookout! It's a disheartening tragedy that putting on Guitar Romantic at once reminds us of and, if only for thirty minutes, helps us to forget. Maurice Fulton and Mutsumi Kanamori are responsible for one of the cooler out-of-nowhere records of There are moments suggesting a healthy history collecting electro records, but very little sets a precedent for the range of Kanamori's expression.
She's ominous and cold in "Jealous Kids", gets aggressive on the funk party essential "Tell You Something", and then delivers the most incredible vocal performance I heard this year on "My Name Is Tommi". On the latter track, she re-enacts a Cheaters -style reality TV series, assuming the role of every character, right down to the thrilling confrontation "You never home!
You never home! Why you never try to talk to me?! Still, the world needs more records like this. Unique, exhaustingly varied and funky, the world needs Mu. Doing for East London in what N. On merciless tracks like "I Luv U" and "Jus' a Rascal", Dizzee delivered his rhymes in a frantic spitfire frenzy draped in a heavy East London accent that struck as part aggressive, primal holler, and part ravishing cry for help.
His torrent of abrasive, icy beats offered little shelter: the self-produced instrumentals are a potent blend of Timbaland's minimalist stutter-funk, two-step, and Jamaican Dancehall with trails of gunshots, police sirens and other signs of urban depravity woven throughout. Indeed, the urgency of Dizzee's place-specific rhymes, matched with the stressful sonic architecture of his beats made Boy in Da Corner 's urban narratives a veritable Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man for the new millennium.
As soon as the first horse hair rubbed steel on "Venus in Furs", Groucho Marx turned to Yogi Berra in the back of the Max's Kansas City crowd and remarked, "Every one of these bohos is going to go start a band. The idea is overrated. From two angles, The Strokes make you not want to form a band. On one hand, they release meticulously planned rock songs that sound banged out on a whim.
The drummer is inhuman. They have impeccable style. They have the resources and lifestyle to practice hours a day, every day.
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Archived from the original on December 22, Archived from the original on Retrieved Spectrum Culture. Lambeth, London: Big Dada. Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 20, MF Doom. Discography — Production discography. Operation: Doomsday Mm.. Live from Planet X Expektoration. Born Like This Unexpected Guests. Vaudeville Villain VV Take Me to Your Leader. Special Herbs, Vol. Madvillainy Madvillainy 2.
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Retrieved December 22, Muzik 98 : Stylus Magazine. Archived from the original on March 30, Retrieved June 12, Tiny Mix Tapes. Uncut 75 : August Archived from the original on December 22, Archived from the original on Retrieved Spectrum Culture.
Lambeth, London: Big Dada. Official Charts Company. Retrieved March 20, MF Doom. Discography — Production discography. Operation: Doomsday Mm.. Live from Planet X Expektoration. Born Like This Unexpected Guests.
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