Look it up.
First and foremost, an apology for writing this long-ass (pause) piece (also pause). I’m still learning this ish as I go, so bear/bare/bayer with me.
Also, This post is sure to spark some debates, some agreement, and more than likely a whole bunch of people telling me that I know nothing about hip-hop and should kill myself. La Dee Da.
I’ve read a lot of Hip-Hop blogs over the past year. I started out with Ashlee Crawford’s column over at xxlmag.com, then moved onto his own website, then eventually found my way to NahRight, and also frequent my boy Meka’s blog over at HipHopDX.
I also enjoy blogs by my homeboys Belize (dahshyt.blogspot.com), iFux (ifux.blogspot.com), Green Eyes (southerncomfort.wordpress.com), Phuque (whatuheard.wordpress.com), Big Homie (myhangover.wordpress.com), and XFacta (therapgame.wordpress.com).
Those are all good sites, with varying opinions, styles, and focuses. Odds are good this site is gonna seem a bit…off…compared to all of those.
So, to continue that streak, and to no doubt raise the ire of all of my “fans” across the interweb, here’s a(nother) list, this time of my favorite albums to come out in rap, by the year they were released:
1992- The Chronic. Okay, this one is a no-brainer. Putting on this album was like stepping into a brand new world of Low riders, weed, guns, police brutality, “bitches”, and incredible beats. This album simulatenously thrilled and scared my 12 year old sense. ‘Til this day tho’, I’ll listen to “Nuthin’ but a G-Thang” whenever it’s on. Fave song: “Stranded on Death Row”.
1993- Doggystyle. This is on my (short) list of Flawless albums. Even that stupid track at the end, “Pump Pump” (pause) is a banger. You know an album is gonna kick ass when the beat to the intro gets you psyched. The “WBALLS” skits were funny, the guest appearances were great, and who couldn’t listen to Snoop (Doggy) Dogg rhyme all day long back then? Sheeit… I’ve gone thru like 3 copies of this album, none better than the original dubbed cassette from my dude Robles. My only problem with subsequent CD versions is that they don’t have this ONE FLIPPIN’ TRACK that was on the cassette, but not on the CD. (I’d consult Noz over at xxlmag.com about it cuz he’s a cassette junkie, but my patience for smarmy assholes is finite) I don’t know the name of it, but the chorus goes: “Will all the real Gs please stand up and all be accounted for / and if you don’t give a fuck about a bitch then you’re rolling with the ‘row” Anyone with that song should holla at me in the comments section. Fave Track- “Ain’t No Fun”
1994- Ready to Die. Again, this a great big “Duh”. ‘Matter fact? I’m not even gonna get into it. “Juicy”. “Warning”. “Big Poppa”. “The What?”. “Everyday Struggle”. While it doesn’t hold the same spot in my heart as other albums, it’s still a No Skipper, even if some of the beats seem kinda “Ehh..” to me now. Fave Track- “Juicy”.
1995- Boy, this is embarrassing. I can’t think of one album that came out this year that I remember buying. I’m sure my NR brethren will give me a list of about 46 albums that I should’ve been listening to back then. Ah well.
1996- The SpaceJam Soundtrack. Look, seeing that now compared with the above albums, of course it’s gonna look cheesy. Seeing who was on it, however, shows that some time and effort went into that album. Jay-Z, R. Kelly, Coolio, B-Real, Method Man, Busta Rhymes, LL Cool J, Seal, All 4 One, Monica, Biz Markie, Spin Doctors, Barry White, Chris Rock… That’s a helluva lineup for a soundtrack album, even moreso when you take into consideration how good all those songs were, even with the Quad City DJs on that MoFo. Plus! Jay-Z ghostwriting for Bugs Bunny! If you don’t at least chuckle at that, you need to re-read the name of this site. Fave Track- The Mon-Stars Anthem. (“If I hit ’em high hit ’em high hit ’em high, then you hit ’em low hit ’em low hit ’em low…”) Edit– I just now, 2 minutes after writing this paragraph remembered that “Reasonable Doubt” came out in 1996. RD > SpaceJam errday all day, but I’m too f’n lazy to go back and write another paragraph
1997- No Way Out. “Oh my god, Rey! Over Wu-Tang Forever? Over Life After Death? Over Volume 1? Over The Firm? Over When Disaster Strikes?” Yes. Over all of them. This is another No Skip album, and if we could all take off our “Down with Diddy!” buttons for a second, take a trip back to when this album first came out. “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down” was sick, just take a look at Ma$e’s 2nd verse. “Victory” had Biggie’s best verses ever (yes it did). “Been around the world” not only took a throwaway early 90s chorus, but a very well known 80s beat, and made a balleriffic (c) Kanye West Anthem with one of the craziest videos in the history of hip-hop. Not to mention “…the Benjamins remix”. This album was incredible, and it did a spectacular job of capturing the incredibly tense atmosphere of hip-hop at that time. Hate on Sean John Combs all you want, but the man delivered a classic. Only problem I have with it is this: WHERE THE FUCK IS THE ORIGINAL “ALL ABOUT THE BENJAMINS”??? Everywhere you go, the track on No Way Out is labeled “…remix”. Where was the original?? Did I miss something somewhere? Someone please let me know what the fuck happened, it’s driving me crazier than Britney Spears in Arkham Aslyum. Fave Track- “We got the shit wrapped tight, brass knuckles and flashlights…”
1998- This year started my anger at rap. No Limit and Ruff Ryders ruled the world back then, and altho’ I bought “It’s Dark and Hell is Hot”, I didn’t listen to any tracks besides “Get at me dog”, “Stop being greedy”, “How’s it going down?”, and of course, “Ruff Ryder Anthem”. Jay-Z’s “Volume 2: Hard Knock Life” came out, but that didn’t really tickle my fancy (pause) the way his other albums did. Soooooo… let’s move onto..
1999- Chronic 2001- Again, a no brainer. Personal raps, killer beats, rejuvenated Dre, Snoop, Eminem when he still gave a shit.. Classic stuff. Also, it’s the last Aftermath-Related project that didn’t come with a Firestorm of Beef. Yes Mr. Young, you actually used to put out albums that were promoted based on the quality of music contained therein! Fave Track- The Next Episode.
2000- The Marshall Mathers LP- Crazy White Boy rap at it’s finest. Eminem capitalized on all the controversy, all the drama, all the hysteria and created a delightfully mysoginistic, drug filled, angry classic. (sorry landLORD). Altho’ the album lagged a bit production-wise at times, Eminem’s intricate rhymeschemes and wicked lyrics kept the listeners engaged the entire time. “The Way I Am” is classic angry song, “The Real Slim Shady” is the quintessential “sing along” song, and “Stan” is one of the most brilliant songs I’ve ever heard. *sigh* Four years later we got “Encore”, and it had a song about farting. I hope you’re proud, Marshall. Fave Track- Bitch Please Part II.
2001- The Blueprint. Now I know I’m gonna get shit for this one, but come on, it’s true. Before The Blueprint came along rap was mired in this awful production hell, with Mannie Fresh and Swizz Beats littering the hip-hop landscape with their bullshit synth crap that sounded like the 3rd level of motherfucking Marble Madness or some shit. When The Blueprint came out, people abandoned their Casios and ran to the recka’ sto’ to cop some old Soul Records. Bink, Just Blaze, and Kanye brought soul back to the music, brought heart back to the music, and gave Shawn Corey Carter the ingredients to create classic music. Plus, you know, Timbaland and the Trackmasters didn’t fuck anything up, which was good. “Song Cry”, “Girls, Girls, Girls”, Um.. “Track 13”, and “Never Change” all showed jay at his storytelling best, and even tho’ Em murdered him on his own shit, Jay’s verses would’ve killed any other MC in the world. Oh, plus there was some track called “The Takeover”, which was a charming song about acquiring Boardwalk in “Monopoly” or some such. Fave Track– “Girls, Girls, Girls”.
2002- God’s Son. Even tho’ Nas’ previous record made everyone crazy-go-nuts, I thought it had maybe 5 classics, 3 kinda good songs, and a bunch of other records I didn’t like. “God’s Son”, however, was amazing, showcasing not only Nas’ vulnerability after his mother passed from cancer, but also showed him not as a cocky (pause) victor from his beef with Jay-Z and The Roc (no Duane Johnson), but rather a reluctant gunslinger who merely did what he had to do. From the opening hit of “Get Down” to the final heartbreaking notes from Olu Dara’s trumpets on “One More Dance”, Nas weaved an incredible album from start to finish. (Except for “Zone Out”, which was the worst song to come out until “Laffy Taffy”). Fave Track- “One More Dance”.
2003- This one is a 3-way tie. Here we go: First off you have Curtis’ debut album, “Get Rich or Die Trying”. Great beats, great choruses, great verse by Eminem, and 50 provides some real good attempts at rappin’ in between the choruses and over the great beats. This album had everything but a decent lead, so there ya go. The next one is Bubba Sparxxx’s “Deliverance”. I normally can’t stand Timbaland, but his “Hick Hop” instrumentals on this album, as well as contributions by Organized Noize, gave Bubba such powerful beats to tell his stories. Far from the blingy bullet boredom that Mr. Jackson gave us, Bubba went in (pause) in terms of lyricism, as well as detailing the not-so-glamorous side of the record industry. The album kinda lags a bit towards the end, but it’s still worth checking out. Criminally slept on, In my opinion. The last album (and my Nah peeps knew this was coming), is Joe Budden’s self titled album. One could argue that the torch gets passed from icon to icon, legend to legend.. Rakim’s intricate flow was taken and improved on by Nasir Jones, and in this case, Jay-Z’s flow was borrowed and perfected by Joseph Budden. (Not “buddenS”, just “Budden”). People label Joey as the “Pump it up” guy, but my favorite songs on his album aren’t the crossover party songs or “girl” songs, rather they are the insightful, revealing, deep tracks such as “Calm Down”, “Walk With Me”, and his opus, “Ten Minutes”. Mr. Budden gets a lot of hate around my corners of the interweb, but hey, if haters didn’t hate, what would we call them? Fave tracks: GRODT- “In Da Club”, Deliverance- “Nowhere”, Joe Budden- “Ten Minutes”.
2004- The College Dropout. Oh yes, we’re up to Kanye. Now, my Kanye standom is renowned, but yamo keep it extra crispy with the 4 or 5 people that are still reading: The album is absolutely perfect, word to Curt Hennig (rip). The beats are top notch, the guest stars all brought their A-Game, even if only on a hook, and Kanye West proved that one can rap “…without using knives and guns” and still capture the attention of everyone from backpackers to thugs and everyone in between. The singles, “Through The Wire”, “All Falls Down”, “Jesus Walks”, and “The New Workout” plan all show Kanye’s versatility in terms of content, as well as beat-wise. Also, the Jay-Z and J Ivy collabo, “Never let you down” never fails to get my emo up (huzzahs! first mention of the word “emo”!). Once again, in the words of Shang Tsung: Flawless. Fave Track- “Never Let You Down”.
2005- Late Registration. “I know we was gon’ see you again!”. Kanye does it again. This album is at times abstract, braggadicious, over my head, under my feet, humble, powerful, inspirational.. The musical landscape this album brought in was nothing like I had ever heard before, nor have I heard since. Kanye brought in Mr. Jon Brion, a left-field producer for the likes of Fiona “Cri-mi-na-hull” Apple, and guess what? The shit worked. Paul Wall, Maroon 5 guy, Sheeit.. ‘Ye even got Cameron Giles to spit some pretty clever lines. All in all, one of the most amazing albums I’ve ever been fortunate enough to hear. Fave Track- “Bring Me Down”.
2006- Food & Liquor. This was a toss-up between a couple of different albums. However, F&L gets the nod over “Press Play” because Lupe actually wrote his own stuff, and doesn’t have the embarrassing “Special Feeling” nor the insipid “Partner for Life”. F&L wins out over “Hip-Hop Is Dead” because the production and hooks on HHID kind of ranged from “Whoa!” to “Ehh..”. F&L also wins out against “Doctor’s Advocate” because Lupe doesn’t do that rhyming the same word twice shit I hate, nor does it have the repetitive subject matter, nor does it have the aural herpes known as “Bang” and “All around the world”. (note to Jamie Foxx– stick to working with Kanye). F&L from the intro to the bonus tracks had the best production of any album I’ve ever heard (yes), and some of the most dope concepts and executions I’ve ever heard. “We just might be ok” is an anthem, “Emperor Lu” is an empowering banger, “Pressure” features Lupe holding his own with Jay-Z who, in the opinion of Me, m’fuckin’ killed his verse, and “The Cool” was a rap song about a friggin’ zombie. A zombie, people. Let’s see Lil’ Wayne try that!
2007- Um.. Yeah. I haven’t actually bought any rap albums this year, but that’s gonna change very soon, and I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts (mmmm…donuts) that Kanye West’s “Graduation” is gonna walk away with the crown.
Okay, That’s it. Let the hating, congratulating, and debating begin!