Double Up: 14 of Rap’s Most Essential Double Discs

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    In the second half of the 1990s, some of the genre’s most prominent rappers began releasing double discs. It’s a trend that worked for some and failed others, and soon faded away. These days, thanks to a combination, most likely, of listeners’ inadequate attention spans, labels’ disinterest in paying increased publishing for more tracks, and other factors, double albums are a rarity. Yet, in a recent interview, Lupe Fiasco announced that his upcoming album <em>Food & Liquor 2</em> is slated to be a double disc. In preparation for the Chicago MC’s lengthy offering, <em>XXL</em> looks back at 14 of the most prominent rap double discs. —<em>Adam Fleischer</em>
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    Album: <em>He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper</em><br />Artist: DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince<br />Release Date: March 29, 1988<br />Length: 85:10<br />Double Disc Worthy?: Yes. The hip-hop pioneers were first to bring the double disc format to a rap release with this early project. Though not particularly lengthy, in its initial form as a vinyl release, the project was the first double disc in rap history.
  • 2Pac-All_Eyez_On_Me-Frontal
    Album: <em>All Eyez On Me</em><br />Artist: 2Pac<br />Release Date: February 13, 1996<br />Length: 132:18<br />Double Disc Worthy?: Yes. The album was released during a fever pitch of ’Pac’s popularity, and only served to add to his idol, spawning a number of hits and serving as the last release before he was murdered.
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    Album: <em>Life After Death</em><br />Artist: The Notorious B.I.G.<br />Release Date: March 25, 1997<br />Length: 109:12<br />Double Disc Worthy?: Yes. Big’s final opus is widely regarded as one of the greatest rap albums of all-time.
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    Album: <em>Wu-Tang Forever</em><br />Artist: Wu-Tang Clan<br />Release Date: June 3, 1997<br />Length: 112:06<br />Double Disc Worthy?: Yes. After a near four-year hiatus that included a string of solo efforts, the entire Clan got back together for this sophomore offering. The release was critically and commercially successful, and earned the Killa Bees a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Album in 1998.
  • 000-bone_thugs-n-harmony-the_art_of_war-2cd-retail-1997-front
    Album: <em>The Art of War</em><br />Artist: Bone Thugs-n-Harmony<br />Release Date: July 29, 1997<br />Length: 121:14<br />Double Disc Worthy?: No. Any album that is over two hours is probably going to be a bit much to digest; this fell in that category. The project still had its peaks, and is a solid peg in the catalog of one of the greatest groups ever to share the mic, but couldn’t quite touch the breakout <em>E. 1999 Eternal</em>.
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    Album: <em>MP Da Last Don</em><br />Artist: Master P<br />Release Date: June 2, 1998<br />Length: 106:29<br />Double Disc Worthy?: No. Though this was Master P’s best-selling album of all-time, it wasn’t necessarily his strongest musically. The project featured some four dozen guest verses for its 29 tracks, and though there were certainly some bangers on there, not everything was for keeps.
  • E-40-The-Element-Of-Surprise
    Album: <em>The Element of Surprise</em><br />Artist: E-40<br />Release Date: August 11, 1998<br />Length: 107:59<br />Double Disc Worthy?: No. Though 40 Water in a pillar of consistency and hard work in the rap game, having pumped out albums, songs and videos for years, he could have slang this disc with a few less tracks.
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    Album: <em>Skull & Bones</em><br />Artist: Cypress Hill<br />Release Date: April 25, 2000<br />Length: 64:27<br />Double Disc Worthy?: Yes. Cypress Hill made plenty of noise with this combo hip-hop/rap metal album. The project’s biggest release was done twice over, with two versions, “(Rap) Superstar” and “(Rock) Superstar.” The album still only had 18 tracks, and was just over an hour, but the split spelled out the distinction within what they were attempting to do.
  • 1244365395_allcdcovers_jay_z_the_blueprint_2_the_gift_the_cur
    Album: <em>The Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse</em><br />Artist: Jay-Z<br />Release Date: November 12, 2002
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    Album: <em>Diplomatic Immunity</em><br />Artist: The Diplomats<br />Release Date: March 25, 2003<br />Length: 103:18<br />Double Disc Worthy?: Yes. The debut disc from the rowdy Harlem crew helped solidify their status as entertaining and exciting.
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    Album: <em>Speakerboxxx/The Love Below</em><br />Artist: OutKast<br />Release Date: September 23, 2003<br />Length: 134:50<br />Double Disc-Worthy?: Yes. For the ATLiens’ first release since their widely praised <em>Stankonia</em>, the legendary Southern duo split duties and split discs. For <em>The Love Below</em>, Andre 3000 became increasingly experimental, flexing his pipes and infusing funk and pop into his hip-hop core. With <em>Speakerboxxx</em>, Big Boi stuck to his roots, firing off impressive wordplay and bringing along stellar guests (Jay-Z, Ludacris, Killer Mike). Though <em>Speakerboxxx</em> didn’t earn the acclaim of <em>The Love Below</em>, both were crucial to marking the moment.
  • Lil_flip_u_gotta_feel_me
    Album: <em>U Gotta Feel Me</em><br />Artist: Lil Flip<br />Release Date: March 30, 2004<br />Length: 86:32<br />Double Disc Worthy?: No. Already established in Houston, Lil Flip brought his sound to the nation with this breakout disc, thanks to cuts like “Game Over (Flip)” and “Sunshine.” But the album didn’t warrant two discs, and with only 21 tracks total, clipping just a few could have made it a worthwhile single disc.
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    Album: <em>Street’s Disciple</em><br />Artist: Nas<br />Release Date: November 30, 2004<br />Length: 87:50<br />Double Disc-Worthy?: No. Though it was generally well received critically, it didn’t seem like the streets liked what they had been given by the Disciple. There were surely gems, but Nas’ core fanbase wasn’t thrilled about the release.
  • UGK-Underground_Kingz-Frontal
    Album: <em>Underground Kingz</em><br />Artist: UGK<br />Release Date: August 7, 2007<br />Length: 129:01<br />Double Disc Worthy?: Yes. For the first release since they Freed Pimp C, the Underground Kingz celebrated with a batch of Southern fried audible snacks. With guests from OutKast (“Int’l Player’s Anthem [I Choose You]”) to Rick Ross (“Cocaine”) to Big Daddy Kane and Kool G Rap (“Next Up”), the Port Arthur, Texas natives further cemented their legacy. The Pimp passed just four months later.

Ed. Note: An updated version of this story can be found here.

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  • alderman j

    i agree blueprint 2 was HOVS worst album, until KINGDOM COME dropped…..

  • agree my G

    shit for once i agree with everything they said on here my top 3 out them are
    wu tang

  • Tic706

    How in the hell did Lost from Eightball not make this list? Unless you are counting that 3rd bonus disc? Then i’ll give you a pass I guess.

    What about Yukmouth – Thugged Out: The Albulation? That one is mos def note worthy.

    And I highly rec anyone with an open mind to rap music to check out K-Rino’s double album Annihilation of the Evil Machine.

  • D90

    Tech N9ne – Killer?

  • superANT

    no Tech N9ne “Killer”? no Krayzie Bone “Thug Mentality 1999″? 8ball “Lost”? but the dipset garbage gets mentioned…..

  • TruthBeTold

    cause they didnt sell very many albums compared to the others on the list? not to diss tech, strange music’s dope.

  • BangEm



  • LDVK

    Lupe’s album will drop as 2 parts though so it’s not a real double disc.

  • Dead President

    bullshit bullshit bullshit. .
    XXL claim ‘this is rap’s most essential double disc albums’.

    listen XXL, this is only your opinion. ENTIRELY.

    wack list btw. some standouts, but overall – you need to word your shit properly and do more research foreal .

  • soulja slim

    master p da last don great album

  • Meaux

    Agree with everything on the list xcept 4 what xxl said about bone thugs art of war album. in my opinion, i think that album was just as gud as All Eyez On Me & Life After Death.