The sophomore slump is not just a cliche, it's an indicator of longevity in the music industry, and many rappers have come and gone without getting over that hump. But while so many fall off, and a smaller group of others maintain their consistency, there's a rare group of artists whose second album surpassed their debut—even if the first may have been dope on its own. It's not always about sales—though all the albums on this list outsold their predecessors, as well—but it's the influence of an album that matters, too; Nas' It Was Written
, for instance, has outsold Illmatic
by nearly a million copies to date, but no one would place it ahead of Esco's debut in the pantheon of great albums.
With Kendrick Lamar looking to follow up his classic debut good kid, m.A.A.d city
in the near future, XXL
takes a look at 11 rappers and rap groups whose sophomore albums were bigger than their first. It's the progress that feels the best. —XXL Staff