Joey from the blog Straight Bangin’ emailed me Monday about this group poll he’s putting together to determine the 25 greatest hip-hop albums of all time. I thought it was going to be one of those things where I had a month to put it together, so basically I could wait until next month and throw it together at the last minute. But apparently we were supposed to have this done by today, so I went ahead and threw mine together this morning.
Here’s the list I put together. Note that I mostly tried to restrict it to one album per artist, except that I considered all of the Wu solo albums their own separate entities. My bad about the newest album on it being seven years old and there not being enough southern rap and so on and so forth. But this is, after all, my list. If you don’t like it, feel free to make your own and email it to Joey.
25) LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out – The rare hip-hop comeback album that’s not a complete and utter embarassment.
24) Common Sense, Resurrection – Common Sense back before he got too smart for his own good. The MCing on this album is just ridonkulous
23) Mos Def, Black on Both Sides – The backpacker Ready to Die.
22) Digital Underground, Sex Packets – The closest 2Pac will get to this list, though you can’t actually *hear* his contributions to this album.
21) Ultramagnetic MCs, Critical Beatdown – As it turns out, Kool Keith was both completely batshit and way ahead of his time.
20) Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt – I bet you d-bags thought I wasn’t going to include this one.
19) Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx – The album that helped kickstart a million regrettable trends. I’m still not sure what Ghost and Rae are talking about half the time.
18) Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele – Cracka-ass crackas on the Internets were right about this one.
17) GZA, Liquid Swords – My favorite of the Wu solo albums.
16) The Roots, Do You Want More?!!!??! – The rap group that plays its own intstruments, but don’t hold that against them. Er, at least in this case.
15) Slick Rick, The Great Adventures of Slick Rick – Slick Rick is generally regarded as hip-hop’s greatest storyteller, but don’t sleep on his women-bashing ability.
14) Ice Cube, Death Certificate – Asian dudes are still kinda shook over this album to this day. It’s hard to believe this is the same guy from Are We There Yet?
13) Mobb Deep, The Infamous – When I was like 14, I thought Prodigy was one of the gulliest dudes evar. Well, this still makes for pretty good listening.
12) A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory – If you don’t count those last two, Tribe was one of the best rap groups in terms of album-making, and this was their masterpiece.
11) Dr. Dre, The Chronic – The Quincy Jones of rap’s magnum opus. Even dudes who didn’t like West Coast rap could hardly front on this.
10) Nas, Illmatic – The formula seems simple enough: some of the finest lyricism ever in rap over some of the best production ever in rap. It’s a wonder Nas never got it quite right again.
9) Fugees, The Score – Wyclef’s pop sensibility at its finest + Lauryn Hill back when she was still worth a shit = bonus!
8) Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back – A million cracka-ass cracka rock critics’ favorite rap album evar.
7) NWA, Straight Outta Compton – Arguably the most influential album of its era, both for better and for worse.
6) Eric B & Rakim, Paid in Full – A quantum leap forward in terms of MCing, if not cutting and scratching. But still.
5) Boogie Down Productions, Criminal Minded – As an MC, KRS-One was simultaneously gullier and smarter and crazier than anyone who had come before. He’s arguably still the craziest to this day.
4) Beastie Boys, License to Ill – Kids in the suburbs will be rocking out to this until the end of time.
3) De La Soul, 3 Feet High and Rising – Prince Paul makes both an artistic and a commercial case for ridonkulously wanton sampling.
2) Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) – For me, this was the beginning of the best era ever in hip-hop. The Wu brought a whole new level of artistry to that classic late ’80s boom bap.
1) Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die – The best MC evar’s best album evar. Nuff said.