When we start to talk about Hip-hop classics the topic usually centers on albums like Illmatic, The Chronic, Doggystyle, Ready to Die and Reasonable Doubt – although I’d throw The Great Adventures of Slick Rick and Me Against the World into the mix too. We can argue about the particulars, but when classics are discussed very rarely are Southern albums brought up. Is that because the South simply doesn’t have any hip-hop classics or are we just rapper racist?
I’d argue that the South has quite a few classic albums. When I first heard OutKast’s Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik in 1994 I was blown away. That first ‘Kast album opened my mind up to a whole new world in a way that Illmatic or Ready To Die could never. Sonically, the mid-tempo bass heavy grooves penetrated your soul in ways that East Coast rap hadn’t. Lyrically both Dre and Big Boi were as capable as anyone. And it wasn’t just the singles either, while “Player’s Ball” and “Southernplayalistic…” were indeed the shit “Git Up, Git Out” and “Crumblin’ Erb” were just as potent.
UGK wasn’t no slouches either. When Bun B and Pimp C dropped their 1996 classic Ridin’ Dirty, they changed the game. Unfortunately it wasn’t until Jay-Z scooped up the duo for “Big Pimpin’” that they began to receive their just due. Scarface’s The Diary and The Fix album can be considered classics right? How about Juvenile’s 400 Degreez? Surely Goodie Mob’s Soul Food is up there.
What about Young Jeezy’s Let’s Get It album? I can listen to that from beginning to end and then start over. What about T.I.’s Trap Muzik? Rather than just talk about slingin’ dope, Tip painted the picture of a trap star with remorse and songs like the Kanye West-produced “Doin My Job,” the original “T.I. Vs T.I.P.” and the inspirational “Be Better Than Me” balanced perfectly with over the top anthems like “24’s” and “Rubber Band Man.”
Not just Southern classics, to me these albums are certified hip-hop classics just like Illmatic and Doggystyle. Is hip-hop ready to admit that the South puts it down for real? Have at it haters. – Rob the Music Ed