My Decade In Rap, Pt. 2 [2003-2005]

Picking up from where we left off yesterday, here’s the next chapter of the past decade of music as I remember it.


Hands down, 2003 was the best year of the decade for me. Still West Coastin’, I was starting to feel a certain kind of way about missing out on some monumental happenings back East. Dipset was on Roc-A-Fella and I was hearing rumors that beef was brewing between Jay and Dame. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson had started his rise to the top of hip-hop’s food chain back in 2002, but I couldn’t feel the full effects given that I was on the Left Coast.

Add to that the fact I took myself out of the loop of mainstream happenings by hunkering down with a very exclusive playlist of albums from ’02. I only enjoyed “Wanksta” in passing, but all that changed on February 6, 2003. I purchased Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ at Rasputin Music in San Francisco and by the time I hopped off the Bart on the Oakland side, I was a changed man. I had a newfound passion for hip-hop. I was hyped! I felt like I had discovered the illest rap album ever and no one was up on it yet. The only other time I felt that was in 1995 with Big’s Ready to Die and Nas’ Illmatic in 1993.

Needless to say, GRODT was in heavy rotation, but it wouldn’t stand alone in my 6-changer CD. Jay-Z and Dame Dash had put together a nice roster of acts with the State Property guys from Philly and the addition of Harlem’s own Diplomats. In the span of a month I was listening to Freeway’s soulful debut Philadelphia Freeway and dumbing out to the Diplomats ignorant raps on Diplomatic Immunity. While I’ll admit I was slumming on my usual lyrical standards I was really feeling Juelz Santana’s debut From Me To U. The Dip’s off the wall unapologetic approach was only keeping in step with what them crazy dudes down South were doing.

Lil Jon’s 808 heavy tunes kept the party crunk, Three 6 Mafia had me feeling like a pimp, and Ludacris was def proving that he could hold his own lyrically with the cats up North, but I was most impressed with the skinny cat with unforgettable verse on Bonecrusher’s “Never Scared.”  (“Noooooo, I ain’t bad, just don’t kiss no ass or take shit/And I’m a grown man, find you somebody to play wit.”) T.I.’s Trap Muzik was an instant hit with me. It wasn’t long before I was dropping the Jay-Z of the South comparisons to sell Trap Muzik as a classic album (in the South at least).

While Tip was a harder sell to the homies back East, Outkast’s double album Speakerboxx/Love Below was welcomed with open arms (well, Andre 3000’s offering more so than Big Boi’s). I was back home from Cali just in time to experience the G-G-G-G-Unit frenzy and say farewell to Brooklyn’s finest, Jay-Z. As the rap giant embarked on his retirement tour (not before trying to slip the Blueprint 2.1 by us), I was sad to see him go, but proud that he was going out on top. The Black Album was going to be his jumper to win it all. Grand opening, grand closing—or so we thought.

Playlist Of The Year
1. 50 Cent – “Many Men
2. T.I -. “Rubberband Man
3. Juvenile – “Slow Motion
4. Jay-Z – “P.S.A. (Public Service Announcement)
5. Three 6 Mafia feat. Lil Flip – “Ridin’ Spinners

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  • Devon

    Man fuck all this shit No limit studios nigga who dis is who dis dis nigga dis p nigga dis aint no mutha fuck p ugh na na ill stiil catch one of deez niggas up thereon that list an make them bitch niggas dome me down cause THEM NIGGAS faggs u understand me anybody gots somthing to say below ill fuck u in yo ass to niggas mane fuck yall niggas FREE GUCCI BUT NOT B4 I ASS RAPE EM ATL STAND THEN SIT ON MY DICK

    • Jamal7Mile

      We got a new butt pirate on the board. This is that same dude who wanted R. Kelly to pee on him over in the News section about Kellz autobiography. OG Triple OG, is that you?

      You’re not in jail anymore, Damon!!!

      • BIGNAT

        lmao you got him also no mention of little brother what is up with that.

  • AO

    Oddly enough, i’m not knock one bit of this… i seen all of this the same way (adding a bay area, ca tunnel vision)

  • DetroitDraper

    People sleep on Webbie. Savage and Savage 2 was both good slbums front to back.

    • yoprince

      yea the first savage life is very dope.

      • DetroitDraper

        Life too also…Webb go hard on the lyrics…in his own way.

        MAYN HOL’UP

  • drox

    Interestin post and what in the world is wrong with the hack on top (Devon)… son, go back to your English class and learn how to talk with the intent of making sense… Better yet, get the Illmatic and get some hood education (if that can help in a anyway). And stop giving the assumption to bystanders that hip-hop fans are ignorant junk asses… peace

  • Grimey G

    Love that you put Many Men atop your list. That song was hard as fuck, even Styles P had to give that song respect in a diss song about 50. Thats a motherfucker who had been through real street shit giving his perspective on what its like to have people trying to kill you.

  • latino heat

    i’ve been in the Bay Area most my life and even i knew it was gonna be on once i heard 50 signed with Em and Dre. i had already waited for 50 to drop ever since How To Rob. i remember that winter in 2002 was the 1st time you could go to the bootleg cd guys in the mall parking lots and actually get mixtapes as well as real albums. listening to those 50 Cent tapes that winter you could tell it was gonna be some shit coming up. it was a feeling that i hadn’t felt since DMX was buzzing back in late ’97, and haven’t felt it since in hip hop. then GRODT came out and needless to say i was VERY disappointed. to me the dopest song was Life’s On The Line which i had heard back in ’99 or ’00.

    Dre 3000′s disc better then Big Boi’s? i don’t know about that one. i think only music critics would agree with that, cause i didn’t know anybody that was feeling that weird ass Dre 3000 shit. Big Boi had some bangers on his disc though.

    Dips and Freeway were both bangers that i still listen to to this day. same for Trap Music. i thought T.I. was done after I’m Serious flopped but i was glad to see him come back and get the shine i knew he deserved.

    • og bobby j

      how were you disappointed with GRODT? That shit was uber dope. I was a sophmore in college (in PA), and that shit was everywhere…..not to mention how sick the unit itself was at the time. Shit, people were even feelin Yayo back then, and that dude is ass

    • Worley

      @Latino Heat: you wilin’ homes. The Love Below is that sh!t. Mind you, I was still living in NYC at the time, riding around with that sh!t bumping. Heads were all on 50 and Jay at the time, looking at me like I lost my marbles. It reminded me of when I would tell any and everybody about Aquemini.

      A few years later, everyone wanted to worship at the altar of 3000. I just stood in the back with a satisfied grin saying I told you so. Trust me, The Love Below was, is and always will be that sh!t.

      • NotoriousAGC

        (remembers 300 tellin bitches “just spreaad,spread for meee”)

        good memories lmao

      • John Cauner

        Co-sign, The Love Below is an excellent album. Speakerboxxx is just as good though. I gotta throw in Champion Sound by Jaylib for 2003 too. Another great album.

    • yoprince

      big boi’s disc was wack.

      the love below is classic.

  • ThingAlec

    I can think of of only 3 good albums that came out in 2005: Be, The Documentary, and TM101. Other than that 2005 was crap imo.

  • giantstepp

    Sadly (not really tho), I’ve aged and haven’t gotten excited or been checking on Hip Hop releases since GRODT! Maybe Jay joints, and the Game’s Documentary had me checking too, but otherwise, I’m officially stuck in my era. Anything after those joints has not excited me. I hear’em when I hear’em. Co-sign the Philadelphia Freeway tho. That was my shit! At 39 it’s probably just the old man in me, but I have no regrets. Sure, Ive probably missed some really good joints, but fuck it, I am what I am at this stage in the game.

  • JC

    without a doubt 2005 was a year for the game..he had the streets buzzin and he’s the only g-unit member to have that much success as a solo

  • Jamal7Mile

    In this period, I was hooked on those Lil Jon beats (among other things). As much as I complain about the lack of lyrics today, it was something about that song/video “I Don’t Give A Fuck” that was making me go nuts! I used to crank the double 12′s up and yell at the windshield “If security step up we’ll CRUSH them niggas! If security step up we’ll CRUSH them niggas! I got the Eastside wit meeee, I don’t give a fuck!” LOL, some fun times man.

    • Hanch

      Hell Muthufuckin Yeah!

    • DetroitDraper

      Lmao true story Detroit one o those places that haas no regional bias


    • chillin mayne

      WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT?? son, that song was ILL…with mystikal and bone on there??…naw sonnnnnnn i used to get down with thast last verse and that mystikal, “all i can say is “i am not a crook”…holl up though..i STILL remember that whole verse by bone

      yall niggas aint ready for this, mutha fuckas aint steady for this, cuz yall still aint learned / nigga got a fofo cocked and a flow so hot make a mutha fucka feel that burn / nigga say word, now where the herb/ just jump up off my dick, dont back talk, my nigga finna get up in em / back up off this, nigga dont wanna get fucked up, then shut up the talkin /…where my thugs up in this bitch?, fuck a nigga up yall represent, gimmee some gin, gimmee sum hen / naw just gimmee both and ill mix it all in / who wanna take a sip of the hen, let me get to twistin man /……BONE, BONE BONE BONE BONE, we ready to do this to hell with the song…
      WHAAAAAAAAAT…boyyyyyyy….ARGGGGGG, bout to thow the computer on the floor and stomp the ish out it

  • brand-new

    i gotta agree with you, 2003 was one of my favorite years too. 50 was blowing up, lloyd banks was killing it on the mixtapes, jay dropped the black album, eminem dropped that green lantern mixtape and finished off ja. it seems like every rapper was in their prime that year.

  • KiLLuMaNaTii


    50 Cent – Get Rich Or Die Tryin’
    Lloyd Banks – The Hunger For More
    Ludacris – Chicken-n-beer
    Chingy – Jackpot
    J-Kwon – Hood Hop
    Obie Trice – Cheers
    Eminem – The Eminem Show (mid 02′)/Encore
    Kool G Rap – The Giancana Story (late 02′)
    Fabolous – Street Dreams/Real Talk
    G-Unit – Beg For Mercy
    Cam’ron – Purple Haze
    Joe Budden – Joe Budden
    Snoop Dogg – R&G: The Masterpiece
    Cassidy – I’m a Hustla
    Jadakiss – Kiss Of Death
    Styles P – A Gangster And A Gentleman (mid 02′)
    Method Man – Tical 0: The Prequel
    T.I. – Trap Muzik/Urban Legend
    D12 – D12 World
    DMX – Grand Champ
    Juelz Santana – From Me to U

    Hip-Hop/Rap Is Dead…

    • KiLLuMaNaTii

      Young Jeezy – Thug Motivation 101
      The Game – The Documentary


      ~~~03′-05′ STRAIGHT PIFF~~~

      • NotoriousAGC

        Thug Motivation 101 would be like ALL EYES ON ME record for niggaz in the south…that shit was FIREEEEEEE

  • Jake Steed

    in my eyes 2004 is when rap declined

  • Enlightened

    The Dip’s off the wall unapologetic approach was only keeping in step with what them crazy dudes down South were doing.
    Exactly. I used to laugh though, because half the time them niggas was way off beat. But they figured out a system. They was the only NY niggas who embraced the South shit and tried to incorporate it into they style.

    And Trap Muzik was a classic on any coast in any time period homie. Anybody who you tried to put on that, who actually listened to it, and tried to act like they wasn’t feelin it was actually a real hater (damn I hate using that fuckin word now).

  • Brooklyn

    i’m a little iffy about this period, only because this was when, in my eyes, shit started to get wack. but “trap muzik” and “urban legend” were my joints though, tip was that nigga back in 04/05, a lot of niggas was trying to front, but them cd’s was bangers.

  • sealsaa

    “I purchased Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ I was a changed man. I had a newfound passion for hip-hop. I was hyped! I felt like I had discovered the illest rap album ever and no one was up on it yet. The only other time I felt that was in 1995 with Big’s Ready to Die and Nas’ Illmatic in 1993.”

    I’ve heard the album(GRODT), and I just don’t get it(the appeal/classic status). Probably never will. Oh well.

    This was a slow period in music for me. I fondly remember MF Doom’s Mmm…Food. That was my shit. It’s no Illmatic, but it was certainly was refreshing for what it was.

  • Hip hop god

    Reading this and remaniscing abt that era reali got me feelin dwn man i aint gon’ front. What dudes dnt realise is dat da bigger the south got ova da years the worse the state of hip hop has become….tink abt dat nd take it hw u wana. Real tawk dawg!


    Trap Muzik is a classic period good music is good music. you never got on to mmm food and madviallany by mf doom. also talking about the carter you gotta add a * next to it gillie inspired. or help or whatever he stole the whole guys style. first they said gillie was not with them then he just wrote songs then he helped wanye with his flow. full of bull also the game first cd makes 50 cent one of the best ghost writers ever. almost all the hits off that joint came from 50.

  • ROCstar

    Great set of articles: I’m only 20 (but got the hip-hop knowledge and library of a 30 year old trust me) so in the early 2000s I was pretty young, though I’ve since caught up.

    The one problem I have is the over-use of the term “Classic.” I know its debatable, but I think classic albums are much rarer than you make them out to be and that you are confusing a CLASSIC with a FAVORITE.

    TM 101 is a pretty good CD, so is Trap Muzik. But I don’t think they are CLASSICS. Can it be your favorite cd, maybe a personal classic? Absolutely. But I’d say 90% of rap fans wouldn’t call it a CLASSIC hip hop album. Just my opinion though.

    For my money, the 2000s only have like 10 CLASSICS out, cds that are universally acclaimed as great albums. In no order, here are a handful: The Blueprint, College Dropout, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, The Documentary, The Fix, Hell Hath No Fury (Casket might b better, gotta hear it more), and maybe BE. There are probably a few Im forgetting right now too but I think most people on this site would cosign a majority of those cds. These are albums that will hold up with other classics like “Illmatic” “Reasonable” “Chronic/2001″ “The Diary” etc. etc.

    Again, just my opinion. Curious to hear what ppl gotta think about CLASSIC V. FAVORITE. Am I right? or ignorant?

    • Enlightened

      I’ll put Trap Muzik next to any of those albums you just named.
      I agree with you that the term classic is overused

  • westcoastaggie

    Man Kanye West gave me hope that Hip-Hop could remain soulful in ’03.

    And BE and The Minstrel Show are excellent Hip-Hop Albums.

    Too bad a lot of people may never hear them.

  • latino heat

    cosign ROCstar

    a classic more times then not is just ones opinion. everyone said i’m trippin for not feeling GRODT. sorry it was just a huge letdown for me. i just checked the tracklisting to that album now and honestly the only songs i like on there are 2,3,4,7,8,10,15. i’m not including the 3 bonus tracks that were hot but were old already. so that’s 7 hot tracks out of 16. is that really a classic? and no, i never liked In Da Club. even when it 1st dropped it sounded like more radio B.S. to me. i remember having the same argument with everyone back then when i said that song was wack. i stick by that statement today though. what makes In Da Club any more classic then Get Up? it sounds like the same fuckin song. just cause 50 wasn’t hot anymore when Get Up came out it makes it less of a classic song though?

    imo i would consider 50′s Guess Who’s Back a classic. i can listen to that straight through. and after listening to it for the whole previous summer along with Power Of The Dollar and his mixtapes, GRODT was just a bad payoff to me. it was like watching a really good playoff series and then when the actual championship game came up it was a huge letdown except for a couple great plays. again that’s my opinion though.

    • Enlightened

      The difference is “In Da Club” had one of the beats ever made by one of best producers ever and “Get Up” had a bullshit beat made by somebody else.

  • Pingback: - » My Decade In Rap, Pt. 1 [2000-2002]

  • El Tico Loco

    What happened to David Banner Cadillacs on 22s or Like a Pimp? Ying Yang Twinz since you wanna all commercial and shit *HUUH*. Joe Budden?

  • NotoriousAGC

    Thug Motivation 101 remains on my cd changer in my lade’ till TODAY. real talk.

    “In one night eight bitches sipped bottles of cris
    Forty grand sit back so you can glance my wrist
    Keep bread so we carry dem toaster
    But keep back though my earrings ferocious
    It’s not just my imagination
    I’m the one in the topic in yo conversation
    Jack boyz say they gon rob
    But on the real fuck niggaz y’all don’t want these problems”

    that earrings line made me look @ mine and say DAMN

  • NotoriousAGC

    yo i know this is like my 5th comment here but, im one who thinks about the past a lot, and those years bring back hella good memories…love these posts keep em comin

  • avon lansky

    hell yeah savage life was the shit that album had some hard joints full of that shit, i got that, laid way back, g shit, bad bitch the oringinal version that album was tight as hell

  • Blakout615

    Co sign Worley on The love below
    I got a co worker who doesnt even listen to anything rap related & they told me they own 100s & 100s of cds and the love below is their favorite album.

  • Blakout615

    Personally I thought ‘Im Serious’ was better than ‘Trap Muzik’ but thats just me. I still bump both all the time. When you think about it, T.I. has a pretty good catalog so far.

    • Enlightened

      Ahhhhh…that’s the argument I was waiting for.

      My opinion is always that “I’m Serious” is just sicker lyrically. He had that young, first album hunger and nailed it with the concept songs and everything.

      “Trap Muzik” to me is more of that, “Ok, I have to make that album that will make me a star,” so he is still spittin, but I feel like the beats made the difference on “Trap Muzik.” He put the whole package together to me on that one – lyrics and top-top-notch production.

      For me, it’s like a Pac fan debating what’s better: “Me Against The World” or “All Eyez on Me.”


        ^^damn. co-sign Enlightened to the fullest.

        Tip had some CRAZY flows on I’m Serious. songs like Still Aint Forgave Myself, What Happened, Hotel, Heavy Chevy. man, that album had everything i needed. i still bumps that shit… now that i think about it, Trap Muzik (IMO) was damn near flawless. he had everything everybody needed on there. Rubber Band Man, Lets Get Away, I Cant Quit, Be Better Than Me, Bezzle, T.I. vs TIP. & the concept was just so ill to me… damn, this is tough. i cant even call it.

  • OgKevin

    weezy didnt go hard on “tha carter”
    gillie da kid went hard on it…he wrote 95%
    of the album…google it..

  • John Cauner

    2003-The Black Album/Jay-Z, Champion Sound/Jaylib, Birth Of A Prince/RZA, The Love Below/Andre 3000, Speakerboxxx/Big Boi, Timeless: The Singles Collection/De La Soul
    2004-Loyal To The Game/2Pac, Street’s Disciple/NaS, 1st Infantry/The Alchemist, Connected/The Foreign Exchange, Venomous Villain/Viktor Vaughn, Detroit Deli/Slum Village, To The 5 Boroughs/Beastie Boys,
    2005-Murray’s Revenge/Murs, The Mouse & The Mask/Dangerdoom, You Can’t Imagine How Much Fun We’re Having/Atmosphere, Late Registration/Kanye West, Power To The People And The Beats/Public Enemy, Be/Common, The Documentary/The Game

  • Vic De Zen

    I keep forgetting Ye dropped his second album in 05 and not 06. This is exactly the way I saw things from 03-05. Although I didn’t think Lil Wayne was as dope as people were insisting he was until he started killing the mix tape circuit from late 06 to 08 when his album came out. Then I was a believer.

  • John Cochran

    Man, I felt a crazy wave of nastolgia reading this. I agree pretty much all across the board. We all know nobody in Dipset stayed on beat, but I still couldnt get enough of these guys. Every mixtape and album was fire, at least to me, being a sixteen, seventeen year old. Maybe I’ll cop Diplomatic Immunity again to see If I still like it. I gotta say though, 04 was the last we heard of east coast hiphop on a major level. 05 to 07 was stupid wack. Just fast forward.

  • gift

    Fuck that bitch ass nigga who commented first on this article. U R GAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!now that that’s out of the way, during those years, I was a dip set fanatic. They had the most banging production consistently at that time. Also, it’s sad that niggas sleep on little brother as much as they do. Them niggas had solid projects, until they lost 9th wonder, and even still, those cats just have good chemistry together. Game’s album was cool, but he just kept name dropping. I know yall remember when BTHN (bone thugs and harmony)tried to make that comeback in like 01-02, and that shit sucked. pretty good list xxl

  • EmCDL

    Out of all of those albums, when Little Brother’s “The Minstrel Show” album came out, I was hooked and that ish stayed in constant rotation. The Game’s album was sick too; I was a little skeptical about him at first until one of my Sergeants put me on when I was in South Korea. I still hear that Hate it Or Love It beat in my head to this day.