Rockers and R&B heads had long been in the business of indulging the gluttonous appetites of their fans with double albums—long before rappers took up the trade. Honestly, it took 2Pac’s seminal 1996 double effort, All Eyez On Me, to make the practice trendy in hip-hop nation.
Fresh out of the bing, ’Pac hit the studio to begin recording his Death Row Records debut. He’d joined the West Coast powerhouse while incarcerated, and with so much to get off his chest, the sessions produced an epic output for his fifth studio album. So the powers that be decided to give ’Pac’s army of thugs what they wanted, 27 tracks of Mr. Shakur at his finest. Of course, the success of the album would inspire his peers to follow suit. From the greats—Biggie, Jay-Z and Nas—to the lesser knowns, like Lil Flip, rappers saw fit to maximize their output.
Today, with Bow Wow and Flo Rida talking about doubling up for their next release, I feel compelled to 1) Advise them both to not to do it, and 2) Share my Top 5 double albums of all time.
The list is brief, because let’s face it, this twofold approach ain’t for everyone. I’m sure Jay and Nas would agree that their double albums, Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse and Street Disciple, respectively, weren’t their finest product. And while I would love to put OutKast’s Speakerboxxx/Love Below on here, I can’t truthfully co-sign it knowing that while I think Love Below is one of the best pieces of music in the past decade, I’ve probably listened to the Speakerboxx maybe twice. Nevertheless I’ve got this exclusive list of albums that are my go-to Top 5 double albums of all-time. —Rondell Conway
Notorious B.I.G.’s Life After Death
Released: March 1997
Disc 2 > Disc 1
I still vividly remember the day this album came out. I copped it at the old Virgin Megastore on 34th street. Just listening to the first four tracks on Disc 1; it had the feel of a classic. The Mad Rapper skit was crazy. Still, as much as I was feeling the joints on the first disc—“Hypnotized,” “Fuckin’ You Tonight,” “Ten Crack Commandments”—I really connected with the second disc. Given that I was on my knucklehead shit back then, tracks like “Niggas Bleed,” “You’re Nobody” and “My Down Fall” had me on that Brooklyn bullshit for real. Overall, this album is flawless in my eyes.