17 of the Best Rap Record Label Compilation Albums
In the pantheon of legendary barbershop debates, the topic of best rap label compilation albums isn't a discussion that usually comes up, but it should.
For over 25 years, releases from labels like Death Row Records, Cash Money Records and more have serviced the world with song collections that capture the imagination of fans, serving up a hodgepodge of unexpected collabs that play out like a cross between a hip-hop Mortal Combat and Candyland. While some of these projects come across as thinly veiled promo materials, the best among the group combine cohesive production, sensible (if unexpected) collabs and memorable singles for LPs that stand as musical accomplishments rather than raw exhibitions. A lot of times, they meet somewhere in between and feel like more mixtape than a polished album.
When Death Row unloaded their Above the Rim soundtrack in 1994, they helped set the precedent for rap labels creating artistically dense albums in service of Hollywood. With rhymes from the world's most popular artists at the peak of the label's reign, the project was certified twice platinum and also earned some critical acclaim. For their part, the folks at Ruff Ryders used their debut compilation, Ryde or Die Vol. 1, to introduce the world to artists who would help define early 2000s East Coast gangsta rap.
Most recently, J. Cole and Kendrick Lamar unloaded label compilations that pushed the boundaries of what fans even thought was possible. On his end, J. Cole, who went on his KOD Tour two years ago, enlisted 109 artists for an official rap camp that yielded Revenge of the Dreamers III, an album that unites disparate talents in a seamless fashion. For his part, K. Dot and Top Dawg Entertainment CEO Anthony "Top Dawg" Tiffith produced the Black Panther soundtrack and delivered a bunch of certified slappers in the process.
The albums listed above are just a few in rap's history of compilation albums. Today, XXL serves up a list of the 17 best rap label compilation albums. Note that rap groups who happen to release their albums through their own record labels won't be on the list, so no G-Unit or State Property.
Peep the gallery of the best rap label compilation albums below.
See 17 of the Best Rap Record Label Compilation Albums