On this day, May 24, in hip-hop history...

Suave House Records/Relativity Records
Suave House Records/Relativity Records

1994: There is no conversation of the South’s all-time greats without 8Ball & MJG. The duo’s debut album Comin’ Out Hard stands as an important achievement in the group’s history as well as southern hip-hop’s. But it was their follow-up that showed the world why these would be regarded as legends.

Less than a year after their debut LP dropped, 8Ball & MJG returned with On the Outside Looking In for Suave House Records. The album was a landmark achievement for the two as it was their first project to feature guest artists. The duo was able to advertise their highest profile guest, MC Breed, on the cover of the album. 8Ball & MJG considered these contributions to be a sign that they arrived on the national scale.

On the Outside In featured classics like "Anotha Day in the Hood," "Lay It Down," "Break-a-Bitch College" and "No Mercy." What really made Ball and G stand out was just how talented both MCs were. Whether it be a group or duo, there typically is one member who stands above the rest. 8Ball & MJG were different. While they had their own idiosyncrasies and strengths, the two were an even match in the skill department. A listener would never feel like one rapper wasn't holding their weight.

Unlike the horrorcore style that Three 6 Mafia represented for Memphis with, 8Ball & MJG's work was very much steeped in the history of their city. The duo loved soul samples, particularly those of their hometown's Stax Records. And in terms of content, 8Ball and MJG kept it as real as it gets with vivid tales of the street life.

8Ball & MJG's later work would make a much bigger impact in the mainstream landscape. On the Outside Looking In only reached No. 11 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums. But no one that's ever heard the LP can deny its quality. The album is rightfully considered a southern classic as the duo produced some of their most iconic songs for their sophomore effort. 8Ball & MJG showed the world why the Memphis hip-hop scene was a hotbed waiting to explode.

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