OK, we are going to do things a little bit differently this time around. This isn’t going to be a review. Please, hold your gasps and nervous murmurs.I am a trained professional. Instead it will be a Top 10 List where I give mini-reviews for each of the entries. Now that I’ve put down the blueprint for the entry, onto the review. I mean the list! That is gonna take some getting used to.
I want you to take a look at this fellow for a second:
Done? OK. For those that don’t know, that is me in one of my many moments of raw sexiness. Would you ever think for a moment just by looking at the picture that I am a huge Hip-Hop nerd? Most would scoff at such a ridiculous idea, but it’s true. I really do love the genre and it’s various branches and styles. So, to prove it, I will be counting down my Top 10 Favorite Hip-Hop Albums. 3,2,1 GO!
10 Paul’s Boutique- Beastie Boys
In which, three goofy Jewish white guys from New York craft a masterpiece. This album is light years ahead of the debut album by the Beasties, License To Ill. LtI is dumb and a bit sophomoric. I do like a lot of the tracks, however. Paul Revere is still fun to rap to. But Paul’s Boutique is on a different level. The lyrics are funny and on point, the beats are jaw-dropping. This is one of the best produced albums of All-Time. And the flows have never been better from the Boys. If you like Hip-Hop and haven’t heard this one, do.
9 6 Feet Deep- Gravediggaz
The seminal album of the often hated and overlooked form of Rap known as Horrorcore. I think that the reason this subgenre garners so much hate is due to one band: Insane Clown Posse. With their face paint, stupid rhymes, and lack of knowledge about magnets, they have given this genre a bad reputation. Good albums can be found in it and this one is certainly the best. This may be because it involves affiliates from such esteemed Hip-Hop groups as Wu-Tang Clan and De La Soul. There is a level of menace and malice found on this record that other albums try to capture and come off as ridiculous. The RZA and Prince Paul craft foreboding beats consisting of scare chords, cavernous drums, and eerie piano hits. And each of the rappers fit the words they are saying. All menace, no camp. This is the high point of a genre. If you like Hip-Hop and haven’t heard this one, you are not alone.
8 Late Registration- Kanye West
Oh, Kanye West. The man, the myth, the ego. It seems that more people know Kanye for his public life than his contributions to music. That makes me so sad. I can’t even begin to relate how many times I’ve had conversations with people who are basically amounting to: “Kanye West sucks.” “Have you heard his music?” “No, but he is so rude!” It needs to stop. You know who else was rude? John Lennon. Are you going to hate The Beatles now? What about Frank Zappa or Miles Davis? Genius and jerk walk a thin line, people. Anyways, back to the album. LR is an album that just sounds perfect. Even on the tracks that may be lacking, the beat is still fantastico. If you like Hip-Hop and haven’t heard this album, you are not one of the Best of All-Time.
7 The Marshall Mathers LP- Eminem
OK, this album is very important to me. You see, it was the first Rap album I ever liked. Before this, I thought that all Rap sounded like Lil’ John or Soulja’ Boy. This album revealed to me a whole nother’ world that I had yet to explore. Even if I didn’t have that personal attachment, this album would still be on this list. It is a STRONG album. I really can’t name more than three tracks on here that are not Top Notch. And Eminem really proves himself to be one of the best Rappers to ever grace the microphone. If you like Hip-Hop and haven’t heard this album, you don’t exist.
6 Ready To Die- The Notorious B.I.G.
Biggie is the most important artist to ever make a Hip-Hop record. I don’t even care if you prefer 2Pac. Nobody brought the genre to as many people in as short a time as BIG. His flow, his lyrics, those dark beats, everything. The album might dip in quality in some places, but the best songs are so good, I’m convinced they are actually transmissions from a distant spaceship where the pilot is the only remaining Human and he has had thousands of years to hone his Rapping abilities over the greatest beats ever made. If You Like Hip-Hop and haven’t heard this album, Why not? Is it because you like 2Pac more? That is not an excuse. Get to it!
5 Liquid Swords- GZA
Ooooooo. Now we are getting into the Upper Echelon of Greatness. Gary Grice, AKA the GZA is my favorite Rapper in terms of flow and lyrics. The man just takes it to levels previously thought to be unattainable on this record. And those beats by the RZA.. They are menacing and gritty, perfectly painting the life of a New York street gangster. The samples from Kung-Fu movies only enhance the mood of the album and the whole album feels like a hit to the face. If you like Hip-Hop and haven’t heard this album, you are not doing yourself any favors.
4 Illmatic- Nas
This is often called the greatest album to come out of the East Coast Rap Scene and while I may not agree, its easy to see why. What Nas does with words on some of these tracks is legendary. He crafts so many witty rhymes and poignant revelations that it would be pointless to try to pick one to quote. I might as well try to pick my favorite fish in the ocean. If you like Hip-Hop and haven’t heard this album, you are a sad individual.
3 Madvillainy- Madvillain
I had a hard time choosing between this and Illmatic, but I had to go with this. Madvillainy is rapper MF Doom and beat-maker/producer Madlib. I love both men’s work separately, but when they get together, magic happens. This album does not revel itself immediately. At least, I didn’t for me. But once your mind adjusts to all the samples, weird musical turns, Doom’s seemingly abstract flow, and overwhelming creativity, you will discover one of the greatest albums of the genre. If you like Hip-Hop and haven’t heard this album, I don’t blame you. It seems to fly just under the radar.
2 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy- Kanye West
Yes, Kanye is back again. I’m sure he is delighted. This album is like the Good, Bad, and Ugly of Hip-Hop albums. It is supremely epic in scope, tone, vision, and execution. It packs more ideas and concepts into one album than any since Prince’s Sign O’ The Times. It honestly has me convinced that Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was reincarnated as Kanye West and this is what his career has been building up to. Words simply fail to describe this album. If you like Hip-Hop and haven’t heard this album, Hear it. Now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
1 Enter The Wu-Tang- Wu-Tang Clan
Well, here we are folks. My favorite Hip-Hop album of All-time. Are you really surprised? I mean, my very first review on this website was for this album and it’s longer than most of my other reviews. In fact, there is not much for me to say on a critical aspect that I didn’t already say in that review. So if you want to know what I think in terms of Critical analysis, go read that. It’s my own favorite review. But now I need to explain what this album means to me emotionally. When I first heard this album, it was like a comet hurtling through me. I was struck blind for an hour. Even more so that The Marshall Mathers LP, this album created new worlds. I never would have dreamed in a million years that a Rap album could be this good. Two years later and I still can’t believe it.
Well, that concludes this installment of “I Write About Music That Only I Care About”. I mean, Vinyl Insert. I hope you enjoyed the list, I enjoyed writing it and it was hard to decide what albums to put where and which ones to even include. Good night and good luck.
Endtroducing…- DJ Shadow
The College Dropout- Kanye West
Only Built 4 Cuban Linx- Raekwon
Deltron 3030- Deltron 3030
Tical- Method Man
Donuts- J Dilla
The Low End Theory- A Tribe Called Quest
Black Star- Mos Def and Talib Kweli
Reasonable Doubt- Jay-Z
Dr. Octagonecologyst- Dr. Octagon