Friday, March 03, 2006

The Top 100 Hip-Hop Albums (no. 100-75)

As any regular reader of Psychedelic Kimchi knows already, lists are stupid and insult both of our intelligences. Still, they're a good way to kill time. Because I had the day off today and the apartment to myself, and because I thought my time could be put to better use than my usual routine of endlessly flipping through television channels with the futile hope that one of the movie stations was showing Back to the Future, I banged out a list of what I consider the best hip-hop albums of all time. And, yes, albums are ranked in a particular order. It's all very scientific.

Keep in mind that I judged each album on a number of criteria: how much of an impact did the album have? Did it alter the face of hip-hop music at its time of release? How good are the beats, the lyrics? And does it have that indefinable something that takes it to another level? In certain cases my own personal bias may be evident, but that's to be expected. I honestly tried to be as objective as possible, and this will eventually be apparent by the fact that some of my favorite albums are ranked lower (or higher, because this is a count down, after all) than perhaps expected.

And on that note, let's start the program:

100. Beastie Boys, Check Your Head

Technically not 100% hip-hop, but a solid release from start to finish. Proved that Paul's Boutique wasn't a fluke.

99. Aesop Rock, Labor Days

Its biggest fault is that it starts off incredibly and keeps getting weaker until the end.

98. LL Cool J, Mama Said Knock You Out

None of the songs on this come close to the titular track, but it was a good album, and a bold comeback, even if the man himself professed that it wasn't.

97. Tha Alkaholiks, Coast II Coast

Truth in advertising. Tha Liks crafted a great album that could be rocked from East to West during a period where a lot of people, from the right coast to the left, were fronting.

96. Stetsasonic, In Full Gear

The original hip-hop band, with the genius of one Prince Paul, made an undeniably funky record. Just say Stet.

95. Del The Funkee Homosapien, I Wish My Brother George Was Here

Ice Cube's cousin and original Lench Mob member Del's first album caught a lot of people by surprise, in a good way. Can you imagine a member of 50 Cent's crew dropping an album like this?

94. Gang Starr, Step In The Arena

While their first album, No More Mr. Nice Guy, definitely had its moments, Step In The Arena would be the first in what would be a 4-album run of top to bottom solid efforts from the Guru and Premier.

93. Smif N’ Wessun, Dah Shinin’

The grittiest and fiercest release from the formidable Boot Camp Click.

92. Goodie M.O.B., Soul Food

They would never manage to equal the greatness of their Dungeon Family brethren, Outkast, but for a short time it was close.

91. Beastie Boys, Hello Nasty

The B-Boys peaked here.

90. EPMD, Business Never Personal

On their real last album, Erick and Parish were at the top of their game.

89.The Roots, Phrenology

Criminally underrated album from the Illadelph crew.

88. The Roots, Things Fall Apart

Perhaps their most cohesive album.

87.Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele

Didn't exactly bring the Wu back, but it jump-started its heart during a period where many believed the Clan had flatlined.

86. KMD, Black Bastards

Unfortunately, a lot of its impact was diminished by the fact that it was shelved by Elektra and released independently more than a decade later.

85. Tha Alkaholiks, 21 and Over

King Tee's prodigies brought lyricism to Cali during a time when the G-funk sound and its slower beats held it back somewhat.

84. Mantronix, The Album

Still the blueprint for producers looking to create a solid instrumental album, in any genre.

83. Big Pun, Capital Punishment

Lyrics, somebody want lyrics? How about a rapid-fire flow that belies the man's true stature? Pun looked like the Michelin Man and rapped like a submachine gun. His and Fat Joe's rendition of Dre and Snoop's Deep Cover still brings gooosebumps.

82. LL Cool J, Radio

Rock the bells, indeed. Rick Ruben + a young and hungry LL = boom bap at its hardest.

81. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP

Solid like Alcatraz, with awesome lyrics and sublime (albeit slightly understated) production. I've grown out of Eminem in recent years (I wish he would outgrow himself, to be honest), but this shows what a genius he was for a time.

80. Masta Ace, Slaughtahouse

Few got the satire when it was first released, but that doesn't matter. The intro remains one of the best, and, pardon the cliche because here it actually applies, it continues to age like a fine wine.

79. Das EFX, Dead Serious

There was a time when I and everyone else believed that Das was the future of hip-hop. That didn't happen, but Dead Serious' impact on its peers of the time is undeniable. Con: that same influence would be quickly rejected, almost like a virus, perhaps subconciously paving the way for the over-serious and less fun attitude of many who followed.

78. Heltah Skeltah, Nocturnal

Yes, the album cover is corny as hell; but Ruck and Rock's sharp, witty lyrics, combined with the Beatminerz raw sound (with an assist by Portishead), make this one a classic, and one of the most underrated albums of all time.

77. Cannibal Ox, The Cold Vein

New York. Winter. This El-P-produced gem has the power to drop your body temperature.

76. 3rd Base, The Cactus LP/Cassette

While dissing the Beastie Boys on the album's opening track was, retrospectively, a bad move, The Cactus Album is the blueprint for any white MC(s) trying to prove their mettle.

75. Ultramagnetic MCs, Critical Beatdown

Is to West Coast underground hip-hop what Citizen Kane is to cinema.


Aaron said...

I'm waiting to see where Shaquille O'Neal's album comes in.

Sparkles*_* said...

To Shaq's credit, I think he's the no. 1 b-ball rapper. But that of course isn't saying much.

And to clarify about Ultramags, yes, they were from NY, but 'Critical Beatdown' was/is like the hip-hop bible for the Bay area underground.

Also, a fair warning that the following albums didn't make the cut: Organized Konfusion's 'Stress: The Extiction Agenda' and 'The Equinox,' Big Daddy Kane's 'Long Live The Kane' and 'It's a Big Daddy Thing,' Kool G Rap is nowhere to be found, and Run-DMC's 'King of Rock' is also MIA.

sam_ham said...

find it interesting that you left out the Roots first album, Organix.
I find it the best of the lot

sam_ham said...

where is the roots first album, organix... the best of the lot

translated said...

Interesting list. I was just hoping to find the Slum Village somewhere in the list. Fantastic Vol.2 maybe? Or Trinity.