Monday, April 23, 2007

Start Snitching's 25 Rap Albums of All-Time

(If he's on your list, you're at the wrong blog.)

Doing this Top 25 shit reminded me of how much I loved rap once upon a time.
And not one type of monolithic backpacker-approved "rap", but all types of shit.
Old school boom-bap, gully bang-bang nigga die slow shit, happy bohemian rainbow rap, sample drenched jazz-rap, slap your mom rap. It was the balance that really did it.

Rap was once a medium that captured a plethora of black experience.
Now it's just the prison industrial complex's number one recruitment tool.

Things I learned doing this list,

  • I have problems with many of Pacs records.
  • The Roots don't have an album I like from front to back.
  • The East Coast really ran the critical table.
  • Topical references kill the longevity of rap albums.
  • A weekend is not enough time to do this shit.

This list is perfect until I change it again.
Here it is party people, the Start Snitching Top 25:

25. Ice Cube - Death Certificate

So many rappers on this list have tried their damnedest to get kicked the fuck off. Despite a slate of embarrassing films, albums and tv shows (Black, White on FX) the dude was spitting that gospel at one time.

24. Dr. Dre - The Chronic


23. Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth - Mecca and the Soul Brother


22. Camp Lo - Uptown Saturday Night

How fucking fun is this record? I still don't understand it and that makes it even better.

21. NWA - Straight Outta Compton

The effects of this record still leave me confused as to what the net effect of N.W.A. was on rap.

Digable Planets - Blowout Comb

Maybe the jazzy of all the jazz-rap albums out there.

19. Pharcyde - Bizarre Ride To The Pharcyde

Some groups were put on this Earth just to leave one record. This was that group.

18. The Fugees - The Score

I spent an entire school year explaining this record to white people only for Lauryn Hill to break all their hearts when she said she hated them.

17. Eric B. and Rakim - Paid in Full

Duh again.

16. Common - Like Water For Chocolate

I think everyone has a different favorite Common album. This is mine.

15. Dr. Octagon - Dr. Octagonecologyst

Who knew rap could do this or that this record would one day create MF Doom? Thank you Dr. Octagon, you ran my voicemail messages in college.

14. Mos Def - Black on Both Sides

This is the sound of a man who had shit to say and about a dozen ways to say it. Sadly it was all he had to say.

13. Slick Rick - Adventures of Slick Rick

Triple doy.

12. Outkast - Aquemini

You gotta have one Outkast joint on here.

11. Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt

Jay copied from the best to come up with this one.

10. Gza - Liquid Swords

The best solo continuation of the classic Wu sound.

9. Ghostface Killa - Ironman

Who would have thought Ghostface would been the last Wu member standing?

8. Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

The best thing drugs have ever done to the black community.

7. Boogie Down Productions - Criminal Minded

How can you front on this?

6. Public Enemy - It Takes a Nation of Millions
I dropped this album several spots because of Flavor of Love.

5. De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising

Ignoring that this album basically created the sample and skit, you have to give De La credit for capturing some of the joy when black people actually knew their parents.

4. Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die

Christopher Wallace single handedly gave a generation of unattractive overweight men the courage to stand up.

3. A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders

This record showed me it's not all about the God-Body lyricism. Some emotion, good chemistry, lyrical cohesion and wit is enough for a classic.

2. Wu-Tang Clan - 36 Chambers of Death

A group of nerds from Staten Island mixed kung-fu, obscure mythology, gully talk and a cult religion to change rap forever.

1. Nas - Illmatic

"Nas what the fans want is Illmatic still."
- Nas "We Major" (2005)

He said it himself because he knows the damn deal. This dude launched a career on the strength of the sheer hope that he'd make another record this strong.


Shit that would have made it full it was a full moon or the wind was different..

  • LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out
  • Lost Boyz - Legal Drug Money
  • Dead Prez - Let's Get Free
  • OC - Word, Life
  • Diamond D - Stunts, Blunts and Hip-Hop
  • Black Moon - Enta Da Stage
  • Main Source - Breaking Atoms
  • Mobb Depp - Infamous
  • MF Doom - Operation Doomsday
  • Big Daddy Kane - It's a Big Daddy Thing

Put your lists up. I'm down to hear any classic shit I missed or what issues you have with my list.
And check Straight Bangin all week to see how this shit adds up.


  1. Is it that people think no noteworthy records relevant to this discussion have been released in the past five years or so or they're waiting for history to see out whatever more contemporary records they favor? Afraid of being ridiculed, waiting for consensus? Aren't you smart.

    Also, in all but one of the lists I've seen on both sites, Kool G Rap seems to have been basically forgotten about. Or maybe you all think he hadn't/hasn't put out a great album end-to-end. Wouldn't know.

    I probably should adopt a handle at some point.

  2. Anon,
    The last 5 years of rap have been a mostly a wasteland as far as I'm concerned. I think 20 page papers can be written on why, but the somewhere the formula became, be as unoriginal, untalented and crass as possible and get paid. 50 is the biggest example of this.

  3. A lot Wu on this list HR. I guess when your introduction to the world is 36 Chambers its tough to measure for me. I need to catch up on some of the stuff that is a little out of the mainstream. Its funny how the top 5 records on of the lists i've seen are all about the same.

  4. Good list, but since you asked for it, there are a few I think you might have missed (or that I disagreed with). Where is Doe or Die? Also, Enta Da Stage has the same enthusiasm and gritty excitement as 36 chambers, so I guess I could see why you would only include one or the other. Not including The Infamous is criminal, though. Mobb writes better street fiction than even Cube did, though without the politics.

    I would love to read a feature on what you think of Pac's records.

    Keep bringing the truth

  5. tentative, i am in the middle of studying for finals and dont have alot of time to put deep thought into this shit list:

    nas - illmatic
    notorious b.i.g. - ready to die
    tupac - all eyez on me
    dr dre - the chronic
    scarface - the diary
    slick rick - the great adventures of slick rick
    mos def - black on both sides
    nwa - straight outta compton
    outkast - southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
    ll cool j - radio
    kurtis blow - kurtis blow
    afrika bambatta - planet rock
    snoop doggy dogg - doggystyle
    fugees - the score
    public enemy - fear of a black planet
    wu tang clan - enter the wu-tang (36 chambers)
    run dmc - raising hell
    beastie boys - licnse to ill
    ghostface killa - fishscale
    tupac - 7 day theory
    jay-z - the blueprint
    eric b & rakim - paid in full
    bone thugs-n-harmony - e 1999 eternal
    kanye west - college dropout
    gza - liquid swords

    if the moon was blowing in the wind, etc. records:
    geto boys - we can't be stopped
    outkast - aquemini
    ll cool j - mama said knock you out
    nas - stillmatic
    ghostface killa - supreme clientele


  6. nice list my dude.

    we'll see how it all ADDS up over at straight bangin.

    good looks on the octagon album....if i had to do my list again....

  7. i know it was tough but the best one I seen so far.

  8. Lost Boyz among the top 35 is great. I used to fall asleep in my room listening to that shit because I had it on tape and was too lazy to get up and push stop.

    Anon--what's come out recently that anyone can credibly assert is as good as something like Death Certificate?

  9. jp,

    I think people are being melodramatic about hip-hop/rap in general if they think the entire culture, down to every corner, is diseased and uncreative now and for the past five years. People always think society, or a part of society, is in decline. The sky has been falling since the beginning of time. Not to say that it isn't, but it seems that each generation of people decries what's coming, trapped in nostalgia over some time in the past when society, or some segment of society, was good. I understand the complaints about the state of mainstream hip-hop -- agree with them, too -- and I'm not trying to be some self-righteous backpacker here, but there's a ton of interesting music being made if you look beyond the surface. In earlier years, it might not have been reasonable to acquire music without a mainstream distributor, but with the current ubiquity of the internet and its easy access to the information and music of artists without large corporate representation, it's nowhere near the hurdle that it might have been in the past.

    To me, at least, it seems like there are a lot of people are stuck in that "Can't we go back to '88?!" mindset and they're either hostile or really cautious about affording critical praise to any contemporary records.

    There are other possible reasons, of course. Maybe people are valuing these records based on the cultural impact they've had and the more recent records haven't been given enough time for a critic to fully absorb the entirety of their cultural and artistic impact. Ehh @ that, though. Don't much care for that line of thought.

    And yeah, I forgot to mention -- good looks on Dr. Octagonecologyst, HR. I didn't think anyone would step up and put an album like that or Deltron 3030 on the list. Although, for what it's worth, if it's just some obligatory Kool Keith slot on the charts, I'd say Critical Beatdown > Dr. Octagonecologyst, but maybe that's just me.

  10. Also, it seems like there's some kind of low-scale groupthink dynamic going on with the Midnight Marauders selection. That there is this one slot on the list reserved for Tribe, and that position should be occupied by Midnight Marauders, although the preeminent Tribe album that other people seemed to favor almost universally was always Low End Theory, which I still agree with. It's not quite that way on all of them, but honestly, I think people saw the list of the guy from Straight Bangin' and because of the unexpected prominence afforded the album and the presumed expertise of the author, people suddenly felt compelled to include it in any list(s) of their own, for fear of being seen as stupid.

    Maybe you all do love it, though.

  11. This could be because I'm from queens but Mr. cheeks should have been in the top five at least and what about AZ???
    This is a great list and it reminds me how bad music has gotten, not only here in ATL but everywhere!!
    Dr.Octagon, I have no clue about this one but I will find out.
    This is a great way to start off my week. Thanks :)

  12. 25- 2Pac - strictly 4 my...
    24- Ice Cube - amerikkka's most
    23- De La Soul -buhloone mindstate
    22- BDP - by all means
    21- Brand Nubian - everything is...
    20- EPMD - strictly business
    19- Outkast - southerplaya....
    18- Ultramag MCs- critical beatdown
    17- Mos Def - black on both sides
    16- BDP - criminal minded
    15- ATCQ - midnight marauders
    14- Pharcyde - bizarre ride
    13- Eric B& Rakim- paid in full
    12- NWA - straight outta compton
    11- Raekwon - cuban linx
    10- Jeru - sun rises in the east
    9- Ice Cube - death certificate
    8- Outkast - Acquemini
    7- BIG - ready to die
    6- ATCQ - low end theory
    5- PE - nation of millions
    4- Wu Tang - 36 chambers
    3- Dr. Dre - chronic
    2- Mobb Deep - the infamous
    1- Nas - illmatic

  13. 1. on the new music debate: i think part of an album's greatness is its impact (or its auteur's cumulative impact) on its genre. it is difficult for a recent album to have a significant impact on the genre (i would say the same about 95% of underground/indie records). part of the reason i selected newish album 'the college dropout' is that it has proven to have such an impact on rap/hip hop. the reason i chose newish album fishscale is that it pretty well epitomizes/perfects the magic that is ghostface and does so w/o any reliance on a pairing w/the rza. in that sense, it is all ghost.

    2. ON ANOTHER NOTE, having said what i have, i feel the need to address the absence of certain subgenres of rap/hip hop from my list. by the above logic (re: impact), i might have also chosen 'kings of crunk' or '400 degreez' as one of my top 25. however, i am extremely hesitant to place crunk, snap or bounce in the same category as i place traditional rap/hip hop for reasons i could probably write a book about.

  14. The fact that I haven't seen "Da Shinin" on no ones list disturbs me. Great album front to back...damn them for not working with the beatminerz after that joint.

  15. Top 25 In no Particular Order. My criteria was based on the timeless factor of the material, it's impact upon release and over time and it's sonic quality.

    1. Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back - Production wise there was nothing like this album at the time. People couldnt even bite it. Combine that with it political impact this album often makes nonhiphop greatest album list

    2. Boogie Down Productions - Criminal Minded - Often called the first gangsta rap album. KRS One along with Rakim ushered in the new school age. He changed the rhyming cadence in hip hop from this point. For 20 years people have sampled this record.

    3. Boggie Down Productions - By Any Means Necessary - The political extension of BDP. Rifed with more classics with KRS getting better on the mic. Another record stripmined for samples and hooks

    4. NWA - Straight Outta Compton - The Pre-immenent gangsta rap record. Dre still had his DJ roots and it shows and the chopped hooks and beat changes. This album scared the FBI foretold the anger in LA that erupted just a few years later

    5. Geto Boys - Grip It! On That Other Level - The first real classic from the South. It had its own sound before hip hop was regionalized. The beats combined with DJ Akshun's vivid imagery and the shock value and straight forwardness of Willie D and Bushwick gave birth to many to much of the Rap-A-Lot and many artists in the South today

    6. A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory - Tribe's opus. One of the first amalgamations of hip hop and jazz but with boom-bap hard drums. Phife's improvement on the mic lifts this past other Tribe albums

    7. Ultramagnetic MCs - Critical Beatdown - This album influenced so many producers it isnt funny. The first group to use the "Substitution" break. The first album with abstract rhymes. Completely groundbreaking

    8. Gangstarr - Step in the Arena - The beginning of Premier coming into his own. The breaks and loops he pulled took cats years to find. He and Guru were a perfect match. The album talked about street life, battling, etc all with a smart slant.

    9. Dr. Dre - The Chronic - Dre's first reinvention of his sound. Even though G-Funk was really soul, fusion jazz and rare grooves with touches of funk and keyboard augmentation. It created a new sound and introduced Snoop to the hip hop world. Influence a whole coast to change even though they never got it right

    10. The D.O.C - No One Can Do It Better - One of the greatest pieces of lyrical exhibition period. DOC was more MC than gangsta and it showed. He was the LA version of LL before his car accident. Combine that with Dre's Straight Outta Compton era production and it was over.

    11. Pete Rock & CL Smooth - Mecca and the Soul Brother - Pete Rock took the jazz/hip hop fusion to new heights. Filtered baselines and echoing horns became a staple of production although no one did it better than Pete Rock. CL Smooth lyrics with conscious overtones and regular guy thoughtfulness matched the production perfectly

    12. Raekwon - Only Built for Cuban Links - A grimy NY classic. The first real showing of RZA's fleeting brilliance. Raekwon off kilter storytelling and kung fu imagery created an album distinct from other Wu-Tang releases

    13. LL Cool J - Bigger and Deffer - LL's best and most consistent album. Had the first great rap ballad that wasnt an attempt at commercial fluff. LL was at his most lyrical ferociousness here.

    14. Run DMC - Raising Hell - Only the step up in production sound seperates this classic from other Run DMC classic so it gets the nod.

    15. Ice Cube - Death Certificate - Groundbreaking concept gangsta rap album. Cube showed the growth akin to Malcolm X coming back from Mecca. The unapolgetic view of LA life and it's problems also foreshadowed the LA riots. The thick gritty SP1200 sound of the production was the perfect backdrop. The social commentary gets the nod over Amerikkka's Most Wanted.

    16. Nas - Illmatic - The who's who of producers made this album a cant miss. Nas showed he was a worthy successor to Rakim and Kool G Rap. From the intricate rhyme schemes to the storytelling. This album pretty much had it all

    17. Eric B & Rakim - Paid in Full - Rakim was years ahead of his time. He was one of the pioneers that changed the way MCs rapped. Every verse was a clinic and meshed perfectly with the sparsed keyboard interpolations, breakbeats and mismatched drum kits that really shouldnt have worked but did.

    18. Wu Tang Clan - Enter the 36 Chambers - 10 MC crew? unheard of. Kung Fu imagery? Unheard of. Dirty sloppy soul inspired production? unheard of. From the different styles of the MCs to the raw griminess of the production. Another album that changed the way cats rhymed and made beats

    19. De La Soul - 3 feet High and Rising - This album showed that rappers could be different. Everything from the rhymes, skits, beats and concepts were just flat out strange at times. Nobody knew what they were talking about and it didnt matter. It was fueled by Prince Paul's use of sample sources that strayed from what others were using at the time

    20. Main Source - Breaking Atoms - Another breakbeat and rare groove textbook. The beats ranged from funky to jazzy, from slow to fast. Having one of the greatest posse cuts of all time doesnt hurt either. Large Professor wasnt the best MC but Main Source made great songs

    21. Outkast - Aquemini - This albums gets the nod over ATLiens because of the outright genre smashing sound of the album. From dub, to swing, to p-funk it stretched the boundaries of what hip hop can be. Throughout it all Bog Boi and Andre were sick on the mic and made an opus.

    22. Slick Rick - Great Adventures of Slick Rick - The greatest storytelling album of all time. The fact that nearly every song on the album has either been sampled or interpolated makes this a no brainer.

    23. Notorious BIG - Ready to Die - Biggie was another MC that changed the way cats rapped. So much so that cats were signed (Guerilla Black, Shyne) because they just resembled Biggie voice. It was raw and nihilistic but also funny and introspective at times. One of the few albums where the commercial radio cuts were as good as the hardcore cuts on the album.

    24. Biz Markie - The Biz Never Sleeps - Beautifully produced and packed with great songs. Biz Markie wasnt the best rapper but his sense of humor over funky and soulful production made me laugh and keep rewinding.

    25. EPMD - Strictly Business - This narrowly gets the nod over Unfinished Business because "Too Much To Drink" was so bad that it takes Unfinished down a notch. EPMD became the personification of the hard MC without being thuggish or ignorant. The production was as simple and straightforward as the lyrics were.

    The next 25 or so:

    De La Soul - De La Soul is Dead

    Ice Cube - Amerikkka's Most Wanted
    EPMD - Unfinished Business
    Queen Latifah - All Hail the Queen
    Lord Finesse & DJ Mike Smooth - Funky Technician
    Scarface - Mr. Scarface is Back
    WC & the MAAD Circle - Aint a Damn Thing Changed
    Biz Markie - The Biz Never Sleeps
    The Fugees - The Score
    Stetsasonic - In Full Gear
    Souls of Mischief - 93 til Infinity
    Black Moon - Enta the Stage
    Compton's Most Wanted - It's a Compton Thang
    Ice T - Original Gangster
    Biz Markie - Goin Off
    Goodie Mob - Soul Food
    Above the Law - Living Like Hustlers
    The Roots - Do You Want More!!!
    Common - Ressurection
    Mobb Deep - Infamous
    Eric B & Rakim - Follow the Leader
    Cypress Hill - Cypress Hill
    Cannibal Ox - The Cold Vein
    Company Flow - Funcrusher Plus
    Jay Z - The Blueprint
    Jay Z - Reasonable Doubts
    Low Profile - We're in this Together

  16. i'm regretting leaving off:
    casual - fear itself
    artifacts - between a rock...
    odb - return to the 36
    organized konfusion - stress
    common - one day
    gangstarr - hard to earn
    gangstarr - moment of truth

  17. Common - Like Water For Chocolate
    I have this album at home but I have not listened to it. I love love love Electric Circus. Unfortanly, to many people ostracized Common for that album. I think that album was very very creative, and to many rap heads were not ready for something that creative.
    I also loved Mos Def's first album. I think it should of been higher on your list.

  18. Your right anon, I probably do need to look a little harder for some of the real music being made. I don't want sound too nostalgic. I just wish I could still turn on the radio and hear something a little better than "This Is Why I'm Hot"

  19. I've been listening to so much hip-hop this week. The internet is really saving the love of hip-hop with this list project.

    Look at all the damn feedback.

    Some points based on the comments

    - What is Kool G. Rap's classic album? He's a great MC, I just don't think he has THAT album, you know?

    - Nothing in the last 5 years comes close to the Top 50 of all time. It's like that in rock, indie and every other genre. Even more so with rap. Kanye's albums are good but he ain't top 50. I don't wish it was 1989 or 1994. I just want people to spit with some heart.

    - Doe or Die is hot, but it just doesn't resonate with me like these I listed.

    - I love Enta Da Stage and Infamous. Same for Gangstar and Organized Confusion. But 25 is 25 not 40. I wish I could squeeze them all in. Someone has to get cut

    - Wu Tang really was the most influential rap group ever. The pwned this list.

    - Electric Circus had its moments. But that dude was on some serious LSD when he let that go to press like that.

    - Rap is sexist. No women on these lists at all. Too bad Lauryn Hill never did a pure rap album.

    go14 - I will be digging out some of the shit you mentioned. Good looking.

    - Popularity and influence isn't always good. Look at Ja Rule and Nelly. Just because people jumped on your gravy train don't mean you created something worth following.

    - I know the Straight Bangin author from college. For years I have been telling him that Midnight Marauders was better than Low End. It wasn't group think. If anything I brainwashed him.

    - The blog world needs to get on a singles chart. The internet will explode.

  20. The Midnight Marauders thing isn't group think. I've always enjoyed it more than Low End Theory and it's nice to see consensus swing the other way for a while.

    As for recent music, there's no shame in leaving it off a list of 25. Face it: Nothing from the last 5 years or so is fucking with the any of the albums on this list. I could make another list of 25 and not find room for anything from the past 5 years, easily.

  21. A singles list--top 50--would be unreal. I mean, where to start? And singles or songs? I would need about a decade to sort through everything, and during that time, there'd need to be a proscription on new releases.

  22. Midnight Mauraders would be in the top 50. I just think Low End Theory had more great songs while Midnight Mauraders was a lot of very good songs.

    Queen Latifah - All Hail the Queen is in my next 25. It is top 50. Female MCs historically have not made many good albums. I think MC Lyte's "Eyes on This" would make top 50 or top 75.

    The Common album worth mentioning to me was Ressurection. His wordplay was at its best and he was p-whipped by Erykah Badu so he didnt make the butter soft crap that was 'Like Water... and Electric Circus' I highly anyone who were into them were around for "Can I Borrow A Dollar" and "Ressurection" If youre a Common fan and dont know the "Soul by the Pound remix" I dont know what to say.

    Liquid Swords should have been in my next 25 or so segment.

    I dont know if Kool G Rap ever made
    a classic album. The first 2 Kool G Rap & DJ Polo album had classic material but werent necessarily classic albums. Live and Let Die is somewhat of a cult classic although it's production doesnt stand up well over time. I guess you say that G Rap made classic songs but never a classic album.

    I love Ghostface and I think Iron Man and Supreme Clientele could make the top 100 easy. Same with Dr. Octagon

  23. Also, the 5 years comment is deep.

    The latest album I listed was 2001 and that was in my next 25 or so.

    I bump a lot of stuff from the past few years but none of it comes close to cracking the top 25.

    Major label artist have to water and dumb down. Undreground cats havent really stepped up to that level.

    Right now there is a bunch of top 100-150 stuff at the very best. The bar is low as hell. The Game got critical acclaim for Doctor's Advocate but the production on it wasnt even as good what 9th Wonder does when he makes an album with someone in a week.

    Lastly, a note on female mcs. I have pretty much given up on them except for Jean Grae. And even then unless she is working with 9th or rapping over someone else's beats her actual catalogue is subpar.

    The way the industry is you have to basically look like a stripper or a porn star if you are a female MC. The days of Bahamadia and big girl like Latifah getting run is long gone.

  24. @HR
    Do you mind explaining to me why you said Common was on that "oh we" when he recorded Electric Circus. You said that he should "not have let it go to press like that", can you explain why. Also, compare Electric Circus to Like Water for Choc so that I can understand why you prefer one album over the other.

    Why is rap music so sexist. Do you think it is an extention of African-American culture. Is this also why African-American females are having trouble breaking into rock and roll.
    Finally, besides Lauryn, who do you think is the best female MC of all times.
    I'm not much a hip hop music listener so I would like to hear your explinations as they will probaly give me a better understand hip hop.

    Thank you Hr.

  25. "Dr ocatagon?? who the FUCK is that motherfucker?? u got a nigga like Dr octagon on here but u can't put pac on? thats sum bumb shit fo reel."

    A comment on Byron Crawford's blog when he posted a list without a 2Pac album in the Top 25. Completely out of left field, but it amused me enough that I thought I might put it here, in the comments section of a list that did the exact same thing. You need to broaden your readership HR, if only for comments like that.

    Anyway -- now is the time where I respond, in part, to the string of responses put to me. For anyone who hasn't figured it out, or wasn't going to figure it out, I am the anonymous from above with the matching writing style.

    I still think people are either hostile or extremely cautious when it comes to giving superlative praise to more modern albums. It seems that the majority of the positions on this list have already been set in stone by some force of society and are completely resistant to any revision. Hypothetically, if an album was to come along that was, in some objective sense (which itself is kind of a silly thing to say), equivalent or greater in artistic value compared to one of the mainstays of these lists, I highly doubt it would ever see any time on "Greatest Ever" lists. People have a well-defined idea, reinforced by everyone else's duplicate lists, of what should be on here and nothing is disturbing that. It is what it is and it simply will not change.

    And why wouldn't they? It's so safe. You can be a true-schooler, decry consumer culture and the corrosive nature of corporate interests, sulk over how she was corrupted and how you used to love her. You were a part of something real. Now that it's expanded, it's all fake now, down to every last cell, rotting. All these fuckin' middle-class white kids. After all, the whole of hip-hop music died when Diddy came along, right?

    As for the past year or two, I haven't really heard any one album that completely blew me away -- which itself may simply be an aberration or evidence of the world coming to an end -- but I think there are definitely classic albums between your cut-off point and a year or two ago. I think albums like The Cold Vein, Madvillainy, I Phantom, Deltron 3030, Fantastic Damage, and as more of a personal preference that very few people are likely to agree with, and likely doesn't even meet the criteria for acceptance, Dead Ringer. I would put any one of them against about half of the albums on the approved list of rubber-stamped oldie-but-goodies. Other more popular modern releases like The Black Album* or The College Dropout, the latter of which deserves to at least linger around the edge of lists like these, and the former probably deserves, at least at the moment, to have a regular place on the back-end of these lists. As a sort of side note: I know of a lot of people thought really highly about Fishscale, although as someone who didn't care for it all that much, I really couldn't say whether or not, in general, it should have any business on a list like this. Doubt it.

    Total cultural impact probably plays too large a role in these evaluations. Early pioneers have a permanent position in these lists, often times for reasons independent of their work's artistic value when viewed in a vacuum. But rather, because they furthered the culture in some way.

    In a point somewhat related to this specific discussion, although this is a "rap" list: The fact that an album like Entroducing.. almost never makes any hip-hop lists speaks to how limiting the net people set out can be. Somewhere above, I think someone said something about how he/she excluded certain sub-genres of hip-hop from lists in this vein, in spite of the fact that they felt the albums probably deserved a spot on their list. I think people have a heavily reinforced idea of what sorts of hip-hop should be on these kinds of lists and that if they come across some album from an atypical sub-genre, even if it's wonderful, it just doesn't belong on a list like this. It's hip-hop, but for whatever reason, it's not the sort of hip-hop suited for a list like this.

    Also, so I say it: It's not that I'm saying that older, '88-'96 hip-hop lacks value and shouldn't be on this list. No -- not at all. Don't misunderstand me. If I were to make my own list, which I won't, probably 80% of it would be from that period. I just think there are a few places for more modern hip-hop albums that deserve to be on these list.

    On another point, I will not respond to any responses arguing one specific album over another. Two or three years ago, I might have done that, but I've been in far too many long, drawn-out arguments over the merits of one specific album compared to another. They never go anywhere. It's all so subjective and people are all way too passionate going in to adopt new points of view, with myself probably included in that group. If nothing else, all of this mess is only to get you to at least consider reexamining how you view contemporary hip-hop as a whole, and it's probably unsuccessful at that.

    And lastly, as for G Rap, mostly I was just interested in bringing him into the discussion. If a list like this is to encapsulate the legacy of hip-hop, it seems unfair that his name would be absent from the discussion. I think Live and Let Die probably has a place on a list of 50, but I agree that it doesn't really have a place on a list of 25. Regardless, Ill Street Blues is still better than your favorite emcee's best work. Easy.

    I don't want to write another comment ever again.

    *- Admittedly, though, the retirement themes in The Black Album make it, when not viewed in the context of when it released, difficult to listen to. His coming out of retirement destroyed the legacy of that album.

  26. To the many anon commenter(s)...

    G Raps' Road To The Riches is that shiite.

    De La Soul >>> A Tribe Called Quest

    J.Dilla's dead dick >>> A Tribe Called Quest (No LIL' WANG)

    Kanye West Late Registration comes in at 24.

    cRap music sucks now because the artists lack the intelligence and life experience in order to create canvases that astound and amaze us.

    If a five year old draws a crayon picture you put a magnet on it and place it on your 'fridge. If Picasso draws a crayon picture then you frame it and sell it for paper.


  27. I just feel like Common was trying to be that afro-wearing, all genre loving, pro black rock artist and it didn't work. A lot of it was unfocused and sloppy to me. I still like songs from it, but as a whole rappers have bad taste in rock and when they try to be eclectic they fail.

    Water for Chocolate was more focused.

    Also, rap is sexist because there is rarely a woman on anyones Top 50 list. But I guess all art is sexist.

    Although rap I feel exaggerates that artisitically.

    After Lauryn I'd have to go with Bahamadia on pure MC skills. She just spit that hot shit.

    - Dallas is right, these new jacks don't have the perspective to make a classic and I'm sorry but they don't make ALBUMS. They make singles or ringtones. Without focusing on the album you will never make a great one.

    - AltOrange, I'm glad I don't have that ignorant ass Byron Crawford readership, I'm glad y'all come here and say smart shit that gets me on my grind.

    Seriously, all the shit you said was real. My next 25 would probably be more inclusive of newer shit. It's just really hard to respect these new albums as end to end classics.

    On your rec I will relisten to those G Rap albums. Fast Life earns him that respect.

  28. In my case the Biggie Album doesn't appear on this list! And the following have to be added:

    - Grand Puba - Reel 2 Reel
    - Brand Nubian - All 4 One
    - CMW - Straight Checkn' Em
    - Hard Knocks - School Of Hardknocks

    And for the newer Albums "Count Bass D - Dwight Spitz" definitely makes the top 50!