Best Hip Hop Albums of 1990

  1. Amerikkka’s Most Wanted – Ice Cube
  2. Funky Technician – Lord Finesse & DJ Mike Smooth Some people may scoff at how high I put this record on this list, but, this is one of the finest examples of a charismatic MC dropping genuinely funny punchlines over funky beats that you’ll find in the genre of Hip Hop. Even though it may sound old school by the standards of 1990,  Finesse’s style was innovative because of the way he crafted and delivered his punchlines. He mastered the timing, and he knew how to say something real fucked up, or shocking, but use a vocal inflection that made it come off like whatever he was about to say was hilarious. It just came natrual to Lord Finesse. He is one of the few MCs that knew how to pull off punch lines like “I’m the brother you dare not lay a hand on, I’ll leave you more bloodier than a tampon”.  Other mcs would have delivered that line, like it was edgy and hardcore, but Finesse sounded like he delivered it with a sly confident smile, like he knew you were going to laugh your ass off when you heard it!  This may seem like a subtlety to many, but it allowed him to deliver some of the funniest punchlines you’re going hear an MC spit, and it paved the way for future punchline oriented MCs.  This album was a huge influence on the likes of Big L and Akinele, to name a few, and it set up a style of Hip Hop that was based around the big comedic pay offs at the end of each bar, which also became an integral part of the rap battle culture. I know that from the late 70s and 80s like Grandmaster Caz, originated a lot of this humerus, slick shit, but Lord Finesse helped to update that style and set the stage for MCs to carry on the lineage. All of Lord Finesse’s albums are dope, but you can only hear one, this is the definitive joint. It exemplifies his charisma and humor better than any other record of his, and it’s impressive to hear him drop these hilarious verses and slick word play song after song without running out of dope shit to say. As if you couldn’t tell, I’d highly recomend this record to anyone who wants to know what Hip Hop is about, and for anyone who is looking for a laugh. Oh, and the beats are produced by producer extraordinaire Diamond D, Showbiz, and DJ Premier, and they’re all funky as hell.   
  3. Business As Usual – EPMD This is probably the hardest, most consistent, and most energetic album from EPMD. This album starts off with the frenzied opening track “I’m Mad” in which EPMD takes some time to diss all the people who hated on them or stabbed them in the back, and it features some lightning fast cutting from DJ Scratch. The album does a good job maintaining this momentum through the first half with the Funky Club Banger “Rampage” featuring LL Cool J, in which all three MCs annihilate the infectious groove during the verses, and let DJ Scratch brutalize the chorus with some equally fierce cuts. The song is made all the more epic by the moments horns and electric guitar that blare throughout each chorus section of the song, making it feel epic as fuck. The album continues with the suspenseful “Man Slaughter” in which each MC compares their vocal performances to the act of murder, or… I guess manslaughter.  The song sounds like it should be on the soundtrack to an old crime movie from the 70s, and it manages to raise the energy and tension of the previous songs, by dialing things back,  keeping the listener on the edge of the seat through suspense, rather than pummeling the listener with harder, louder, and faster songs. The first half of the album also contains the track stripped down head nodder, “Hard Core”. It’s very stripped down, featuring a repeating phrase of wah guitar that starts on beat four and ends on beat one of every measure, some thunderous noise that in the low end that rises and falls to emphasize those same beats, and some gritty drums that keep the pulse steady.  There is something about the way this beat is put together, that sounds “Hardcore” as the name implies, but it sounds that way because of how minimal it is, and more importantly, because of how unusual it sounds for beats four and one to be emphasized the way they are in this composition. It feels like the beat is constantly winding up it’s fist on beat four so it can punch you in the face on beat one of the following bar. The other great thing about this song is that it is the debut of one of the all time greatest MCs, Redman, and he drops an astounding amount of bars in which each word starts out with the same letter for several bars, going through the alphabet. The track “Gold Digger” is a super hype track in which Erick Sermon talks about the stresses of having a relationship and a eventually a child with a girl who is out for his money, and like most tracks on this album, DJ Scratch tears this one up too. The second half of the this album doesn’t keep up with the intensity of the first half of it, but it’s still funky and dope. If the second half of this record could match the pacing of the first half, this record would likely be in the number one spot of the year. Most of the EPMD albums are classics, but becuase of the high energy beats and hard rhymes on this record, I’d rank this as their overall best. I’d recommend this to anyone that is looking for some raw and uncut Hip Hop in it’s purest form.  
  4. Step In The Arena – Gang Starr Although Gangstarr came out with their first album “No More Mister Nice Guy” about a year before this one, this is the record that saw Gang Starr come into their own. Guru is my personal favorite MC of all time because of the way he addresses so many topic over the course of an album, and he delivers his lyrics like he is just sitting down with you for a heart to heart. I really commend him for being so articulate and thoughtful, and for expressing how he feels about emotional topics without getting overly dramatic and worked up. What others see in Guru as a “lack” of  emotion, I see as an emotinal maturity that is reflected through his effort to remain collected and calm despite talking about deeply personal topics. Guru is an MC that really speaks to my deepest sense of values and my philosophies on dealing with life’s dilemmas, and his ability to tap into the human experience really shows on this album, as it does, on his best works.  In terms of the beats, Premier did some really dope tracks for this album, although, they don’t sound quite as refined as they do on subsequent Gang Starr albums. That being said, this is the album that really ingrained the Gang Starr formula that would be continued, refined, and embellished for four more albums. The choruses, were composed from a single vocal  sample from a record that was rhythmically scratched by DJ Premier, and the verses would be delivered by Guru. The line used on the choruses served to unify each verse behind a single theme, like a thesis statement, and the verses would all elaborate on that theme. I feel as if Guru, sounded younger on this album, which helps make it a distinct piece of work. It wouldn’t be the next Gang Starr album Daily Operation that Guru came off as a seasoned vet of Hip Hop. This record is definitely a classic that laid the building blocks for one of the most consistent groups in all of Hip Hop. I’d strongly recomend it, although, I’d suggest you pick up “Daily Operation” or “Moment Of Truth” first.   Out of all the sources I checked, they are split about 50/50 with half saying this record came out in 1991 and half suggesting it was 1990. I’ll give Gang Starr the benefit of the doubt and say 1990. 
  5. One For All – Brand Nubian Each member in this group had chemistry with each other, yet, their individual personalities all stood out from each other and let each each member shine.  This album has charecter in spades, it’s got a good mixture between Grand Puba’s playful humor, Sadat X’s unpredictable rhyme schemes, and Lord Jamar’s hardcore edge. The group covered everything from dope battle rhymes, social commentary, and rough street rhymes. For the most part this group rapped about down to earth topics that anyone could relate to, and focused on setting a positive example for the youth. through their anti-drug rhymes, songs about peaceful protest (On this album), lessons of the 5 % Nation of The Gods and The Earths, songs that glorified knowledge in general, and more specifically the knowledge of self and the history of Black people, they managed to make positive messages come off as cool, rater than soft. Despite the group being positive and generally intending for the best, they did spread some messages that may be objectionable to many, especiall by today’s standards. For instance, their lyrics often sent a message that there should be a double standard in regards to the sexual promiscuity of men and woman. Sadat X, never seemed to engage in this as much as the other members, in fact, I don’t believe I ever heard him vocalize any disapproval about women being promiscuous in general, he usually only commented on specific situations in which his advise made a lot of sense. Grand Puba and Lord Jamar, however, often bragged about all the woman they were getting with in one bar and than shamed women for being  promiscuous in the next. The other thing objectionable about the group was the amount of lyrics they delivered on their albums that came off as homophobic. It’s pretty minimal on this album, but it creeps up here and there, and it seems to be a continued theme throughout their later albums. This is just a warning for people who might rather not hear this type of thing, but, unfortunately if you’d rather not, you will be missing out on one of the best and most unique Hip Hop groups of all time. The production on this album is lively but not over the top. It’s pretty funky and upbeat, it sounds very organic, and it definitely has some head bangers on it. “One For All” and “Slow Down” are straight Hip Hop classics that any DJ would be likely to spin at a show.  Songs like my personal favorite, “Step To The Rear” feature Grand Puba’s hilarity in full effect, his rhymes came off clever clever, and his bouncy delivery is so smooth, goofy, and charming, that it’s hard not to love his style on the mic. He is one of those MCs that can always put a smile on my face after the course of a rhyme or two, and “Step To The Rear” is the perfect showcase. The group takes a break to voice their concerns about the topic of religion, they question if it can foster complacency and whether these religious stories are even believable on the heartfelt “Wake Up (Reprise In The Sunshine”. All in all, this album is good all the way through, but the aforementioned tracks stand out among the rest. All in all, this is a bonafied classic and a record for any Hip Hop fan’s collection.  
  6. People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm – A Tribe Called Quest I really wanted to put this album up higher, but the competition was too stiff! This is a record that totally changed the landscape of East Coast Hip Hop, it went against the grain of all the other trends that were popping in 1990. While the Bomb Squad was cranking up the heat and the tempo as they added more and more layers of samples on top of each other for Ice Cube’s and Public Enemy’s albums, A Tribe called Quest did the opposite. They did the Miles Davis thing, they opened up the compositions, and filled the songs with space, allowing each part plenty of room to breath. Rather than using up-tempo funk samples and chaotic barrages of horns and grunts, there was mellow jazz, with a downtempo, low key vibe. There are often sections where all you get is a kick and a snare for several bars, and I’m not talking about about a huge 808 or a synthetic sounding snare off of a drum machine. These drums came from organic drum breaks, looped up into simple patterns. Despite their elegant simplicity they were groovy, with just a slight syncopation and a back beat you would expect from a laid back jazz-funk album that came out of the CTI record label. They really popped out of the mix and got your head nodding, but they never sounded overpowering or, unnatural.  The compositions would let these drums play by themselves for a long period of time, while you sat there and chilled. You really got to admire the sound of each instrument, each kick, hi-hat, and snare. After those bars, they would bring in some jazzy guitar and a subtle bass line, it was relaxing yet invigorating at the same time, a seemingly implausible emotional cocktail.  
  7. Fear Of A Black Planet – Public Enemey No question, the big anthems off of this album like “Welcome To The Terrordome”, and “Fight The Power” took the group to new sonic heights, and were possibly the best songs they had made up to that point. “Terrordom” in particular took the bomb squad sound to it’s logical extreme of pure sonic chaos that still felt musical. It’s Pulsing bombardment of abbraisive noises just gets me heated without having to hear any political lyrics at all, and that’s truly incredible. The album managed to sound just as rugged as their last album, yet, it seemed better suited for the dancefloor than their first two album, it was music you could get down to, or start a riot too, whereas the first two albums seemed geared more toward the jeep. Songs like “Can’t Do Nuthin For You Man” and “Fight The Power” exemplify this aesthetic, especially when compared to “Rebel Without A Pause” or “Bring The Noise”.  Interestingly, the other songs on this album like “B Side Wins Again” and “Burn Hollywod Burn” seem less commercial friendly than ever, which helps re-enforce the idea that this album is some rugged crazy shit that is by no means an effort to sell out. The political and social content is as awesome as ever, I love hearing Chuck D and Flav  deliver phrases like “Elvis was a hero to most, he’s racist the sucker is simple and plain. Muthafuck him and John Wayne!” like they’re giving a sermon. All in all, I don’t feel this album is quite as consistantly strong as their second album “It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back”, but it’s certainly a Hip Hop that you need to hear.  
  8. Mama Said Knock You Out – LL Cool J This is the first record produced by Marley Marl to go Platinum, and it really shows what kind of magic can happen when you put one the hottest producer’s on the streets with a rapper who had a true star quality about him, not to say that Kane and Biz didn’t have star quality, but L was the type of MC who seemed destined to be a star with or without Hip Hop. Fortunately, he was itching to show the Hip Hop heads what he was made of after his last album elicited mixed reactions from fans of Hip Hop music. You could feel his hunger and unbridled passion as he yells “Don’t Call It A Comeback, Ive been here for years, rocking my peers, and puttin suckas in fear!”. It felt so powerful because he managed to reclaim his fiercness he used to have on his old songs like “Rock The Bells” and “Bigger and Deffer”. This is not to say his last album “Walking With A Panther” wasn’t dope, even though some people will have you believe that, it’s just to say, it wasn’t as hardcore as what he was doing before. Now, the good thing about “Walking With A Panther”, is that it opened L up into being a more versatile MC, he was slicker, slyer, more sensual, and this led a lot of his fans to dismiss him as a sell out who went soft. What those fans fail to recognize is that, his slick style sly sense of humor, actually made for some really great, dynamic Hip Hop songs, that almost came off theatrical. Song’s on that album like “I’m That Kind Of Guy” and “Big Ole But” showed off his sense of humor in a way that was so cinimatic, that he almost came off like an actor rather than a rapper, and thus, probably opened the door to his future acting career. This other side of L, made him much more interesting and multi dimensional, it was a good thing, the problem with “Walking With A Panther”, was that L over indulged in these types of songs, and totally neglected his hard core rap audience that wanted the hardcore Hip Hop rhymes he was known for. Fortunately LL, under the tutilidge of Marley Marl, figured this out and struck that perfect balance on this album. You have the hard tracks like “Boomin System” and “Mama Said Knock You Out” but you also have tracks that LL infuses his hardcore style with his slick theatrical approach like “Chill, Eat Em Up L”. You got some pure Hip Hop tracks for the streets like “Farmers Boulevard” and “Murdergram” and some sensual joints for the ladies like “6 Minutes of Pleasure” and “Around The Way Girl”. and some songs that really show off his humor like “Milky Cereal”. All in all, L executed on everything he has a reputation for doing, and this album came out as the perfect amalgamation of his various styles. Some of these love are too sappy for me, but, I can recognize that they are definitely good, just not something I care to listen to very often. The beats from Marly Marl are all solid, and they succeeded at sounding like pure Hip Hop, rather than a pop crossover, yet, this album dominated the pop charts, eventually going double platinum. Last but not least, it must be noted that Marly Marl made one of the most slammin beats LL Cool J has ever rapped to, for the “Jinglin Baby Remix” which is a straight party banger, and hands down, my all time favorite song by LL Cool J.  If you trying to see why the greats are considered the greats, and how they earned the status they achieved in the Hip Hop Pantheon, you definitely need to peep this record out. 
  9. The Devil Made Me Do It – Paris
  10. To The East Blackwards – X Clan Brother J, the lead vocalist of The X Clan, is a very underrated MC, and he has a unique style of rap in which he mixes topics such as history, politics, technology, social issues, and more, with a deep imagination. It’s very poetic, and it also takes the listener to a whole different setting. He often paints a picture that makes it seem as if he was rapping about a past life he lived in ancient times, he speaks of mysticism, science, science fiction, and teachings of the 5 % Nation. Unlike other 5 % groups, such as Brand Nubian, Brother J incorporates a plethora of lore from many different cultures, geographical areas, and times throughout history. He will often speak of modern issues that are currently relevant in our culture, yet rap about them as if they are occurring in a foreign culture, time, or space. This approach sucks the listener in to another world, like a good fiction novel does, yet, allows them to connect the dots and see how these problems are occurring in our own culture. This is a unique approach, that likely planted the seed for groups such as the Wu-Tang Clan, and especially Wu affiliates like Sunz Of Man, and Killah Priest. There are many other conscious  rappers that have followed in Brother J’s steps, but I’d probably consider Brother J to be the originator of this style. Brother J is the only true rapper of the group, the other “vocalist” Professor X, provides interjections and soliloquies to the listener in between Brother J’s verses, they add character and an extra dose of weirdness to the group. He delivers these lyrics more like a rousing speech or sermon rather than a rap, and his lyrics often touch on black unity or religious themes. He says things like “Vanglorious! This is protected, by the red, the black, and the green. With a KEY! Sissies!”  It makes sense that he is referring to the colors of the African Flag in order to bring Black People together, however I always found his insistence on using made up words like “Vanglorious” odd, and I especially felt how he ended his speeches by addressing the audience as sissies to be very off kilter… but, it adds to the surreal feeling of the group and serves as a bit of comic relief at times. Other times he actually comes off quite poetic and he often adds another dimension to the group. I like it, and it’s really not like anything else you’re going to find on a Hip Hop album, or perhaps, any album for that matter.  The beats on this album are all pretty good, although i’d say about half of them stand out among the rest. X Clan was the first group to use a lot of the samples that future groups would be sampling profusely in the following years. Although, X Clan was the first to use these samples, some of these beats can sound a lot less fresh because of how much these samples were recycled on subsequent releases. X Clan manged to use the Average White Band sample that was used by Eric B and Rakim on “Microphone Fiend” and put a fresh twist on it for their song “Grand Verbalizer” and, they used some really cool samples on their track “Tribal Jam” that wouldn’t be reused endlessly by other producers in the future, which led that beat to sound very striking and fresh, even today. All in all, this was a really influential album, that has a wildly different lyrical style and vibe from anything out there, if this sounds like something that might be up your alley, give it a try, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with it.
  11.  Wanted Dead Or Alive – Kool G Rap This album is filled with a lot of great material, and it’s good in it’s entirety. The only critique of this record is that it sounds like two different albums, with different themes mixed into one. You have G-Rap the battle rapper, who drops playful punchlines, and even comes off as lighthearted on about half of these tracks, and on the other half, you have G-Rap, the Mafioso crime lord, telling ultra violent, cold blooded gangster tales. His first album walked this line in a way that was more balanced, as his battle rhymes tended to sound more hardcore on that album, and his crime tales tended to have a positive moral of the story which gelled the whole thing together. This album is an odd mix, that being said, it this mixture doesn’t detract from the album very much because G Rap executed both styles perfectly. From front to back, this album is really solid.  This record also has one of the best songs about racial equality in all of Hip Hop, “Erase The Racism”, and it’s complete with features from none other than Biz Markie and Big Daddy Kane. The song “Money In The Bank” features dope verses from Large Professor and Freddie The Fox. It should be noted that the majority of this album was credited as being produced by Eric B, but it was not in actuality, Eric B wasn’t much of a producer, and he usually relied on Ghost Producers to make his beats. Nearly every single track on this album was ghost produced by either Large Professor, or G Rap’s uncredited DJ, Docter Butcher, who did all of the cuts and scratches on this record, despite DJ Polo getting credit on the cover. If you are new to G Rap, this album is one of the best places to start checking out his music, it does a great job showcasing him both as a battle MC, and as an East Coast Gangster/Mafioso rapper.  It’s consistently dope, and it features production from the legendary Large Professor. Kool G Rap is considered one of the greatest MCs of all time, and is often referred to as “Your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper”, because his influence on on other MC was so immense. If you are interested in getting into some of the all time greats, Kool G Rap is one of the MCs you simply have to hear, and this record is a great place to start. 
  12. Short Dog’s In The House – Too Short This is probably my favorite album by Too Short. This album has a good variety of his signature topics. He drops knowledge and street game on how to live a positive lifestyle on the “PG” rated classic “Short But Funky” which is one of his all time best, he also takes a good amount of time tell you some nasty tales on “Paula and Janet, and he explains step by step how to be a mack, player, and a pimp in classic Bay Area/Oakland fashion on the track “Pimpology 101”. He continues one of my favorite Too Short traditions by starting the album off with a song in which he brags about how many albums he has put out, counting them up for the listener, it’s great becuase it’s always pretty funny, at the same time, I appreciate that he is proud of his work ethic, and I like that he makes it clear as day to the audience that he is a really prolific artist. I mean, what better way to make that clear, than by counting off the albums you have done over some west coast gangster funk. This album has really steller production, I’d say these beats are better than the ones on his next album, and previous album, and almost every beat is great shit to last out of your system when you cruise down the street. They sound laid back and goofy, just like Too Short, and they’re packed with slammin synths, booming 808s, cracking snares and hand claps from drum machines, and a solid dose of west coast funk samples. Too Short brags a lot about how he doesn’t sample much, and it should be noted that for every track with a sample, there is an original. It should also be noted that Too Short pioneered the technique that became a staple of Dr Dre, in which he recorded live bands playing other people’s songs in his studio, so he could take little bits and pieces of a cover song, rather than pay sample clearances on the original, this technique also allowed him to get clean isolated recordings of every instrument, so he could drop out and add parts at will. There wasn’t a lot of DJing on this record, but just enough cutting and scratching here and there to give it a some extra flavor and a nice Hip Hop aesthetic. If you like west coast Hip Hop, particularly from the bay area, or you like songs about making and pimping, you need to get this album, it’s a classic.  
  13. Smooth Assassin – Grand Daddy I.U. Grand Daddy I.U. has got to be one of the most underrated MCs of all time. He’s got mad punchlines, technical prowess, and a solid dose of charisma. One reason he may be so underrated, is that his debut was sandwhiched between the newer wave of East Coast MCs like Grand Puba, Sadat X, Bustah Rhymes, Redman, Q-Tip, Brother Jay, and the older wave of East Coast MCs such as Big Daddy Kane, Slick Rick, Rakim, Kool G Rap, Biz Markie, KRS-One, and Kool Keith. He came out at a time where his lyrical style didn’t sound as ground breaking as the other MCs coming out in 1990. Another issue with Grand Daddy I.U. is that he used punchlines and rhyme schemes that were rather similar to Big Daddy Kane’s, but not quite as impressive. I still think he is a dope MC that is still worth listening to. This album is really solid, with the exception of a couple tracks, Grand Daddy I.U. tears these beats up with some impressive rhymes, and the beats sound like updated funkier versions of Juice Crew production. Even though you may draw many parallels, Grand Daddy I.U. differentiated himself from Kane through edgier and raunchier content, and a unique voice that sounded really gruff, powerful, and distinct. If you like to talented MC’s drop impressive rhymes and punchlines over funky beats, you should just pick this album up. It’s slick wordplay and clever punclines for days. 
  14. Livin Like Hustlers – Above The Law
  15. Edutainment – Boogie Down Productions
  16. Let The Rhythm Hit Em – Eric B & Rakim This album has some of Rakim’s best material, and if all the songs on this record were on par “Mahogany” and “In The Ghetto” this album would be ranked a lot higher. It’s not to say the rest of the album is bad, songs like “Run For Cover”, “No Omega”, “Let The Rythym Hit Em” and “Untouchables” were definitely dope, but the reset of the album felt unimpressive. No matter who you are, I’d recommend “Mahogany”, and “In The Ghetto”, as those songs are deep, poetic, yet slick. They exemplify Rakim’s mysterious scientific approach to rhyming, yet they cover meaningful relateable topics that Rakim had yet to address on his earlier albums. Everybody loves the classics off of those records “Eric B is President”, “I Know You Got Soul”, “Follow The Leader”, and many more, but, hearing Rakim refine the style he used on those songs, with his newfound incorporation of the more intimate content of “Mahogany”, and the social commentary of “In The Ghetto” made for his best songs yet. If you are wanting to garner an appreciation of the best MCs of all time, you need to check this album out, as it showcases Ra at his best. In case you didn’t know, most of the O.G.s tend to consider Rakim as the greatest MC of all time.
  17. Tell The World My Name – K-Solo K-Solo is one of the first members of EPMD’s “Hit Squad”, and he is one of the most underrated story tellers in Hip Hop. Songs like “Your Mom’s In My Business”, “Tales From The Crack Side”, and “Fugitive” exemplify his story telling talent. Another thing K-Solo is Known for is his technique of spelling out words in his rhymes. Some people see this as a gimmick, but I think it sounds slick, cool, and original. Furthermore, the only song on this record, where K-Solo uses this technique for the duration of the entire track, is the song “Spellbound” and it is one of the best tracks on this album, in part to the original rhyming, and in part because of  the energetic pulsing beat. The beats are mostly handled by Parish Smith, the PMD portion of EPMD, and he does a solid job. I’d say about half of the beats and rhymes on this record are really dope, the other half of these songs are decent, but leave more to be desired. If you love great Hip Hop story telling, or are a fan of EMPD and the HIt Squad, you should definitely check this album out.
  18. Sex Packets – Digital Underground
  19. Take A Look Around – Masta Ace Masta Ace is another classic MC from the Juice Crew. Masta Ace can be a really dope MC if he’s feeling motivated. On some of the tracks on this album, Masta Ace brings some serious fire to the beats, letting MCs know he is not to be messed with on the M.I.C., on other songs he just kind of messes around and has a good time, and it’s pretty enjoyable to listen to. He has a joint called “Just Me & The Biz” in which he impersonates fellow Juice Crew MC Biz Markie. It’s pretty fun, and the beat is funky. All in all, I’d recommend that you check out his 1996 classic “Sittin On Chrome”, or his 2001 comeback album, “Disposable Arts”, in which Masta Ace surpassed everyone’s expectations with his newfound hunger, deep personal content, and surprisingly sharp rhymes. In fact, i’d say disposable arts is his definitive work. However, if you want to hear some songs that sound more like the old school Ace, he tears a few of these tracks up, he even revisits the beat used on Marley Marl’s the Symphony, and spits even doper rhymes than he kicked the first time on his classic debut. Masta Ace always struck me as the underdog MC, that I want to see succeed. I always admired his perseverance in the music game, despite not making it big. He always had material that was solid enough, that he could keep on making records, and for that consistency, and perseverance. I recommend that you support Masta Ace in one way or another, at least give some of his albums a good listen, as they are all pretty deserving of it.
  20. Intelligent Hoodlum – Intelligent Hoodlum (Tragedy Khadhafi) Tragedy Khadafi is a legend from Queens New York. He was one of the early conscious rappers, but he brought a lot of skills to the table and used cadences that would influence many Queens rappers who came after him. He is also a member of one of the greatest rap groups of all time, “The Juice Crew”. This album came out at the tale end of their reign of supremacy. Although most of the members of the crew would release classic material, and stay relevant in throughout the 90s, the crew seemed to drift apart during the 90s.  This record has a lot of great moments and tracks on it, and it’s definitely worth checking out if you are curious about the history of Hip Hop from Queens, or getting into music from the legendary Juice Crew. I’d recommend that you track down the deluxe eddition that features Tragedy’s second album and several dope remixes from the Large Professor and Marley Marl. Being that the deluxe eddition is much better value, just pick that one up unless you are a collector or serious fan.
  21. Gangster Chronicle – London Posse
  22. Lost Tribe Of Shabazz – Lakim Shabazz
  23. To Your Soul – The Jaz
  24. To Hell And Back – C.P.O.
  25. Holy Intellect – Poor Righteous Teachers
  26. Legal – Special Ed – Special Ed is a dope MC. He has a lot of youthful charm, clever lyrics, and a distinctive voice. Songs like “The Mission” off this album are absolute classics, and the record is worth owning on the strength of that song alone. The rhymes on here are solid throughout, but the beats on many of these songs are not so hot. I wish, Pete Rock, Premier, or even Easy Mo Be would have been down to produce an album for him in his hey day. Despite that, I’d recommend this album after checking out his debut, “Youngest In Charge”, this is largely more of the same, but with slightly inferior beats. The exeption being “The Mission”, as I already said, I love that track all the way around, and I’d recommend you listen to that one for sure. Cop the single, or download it, pull it up on youtube. It’s really dope.
  27. Call Me D-Nice – D-Nice D-Nice has some dope beats on this album, and he is a decent MC, with a smooth delivery. If you want to hear some feel good music with some smooth rhymes, this ain’t too shabby. On the other hand, D-Nice is a pretty generic rapper, and he generally leaves more to be desired.  I’d only recommenced this album to people who are fiending for some Hip Hop of this era, and have played out a lot of the other records, or for people who enjoyed his singles. I’d also make the case that a better place to enjoy D-Nice, is on the “Roll With The Flava” Soundtrack, which is largely produced by D-Nice, but features better MCs. It also features better beats and rhymes from D-Nice himself that I find myself listening to and enjoying that album much more frequently than this.
  28. It’s A Compton Thing – Compton’s Most Wanted This album is a dope west coast Hip Hop music, but it sounds a lot more old school than their next couple of records. The dark atmospheric beats that Compton’s Most Wanted are known for are not present on this album, instead, is a more traditional west coast hip hop sound. There was another member of the group on this album, and he really can’t hold a candle to MC Eiht’s rugged style. Listening to this album feels like the group just hadn’t come into their own yet, like they had yet to find their voice. Fortunately that would all change one year later on their album “Straight Checkin Em”, Which is a masterpiece. Despite all the critisism I’m giving this album, it has some pretty dope beats and rhymes. If you like Old School west coast Hip Hop, check this one out. If you’re a fan of Compton’s Most Wanted, its pretty cool to catch a glimpse into their humble beginnings.
  29. At Your Own Risk – King Tee , This record is a definite step up from his last album “Act a fool”. It’s not exactly a masterpiece, but it has some really dope songs, including the classic track with Ice Cube “Played Like A Piano”. This is west coast music to cruise too, but it’s not as much gangster as it is party music about drinking, talking shit, and getting rowdy, and it mostly delivers on that front. I’d probably rank this album higher, but, King T’s next album “The Trifflin’ Album”, and his 1994 album “IV” really refine the execution of the King T formula, particularly, because of their updated production and the prominent featuring of the group King T discovered, “The Alkaholiks”
  30. Two Low Life Muthas – Poison Clan

These beats are pretty funky and the rhymes are rude as hell. This album can be sexist at times, but despite being offenseive and a bit ignorant, these guys have a pretty good sense of humor. Although it’s not an outstanding piece of work, they executed this album well enough that they largely achieved what they were going for, which is a rude ass album with some funky beats. If you’re in the market for that, and already played out a lot of other Hip Hop albums in that vein, I’d recommend you give this record a go. I was surprised by how much I actually liked it.

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Categories: Essential Albums, Lists

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