A to the L’s 100 favorite Hiphop albums of all time – THE COMPLETE LIST

A to the L's 100 favorite Hiphop albums of all time

At long last, the list that started here is complete. Read it and weep… and then blow up the comments section with your opinions on what I should have put in there.

    (And once again, let me remind you that this is my own personal list of my FAVORITE albums – joints I reach for more than any others… its not the ‘greatest Hiphop albums of all time’ list. THAT list would be different to this one. And its NOT in any kind of order. How many times do I have to say that?)

It Takes A Nation...

01) Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
Seriously, what other record could sit here casually thumbing its nose at everyone else’s projects from atop its lofty perch? Hiphop is what – 258 years old now, and there’s still no other album in the history of this music that’s fucking with “Nation”. This is every member of the Bomb Squad at the height of their powers, Chuck and Flav making the leap from Run DMC and Cool J warm up acts to fully-fledged stadium-fillers in their own right, and my 7th-best DJ in the world squeezing the life out of the transformer scratch with reckless abandon. ‘She Watch Channel Zero’ aside, there are no other weak tracks on this album, and its testament to its strength and quality that it not only tops Hiphop polls on the regular, but that it also hovers around the top spots on ‘real’ music polls by ‘normal music’ magazines too… you know those ones that always have The Beatles, Nirvana, and Oasis in them? If you STILL don’t own this album, then please stop reading, and kill yourself now.

It Fear Of A Black Planet

02) Public Enemy – Fear Of A Black Planet
In my opinion, this is not a kick in the arse away from the number one slot, but there’s just a little too much of PE revelling in their ‘message-bringer’ roles at the expense of music quality too wrest the crown from “Nation”. Of course the musical terrain was different during the recording of this album compared to during “Nation’s” recording – that album’s success coupled with the explosion of ‘Fight The Power’ as a rallying cry from “Do The Right Thing” had already whetted Hiphop appetites for “Black Planet”. But when Griff’s expulsion truly catapulted PE into the mainstream media, who quickly tagged them geniuses/terrorists/racists depending on their underlying political leanings, it seemed that the whole world was driven into a frenzy when ‘Welcome To The Terrordome’ dropped as the first single. The rest of the album relied on sticky funk samples as opposed to its predecessor’s quick, steely groove loops, but the end result was the same – another PE classic. If your body is still twitching, then stick another bullet in it now if you don’t have this album either.

Dwight Spitz

03) Count Bass D – Dwight Spitz
Many of you still haven’t heard this. Its your loss, fools. Without a hint of exaggeration, this is easily the best Hiphop album of the new millenium. You want to come away feeling that you’ve been touched by the artist (nh)? Listen here. You want intelligent production that takes all the best parts of the best records of the past and locks it in with one individual’s interpretation of what Hiphop in the ‘noughties’ (I hate that word) should sound like? Listen here. You want ‘real Hiphop’ that moves your mental at the same time as your head and neck snap? Listen here. This is the antidote to all the guns, all the niggas, all the bitches, all the drugs, all the money, and all the idiots who’ve pushed Hiphop THAT way, while in our hearts we all want it to go THIS way. (And I like Lil Jon as much as the next man, but you know what I’m driving at here – shut up… I’m on a roll.) Dwight Farrell deserves to be in the top ten of my favorites list, yours, my greatest, your greatest… this album is simply one of THE greatest, and its never out of my changer.

Licensed To Ill

04) Beastie Boys – Licensed To Ill
You want ‘real Hiphop’ that moves your mental at the same time as your head and neck snap? Sorry, you’re in the wrong place. Try album number 3. However if you want a white Run DMC rapping over some of the best beats Rick Rubin has ever made then welcome to “Licensed To Ill”. This album should never have worked – at times its 100 percent corny, at times 100% rock (and you know how me and those guitars never can agree)… but somehow Diamond, Yauch and Horovitz (are those some Law & Order-type handles or what?) pull it off with Budweiser-infused gusto. And ‘The New Style’ is still one of the best Hiphop songs ever made.

Paul's Boutique.

05) Beastie Boys – Paul’s Boutique
On this album the trio stepped away from Def Jam Records, and with the help of the Dust Brothers, out of the shadows of Rick Rubin and Russell Rush. No longer were the Beasties looked on as Run DMC’s gimmick white crew who got all the beats that Run and D rejected. With ‘Paul’s Boutique’, the Beasties brought genuine talent to the table that very few people realised they actually had, and wound up producing one of Hiphop’s most discussed long players. Where did they get that sample from? Who else would toss Johnny Cash into the mix like that? Why does the inlay cover give me a migraine? All valid questions on the lips of the cool kids once this album dropped.

3 Feet High & Rising

06) De La Soul – 3 Feet High & Rising
Many heads diss this record, simply because of the way it exploded in the mainstream media, who were looking for a safe, non-violent alternative to those nasty, aggressive NWA and Public Enemy fellows. De La gave them the perfect bandwagon to jump on – Hall & Oates-sampling, tree-hugging, daisy-waving, day-glo wearing teenagers from Long Island, who were a world away from those uncouth Compton oiks. Hiphop fans will try to tell you how this hasn’t aged well, how this record or that record is better, blah blah blah. Punch them in the eye (know) and tell them they don’t know what they’re talking about. This record is near perfect from its gameshow intro to its French-lesson sampling middle to its pothole-pushing end, and anyone who tries to tell you different is a scrub. A big scrub. With big fat dandruff.

De La Soul Is Dead

07) De La Soul – De La Soul Is Dead
As the mainstream media digested this record on release you could tell they wanted to be offended. ‘You mean these rapping hippies aren’t actually rapping hippies, and didn’t care for us tagging them with that label? How dare they!’ Unfortunately it was difficult to diss De La, as they switched styles with such ease and with no discernable drop in quality. “De La Soul Is Dead” is their response to fans and media who painted them into a corner and expected them to stay there – daisies were uprooted with baseball bats, and donut shops were subjected to scuffles as the Long Island trio retaliated against all-comers. This is also the last album in the history of Hiphop that had listenable skits and cool made-up words like ‘Schwingalokate”. Ah-huh-ah-hoo-ah-hoo-hee. Believe that.

Buhloone Mind State

08) De La Soul – Buhloone Mind State
Three De La albums in a row? Some would even go as far as putting “Stakes Is High” in a top 100 too. But not me. Three is the magic number, suckas. The sad thing is that out of ALL De La’s releases, this is probably the one that people overlook the most because on its initial release, a lot of it flew over heads. But listen, bitches – this is the album that had Maceo blowing the soul out of this here horn… this is the album that introduced us to Shortie No Mas (my other other other wife after Kelly Rowland and Monie Love)… this is the album that had Guru doing the Patti Dooke. What more could you want, ya fucking lasagne heads? Its arguably the first ‘straight’ Hiphop release De La knocked out – light on skits and gimmicks, with the accent more on beats and rhymes, and this switch up from the first two approaches is also probably another reason why this is criminally slept on. How could NME and Melody Maker (UK heads know the deal) ‘pigeonhole’ this when there’s no quirks, no high-brow samples, and nothing their little bland bunch of writers really relate to it on here? Its ‘just Hiphop’, and that’s why it makes my top 100.

Straight Outta Compton

09) NWA – Straight Outta Compton
Come on now. This is an automatic choice, as its big brother below. Despite being a true example of a record that has not aged well, there’s still something comforting to be found in the simple looped intro to ‘Straight Outta Compton’, the screaming of the ‘redneck, white-bred, chicken-shit motherfucker’ on ‘Fuck Tha Police’ over ‘Funky Drummer’, and the sparse production of ‘Compton’s In The House’. Never has a crew shouted out their hood so much than on this record (believe that NYC). Never has a Hiphop crew intimidated an entire planet as much as NWA did on the release of this album… while PE had their share of investigators and naysayers, Eazy and co trumped even them with FBI monitoring, police shutdowns of shows, and banning of album sales all contributing to their notoriety. Lest you forget, this was also the first record that really showed that this cat Dr Dre had some skills on the boards, and that the world’s seventh best rapper was ‘getting rid of motherfuckers as if they was a foreigner.”

Niggaz4Life

10) NWA – Niggaz4Life
Ice Cube-less, many expected the 4 remaining members to stumble and fail. Bad luck suckas. This album brought the crew to a whole ‘nother level of exposure due to their embracing the roles of ‘big bad dangerous swearing black guys’ that the mainstream had painted them into. We could see that Eazy, Dre, Ren, andYella were having hella fun fulfilling white media’s fearful fantasies – swearing for the sake of it, bringing guns on top of guns on top of guns to the motherfucking fistfight, etc etc, but its still amazing to think that the mainstream BOUGHT this ‘world’s most dangerous group’ tagline and RAN with it. All that aside, this is STILL Dre’s best ever production work (and yes, I’m counting both Chronics, Eminem, 50 Cent and everything else), and ‘I’d Rather Fuck You’ is still better than the song it borrowed from.

The Main Ingredient

11) Pete Rock & CL Smooth – The Main Ingredient
Pete Rock may be an argumentative old cunt these days, and CL might never have been a truly great emcee, but this album is the duo at the peak of their relative powers. Pete continued to rape Biz’s old masters to stunning effect, while CL ‘adequately’ did his emcee duties in an ‘adequate’ way. I still have no clue why many prefer “Mecca And The Soul Brother” to this – to me, Pete’s production wins out on this album, and there are so many ideas and snippets of ideas here, that you’ll still find some fresh noteworthy stuff with each and every listen. And ‘I Gotta Love’ has the best horns in the world ever. Apart from a couple of other songs where Pete hooked up the horns lovely there too.

Sports Weekend

12) The 2 Live Crew – Sports Weekend
Didn’t expect to see this, did you? This takes the best of the schoolboy humor and Miami 808 from “Nasty As They Wanna Be” and attempts to build a decent album around it. Of course there’s still a load of call and response driven jams, but growth (nh) is evident on joints like ‘Here I Come’ and um… well ok just on that. The rest is nudge-nudge-wink-wink English postcard stuff on wax… lots of pussies, dicks, asses, bitches, and head. Its just better done (to me anyway) that on any other 2 Live Crew album. Although Mr Mixx, the greatest southern DJ in the world, drops a lackluster ‘Mega Mix’ here, the ‘Chesterfield Island’ skit makes up for it in a big way. No homo.

Return Of The Funky Man

13) Lord Finesse – Return Of The Funky Man
The best rapper in the world ever (and that includes Rakim) at the height of his powers. DITC represents lovely with Showbiz, Diamond D, and Finesse himself manning the boards, while AG & Percee P help out on mic duties, supporting the Grand Imperial Funky Man as he drops punchline after punchline over some of the hardest beats imaginable. There’s really no excuse for you not to have this by now, and regulars to this site will already be yawning at the thought of me going off on another LF love-in… so I’ll stop now. If you don’t have this, you lick asshole on the regular, and your breath smells like an old boxing glove.

Crunk Juice

14) Lil Jon & The Eastside Boys – Crunk Juice
Fuck all y’all. This is a classic, classic album that builds on the successful formula of “Kings Of Crunk” and takes to it a whole other plateau altogether. As a snapshot of trends in recent commercial Hiphop it sums up all that’s right or wrong with this area of the music, depending on your viewpoint. Personally I think Lil Jon is a production genius, and a lot of people are mad because the simplicity of his beats teases them into thinking that they could and should have done it first. ‘Its nothing but ignant call and response records,’ you bleat. He’s taking it back to the essence of the old school then, I retort. ‘He’s an ugly dreadlocked dwarf, who does nothing but swear and make shitty music,’ you scream. ‘No that’s Terence Trent D’arby, you’re thinking of. Now quit hating, potna.
Sweet Jesus, this album has aged terribly. Ain’t it crazy what a few years will do to your perspective? Fuck was I thinking?

People's Instinctive Travels...

15) A Tribe Called Quest – People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm
Another one of those albums that bears the tag ‘oft overlooked’. While critics rush to give the Tribe’s 2nd and 3rd album the props they rightfully deserve, they usually forget about the debut where Phife, Q-Tip, Ali Shaheed, and the incomparable Jairobi quietly and carefully paid their dues as the rest of the world kicked up a fuss over their Daisy Age cousins. Of course ‘Can I Kick It’ made a little mainstream dent, but its the Lou Reed-less rest of the album, chockful of golden jazz loops, that really brings the boom-bap ‘boom-bip’ and gives this its place in the ‘classic’ section.

The Low End Theory

16) A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory
Most heads rate this as their favourite Tribe album. Me, I’ve overplayed it to the point where its my 3rd favorite, plus I don’t think it has aged that well either. This joint, of course, was the one that finally announced the ‘arrival’ of the Tribe – of course the smart ones amongst us already knew the quality of the Linden-Boulie squadron, but many non-believers wrote them off after “Travels” as some kind of 2nd rate De La with weaker hooks. Don’t front, because y’all know that’s how it was. “LET” though blew the cobwebs away and championed the boom-bap sound, with rumbling bass and crisp snares dominating many’s a mixtape during the early 90’s. And of course, I don’t need to tell you about the third best posse cut of all time (after ‘The Symphony’ and Show & AG’s ‘Represent’)…

Midnight Marauders

17) A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders
The pinnacle of the A Tribe Called Quest’s career. There really only was a downward movement to come following the release of this album. All heads nodding? Check. Streets on lock? Check. Material to stand the tests of time? Check. How could they ever top this? From the sublime first single, ‘Award Tour’, to the ode to Leandro Barbosa. to the shimmery ‘Lyrics To Go’, the Tribe hit every target they aimed at with quality music. Harder than their debut, but more polished than their sophomore effort, “Midnight Marauders” still sounds as good today as it did on its initial release date.

Unfinished Business

18) EPMD – Unfinished Business
Strategy will want to kill me for leaving off “Strictly Business”, but ‘U Gots To Chill’ and the title track aside, there’s little on that album that really gets repeated play from me anymore. This album however is in constant rotation, featuring as it does E and P slaying sucka-ducks with a lot more professionalism than on their debut. On their day, there’s not much that is ever fucking with the heavyweight style of ‘So Whatcha Saying’ and ‘The Big Payback’, while ‘Knick Knack Patty Wack’ and ‘Get The Bozak’ introduced breaks made famous later by Dr Dre and DMX. There’s also the unintentional humor of Erick on ‘Who’s Booty’ declaring, “You can call me gay or a tootie frootie.” Ok then. Oh and don’t forget that this album also contains one of the WORST Hiphop records ever made, with ‘You Had Too Much Too Drink’ needing a hefty alcohol intake before becoming even remotely listenable.

Business Never Personal

19) EPMD – Business Never Personal
Another album that features a group at the very pinnacle of their powers. Rugged, jeep beats are the order of the day here, with Erick and Parrish’s swarming production of funk loops and heavy bass conquering all. ‘HeadBanger’ aside there’s no tracks that instantly leap out as being head and shoulders above the rest – instead this is a cohesive collection of classic 90’s Hiphop from start to finish, with ‘Hear Nothin’ But The Music’, ‘Boon Dox’, and ‘Nobody’s Safe Chump’ especially impressing. Even when they jack Troutman for the umpteenth time on ‘Crossover’, they still recycle it again in a fresh manner. EPMD are just fucking dope, bitches.

The Grand Imperial Shell

20) Diamond Shell – The Grand Imperial Diamond Shell
Huh? What? As luck would have it, TGIDS hit me up on myspace about 2 weeks ago and I was able to quickly ‘stan’ him into oblivion, peppering him (nh) with questions about new music, lack of albums, and the fact that he looks and sounds like Zev Love X (or MF Doom to Pitchfork geeks who only listen to Dangermouse.) So anyway, for those who unaware, Shell is Biz Markie’s brother, and this superb album is the only one he’s ever released (another victim of Cold Chillin’ politics no doubt.) Produced entirely by Biz and Cool V, cuts like ‘Bugged Out Day At Power Play’ and ‘Back Again’ seemed to indicate a promising career for young Shelly D… sadly, the hilarious ‘Oh What A Night’ is the only cut that made any kind of a dent, becoming a staple of Yo MTV Raps in the mid-90s, before it and Shell faded from view forever.

Lord Willin'

21) Clipse – Lord Willin’
A modern-day classic of sorts, the Virginia duo drop arguably the cleverest drug rhymes ever committed to wax over some of the best Neptunes production to date. Is it glorifying the slangin’ game? Fuck yeah… but when Pusha T and Malice toss out so many sharp narcotic innuendos over beats like those on ‘Grindin’, ‘When The Last Time’ and ‘Cot Damn’ it makes it so much easier to overlook the negativity. The quality of this album is of course the main reason that many want to burn the Jive offices to the ground for the constant release-date-shifting of its follow-up.

Jealous One's Envy

22) Fat Joe – Jealous One’s Envy
Way back before he started sporting pink furs and getting ethered by 50 Cent, Fat Joe actually put out some decent music. Pre-Pun, he even concentrated on making sure his own shit was tight, and “Jealous One’s Envy”, the follow up to his clumsy “Represent” featured stellar production from Primo, Diamond D, and LES amongst others. Shit, he still holds the crown as the rapper who best jacked ‘Sexual Healing’ on a track. Its Primo’s stuff that kills on here though, with his remix of ‘The Shit Is Real’ still making appearances on many a mixtape. Joey, Joey… where did it all go wrong?

Geto Boys

23) Geto Boys – Geto Boys
I guess this and “Grip It! On That Other Level” are pretty much interchangable, but I’ll go with this one because ‘City Of Siege’ is on here. I remember a review in HHC of either the ’89 or ’90 New Music Seminar which went to great lengths to appeal to muhfuckas not to EVER touch Geto Boys product based on their live show. Remember this was slap bang in the middle of the ‘Fight The Power’ era, went heads were running-manning all around the place in Fruit Of Islam bowties, so a midget with a chainsaw screaming about Chucky and how “size ain’t shit” evoked moral condemnation from the HHC scribes. Luckily most of us ignored their pleas, and were rewarded with a hardcore album comparable in places to NWA, but whereas the Compton crew seemed to ‘Hollywood’ their shit up at times for that extra-sales notoriety, our 5th Ward homeboys really did seem that they were down to beat that ass (zing) in a heartbeat. ‘Do It Like A G.O.’ is still one of my favorite singles ever in the history of phonecalls-starting-a-song intros.

We Can't Be Stopped

24) Geto Boys – We Can’t Be Stopped
When it comes to this album, Bushwick’s one headlight on the front cover often helps distract people from the fact that this isn’t a particularly strong joint all the way through – I wouldn’t miss the title track, ‘Homie Don’t Play That’, and ‘I’m Not A Gentleman’ for starters – but the on-point tracks still push this into the ‘must have’ category. Of course everyone knows about ‘Mind Playing Tricks On Me’ by now, but ‘Another Nigger In The Morgue’, I decree, is THE track that builds a platform for Scarface to launch his solo career – because think about his first solo LP and how it was all Tony Montana samples and shottys to the body… the more introverted, depressive stuff largely came AFTER “Mr Scarface Is Back”, but it was THAT album that allowed him the freedom to explore his inner demons on subsequent albums. Anyway. The second half of “We Can’t Be Stopped” is a hit from the opening of ‘Gotta Let Your Nuts Hang’ to the end of the Grammy-dissing ‘Trophy’, and is the main reason this album makes the list.

Mr Scarface Is Back

25) Scarface – Mr Scarface Is Back
You know this had to make it too, being as it sounds like it was recorded right in the middle of the sessions for the above two albums. Similarly sounding, with a little more emphasis at times on the mental reasons for blowing holes in policemen as opposed to simply mindlessly wiping them out, this album is the final one where samples from the Scarface flick held any level of cool. Face it fuckers, Brad did the shit to death on this joint, so you running around calling everybody ‘cock-a-roaches’ years later ain’t cutting it no more. Oh and Brad and co almost did for James Brown samples too… but we’ll give them a pass on that score. Oh and ‘Money And The Power’ is some eerie shit when you chop and screw it. Ipso Facto Cunto.

Peaceful Journey

26) Heavy D & The Boyz – Peaceful Journey
This is an album that many turned their backs on following the pop success of debut single ‘Now That We Found Love’. Guess what though, suckas – ya missed out. This album, recorded following the tragic death of Trouble T-Roy, contains some genuinely emotional music at times, where Heavy D speaks pours out his feelings over some soulful Teddy Riley beats. At other points on the album though, Pete Rock is smashing craniums with his production efforts on this joint… ‘Don’t Curse’ is of course the hype joint that everyone recognises, but ‘Let It Rain’ and ‘Cuz He’s Always Around’ come hard with the horns and funk, and ‘Do Me Do Me’ despite teh ghey title is straight up jeep music. Its the perfect mix of mellow swingbeat stuff for the ladies, and harder-edged stuff for the Cross-Colors-rocking street heads of 1991. Ya half-yellow-half-lime-pant-rockin’, Sprite-can looking, retarded ass muhfuckas.

2 Low Life Muthas

27) Poison Clan – 2 Low Life Muthas
I really have no idea what happened after this album. Debonaire and JT Money laid a classic, and then fell the fuck off the face of the earth. JT Money returned with a rejigged PC line up (no Dave Chappelle) but the chemistry wasn’t there, and a couple of mediocre albums later he was throwing money at Sole in the club and going for dolo. Luckily though we can still pull this out (oo-er) from time to time to be reminded of how things were in happier days, when Deb was leaving bitches’ ‘pictures on a milk box for talking shit’ and JT was dissing jeri curl wearers worldwide. Mr Mixx pulled some fucking bass heat out for this shit with 808 goodness and manic scratching supporting the Baby 2 Live Crew as they did their foul-mouthed thing with a lot more panache than Fresh Kid Ice and Marquis ever had.

In God We Trust

28) Brand Nubian – In God We Trust
Much better in my opinion, than their much-discussed, much-bootlegged debut “One For All”, the Brand Nubes’ sophomore effort never really suffered as much as many expected from the departure of Grand Puba from the group. Derek adopted the Sadat-X moniker full term, and he and Lord Jamar both stepped up to fill the lyrical void over mostly surprisingly good self-produced beats – ‘Ain’t No Mystery’, ‘The Travel Jam’, ‘Love Me Or Leave Me Alone’, and ‘Steal Ya Ho’ all jump out immediately as stunning pieces of work. Of course, most people remember this album for ‘Punks Step Up To Get Beatdown’, the only joint that went outside the camp in terms of production – Diamond D hooked these cats up lovely with the Donaldson sample. Unless you’re smart like me though, and reburn this album with the ‘good’ remix tacked on, you’re gonna get left with the inferior album version of that track. Damn those better-than-the-original remixes that they put in the video (‘Give The People’ and ‘Vocab’ I’m looking at y’all too.)

Sex Packets

29) Digital Underground – Sex Packets
How can an album that has ‘Doowutchyalike’ and ‘The Humpty Dance’ on it NOT be in a top 100?

The Body-Hat Syndrome

30) Digital Underground – The Body-Hat Syndrome
After a couple of lackluster attempts to follow up their debut, DU finally returned to form here with the same funk-filled loops that they’d be jacking since their birth, but with (it seemed) more time spent on maintaining the quality of the music than on trying to live up to the bugged-out rep they’d been tagged with since their entrance on the scene. That’s not to say that they weren’t still off the wall of course – the eye-opening ‘Humpty Dance Awards’ skit for starters still showed their ability to take the piss out of any and every one in the Hiphop community… but this time around, the humor complimented the music rather than coming at the expense of it. ‘The Return Of The Crazy One’ is still one of the best tracks they’ve ever recorded too.

Valley Of The Jeep Beets

31) Terminator X – Terminator X & The Valley Of The Jeep Beets
Probably the worst-titled album in the entire 100, but that aside, a worthy entrant on MY list as its where my head was at in ’91. Capturing perfectly the Bomb Squad ethos of organised chaos, Terminator grabbed Chuck, Sistah Souljah, and an assortment of no-names, pushed them into the studio and constructed a hard-hitting compilation which snapshots underground Hiphop pretty well as the 80’s gave way to the 90’s. ‘Buck Whylin’ was the powerful lead single that everyone recognised as much for Chuck’s booming tones as for X’s grinding beat, but tracks from the Juvenile Delinquintz, The Interrogators, and Chief Groovy Loo also impressed, while in spots where the emcees weren’t the strongest, the beats took over and kept the tracks listenable (hello Bonnie N Clyde.)

Cypress Hill

32) Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill
Despite what your feelings may or may not be on the overall career path of this group, there’s no denying that this album was a breath of fresh air on its release – not just due to the fact that it was arguably the first longplayer by a Latino crew that was top notch throughout, and didn’t just rely on one hot single to make its album sales grow, but also because Muggs’ production brought a new look to a jaded ‘gangsta rap’ scene. The fact that after this album’s success Cypress Hill often seemed to play the Mary-Jane card above all others in order to grab the attention of those indie-wannabe-down-student types who couldn’t give a fuck when ‘How I Could Just Kill A Man’ originally dropped, is a side issue in terms of this list. This joint fucking knocks – end of story.

#1 Player

33) Red Hot Lover Tone – #1 Player
Before he started r’n’b-ifying the NY commercial scene as one half of the Trakmasterz duo, and before cats REALLY started dropping their ‘er’s’ in favor of ending words with an ‘a’, Tone was a Red Hot Lover and dropped two solo joints. The second of these gets regular play around these parts due to both the quality of the production and the humorous approach to lyricism that RHLT adopts throughout. Jacking Isley and Axelrod samples that very few other producers were utilising at the time, Tone lays down a foundation of jazzy loops and then spreads a thick layer of boom-bap drums over the top, before attacking the mic with a similar approach to Dres and Lawnge on “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”. Never taking himself too seriously, Tone drops tales of debauchery on most tracks, though the oft-forgotten posse cut ‘4 My Peeps’, which features Biggie, Organised Konfusion and MOP, is worthy of particular note.

A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

34) Black Sheep – A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
Oh yeah, “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”. The latecomers to the Native Tongues posse, the Black Sheep duo made up for lost time by impressing the Hiphop nation with their debut, which was brimful of Ovis Aries-styled puns laid over a fine selection of producer Mr Lawnge’s beats. The majority of the album’s lyrics are held down by the sharply sarcastic Dres, although Lawnge himself isn’t averse to dropping some jewels himself throughout, and Q-Tip, Chi-Ali and others make guest appearances at points. Of course the singles grab the attention immediately – ‘Flavor Of The Month’s’ bubbly horns still bring a smile to the face, while tale-of-nightclub-lighting-horror ‘Strobelite Honey’ is still a track that many can identify with; the massive ‘The Choice Is Yours’ however is the cut that will be familiar to the those who are perhaps unaware up to this point of what they’ve missed over the years. Don’t worry – ‘Gimme The Finga’, ‘La Menage’, and ‘Black With NV’ will be your starting points on a road to ensuring that the rest of your album listening experience is as good as the singles.

Long Live The Kane

35) Big Daddy Kane – Long Live The Kane
Still one of the top 5 emcees of all time, Kane’s debut album is fire almost the whole way through. Take off the horrific ‘The Day You’re Mine’ and you get a complete course in lyricism though… Big Daddy Kane is quite literally breathtaking throughout, with amazing delivery, furious flow, and spellbinding lyrical dexterity in abundance over some of Marley Marl’s best work on the boards. This is another album that you need to have in your possession – words on a screen do not come close to capturing the quality of Kane’s performances. Its easy to see why heads placed Kane and Rakim head and shoulders above everyone else in 1988 (and why many still do today.)

Its A Big Daddy Thing

36) Big Daddy Kane – Its A Big Daddy Kane
Many felt that Kane’s pimp persona dominated this album too strongly, but I can’t agree. Kane had always positioned himself as the smooth-talking ladies’ man, so him talking about sexing up the females should not come as a surprise, and its not as detrimental here as it is on later releases. At this point Kane is still carrying off the balancing act superbly, with the playa shit getting equal time with fierce battle rhymes (‘Mortal Combat’), concious lyricism (‘Young, Gifted And Black’ and ‘Calling Mr Welfare’) and clever braggodicio (‘Smooth Operator’, ‘Warm It Up Kane’). Shit… even the house track (customary on many late 80’s and early 90’s Hiphop releases) was dope.

Looks Like A Job For...

37) Big Daddy Kane – Looks Like A Job For…
This album signalled a return to form for Kane after two releases that were almost universally panned by fans and critics alike. Too much like Barry White? Too soft? Sold out? Big Daddy had something for that ass (zing!) here – with a mixture of production from himself, long time collaborators Easy Mo Bee and Mister Cee and the oft-criticised TrakMasterz (who brought some real heat to the table) supporting him as he turned in his hungriest microphone performance in years. From the return-of-the-champion feel of the title track, to the mocking of wack emcees on ‘How U Get A Record Deal?’, to the rugged and raw ‘The Beef Is On’, it seemed that Kane had taken all the criticism on board and came out swinging. Of course he still couldn’t resist a quick dash back into ladies’ terrority, but even here, the well-produced ‘Very Special’ saw him share mic time with Spinderella and produce a chemistry and ultimately an end result that was different from all those ‘soft’ tracks on earlier albums.

Stop The World

38) Black Rock & Ron – Stop The World
The ‘B’s are ruling right now, huh? Forget about the awful cover… its whats on the inside that counts – and what we find in here is a trio who shout and bawl over rugged 808-heavy beats while repping Hollis, Queens. Nope, it ain’t Run DMC, but it ain’t some second rate knockoffs either – BRR do a sterling job both on the mic and on the boards, and the ‘Funky Drummer’-based title track, the big beat feel of the ‘Black Rock & Ron’ single, and the simply bonkers ‘Its Raw’ all catch the ear immediately. The original release with the above shitty cover is definitely a tough one to find nowadays, but you can still catch the European re-release with a different teh ghey cover and bonus cuts in bargain bins from time to time.

Ready To Die

39) Notorious BIG – Ready To Die
Another one that needs very little explaining, innit? A hungry Biggie Smalls over superb production from an array of Badboy’s in-house and guest producers while a determined and knowledgable CEO pulled the strings in the background to ensure the project came together as originally visioned. All bases are covered – Biggie raps for the streets, for the lyrical heads, and for the ladies over an assortment of club and radio-friendly tracks and headphone masterpieces. Big’s skills are quite simply undeniable.

Life After Death

40) Notorious BIG – Life After Death
Bloated and oversize? Of course. But enough about Biggie himself, lets get to the album. Released posthumously after Big’s murder, this double cd is easily trimmed down to a single cd of astonishing music, and that, chums, is why it makes the list. Skip buttons are a wonderful thing. Again, Biggie hits all targets – riding Primo’s rugged backing tracks (’10 Crack Commandments’, ‘Kick In The Door’) expertly one moment, before steering things radio-ward with the funk of ‘Hypnotize’ and the anthemic ‘Mo Money, Mo Problems’. A classic? Not quite – there’s too much fluff on here. One of my favorites though? Yup… and that’s why it makes the cut.

Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk

41) Son Of Bazerk – Bazerk Bazerk Bazerk
Or “Featuring No Self-Control And The Band” – whatever you want to call it. I wish this cat had put out more music – he has one of the best voices in Hiphop, and the vision and ideas on this supercharged album are mind-blowing. Channelling James Brown (right down to the album cover), Bazerk and Hank Shocklee’s Bomb Squad produce a studio performance of Hiphop, gruff R’n’B, sultry soul, and everything in between that sonically assaults the senses from every angle. From the jittery ‘The Band Gets Swivey On The Wheels’, to the experimentation on ‘Change The Style’ and ‘Bang (Get Down Get Down)’, to the NY jeep anthem ‘J Dub’s Theme’, Bazerk and co drive this album right to the edge of chaos, and leave you dangling on the edge. Good luck finding this though.

Bigger And Deffer

42) LL Cool J – Bigger And Deffer
Despite ‘Rock The Bells’ and ‘I Need A Beat’, I thought that “Radio” was no more than an average album… of course the young hungry LL could rhyme his ass off, but his beats just needed switching up that little more on his debut. Thankfully on this sophomore joint he moved away from Def Jam’s trademark ’86 sound and brought a little more variety into the mix. ‘I’m Bad’ and ‘Kanday’ are still favorites to this day, simply because in these two opening songs, Cool J showed more variety in his music than on his whole first album. Oh, and we’ll just pretend that ‘I Need Love’ doesn’t exist, shall we?

Mama Said Knock You Out

43) LL Cool J – Mama Said Knock You Out
Anyone who can’t understand why this album is a certified classic, needs to read these nikes. Not only did it signal the RETURN of Cool J after many panned “Panther”, but this was a Cool J who was eager to prove the naysayers wrong, and putting Molly Moll behind the boards was a crucial element of the plan. Molly blessed LL with so many bangers on this album it was ridiculous – the jeeps were covered, the ladies were covered, the lyrical fans were covered, the party-goers were covered… this shit plays practically from start to finish without needing a skip. And ‘The Boomin’ System’ still makes me lean back extra far when I’m driving.

First Come, First Served

44) Dr Dooom – First Come, First Served
Don’t get it twisted, Kool Keith has always been a wack job, but on this album the voices in his head brought out an alter ego that was much easier to listen to than the hipsters’ fave, Dr Octagon. “First Come, First Served” appeals to me on so many different levels – from the Pen & Pixel-jocking album cover, to the murder of Octagon on the opening track, to the sickness of the Diesel Truckers’ production on the majority of the tracks, to the fact that Keith’s offkilter lyricism actually makes sense at certain times in an alarming way. ‘Apartment 223’ in particular, captures the mood of the entire album perfectly, as Keith checks cannibalism, body parts, chanting around candles, and ghetto housing conditions off his ‘must-mention’ list in quick succession over a squelchy, bass heavy head nodder. The fake beards on the back cover add icing to an already-delicious cake.

Capital Punishment

45) Big Pun – Capital Punishment
While many put Pun on a (heavily reinforced) pedestal due to his lyricism, the main factor for me in my constant replaying of this album is the production. From start to finish, Pun rides some of the hottest beats from some of the hottest producers of that time period – the Beatnuts, Rockwilder, Showbiz, the RZA, and LES all hold it down for the ‘household names’ camp, while Young Lord, Frank Nitty, Minnesota and others rep for the ‘mostly unknowns’. Of course, we all know that Pun is a beast on the mic (though his frequent gasps for breath between bars is, with hindsight, more than a little disturbing) and he certainly shines throughout… ‘dead in the middle… little Italy’… blah blah blah – you know that one line that EVERYONE quotes by heart now. Its amazing that even after his untimely death, Fat Joe is still getting paid majorly offa riding this man’s back. (Ay!)

Ruff, Rugged & Raw

46) Double XX Posse – Ruff, Rugged & Raw
Horns. Horns. Horns. Horns. Amazingly self-produced, Double XX’s second album flew under many people’s radars just like their first one. Joke’s on you, suckas. If you took Pete Rock, Showbiz, Diamond D, Onyx, MOP, DMX and Kool G Rap and fed them into a ‘make me a hot album’ machine you’d probably end up with something close to this – Sugar Ray and BK gruffly rep NY unashamedly, splitting wigs, spilling 40’s and cocking glocks on the block in full view of the police, without a care in the world. Loads of shouty choruses, threats of blood-spilling, violence towards women all delivered over rigid snares make this a surefire winner. And many of you have never heard it. Shame on you all.

Volume 3... The Life And Times Of S. Carter

47) Jay-Z – Volume 3… The Life And Times Of S. Carter
Fuck “Reasonable Doubt”. THIS is easily Jigga’s best album – ipso, facto, cunto. Its also the only one I listen to with any semblance of regularity. Since everyone and their mother has a copy, do I really need to tell you why?

Illmatic

48) Nas – Illmatic
I don’t really need to explain this either do I? (Plus it helps that I’m quitting at 50 today, and short writeups bring that number up quicker.)

Raising Hell

49) Run DMC – Raising Hell
Apart from the Beasties, Joe and Darryl are really the only people I can stand over rock breaks. And even then, its in very small doses. However, here they collected all the best parts from their previous two albums and then brought those into the studio and took those ideas to the NEXT level. Think of how many times in your life you’ve rocked to ‘Peter Piper’. Think of how much of a love/hate relationship you have with ‘Walk This Way’. Think of how much you loved the sparseness of ‘Dumb Girl’. Think of how your mindset was altered every time you entered a sneaker store after hearing ‘

50) Run DMC – Tougher Than Leather
This, meanwhile is Run DMC at the very pinnacle. I always remember Chuck D commenting on how this album was viewed as a failure by many because Run DMC made an album for the US only, while PE made albums for the US and the rest of the world. On the real though, the rest of the world must have been fucking idiots not to grab this shit in 1988. How can you NOT feel ‘Run’s House’, the rugged opener where Run stamps his territory marker down hard on the Hiphop scene; or the B-Boy anthem ‘Beats To The Rhyme’? (And it IS a fucking anthem – shame on you if you don’t know EVERY single word of this track.) How can you not feel Jay bringing more of his input into the production side of things, and abusing wax on almost every hook here? The rest of the world dropped the ball on this one. Personally, I blame the Irish. (Oh and anyone who hates on ‘Ragtime’ has me to answer to.)

OG Original Gangster

51) Ice T – O.G. Original Gangster
Easily Mr Marrow’s best album, “O.G.” saw him polish up both his lyrical delivery and his content to the point where, even though he was often relaying the same LA street tales as brothers-in-arms NWA (see what I did there?), Ice’s versions didn’t carry the same ‘eau de Hanna Barbera’. This album saw Ice at his peak – the theme to the movie that first saw him grace the silver screen ‘New Jack City’ slots in perfectly beside the gritty realism of ‘The Tower’, the highly psychological ‘Mind Over Matter’, and the violently descriptive ‘Pulse Of The Rhyme’. The fact that this is the best outing on the boards from his production team, The Ammo Dump, makes this a perfect contender for the top 100.

Doggy Style

52) Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggy Style
I guess we should keep it on the West Coast for a short short. Was there really any way that this album was NOT going to make it on here? The perfect marriage of Dre’s new G-Funk sound and the soft spoken twang of Calvin Broadus didn’t just meet all the pre-release hype – it exceeded it beyond anyone’s imagination. This record is truly the one that made gangsta rap fully accessible to MTV and set the scene for everyone to milk the G-Funk formula to death. And despite the fact that it was quickly proven that Snoop really can’t rap for shit beyond ‘A-B-C-1-2-3-D-P-G-L-B-C’, he’s the ONLY muhfucka that could get away with such an average microphone performance. (Of course the beats are a major factor too – but Snoop is just THAT DUDE.)

The DoggFather

53) Snoop Doggy Dogg – The Doggfather
Which is why THIS album also makes the list. Unfairly shitted on to this day by many, simply because it was Dre-less, it still gets regularly outings on the tables in chez Altrap. DJ Pooh takes over control on the boards, and with the help of Daz and Soopafly, lays down some pure FONK for Snoop to chatter over. Pooh rips Zapp’s entire catalogue with a surgical precision not seen since the heady days of EPMD – how anyone can listen to the title track, ‘Up Jump The Boogie’, ‘Groupie’, ‘Snoop Bounce’, or ‘You Thought’ and not nod their fucking head is beyond me. The fact that Snoop is single-handedly responsible for rejuventating the career of Charlie Wilson is just one more reason to ride for Calvin (no sodomite.) Go on – listen to it again, and admit y’all fucked up by keeping this shit on the shelf. Thank me later.

The Chronic

54) Dr Dre – The Chronic
Another relatively easy choice for the list, this has aged much better than its 2001 followup. I remember copping the tape shortly after it dropped and listening to it on a flight from Boston to Dublin – I ran it all the way through, and then took it out and listened to Redman and EPMD the rest of the entire flight, pissy because ‘Deep Cover’ wasn’t on it, and safe in the knowledge that Dre couldn’t fuck with the funk the way Erick & Parrish were doing it. Anyway, House Of Pain were ruling the airwaves in ’92 anyway, right?

Dogg Food

55) Dogg Pound – Dogg Food
Holding its own with “The Chronic” and “Doggy Style” is a task that Daz and Kurupt’s album achieves with relative ease. With Dre and Daz on the boards and Death Row at the height of their powers, it was almost a given that this album would sound musically great, but there was always the fear that as supposed ‘2nd tier’ artists, Daz and Kurupt on the mic would be overshadowed by the mainstays of the label over the course of an entire album. These fears were unfounded though, as the duo attacked the mic with a genuine hunger, as Dre steered the album in the correct musical direction. One black mark against this album though – this is the one where Nate Dogg established himself as the king of hooks and following its success he popped up on EVERY muhfuckas shit over the next few years. (Sidenote: I finally came up on another copy of the ‘Respect’ 12″ a few months back – this is one of the best instrumental tracks EVER. Ipso Facto Cunto.)

All Eyez On Me

56) 2Pac – All Eyez On Me
Aw fuck it. Lets make this a Death Row edition shall we? Fuck “Me Against The World” – its average nonsense from a cat who can’t decide whether he’s going to rep the Bay, Baltimore or NY, and who’s selection is beats is downright awful. “All Eyez On Me” though sees Pac ‘Bishop up’ and become the cartoon thug that he figured the rest of the world always wanted to see… the fact that he makes this decision over some fantastic beats makes this the audio equivalent of a bad car crash, and you can’t help but tune in. Contradictory and bloated it may be, but there’s still a hell of an album in amongst the fat. ‘Ambitionz Az A Ridah’, ‘All Bout U’, ‘Got My Mind Made Up’ and the title track are arguably some of the strongest tracks in Pac’s catalogue. (Cue Pac dick rider invasion.)

The Don Killuminati The 7 Day Theory

57) 2Pac / Makaveli – The Don Killuminati The 7 Day Theory
Conspiracy, conschmiracy. The paranoia obviously brought out the best in Pac on the mic during the time leading up to his death – this album stands testament to this fact, and also to the fact that his quality control inspector was finally putting in some work. The beats and the micwork here stand head and shoulders above every other 2pac release, and even with Afeni’s mutiple attempts to cash in on her son’s work keep the memory of her son’s work alive, this album is easily the best 2pac album ever released. Obviously, the Black Elvis was completely off his rocker during the recording of most of it, but its entertaining in the extreme to hear him describe how Camel Joe Jay-Z and Nas are sending ninjas to assassinate him, how Dr Dre is a regular at the Blue Oyster, and how Puffy is a member of Al Quaeda. Or something.

AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted

58) Ice Cube – AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted
Many think that this album has matured less like a fine wine and more like a bottle of mayonaisse left out in the heat. I disagree. For one it has ‘Who’s The Mack’ on it – one of the finest Cube tracks ever. For two – it has some classic Bomb Squad production on it, just before Chuck, Hank and Eric all went off the deep end and started thinking that they could get away with making shite and it would still sell because carried the Bomb Squad moniker (I see you Chief Groovy Loo.) For three, its fucking Cube’s first record post NWA. And he’s angry. Matter of fact, he’s the nigga ya love ta hate. And JD was gafflin’ on here too. What more do you want, you clueless idiots?

Death Certificate

59) Ice Cube – Death Certificate
Ice Cube’s response to those who figured that the angry shouty ‘Cube from NWA’ was the only look he could give the Hiphop listener. Here he couples it with the angry, shouty ‘Cube who’s down with the Nation’ and kicks off at mutiple targets over some fine board work from Sir Jinx. At times thought provoking, at times humorous, at times militant, at times downright offensive, Cube still hits every target he aims at – from the plight of the black community to his old NWA cohorts. After as perfect an album as this, its not surprising that the only direction afterwards was down, and while the first halves of both “The Predator” and “Lethal Injection” are near perfect, the second halves are godawful. The rest of his catalogue (save the “Kill At Will” EP) is complete poo. And lets pour some out for “Are We There Yet?” too. Fuck me though (not an invite), this is a great fucking album.

Ain't A Damn Thang Changed

60) WC & The Maad Circle – Ain’t A Damn Thang Changed
Carrying the same flavor and style as the first couple of Cube solos (not surprising as O’Shea oversaw the whole album recording process) this album flew under many people’s radar on initial release. Its not the first time Dub-C got this treatment either – his album as part of Low Profile was also unfairly slept on by the majority (who are now paying through the ass for Ebay copies now.) Anyway… “AADTC” saw WC, a pre-sell out Coolio, Chilly Chill and co busting hardcore CPT gangsta rap over classic Sir Jinx production. Its a simply constructed album, that sounds amazing. And many of you don’t have it. Because you’re all gay.

Don't Sweat The Technique

61) Eric B & Rakim – Don’t Sweat The Technique
LOL @ the gasps of astonishment. Yes, fuckers, this is the only EBAR album in the 100. Why? Because it’s the only EBAR ‘album’ they’ve ever made – “Paid In Full” is a collection of (truly great) singles padded out with some horrible Eric-B-on-the-cut (come on kick it!) type shite; “Follow The Leader” despite starting off with one of the best 1-2-3 combinations in the history of Hiphop quickly descends into complete filler; and “Let The Rhythm Hit Em” with a few exceptions is total bargain bin fodder. “DSTT” meanwhile has ‘Whats On Your Mind’ on it for starters, which shits all over ‘I Need Love’, ‘I Used To Love Her’, ‘A Bitch Iz A Bitch’ and any other Hiphop ‘love’ joint you can care to think of. On a later joint, Ra cuts off a kid’s eyelid because he’s so fucking diesel. And the title track is the first Hiphop vid from an authentic star to have an awkward looking white woman in the video hoeing it up with the rest of the chocolate eye-candy.

Daily Operation

62) Gang Starr – Daily Operation
As we all know – when it comes to lists, compilations don’t count. And so, with “Full Clip” disqualified as a contender, “Daily Operation” becomes the single Gang Starr album to make the list. There’s a strong argument to be made for “Step In The Arena”, but personally it felt a little too light to me at times (plus it has the inferior version of ‘Just To Get A Rep’), whereas “DO” is pretty much the first true example of Primo bringing the grit and grime of NY to Hiphop heads in the style for which he’s become famous. Guru as usual, is merely adequate, sounding neither tough on the ‘thug’ tracks, or sincere on the ‘love’ tracks, but when Premier is abusing speakers and eardrums as much as he does on this album, its easy to tune Keith out. By the way – “Hard To Earn” has as many misfires as it does heaters, “The Ownerz” lacks that certain spark that lit the earlier albums, and “Moment Of Truth” actually COULD make the list depending on my mood and a certain time. Today however, all I hear is K-Ci & JoJo murdering the hook on ‘Royalty’ and thus I swiftly move to the next artist.

Livin' Proof

63) Group Home – Livin’ Proof
Hiphop production legend produces an album of amazing beats at the very height of his supernatural boom-bap powers. Gets in his shite mates to rap over it. The end. (‘Supastar’ and the title track are the fucking knock though.)

The Sun Rises In The East

64) Jeru Tha Damaja – The Sun Rises In The East
Part two of our incredible story about a Hiphop production legend who produces an album of amazing beats at the very height of his supernatural boom-bap powers. Gets in his shite mate to rap over it. The end. (‘Come Clean’ and ‘D.Original’ are the fucking knock though.)

Jewel Of The Nile

65) Nice & Smooth – Jewel Of The Nile
The two best wearers of silk shirts in Hiphop (sorry Kane) got a little more rugged, strapped on the Tims and the goosedown and churned out a solid album that bumps practically from start to finish, and tops “Ain’t A Damn Thing Changed” which had its fair share of homosexual tracks amongst the gems. Greg Nice still talks complete nonsense, and Smooth B sounds more the ghey here than at any point in his career, but yet, despite this, this horribly-named album somehow works. Jeep anthems, superbly simple jackings of Prince, Slick Rick guest appearances… every base is covered. They even hold it down for the white people, by bringing in Everlast to drop a verse on the rocky ‘Save The Children’… Remember when he used to serve asses like John McEnroe?

Take A Look Around

66) Master Ace – Take A Look Around
One of the most underrated, overlooked albums in Hiphop history, this deservedly makes my list. Ace on the mic is at times intelligent, at times humorous, at times conscious, at times club-happy, and each and every time he, Steady Pace, or Molly Moll hook up a perfect beat to suit the mood. As this album contains the song ‘Me And The Biz’, which introduced the world to that scary ass papier mache Biz Mark doll, it gets a special Halloween snap in Trick Or Treat formation.

Slaughtahouse

67) Masta Ace – Slaughtahouse
Along with Prince Paul and De La, I think Ace perfected the art of themed albums. On “Slaughtahouse” he goes for the throat of emcees who churn out bullshit lyrics that glorify violence but who don’t take into account the effect it has on impressionable kids. This album is even more relevant today than it was back then. And ‘Mad Wunz’ is still a mixtape staple (as well as the basis for Big Dawg Pitbull Westwood’s traditional theme tune for his Saturday show)

Sittin' On Chrome

68) Masta Ace – Sittin’ On Chrome
Ace’s subsequent two albums could easily feature on a top 100 list on a different day – he’s easily one of the most consisted and gifted emcees to have ever picked up a mic. However his entries on MY list end with this one – another themed album, this time of NY raps with a distinct West Coast flavor. Its executed superbly throughout, although many people may really only be familiar with ‘Born to Roll’, the big breakout single. Other cuts like ‘The B-Side’, ‘Terror’, ‘The INC Ride’, and ‘Turn It Up’ definitely impress much more than this though, and it’s a crime that this album is another one that’s overlooked by so many people.

Whut? Thee Album

69) Redman – Whut? Thee Album
One of the strongest debuts in Hiphop history. Red came out the blocks hard, representing the Bricks to the fullest while at the same time showing the world that not only had Erick Sermon still got some funk production tricks in the bag, but that Redman himself could hold it down competently on the boards. Reggie’s sense of humor shines out from every track, harkening us back to a period when Hiphop was a lot more fun that it is now. If you ever come across anyone who dislikes this album, please kill them immediately.

Muddy Waters

70) Redman – Muddy Waters
Similarly, if you ever come across anyone talking up Redman’s sophomore album, “Dare Iz A Dark Side” please feel free to give them a 2-piece with a biscuit as well. This album, “Muddy Waters” is the TRUE follow up to Red’s debut. It brings the fun and the funk back into the mix – a formula that was sadly lacking from the inferior second album – and sees Red link up with Method Man for the first time, as well as Keith Murray, K-Solo, and Erick Sermon at different points throughout. Beat wise, its another supreme performance on the boards again shared largely by Red himself and E-Double. There are many people who don’t have this in their collection because of the mediocrity of “DIADS”… don’t make the same mistake as those herbs. This is the last true example of Redman as a top notch emcee – after that he starting hanging round with the wrong crowd (I see you Meth), and got into all types of trouble (I see you ‘The Red & Meth show’) that he would never have done in his earlier days. Thankfully, Jigga’s continual stiffing him over release dates seems to have brought the hunger back to the Funkdoctor judging from recent mixtape appearances… lets hope his next (as yet untitled, and not scheduled for release) album contains more than fleeting glimpses of the Red we’ve all come to know and love. (No Brokeback.)

Straight Up Sewacide

71) Das EFX – Straight Up Sewacide
While we’re on the subject on overlooked albums – don’t sleep on this one. In the rush to proclaim Wu-Tang kings of Staten Island in 1993, many people trampled Drayz and Scoob’s follow up to “Dead Serious” into the dirt. Their loss. Dropping much of the ‘iggity-wiggity’ flow that brought them their initial fame, Das EFX and main producer Solid Scheme, tightened both delivery and production up a few notches and brought some serious heat to the ears. The fact that too many people were burying their tongues in the collective Wu asshole at the time, meant that this amazing album still exists as a virtual sleeper for a lot of heads. ‘Underground Rappa’, ‘Baknafekk’, ‘Freak It’, and ‘Gimme Dat Microphone’ all stand head and shoulders above much of today’s Hiphop material. Ipso facto cunto.

Loc'ed After Dark

72) Tone Loc – Loc’ed After Dark
Stop laughing. I love this album. So what if Loc was only huskily growling what Young MC wrote for him? Y’all don’t have problems with giving Dre, or Biz, or MC Lyte a pass when they do it… why pick on the voice of a cartoon bear? Anyways, y’all know the deal with the pop side of this shit – ‘Wild Thing’ and ‘Funky Cold Medina’ are the big hits that everyone knows from here. Unfortunately if that’s all you know about this album, you’re missing out on the title track where Loc swallows a bucket of gravel over the same break Ice-T utilized for ‘High Rollers’; the bar room ambience of ‘The Homies’ where Loc big ups the ones who got his back; and the smokers anthem ‘Locin’ In On The Shaw’, which takes relaxation to another level. ‘Don’t Get Close’ and ‘Cuttin’ Rhythms’ also provide two more reasons why this regularly makes it into the changer.

Runaway Slave

73) Showbiz & AG – Runaway Slave
I first copped this on tape, and played it so much that I snapped the damn thing. I got another tape and snapped it too. Now I’m on my third tape, alongside the cd version, and the vinyl is in that pile over in the corner. I support when artists deserve it y’see. This one goes hand in hand with the heavily-favored (and overlong) “Stunts, Blunts & Hiphop” by Diamond D. They both come out of the DITC camp, both around the same time, and both carry the same NY-basketball-court-summer-anthem/Tims-N-Hoods-in-winter double feel in much of their material. Showbiz of course is the producer/emcee extraordinaire – a veritable beast both on the mic and the boards who gets ‘head on the escalator’ from numerous hoes. Andre The Giant, or plain old A.G. to his parents, plays the steadfast lyrical warrior; viciously slaying foes with a pen and a pad. Trademark boom-bap era Hiphop on the highest possible level is the aim here, and both Show and A.G. do not disappoint. The fact that Lord Finesse and Big L (amongst others) feature here with terrific verses on the anthem ‘Represent’ gives you one more reason to go out and cop if you haven’t already done so.

Enter The Wu-Tang

74) Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang 36 Chambers
Was there ever any doubt that I’d get around to getting some Wu into this list? Their debut still sounds as good today as it did 14 years ago on initial release… grimy, dirty, dank beats supporting 8 of the nicest emcees (and U-God) that you’re ever likely to meet. Couple this with the groundbreaking label deal they signed allowing all the crew members to go solo without having to get involved in major industry politricks and its obvious that this album deserves its place on the platform with the other winners.

Only Built For Cuban Linx

75) Raekwon – Only Built For Cuban Linx
This still stands as RZA’s magnum opus, and is arguably the best Wu-Tang record ever released. Rae and Ghost’s mafia-don-coke-slangin’ personas eloquently took drug rap to a new plateau while RZA’s beats banged from start to finish with hypnotic samples and raw drum breaks which remain blasting from many’s a whip to this day. ‘Ice Water’ is STILL my fucking joint.

Return To The 36 Chambers

76) Ol’ Dirty Bastard – Return To The 36 Chambers
Gone but not forgotten. I demand you play ‘Rawhide’ and ‘Crooklyn Zoo’ right now, and then try to tell me this doesn’t deserve to appear on this list. It ain’t happening. Depending on my mood, I can often also be found pumping “Nigga Please” semi-regularly (no John Amaechi), but even I’ll admit that its spotty in places and would be far off any top 100.

Supreme Clientele

77) Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele
Yes children… no “Ironman” on this list. For me, that’s an album that tapers off towards the end, pushing a potential classic back into the ‘great album’ category. This thing however is a different kettle of fish, with Mr Starks beginning to perfect the nonsensical flow that only he seems to get a pass for (no Juelz, literally) and RZA relinquishing his stranglehold on the boards to let other cats come in and bless Ghost with some genuine audio gems. Matter of fact, the only thing that ever pissed me off about this album is the fucked up tracklisting on the inlay – a Wu trademark, I guess. Oh and guess what – no GZA on this list either – ‘Shadow Boxing’ aside, “Liquid Swords” in NOT as good as its cracked up to be.

Stone Crazy

78) Beatnuts – Stone Crazy
With this album, JuJu and Les easily proved that the departure of Fashion from the crew would not hamper their activities – “Stone Crazy” remains chockful of beer, blunt and bitch tales dropped over a host of slick loops that many other cratediggers would give their right arm for. This album also introduced The Beatnuts to a slightly wider audience thanks to the Pun-featuring smash ‘Off The Books’. Were did all you muhfuckas go when they had to jump to Penalty Records though? Assholes.

Criminal Minded

79) Boogie Down Productions – Criminal Minded
Even though these days he’d start a row in an empty house, there’s a still a little part of me that likes Kris. This album sounds extremely dated now, but when it dropped it was in constant rotation, and the fact that TO THIS DAY in the right place at the right time, ‘The Bridge Is Over’ will DESTROY a club stands testament to this record’s power. But you all know that, right?

Return Of The Boom Bap

80) KRS-One – Return Of The Boom Bap
Probably the only sensible career move he’s ever made following the decline of BDP as a crew, KRS linking up with Primo resulted in one of the hardest albums of the early 90’s. I remember copping the bootleg of this several months before it actually dropped just to see exactly what Kris over Primo would sound like – as many of you will be aware, it was not a disappointment (nh). Again, get in the right place with this joint, and ‘Sound Of Da Police’ will tear the roof of. Why did he have to turn into such a disagreeable old bastard though? *sigh*

Killer Album

81) Ruthless Rap Assassins – Killer Album
Standing head and shoulders above the other UK Hiphop albums jockeying for position on this list, “Killer” is hated by many, loved by few, and adored by moi. Assembled in finest Steinski cut-n-paste style, this is the debut album that DJ Shadow would have dropped if he has been born a young black yout’ in Hulme, Manchester… and actually emceed. ‘And It Wasn’t A Dream’ and ‘Just Mellow’ continue to stand the test of time, and ‘Jealous MC’ is parody at its biting best… Kermit and the Hinds brothers deserve a lot more recognition from manys a UK Hiphop fan for the contribution they made to breaking down doors (and ears) to let heads see that their was Hiphop outside London. (And Kiss AMC are fucking dope too.)

The Tipping Point

82) The Roots – The Tipping Point
I’ll say this quick before the Okayplayer lynch mob break my door down and cart me off to ?Love’s House Of Pretensiousness Pain… I’m not really a big fan of the Roots. They’ve made some fantastic records, but “Tipping Point” is the very first Roots album that I’ve ever been able to make it right to the end of without getting bored, and thinking about eating something. Its no joke – once I get past ‘The Next Movement’ on “Illadeplh Halflife” I’m starting to thinking about bowls of cereal and shit. Somehow though, “The Tipping Point” is different (although I did have to reburn my own ‘custom’ copy so that I could easily skip over Quest’s 17 hour drum breakdown after ‘Star’ – that still makes me want to clean out my belly button.)

To The East, Blackwards

83) X-Clan – To The East, Blackwards
Everytime anyone writes about X-Clan nowadays they always end up shoe-horning the famous “This is protected by the Red, the Black, and the Green… with a key… sissssssssssssy.” into their scribbles. I’m no exception.

Done By The Forces Of Nature

84) Jungle Brothers – Done By The Forces Of Nature
Overlooked by many in their haste to crown De La and Tribe as keepers of the Native Tongue crown, the JBeez have done themselves little favors anyway over the years since the release of this album. Sorry bse, but “JBeez Wit The Remedy” and “Raw Deluxe” are complete monkey poop, and the less we speak of the “VIP” fiasco the better. This album however stands as a beacon for all that was Afrocentric and good and mellow and beatnik and hippy and straight up dope in 1989. Continuing on from where their strong debut left off, the Jungles crafted a superb sophomore effort which I continue to rock in all its badly-mastered glory to this day. Hoorah for wack studio engineers.

21 & Over

85) Tha Alkaholiks – 21 & Over
Ah… the heady days of the early 90’s… I remember hitting up the college station at the University of Rhode Island in the period just after this and “36 Chambers” dropped, and the amount of love that cats were showing to ‘Likwit’ and ‘Make Room’ was unbelievable. Loud Records just seemed so unstoppable then… funny how things work out, innit? Anyway, though Tha Liks will always have a special place in my heart (due to our sharing of the AA gene), after this album I felt that they went 0 for 4 in attempts to produce a decent follow up. Tash is STILL a fucking beast on the mic though and E-Swift is a super-nice guy. (Nullus)

Juice

86) Juice Soundtrack
Hey… sure it has some R’n’B on it, but its my list – so eat a fat penis. This and number 87 are probably the two best Hiphop movie soundtracks of all time. Plus the title track from this one is one of the greatest songs ever made. Facto cunto etc etc.

Above The Rim

87) Above The Rim Soundtrack
What number 86 said except substitute ‘Juice (Know The Ledge)’ for ‘Big Pimpin’ by The Dogg Pound. Factomundo.

The Infamous

88) Mobb Deep – The Infamous
I’ve always left this off my lists in the past, placing “Hell On Earth” ahead of it by a street… but I’ve been listening to this hard (nullus) for the last couple of months, and even experts like me can change their opinion from time to time. So “The Infamous” makes it – and finally all the tims-n-hoods crews have an album they can masturbate over (since “The Shinin'” didn’t appear here.)

Hell On Earth

89) Mobb Deep – Hell On Earth
Despite my love for ‘Shook Ones’ and ‘Survival Of The Fittest’… despite the fact that they will always be the definitive Mobb Deep songs… THIS is the definitive ALBUM (y’nahmsanesun?) Havoc’s production techniques here are ridiculous, with crisp snares and haunting strings creating a gloomy landscape for P to go to work on the mic. Dunn language is in full effect here (y’nahmsanesun?) as Prodigy’s tales of Queensbridge gangsterism unfold, and despite the fact that he’s only 3ft 2inches, his threats and bravado is almost believable. I bet both member of Mobb Deep could kick you really hard in the shins.

4,5,6

90) Kool G Rap – 4,5,6
This album makes me want to shoot people in the face. That reason alone ensures that the Kool Genius gets a spot in the 100.

Enquiring Minds

91) Gangsta Boo – Enquiring Minds
Out of the 3546373 Three 6 Mafia-related albums, this and La Chat’s “Murder She Spoke” are the two that I return to the most. Critics can continue to point out that every album that ever came out of the Hypnotize Minds camp sounds exactly the same as the one that came before (although the success of ‘Stay Fly’ has helped to silence those shouts a little) but when you’re really looking for some ignant shit, Three 6 can be relied upon to hit the spot. Oh, and ‘Where Dem Dollaz At’ is still amazing. So there.

Be

92) Common – Be
Its extremely difficult to hate on an album that starts off the way “Be” does. And when the album runs from start to finish with barely any dip in listening quality, then you know you’re onto a winner. Better than “Resurrection”? I certainly think so. Much as I can’t stand how Common dresses, how he carries himself and who he aligns himself with, or the amount of guavas he eats, its difficult to find fault with this album in any way. The choice of single releases from the album was perfect, the production is on point (despite ol’ Big Head doing most of it), Common isn’t as irritating on the mic as he normally is, and its SHORT. (Artists who release 26 track albums, please take note.)

Speakerboxxx / The Love Below

93) Outkast – Speakerboxxx / The Love Below
Sshhhhhh…. whisper it. I’m not the biggest Outkast fan in the world. While most of the rest of the Hiphop universe was ranting and raving over “ATLiens” and “Aquemini” I remained happily ignorant for the longest before picking up copies. Sure I’d heard select cuts, but because I’d never really ‘got’ “SouthernPlayayaddayaddayadda” the way others had, I figured that ‘Kast albums 2 and 3 would be more of the same. I guess its because of my lateness to the party that they never really figure much in my listening habits. “Speakerboxxx” and “The Love Below” do however – of course Big Boi runs the Hiphop show supremely well, but despite the fact that its fallen out of favor with many Andre’s disc also still gets major play from me. I think the distinct differences between the duo’s individual albums – the reason why many hardcore Outkast fans place this double disc down their ‘Best Of Outkast’ lists – is the main reason why I like it so much – I was never into Outkast enough to miss the chemistry that heads say is missing from this joint. It makes sense to me anyway.

Donuts

94) Jay Dee – Donuts
I still catch flak about once a month for my original stance on Dilla. Lets not go into that now though. This album is amazing and I wish that dude was still around to make more stuff like this. (And less like the majorly over-rated “The Shining”)

Soul Survivor

95) Pete Rock – Soul Survivor
Remember when we all use to snigger at how gay CL Smooth sounded, and wondered what it would be like if Pete did a full album with non-homo emcees (or ADOR) riding the beats? Hopefully you already know how good this project turned out… Pete at the top of his game on the boards, with 3/4 of the Wu-Tang Clan at their sharpest, a still-alive Big Pun, a pre-falling off Prodigy and host of other credible lyrical talents doing justice to the right honorable’s hard work. CL’s one appearance on here is even more noticable for its limp-wristedness when put up against all the testosterone on display, but don’t let that put you off – this is classic material right here.

The Four Horsemen

96) Ultramagnetic MCs – The Four Horsemen
Methinks that this is another one of those ‘personal’ choices that won’t feature at all on the lists of others. Darkly jazzy, cuts from “The Four Horsemen” were staples on manys a college radio station and I even recall Flex dropping ‘Two Brothers With Checks’ and ‘Raise It Up’ on his Hot 97 mix show in his pre-payola days when it used to be listenable. With Ced Gee and Godfather Don holding down the work on the boards, this album slotted nicely into the boom-bap section of Hiphop in the early 90’s.

The Turnaround : A Long Awaited Drama

97) Real Live – The Turnaround : A Long Awaited Drama
I also remember Flex playing ‘Real Live Shit’ 6 or 7 times in a row the day he got the vinyl. And as he warbled on about how grimey the shit was and continually whipped the shit back to drop the intro over and over again there was nothing you could do but agree. Although K-Def’s expertly-layered production on both that first single, and the entire “Turnaround” album was somewhat wasted on the pedestrian Larry-O, it also made it easier to listen around the at times weak emcee performances from Fat Larry. I’d commit murder for an instrumental version of this album – can you imagine emcees who could REALLY do justice to ‘Trilogy Of Error’, ‘Pop The Trunk’, or ‘They Got Me’? Scary.

The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick

98) Slick Rick – The Great Adventures Of Slick Rick
Y’all know I was teasing right? How could this NOT appear on here? One of the greatest emcees in Hiphop history… one of the best albums in Hiphop history… featuring one of the best songs ‘(Children’s Story’) in Hiphop history? Even putting that to the side for one second, ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘The Ruler’s Back’, and ‘Hey Young World’ are both classic cuts and infinitely listenable and ensure that Rick’s debut is never too far from the stereos. As for ‘Children’s Story’? Well even though the ‘dope machine gun’ version tops the original ‘spanking shotgun’ version that appears here, its a minor point. Rick is still the ruler.

A Prince Among Thieves

99) Prince Paul – A Prince Among Thieves
The greatest Hiphop concept album of all time. Paul’s project sounds ambitious on paper, but somehow he manages to tie it all together with a concoction of dope beats and perfectly-crafted guest appearances to ensure that this album tells the story in the way he intended. Shame on you if you don’t have this in your collection.

From Me To U

100) Juelz Santana – From Me To U
The beats, son! The beats! And no matter how unpalatable it might be to admit it, Juelz has a certain swagger on the mic that his homies Camron and Jimmy just don’t possess, which makes him surprisingly fresh and listenable, especially over the the type of beats that the Heatmakerz have tossed him throughout this album. Rakim cosigns him for fuck’s sake! Squalie! This ain’t the album you thought was gonna round off the 100 was it?

17 Replies to “A to the L’s 100 favorite Hiphop albums of all time – THE COMPLETE LIST”

  1. I wouldn’t have Word… Life in my list either.

    I need that WC LP, the Low Profile album is one of the best albums I’ve caught onto in recent years.

    For some reason I think you ought to have King-Tee on this list though i can’t remember you ever mentioning being a fan. He just seems like your kind of shit.

    Theres like more than 20 albums on this list that I don’t own. That’s pretty fucked up.

  2. Great job putting this list together. I understand it’s not meant to be a list of the Greatest Albums of All Time per se, but there are a few things I was surprised you omitted and/or forgot. Either way though, this is the best list of its kind that I’ve come across.

  3. great list, too bad King Tee didn’t make yo list; i guess i would have also included that soundtrack ‘Ghostdog’; well, the fact that you did have Showbiz & AG – Runaway Slave (though i would have put them closer to the top) definitly seal’d the deal on yo insights..really enjoy’d your reviews..

  4. Good list, with lord finesse, dwight spitz, and who else, uhh, the prince paul album and other hard to finds, where can one get these albums, what about MC Shan, Born to Be Wild

  5. If this list was in no particular order, then maybe. Putting some bullshit like diamond shell at #20 lets me know someone paid you or you are taking a stiff one in a place that you shouldn’t be. Still though, if someone were getting introduced to hip hop then they could randomly look at you least in no particular order and get some info from it.

  6. the list IS in no particular order, genius… if you’d taken the time to read what lead up to this full list (NINE FUCKING PARTS), then you’d see that…

    have a nice day

  7. Nice work man,

    just wish I had the patience to do something like this…
    Some nice little rarities and some absolute bangers…

    Safe

  8. I would agree that OC Word Life is on my list. Critical Beatdown – Ultramag, Straight out the Jungle – JBs (It’s much better than the forces of nature), Whodini – Escape, BDP – By all means necessary. I guess your top albums depend on what kind of Hip Hop you’re into.

  9. I just dont get it. Smif-n-Wessun “Da Shinin”, one of the best albums ever made without question, doesnt make the List, but an album by GANGSTA BOO does. Are you kidding me? Cmon man

  10. you don’t read that well, do you? try it again from the very top of the post…

    btw “Da Shinin'” isn’t even one of the top 20 Hiphop albums every made…

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