Wow. I thought I’d have this completed thew full 100 by this Monday. I guess with having a real-life of sorts at times, its cut into the amount of time I’d love to spend sitting in front of a computer, completely unappreciated, making lists for people who don’t give a fuck. Pity that, innit? Anyway, these were meant to be tacked onto the end of Part 3, but since that ship sailed a while back, I’ll just have them start part 4 and see how far I get this time. Once I hit 50 I’ll recap for all the latecomers. Ready? Lets go…
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.)
29) Digital Underground – Sex Packets
How can an album that has ‘Doowutchyalike’ and ‘The Humpty Dance’ on it NOT be in a top 100?
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’m quitting tonight at 41. Odd number, but hey – what can you do? I just pulled the Bazerk joint off the shelf and am going to spend an hour or too in the company of this (nh) just to make y’all jealous. Part 5 coming soon. We’ll be at 100 before ya know it.