It was a calm weekday when the Slack started to stir, Brian Hall dropped a take so cold I let out a BURR, With such temper in his voice he proclaimed angrily, “People whose top ten rap albums consists mostly of stuff before 2005 are incredibly lame, actually”…..
The Nick Young memes fell from the sky as we all turned to Brian and asked why? With not much reason outside of a yawn, I told young Brian get off my damn lawn.
I really wanted to continue this poem, but unlike the artist on theses lists I’m terrible at rhyme structure and flow. Instead I’ll just break it down, shortly after we all went at each other’s throats about what time period was the greatest in rap we agree to put together a list of our top 5 favorite albums with a little blurb on some of the more meaningful projects.
Accompanying me on this fantastic voyage is the man behind the freezing cold take Brian Hall and the incomparable Robby Cowles.
Up first we have Robby Cowles.
I’d like to prelude this list by noting that I am not the most cultured rap and hip hop critic in the world. I know, it’s hard to believe since I grew up in the rap-rich environment of central Wisconsin, but it’s true. I’m a more casual fan so please don’t be mad about my bad opinions. Now, since I’ve destroyed all my credibility, here are my picks for the five best rap albums of all-time.
5) The Marshall Mathers LP (2000), Eminem
I went back and forth here between Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP and Lil Wayne’s 2008 album, The Carter III because that’s absolutely an iconic album. Tiebreaker here is that The Carter III doesn’t feature a song as good as Stan.
4) Straight Outta Compton (1988), N.W.A
3) Good Kid, M.A.A.D City (2012), Kendrick Lamar
2) Take Care (2011), Drake
I am so excited for in 30 years to be driving in the car with my children and have Headlines come on the classic music radio station and to still remember every single word. I’ll yell at my children, “this is real shit, none of that crap you listen to!” So ready for that. Too strung out on compliments.
1) Midnight Marauders (1993), A Tribe Called Quest
My spiciest rap hot take is that A Tribe Called Quest is the best rap group of all-time. Yes, better than Wu-Tang. I will argue this until my death. All of their albums are so incredibly cohesive and consuming. No one is better at making you disappear into their music. Every song feels special. I feel so much cooler when I’m listening to ATCQ. Tribe Called Quest represent, represent.
Next we’ve got Jack Frost himself, Brian Hall.
5) The Bake Sale – The Cool Kids
The first sound you hear on The Bake Sale is a drum. Except it’s not a drum, it’s Chuck Inglish saying the sound the drum is supposed to be making. It’s one of the best hip-hop openers ever, and was the front end of the best three-track section to an album in any genre. It was fun, smart, catchy, and sounded great. When I first heard it in high school, a good two years after its release, I couldn’t believe it. The Cool Kids are back now after initially trying to further their solo careers, and while I’m still waiting for their next version of The Bake Sale (When Fish Ride Bicycles and Special Edition Grandmaster Deluxe are both fine), I’m perfectly content if it’s the only masterpiece they ever release. I didn’t like hip-hop in high school, but I liked The Cool Kids.
4) Summertime 06 – Vince Staples
Summertime 06 is only two and a half years old and yet it kind of feels timeless, in a way. It’s a gigantic double album with a ton of different vibes, tones, and themes. Vince paints a fantastic picture of Long Beach in 2006, and sends us back in time and in his shoes to great effect. The album also manages to cover a ton of ground musically, thanks to one of the greatest producers to ever do it (and my personal favorite) No I.D. Summertime 06 covers about as much ground as G.K.M.C but with a less frantic attitude to spread the message for the kids, and more to say, “Yeah, this was my life and now it’s not. It’s whatever”. Not many albums manage to cover that much ground while also being quite carefree.
3) Coloring Book – Chance the Rapper
A lot of people like to argue about this album and tell you that it’s not as good as Chance’s second mixtape, Acid Rap, or just not that good compared to other albums. While the first take is personal preference, the second simply isn’t true. It’s not even two years old, but its influence on hip-hop is already evident. Even before Coloring Book, Chance was helping Kanye craft The Life of Pablo, and tap into the “gospel rap” sound. Personally, this album is what got me into hip-hop, but in the world of music, we’re still feeling the reverberations from CB’s influence. Hip-hop is so widespread and diverse now that it’s tough for any one album to influence the genre like Kanye West did with almost all of his albums, and yet, here we are.
2) Good Kid m.A.A.D. City – Kendrick Lamar
1) My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy – Kanye West
Now I’d like to present my list, which might be considered boring by one certain writer on staff.
5) Capital Punishment- Big Pun
4) Marshall Mathers LP- Eminem
When the intro to “Kill You” first hit my ears I knew that Eminem‘s Marshall Mathers LP was going to get played till my Walkman stopped working and it did. Manly because my Walkman ended up getting run over, but I got my money’s worth out of it.
Anyway MMLP was one of those albums that came out at just the right time. Em felt like my crazy older buddy who went through some shit and got out in somewhat decent shape.
3) Blueprint- Jay-Z
2) The College Dropout- Kanye West
In my humblest opinion this is the greatest project that Kanye West has ever put out. It also features the greatest Kanye/Jay Z song “Never Let Me Down”. Others including Brian above have said that My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is his best album but for me this one has always had a special vibe to it.
1) Stillmatic- Nas
Up to this point in life I was pretty much just listening to radio hits and whatever CDs I could scam off of Columbia House’s 12 CDs for a penny deal. The internet started playing more of a role in my music taste and the Nas & Jay Z beef was reaching its peak…so I decided to take a side and that side belonged to Nas.