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Added by the giraffe

on 21 Aug 2011 05:05

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the giraffe's Hip-Hop showcase

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Personal favorites

Average listal rating (7 ratings) 8.3  IMDB Rating
1. Sage Francis
I first got into Sage Francis when one of my best friends insisted I listen to his song "Makeshift Patriot", which was written on Sept. 12, 2001 and perfectly captured the aftermath of 9/11 in America. Then we went to see him perform & by the end of the night I was blown away. The fact that he mixes serious topics with a sense of humor so flawlessly impresses me, and the fact that we're the same age probably accounts for my strong connection to his lyrics.

I've got the majority of his released works and I can't think of a single song I dislike. And that's what puts him in the #1 spot for me.

Favorite album:

Further listening: "The Best of Times", "Sea Lion", "Dance Monkey", and "Love the Lie"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (8 ratings) 8.3  IMDB Rating
2. Saul Williams
Aside from his role in the movie K-Pax, the first time I saw Saul Williams perform was when he opened for The Mars Volta in 2002. That night he did spoken word, reciting his poetry & talking to the audience between each poem. I was hypnotized by his words, and soon found out he releases his poetry in book form as well as set to music on albums. While his poetry has been consistently mind-blowing, his music has progressed over time & he received a wider audience by working on his 3rd album with Trent Reznor & touring with Nine Inch Nails.

While his music definitely has elements of hip-hop in it, there are also jazz and rock influences evident which makes for a very rewarding listen every time.

Favorite album:
(The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust)

Further listening: "List of Demands (Reparations)", "Coded Language", "Explain My Heart", and "Sunday Bloody Sunday"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (182 ratings) 6.5  IMDB Rating
3. Outkast
I shouldn't have to explain the appeal of Outkast. Instead I'll say that I love them for the ways Big Boi & Andre 3000 complement each other. Separately they're just not the same, which was proved to me on Speakerboxx/The Love Below when they each made their own album instead of collaborating (aside from a couple songs on each). That said, The Love Below is one of my all-time favorite albums (whereas I rarely ever listen to Speakerboxx). I also love them because they're not afraid to mix in other music genres to deliver the sound in their heads, which has helped them appeal to a broader audience.

Favorite album:
Further listening: "Elevators (Me & You)", "Behold a Lady", "Humble Mumble", and Aquemini
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (74 ratings) 6.9  IMDB Rating
4. Public Enemy
One of the best hip-hop groups ever. Chuck D's vocals are undeniable and his politically-charged lyrics elevate PE above their contemporaries. It saddens me that Flavor Flav has let himself become a pathetic caricature, and that their newer albums lack the greatness of their earlier work. But their live performances are still strong after all these years, as proved when I saw them in 2009 where they performed their debut album It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back in its entirety.

I HAD to put this song on here, as it was my introduction to PE. I'd been an Anthrax fan for a few years when they recorded this song together, & I couldn't stop listening to it. So eventually I started buying PE albums & that was it...I was a fan.
Favorite album:
Further listening: "Fight the Power", "Can't Truss It", "By the Time I Get to Arizona", and "Shut 'em Down"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (49 ratings) 7.3  IMDB Rating
5. The Roots
The 2nd time I saw Rage Against the Machine they had been on tour with Wu-Tang Clan and Atari Teenage Riot. Wu-Tang made a habit of not showing up for soundchecks and being generally disorganized, which got them kicked off the tour. RATM replaced them with The Roots & thus introduced me to the greatest live hip-hop act in the world (so say the experts, and who am I to disagree?).

What sets them apart? Well, for the most part it's the fact that they've always used instruments to create their sound on (and off) stage, rather than relying solely on a DJ. So when you see them live it's not just one or two guys walking around in front of a stationary turntablist, but an entire group moving around & playing their respective instruments. Add to that their intelligent lyrics & refusal to compromise their sonic vision for anyone else, and you can see why they've earned my respect.
Favorite album:
Further listening: "Don't Feel Right", "Rock You", "Guns Are Drawn", and "The Next Movement"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (35 ratings) 7.1  IMDB Rating
6. A Tribe Called Quest
Somehow I never heard of Tribe before 1994. That year Q-Tip recorded a song with the Beastie Boys for Ill Communication called "Get It Together," which was my favorite song on the album from the first listen. So I did some digging, found out he was in Tribe, and started buying their albums.

Intelligent lyrics, diverse song structures, and the interplay between Q-Tip & Phife Dawg are all reasons I love their music.
Favorite album:
Further listening: "Jazz (We've Got)"/"Buggin' Out" (one video for both songs), "Check the Rhime", "Can I Kick It?", and "Left My Wallet in El Segundo"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (4 ratings) 6.8  IMDB Rating
7. P.O.S.
If P.O.S. keeps getting better he'll work his way up into my top 5. I dig him because his music reflects his equal love for hip-hop and punk rock, and his live shows are Amazing.

Favorite album:
Further listening: "P.O.S. Is Ruining My Life", "Half Cocked Concepts", "Music for Shoplifting", and "Let It Rattle"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (8 ratings) 8.5  IMDB Rating
8. Immortal Technique
Immortal Technique reminds me of a modern-day Chuck D crossed with Rage Against the Machine's Zach de la Rocha. He's politically aware, well-informed & pissed off, all of which keeps me listening closely. Sometimes I feel like I should be taking notes on his lyrics haha. He's got a dark sense of humor too, so even when he's deadly serious it never gets too heavy-handed.

Favorite album:
Further listening: "Open Your Eyes", "Bin Laden", "The 4th Branch", and "Dance with the Devil"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (86 ratings) 6.2  IMDB Rating
9. Gnarls Barkley
Gnarls Barkley are just too much fun to ignore. Plus Cee-Lo seems to be doing some serious soul-baring on their albums, which makes for a very emotionally rewarding listen.

Favorite album:
Further listening: "Who's Gonna Save My Soul?", "Who Cares?", "Just a Thought", and "A Little Better"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (35 ratings) 7.1  IMDB Rating
10. Run Dmc
Run DMC were all over the radio when I was a boy, and songs like "You Talk Too Much", "Mary Mary" and "It's Tricky" all entertained me to no end. But it was their collaboration with Aerosmith on their version of "Walk This Way" that would encourage me to buy their albums, and I've been a fan ever since. Unfortunately I never got to see them live, and I never will.

Favorite album:
Further listening: "Sucker MCs", "Christmas in Hollis", "Mary Mary", and "Walk This Way"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (6 ratings) 7.2  IMDB Rating
11. Q-Tip
Q-Tip's solo work has been as interesting as his work with Tribe. The fact that he went from a more mainstream-oriented rap album to creating 2 albums his former record label Arista refused to release for their lack of "marketability" to a hip-hop album with live instrumentation impresses me, and his vocal delivery and lyrics are as good as ever.

Favorite album:
Further listening: "Vivrant Thing", "Breathe and Stop", "Move", and "Even If It Is So"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (64 ratings) 6.4  IMDB Rating
12. Cypress Hill
I got into Cypress Hill thanks to the irresistible fun of "Insane in the Brain," which led me to pick up their album Black Sunday. One trip through that album revealed that every song was at least as good as that single, so I picked up their debut and then their 3rd album when it came out. I saw them perform live a couple times and they were really intense and fun, which made for a great time.

I'm not as crazy about their later output, but those first 3 albums are still as great today as they were when I first bought them.
Favorite album:
Further listening: "How I Could Just Kill a Man", "Hand on the Pump", "When the Shit Goes Down", and "Stoned Raiders"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (63 ratings) 5.5  IMDB Rating
13. Busta Rhymes
I thought Busta was mildly interesting whenever I'd catch one of his videos on MTV (back when they spent most of their days actually PLAYING videos), but I never paid serious attention to him. Then I caught him at the hip-hop-oriented touring festival Smokin' Grooves in 1998, where his energy and vocal delivery captivated me and blew away my previous indifference to him. His first 3 albums are flawless, and I loved that they had a common theme of the world ending in 2000. The fact that 2000 came & went without a hitch rendered that theme comical, but that doesn't take anything away from those songs.

I quit paying attention to him after his 4th album (Anarchy), but I still listen to the 1st 3 from time to time.
Favorite album:
Further listening: "So Hardcore", "Abandon Ship", "Woo-Hah!! (Got You All In Check)", and "Gimme Some More"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (325 ratings) 6.7  IMDB Rating
14. Beastie Boys
The Beasties and Run DMC were my introduction to hip-hop when I was a boy. If you lived through 1986 without hearing "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)" then you were probably living under a rock (or else simply too young to realize you heard it). All my friends growing up had Licensed to Ill, so it wasn't until much later on that I felt the need to buy a copy, but by then I already knew all the songs. I missed Paul's Boutique somehow, but they found me again with Check Your Head and Ill Communication which both featured live instruments & a more alternative sound (something I was really into starting in 1991...wonder why that might be?).

Like Busta Rhymes and Cypress Hill, it's been a long time since I've been excited by any of the Beasties' output, but their early works will forever hold a special place in my heart.
Favorite album:
Further listening: "So Whatcha Want", "Get It Together", "Gratitude", and "Paul Revere"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8  IMDB Rating
15. Rahzel
Just listen to what this guy can do...Amazing.


Favorite album:
(I know the above album isn't HIS, but he's on enough of the songs for it to count.)
Further listening: "Who Is It" (with Bjork) and "Cocaine" (with Mike Patton)
the giraffe's rating:


Not strictly Hip-Hop perhaps

...but no less worthy of inclusion due to their obvious Hip-Hop influence that shines through their sound. Yes, these are also personal favorites.
(Listed alphabetically)
Average listal rating (41 ratings) 6  IMDB Rating
16. Bloodhound Gang
Wonderfully politically incorrect, Bloodhound Gang has been making me laugh since One Fierce Beer Coaster (1996). I love them for their humor, pop-culture references, and the fact that they're mostly FUN to listen to. Their last album, Hefty Fine, was mostly terrible, but everything that preceded it was excellent.

Favorite album:
Further listening: "Boom", "Legend In My Spare Time", & "No Hard Feelings"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (444 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating
17. Gorillaz
I don't think I need to explain this one either. Their 1st 2 albums were flawless...too bad I can't say the same of their 3rd.

Favorite album:
Further listening: "Tomorrow Comes Today" & "Kids with Guns"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (4 ratings) 8.5  IMDB Rating
18. Lovage
Choosing a favorite album on this one is too easy, as Lovage has only recorded one so far. A follow-up is supposedly in the works, but details have yet to surface. I'm a big fan of Mike Patton, so when I heard about this collaboration I had to check it out and wasn't disappointed at all. Dan the Automator's music is perfect for these songs, and Jennifer Charles's vocals are too hot to ignore. If they get the new album recorded & released, you can bet I'll have it in my possession as quickly as I can.

Favorite album:
Further listening: "Stroker Ace" & "Anger Management"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (46 ratings) 6.3  IMDB Rating
19. Mindless Self Indulgence
I like MSI for similar reasons to why I like Bloodhound Gang, except that MSI has served for most of their years as a satire of Hip-Hop in general. Those of us who caught on to the joke have been mostly rewarded for our appreciation, as all but their latest album (which only hosts a couple of songs worth listening to) have been full of humor, wit, and brilliance disguised as lowbrow entertainment.

Favorite album:
Further listening: "Bring the Pain" (Method Man cover), "I Hate Jimmy Page", "Capitol P", & "Tom Sawyer" (Rush cover, and an improvement over the original)
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (3 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating
20. Peeping Tom
Yep, Mike Patton again. He's claimed that Peeping Tom is his pop group, but most of their songs fit in with Hip-Hop so I feel they deserve a spot on this list. Like Lovage, Peeping Tom has also only released one (helluva) album so far. Oh yeah, and Rahzel performs with them both on album & live.

Favorite album:
Further listening: "Don't Even Trip" & "Five Seconds"
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (353 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating
21. Rage Against the Machine
I dig Rage due to their willingness to speak their mind on political subjects, as well as the fact that they're all politically active. Zach's vocals and poetry both blow me away, as does the ways Tom Morello makes his guitar sound like turntables. Add to that a super tight rhythm section, and you apparently get pure brilliance.

Favorite album:
Further listening: "Vietnow", "Mic Check", & "How I Could Just Kill a Man" (with Cypress Hill)
the giraffe's rating:


And now I give you a mix

As a reward for reading through all of the above, now I'll shut up & give you some songs I dig from some other artists, comment-free. Enjoy!
Average listal rating (20 ratings) 7.4  IMDB Rating
22. Aesop Rock
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (8 ratings) 5  IMDB Rating
23. Afroman
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (4 ratings) 8.8  IMDB Rating
24. Black Star
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (1 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating
25. Blueprint
the giraffe's rating:

the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (7 ratings) 7.3  IMDB Rating
27. Dead Prez
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (4 ratings) 7.5  IMDB Rating
28. Del Tha Funkee Homosapien
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (3 ratings) 7  IMDB Rating
29. Digital Underground

(Yeah, there's an official video for this song, but the one on Youtube is censored. This one isn't.)
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (2 ratings) 9  IMDB Rating
30. Doomtree
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (4 ratings) 9.3  IMDB Rating
31. Eyedea & Abilities
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (6 ratings) 6.5  IMDB Rating
32. Felt
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (17 ratings) 6.6  IMDB Rating
33. Talib Kweli
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8.5  IMDB Rating
34. Living Legends
the giraffe's rating:

Average listal rating (5 ratings) 6  IMDB Rating
35. Murs
the giraffe's rating:


Further listening

Other artists I think are worth a listen if you're looking for something different/better when it comes to Hip-Hop.
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Just a little list I've put together of the Hip-Hop artists past & present I feel are worth listening to. Once upon a time you could hear good/great Hip-Hop on the radio, but since the 00s started all the best Hip-Hop artists exist mainly in the underground. Even Public Enemy, who used to sell out stadiums, now headlines shows primarily in bigger clubs/theatres.

So for those of you interested in hearing some Hip-Hop that actually has something to say (or that's just too much fun to dislike) combined with some music that's worth listening to, this list is for you.

Special thanks to barteks for the encouragement

For more Hip-Hop goodness, visit johanlefourbe's My favorite Hip-Hop artists list.

To see other music lists I have created, check out A Listal user's guide to my music lists

Added to

9 votes
the giraffe's music lists guide (37 lists)
list by the giraffe
Published 2 years, 6 months ago 2 comments



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Comments

Posted: 2 years, 11 months ago at Sep 24 18:28
Not surprisingly, you've produced yet another one of the best music lists on this site. And very glad to see RATM get some love.
Posted: 2 years, 11 months ago at Sep 24 18:34
Wow... Impressive selection! Well done and thanks for the mention. When I'll have the time, I will definitely check those videos.
Posted: 2 years, 11 months ago at Sep 24 21:10
YES! Very well done my friend. I'll certainly be coming back to this one to spend further time with it. Great, great Doomtree pick!

Quickly, a couple artists I think you may find interest in:
Gym Class Heroes
Wind Chill

Thanks for the closest thing to a definitive list on quality hip-hop etc. that I've ever encountered!
Posted: 2 years, 6 months ago at Feb 20 6:30
have you ever heard "Big Shots" by Charizma and Peanut Butter Wolf or "Innercity Griots" by Freestyle Fellowship?


No I have not.
Posted: 2 years, 6 months ago at Feb 20 18:12
Nice, even though I don't listen to much rap... it was mostly Akon, Ice Cube, Chamillionaire and all that!

I'm thinking of making one... can I steal your outlook?
Posted: 1 year, 10 months ago at Oct 13 22:12
What do you think bout my fav rappers list?
Posted: 1 year, 9 months ago at Nov 30 23:06
List list, man. There's a couple on here I'll have to check out. Have you listened to Cannibal Ox? I'm just going by the overlaps we have in hip-hop taste, but you might like that. Their album "Cold Vein" is pretty great.
Posted: 1 year, 9 months ago at Nov 30 23:12
And I thought I was the only person on Listal that likes good hip hop. Good list. I have a list of choice hip hop artists/albums as well:
http://www.listal.com/list/choice-albums-hip-hoprap

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