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Added by mojack on 7 May 2014 10:20
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1991: Best Rap Albums

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People who added this item 46 Average listal rating (33 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 0
Death Certificate - Ice Cube
Amerikkka's Most Wanted was a one of a kind triumph over adversity that seemed almost too good to be true. Suddenly solo artists tend to lose something they had with their group, often going off into masturbatory diddling with personal interests. Like Sting of The Police for example. When Cube released his solo album it became clear that he had not only made a classic, but had in fact upped the ante of all the things people liked about NWA. He lost nothing, gained even more. And so the fact that his SECOND solo album not only is another instant classic, but ups the ante EVEN MORE, is beyond belief. But what more can you expect from the motherfuckin' golden age. A time of rap miracles. If Eazy E was enraged Cube's first solo outing was a smash hit, he must have gotten AIDs over finding out Cube's second album was a towering masterpiece. Cube goes allll out here, exploding like a nuke on damn well anything and everything he can find to rap about. White people, black people, korean people, women, the government, NWA, you name it. No target is sacred, and much of it is more then a little racist, but somehow someway this only adds to the appeal. Cube is raging bull, if a raging bull gave anything but complete honesty and rage you would be disappointed. It's this fiery conviction that allows him to sound completely on point from start to finish, a tireless furnace spewing out acid at the world. There aren't too many stand-outs here but it flows like a river of fire, never drooping, never letting you go, who the fuck needs obvious singles? It's like being grabbed by Cube and dragged through Compton by your hair, while he rants at you about damn well everything on his mind. Abrasive but awe inspiring. A sermon on the mount for gangsta rap. And easily Cube's greatest he would ever make, and a fitting finale for the pre-G-Funk era of gangsta rap. Goddamn I love 1991.

Rating: 5
Highlights: The Wrong Nigga to Fuck With, Alive on Arrival, I Wanna Kill Sam, No Vaseline
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 120 Average listal rating (88 ratings) 8.2 IMDB Rating 0
The Low End Theory - A Tribe Called Quest
This is one of the most lauded non-commercial old school rap albums around, gaining major accolades from even generally rap clueless sources like Rolling Stone. This might make a hip-hop head weary, but there's nothing to fear, it deserves it's rep. From their debut, which was quality, you probably wouldn't have guessed Tribe would be much of an act with stamina. One cute jazz rap album and then they'd be out of ammo. And certainly you wouldn't think they would end up standing side by side with the other two Native Tongues titans De La Soul and The Jungle Brothers. But something happened between 90' and 91' that catapulted Tribe into being exactly that, a titan. "The Low End", not the ass but the bass, which each song here features grand portions of. As studio technology expanded the possibilities rappers found themselves with greater and greater ability to make jeeps boom. This is one of the first albums to really capitalize on that by expanding the bass sound into the depths of the ear. Nearly every song here employs that deep deep end of the music to it's best. But it's not just about that, while hinted at on earlier albums, Jazz Rap really comes into full here. It oozes a far more authentic jazz culture feel, smokey lowlit clubs come to mind, like some sort of neo-harlem renaissance. The emceeing also takes a magnum leap from before, as both guys become themselves here, as we know them now. Phife was barely present on the debut, yet here he and Tip create that dynamic of hard and bard that later became a staple of Outkast's. Tip also no longer sounds like a gawky teenager like he did before, coming in to his own as the self styled Abstract. An image and attitude is created here that made alt rap lose it's corny image and gain one of a smoky harlem renaissance jazzman. Making it both conscious and cool.

Rating: 5
Highlights: Excursions, Show Business, Jazz, Scenario
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 5 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 0
With their first album "3 Feet High & Rising", Prince Paul really showed how hip hop beats where made. His production style was very influential and it became the standard sound for half of NY in the early 90's .Now it's never easy to follow-up a classic album but De La Soul have managed to even outdo their debut.
The deal here is that following some of the more negative reception to Three Feet High, De La got kind of mad, so like true artists they decided to express that through their work. Where Three Feet was charming and playful, this is irritated and playful. None of their creativity is sacrificed at all for this new tone, instead they execute their frustrations through all the same stuff they were doing before. The humor, the sampling, and the skits, oh the skits! The usage of skits here is by far the greatest in all rap music, De La invented the rap skit, but even they at first seemed unsure of how to use it. They figure it out here. The album is filled with all sorts of satirical bytes and plays, mainly a continuous commentary track from a bunch of thugs who have their hands on the album itself, the album ends with them calling it crap and throwing it out. But believe me, you won't be.

Rating: 5
Highlights: Oodles of O's, Biddies in the BK Lounge, Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa, Ring Ring Ring Ha Hey,
People who added this item 12 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 0
Breaking Atoms - Main Source
While Main Source didn't achieve the success of their east coast peers A Tribe Called Quest & De La Soul, they laid down a pretty important album with Breaking Atoms. The group consists of Large Professor, K-Cut & Sir Scratch, but you have to wonder what these 2 other guys are doing in there since Large Professor handles all the rapping and production. The beats are really great, very funk influenced and with hard drums. Large Professor is also a dope rapper, his subject matter is rather everyday type stories but on "Friendly Game of Baseball" he goes against racist cops. The album is filled with classics including the first guest apperance by Nas and it rarely slows down. Simply a great hip hop album from start to finish. For many years Breaking Atoms has been out-of-print and an highly wanted hip hop album but in 2008 it finally got a proper reissue, so now there is no excuse not to own this classic gem.

Highlights: Snake Eyes, Just Hanging Out, Looking at the Front Door, Peace is Not the Word to Play
People who added this item 10 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 0
Efil4zaggin - N.W.A
Boy those UMCs sure are some nice boys with their pleasant jazz beats. Ya ready for something completely different? Well son, let's take the plunge into the final salvo from the most dangerous group on earth. NWA had a lot to prove in 91' having took the hit and subsequent war of words involved with Ice Cube leaving them for solo. And admittingly, with Cube gone there is a sense of something missing here. Cube was the conscious of the group as well as it's rage, and his absence means both those cornerstones of the group are gone. But they seem to have known this and instead played into the strengths of the remaining members. With the po-faced anger of the debut gone, it's replaced with almost crazy psycho glee, as Eazy, Dre, Ren, and The D.O.C. describe how violently it is they don't give a fuck. On the production boards, Dre in the meantime has reached near perfection as a producer and offers some incredible beats for the remaining NWA members to spit over. These beats (and lyrics) are a world away from the rough and ruggedness of the debut, they have more in common with horrorcore, with what Esham was doing the previous year. Dark, creepy, psychotic, a little cartoony but in the same way as Freddie Krueger. There's also some proto G Funk here that though not an album at least let's Dre challenge Quik as it's inceptor. This album is more pure bloodsoaked fun then it is serious gangsta affair so just prepare yourself for that. As for NWA this would be the last, as Dre broke off for Death Row Records soon after. Eazy E protested, but Dre's new boss, Suge Knight gave him an offer he couldn't refuse. And so NWA ended, and a new chapter of gangsta opened.

Rating: 4.5
Highlights: Real Niggaz Don't Die, Niggaz 4 Life, Real Niggaz, The Dayz of Wayback
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 29 Average listal rating (17 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
While Ice-T spent most of his career high and development in the late 80's, to the point where he's really an artist of that time. It was actually in 1991 where he made his greatest album and solidified himself as one of the all time lords of both gangsta and the west coast. On his previous album, 89's "Freedom Of Speech/Watch What You Say" Ice was clearly attempting to diversify his material and talents by trying out all sorts of songs and production flavors, it was ambitious to be sure but it fell short of the mark. He didn't push things quite far enough. But like a real master he didn't give up and made that same attempt here. This time however he comes through in creating the ultimate varied gangsta landscape. There's tons of moods here, some songs slink through like pythons, some crash through the wall like the kool aid man, some are creepy accounts of street terror, others are bracing edge of your seat crime epics. On every track Ice T sounds confident and sure of himself, making the material all the more effective as the man in charge effortlessly executes his masterwork for your ears. The biggest boost in comparison to his first three is by far the production quality though, which in proper accordance with 91 protocol is now richly sonic and far more complexly arranged. A big favorite of mine, and the best track is Midnight, utilizing dense and doomlike Black Sabbath samples as well as incredibly creepy use of KRS1's "listen to my 9mm go bang!" it gives us a terrifying prequel to his 6 N the Morning. The best example of his ambition here though is the inclusion of a track with his side project Body Count, which isn't rap at all, but straight up heavy metal. It's wild, high aiming, and as cold and calculated as ever he was. It's the best Ice-T album.

Rating: 5
Highlights: Mind Over Matter, New Jack Hustler, Midnight, The Tower
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 17 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 7.8 IMDB Rating 0
Step in the Arena - Gang Starr
The first album they did was nice, a satisfactory little dose of jazzy bohemia rap, but it was too simple to soar, let alone establish the group as a force to be reckoned with on the scene. Their breakthrough album would go on to instead be "Step In The Arena", a large volley of much rawer and tougher jazz rap, one that along with The Low End Theory redefined the bohemian alt rap of the east into being a more sophisticated coolness, moving away from the quaint pseudo-hippieness. But this isn't just a big step for the sub-genre, it's a giant one for Gang Starr themselves. For starters they got off Wild Pitch records, which saved the rest of their discography from falling into unavailability and obscurity. The real developments are the ones that Guru and Premo achieve in pushing themselves further into becoming the legends they are now. Guru's voice was always dope, but it's here where he realizes how to best utilize it. The alt rap stuff he was up to on the debut are discarded for a smooth emcee who makes acute observations about life. He's not afraid at all to explore the harsh realities of street life, and unlike Q-Tip sounds like he really has the rough edge to him, adding to the immersion of the rhymes. Meanwhile Premo takes huge steps toward arriving at his signature sound. He's not there yet, but he's already a grand producer, well on his way to becoming the greatest.

Rating: 4.5
Highlights: Step In The Arena, Execution of a Chump, Check the Technique, Just to Get a Rep
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 8 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 0
Scarface made it quite clear that he was a unique force to be reckoned with among his two compatriots and in the rap game as a whole, and establishes himself as the first king of the south. Just shortly after dropping the great "We Can't Be Stopped" with the Geto Boys he delivered an almost as good solo album. Scarface is a totally heartless killer ("I don't love me, How the fuck am I gonna love you?"), I don't think I've ever heard a song as hard as "Born Killer". He's got a really great way of portraying his insanity and his urge to kill. His storytelling skills are great and it's easy to imagine what he's talking about. He puts a lot of emotion in his raps, you have no choice to feel what he's saying. The beats are excellent, they are similar to the sound of the other rap-a-lot releases of that era. The cover fits the album perfectly, it really sounds like that. There is nothing quite like early Scarface, it's some totally unique gangsta rap that no one ever managed to duplicate.

Rating: 4
Highlights: Born Killer, Diary of a Madman, Money and the Power, A Minute to Pray A Minute to Die
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 0
A Future Without a Past... - Leaders of the New School
The early 90's saw the formation of a lot of groups of young energetic tag team rappers. The most famous probably being The Pharcyde, but this is the grandaddy of that new style and the best to boot. The three emcees are all wacky son'bitches (well maybe not Dinco D) and full of weird tongue twisters. Emcee Charlie Brown works himself into an almost 40's baseball announcer sort of delivery that's simultaneously hard and funny, And then there's this guy called Busta Rhymes and he roars with this great ragga flow. Busta himself alright. And he's maybe a bit more mannered in his delivery then what he went on to do on the solo tip, but it's still Busta Rhymes rapping and you get your nuts. Charlie Brown is actually crazier then Busta at this point to his credit, his voice isn't all slurry but his energy is off the wall, and Dinco D...Dinco D just kind of counterbalances the other two I guess. You take these three wackos and then you toss them into these beats and what else are you going to get. These beats? Well they were done by the LONS themselves and a little crew known as "The Bomb Squad", yeah that's right. As it turns out the LONS got their start with PE overseeing, Chuck D, like some kind of benevolent kung-fu master even gave Busta Rhymes his name. The production here is amazing if not only for it's tendendy to switch up the beat throughout the song, "Sound of the Zeekers" has like five amazing beats in one song for each verse, and still comes off as one unified song. Damn right? This is something of an unsung classic even if one of it's key creators is a commercial juggernaught today. Busta was best at the start, disagree if you will, but you can't deny this abum's power.

Rating: 4
Highlights: Case of the PTA, Sound of the Zeekers @#^**?!, Sobb Story, Planes Trains and Automobiles
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 54 Average listal rating (36 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 0
Cypress Hill - Cypress Hill
Both 91 and 92 were revolutionary years for rap production, they gave the music a new sheen and style that rejected the spare beats approach of the late 80's. It was productions golden age, where great new producers seemed to pop up with each new album. These would be the guys to go down in legend. Dre's G Funk, Pete Rock, DJ Premier, Large Professor, DJ Quik, and of course where would we be without DJ Muggs. This is just one of those releases that just changes the way hip hop sounded. The production is dusty and dark in a way the spare sampling of the 80's could never have imagined. The beats Muggs cooks up here aren't simple backing to the emcees, it's a world all it's own, taking you to some weird ass creepy dimension of weed. That's not to say the production is entirely dominant, hell B Real is one of the most memorable emcees of them all thanks to his wacky high pitched latin accent. It fits the music perfectly in it's weirdness they're made for each-other. The spanish flavor that sneaks in here and there also gives things a wonderful spicy edge and a unique flavor. Kid Frost is usually credited with breaking in hispanic hip-hop, but since he sucked that's hardly something he deserves to be accredited with. It's Cypress Hill who should be given the award. Simply put, albums like this set off the 90's for real. One listen to Mugg's production and B Real and Sen Dog's rap and you knew the era of Rakim, Kane, and Run DMC was over. And best of all is this album is both popular and sells well to this very day. Earning it's dues in cash as well as props.

Rating: 4
Highlights: How I Could Just Kill a Man, Hand on the Pump, The Phunky Feel One, Stoned is the Way of the Walk
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 35 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 0
It didn't take long for Tupac to ascend his position of Digital Underground backup dancer, to guest emcee, to solo artist, which he followed up to being moderate star, then giant star, then dying for the genres sins and having the golden age collapse with him. All that within seven years motherfucker. Even if some dudes have made better music overall, nobody has a damned thing on the career Pac had. And this LP is where things really got started for him. And I actually love this album for what it is. Tupac went on to be a split-personality self styled main character of rap's strory. But here his thug and intellectual sides are still connected, and he's an actual underdog of sorts. The rage has more Paris like political guerrilla feel rather then any of the gangsta aspirations he gained as he would go on. It's a great picture of the man overall. It's rawness is also interesting next to his more polished later records, he works equally well over both. I may rate All Eyez On Me higher, but I think deep down I prefer this record. An ideal debut in that it's an excellent introduction to him for newbies. You can actually start at the beginning here folks.

Rating: 3.5
Highlights: Trapped, Words of Wisdom, If My Homie Calls, Brenda's Got a Baby
mojack's rating:
Back in the day almost every major rap act seemed to generate a posse around them, EPMD, Gang Starr, and even Ice Cube as a solo artist. Cube's stable included Da Lench Mob, Del tha Funkee Homosapien, and YoYo. She had appeared on Cube's classic solo debut (on "A Man's World") and proved she would be worth keeping an eye out for. I was really unsure of what to expect from this album coming in. I sort of assumed she would be a gangsta rapper, but the funny thing about Cube's affiliates is how you don't know what you'll get. YoYo turns out to be a pretty basic vanilla rapper in the west coast tradition of also being pretty hardcore about it. She's a decent emcee, but the real strength is the production. The hard funk sound (largely Bomb Squad inspired) was the trademark of Ice Cube and posse for this time and YoYo gets some superb beats on here. Where her words might be ordinarily dull or plain, the harsh funk carries it to higher levels of effectiveness. But while that means it's a good album it makes me wish she had brought a better emcee display, if she had this might even have ended up a classic.

Rating: 3.5
Highlights: Stompin' to the 90's, What Can I Do?, Make Way For The Motherlode, Ain't Nobody Better
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 2 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 0
The Ruler's Back - Slick Rick
Slick Rick is one of the great wasted talents of the rap world. After his exciting promising debut he was heading up, and up, and up, and then was thrown into a messy situation with his attempted murder of his cousin and another after his cousin had arranged for Rick to be shot earlier. He spent most of the 90's in jail. And after that he was hounded by immigration services until as recently as 2008 when the New York governor pardoned him at long last. This album was quickly jotted out after the court precedings but prior to his prison time, and it shows. Rick's energy is muted (I suppose it would be..) and the production though interesting in places is a little lifeless next to the jaunty debut.

Rating: 3
Highlights: King, I Shouldn't Have Done It, Moses, Top Cat
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (5 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0
Naughty by Nature - Naughty by Nature
After being dropped from MCA, The New Style changed their name to Naugthy By Nature and signed to Tommy Boy. This album was a huge success thanks to the song "O.P.P." getting major play. Altho most people don't know that their real debut actually exists, this one is an improvement over it with Treach really mastering his flow and style. One of the funniest things in Naughty by Nature is the huge gap of talent between Treach and Vinnie. Treach totally kills it, then you have Vinnie coming in with his simple raps that simply can't compare. I used to hold this album has a big classic but nowadays there's some little things that bother me with the album. I'm not really feelin' the poppy basslines and the overall pop feel of most of the beats. The beats are still dope but I used to feel them alot more before. Treach holds it down tho, making this album definitely worth having for his performance here.
mojack's rating:

Hot off the victorious battle against the crappy pop rap kings and the encroaching influence of New Jack Swing, Hip Hop was emboldened with even more momentum and creativity, another year where generations changed. Another golden age type of year within the overall golden age.
Every golden age year is towering, but only one can compete with 1991. This is the silver medal year for hip hop excellence, filled with amazing albums and groundbreaking innovations. Even if the golden age had died in 92' this would have single handedly secured rap as an unstoppable force.

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Hip Hop Best Album Directory (21 lists)
list by mojack
Published 9 years, 11 months ago 1 comment

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