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Added by mojack on 7 May 2014 06:49
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1995: Best Rap Albums

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People who added this item 55 Average listal rating (42 ratings) 8.7 IMDB Rating 0
The Wu Tang Clan was unbeatable in 95'. And this mafia epic has gone down as one of the most beloved rap albums of them all. After the satisfactory Tical and the spotty Return to the 36, it seemed that while they would be good, Wu solos would wind up merely small appetizer of good hip hop rather then the main course they had offered on their group debut. In reality RZA's ambition had only begun, and on the next two (within one year, not even including ODB's debut!) he would play director to two cinematic masterpieces of rap. The first is this, a gangster flick starring Raekwon and Ghostface Killah. The bullets fly, the champagne flows, and the mafioso sub-genre reaches it's highest height, devoid of any Jiggy bullshit at that. This is absolutely amazing stuff. The beats are among the finest ever made ("Ice Cream" ranking up there with Brand Nubian's "Slow Down" as one of the catchiest loops in rap). Others bang with the hardest hardcore (Criminology, Ice Water), others whine with mafia woe (Rainy Dayz, Heaven and Hell) and and even with the extra length it never stops hitting you with pulse-pounding crime epics. To the moment the bullet hits you between the eyes. There's a reason people keep wishing beyond common sense that every new Wu release will be amazing, because of this amazing pedigree.

Rating: 5
Highlights: Criminology, Incarcerated Scarfaces, Ice Water, Ice Cream
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 33 Average listal rating (27 ratings) 8.4 IMDB Rating 0
The Infamous... - Mobb Deep
NOIR, the word should evoke shadowy city streets, the threat of danger around every alley, smoke curling up from under sewer grates as a shady car careens down the road, splashing a puddle on a fresh murder scene. Chiaroscuro black. Urban Gothic. That's why I call this mid-90's rap Noir. And no album from that period better embodies this atmosphere then Mobb Deep's second release, The Infamous. This is absolutely pitch black hip hop, there's no trace of hedonism here or the tongue in cheek aspect of horrorcore, just endless murder, fear of death, fear of hell itself awaiting them when they die. Prodigy, the emcee, is a dead serious guy in general so his performance fits perfectly with the album's goal. He doesn't bring any specific gimmick or anything, just straight in your face hardcore. The production is courtesy of one of the main faces of Noir production, group member Havoc and damn, damn are these dark. He can make an incredibly dope beat from just a few piano loops and a thump. And the best thing is how consistent this quality is throughout. Never does it lose it's power, even saving it's highest moment, "Shook Ones Pt.2" for nearly the end. Mobb Deep were so Noir they've been completely incapable of making good music outside the Noir era! Haha!

Rating: 5
Highlights: Survival of the Fittest, Eye for an Eye, Shook Ones Pt. 2, Party Over
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 84 Average listal rating (60 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 0
I could see anyone following Tupac's discography up to this point wondering why he's considered one of the best, good albums so far, but just good. Want the reason? This is it right here. In late 1994, the seeds of war were set when in the lounge of a building in New York Tupac was shot, brutally so, and he almost died. While this was happening he was in the middle of a slew of troubling legal issues and while still in a wheelchair he was sentenced to prison. It was amidst this storm he recorded his finest album, and one of the all time greats period. Me Against The World. The ultimate and defining picture of angst, ego and pathos in the world of hardcore rap. Pac was not here to party or thug around like he had previously. He had one thing on his mind. Stress over his fate. He spends the greater whole either directly expressing it, or channeling it through other topics. The only room for light comes in the shout out to 80's NY with "Old School" and the loving ode to his moms on "Dear Mama". Everything else oozes sweat and hand wringing, but with anger more then anything, and defiance. The album was released to massive sales as Pac languished in his prison cell waiting for any of his absent friends to show up with bail, ready to lash back at the world that had done him wrong. A savior showed up, but it wasn't anyone Pac might have expected. It was Suge Knight of Death Row, and he had a record deal with him...

Rating: 5
Highlights: Me Against the World, So Many Tears, Dear Mama, Old School
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 12 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 0
Soul Food - Goodie Mob
People who added this item 81 Average listal rating (63 ratings) 8.3 IMDB Rating 0
Liquid Swords - The GZA
First of all GZA is far from being my favorite Wu-Tang MC, he's actually one of my least favorite because he lacks energy, passion and flow. But he does compensate those points by having incredible wordplay, his rhymes are sharp and like he says he doesn't waste ink. Every rhyme is calculated, and his texts are really dope, but only if he showed more energy and passion he'd be more fun to listen to. He gets outshined by every single member on this album minus Masta Killa, really everytime a guest shows up it's refreshing from his monotony... Now on to the production. It's undeniable that RZA was on fire in 95 producing 3 of the best albums of the year. RZA uses lots of synthesizers on this one, he combines them with the dark beats to create some sort of atmosphere and it works pretty well. I don't think you need me to tell you that this is an essential Wu album to have, pretty much all of the first wave solos are must haves but I'm sure other hip hop fans will tell you to get this one before I do.

Rating: 4.5
Highlights: Duel of the Iron Mic, Cold World, 4th Chamber, Swordsman
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 33 Average listal rating (25 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 0
The 2nd MC to get a solo album from the Wu-Tang Clan was Ol' Dirty Bastard and just like Method Man, he's one of the members that really stood out from the rest. There's just never been another rap character as crazy and wild as ODB, and there's probably never gonna be another like him. It was the good days for Wu-Tang when RZA was producing all the albums, his beats here are some of the rawest he ever done and it just fits perfectly for the Dirty Bastard. Many of the members show up to give Dirty some help, but really the star here is ODB himself cause he's just so special.It's a Classic Wu Tang chocolate box, all sorts of flavors and styles of Wu, tons of great guest spots, tracks that feel like they came out the vaults. And it's all delicious! This isn't trying to be the full piece of the others, it's as raw as shit gets from one of the rawest posses, and not only that posse's rawest member, not only the rawest man to walk hip-hop, but perhaps the rawest man to ever walk the soundwaves of music. Ol' Dirty Bastard. There's simply no substitute for this album, and no substitute for him. Rest in peace.

Rating: 4.5
Highlights: Shimmy Shimmy Ya, Brooklyn Zoo, Raw Hide, Snakes
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 5 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8.5 IMDB Rating 0
Dah Shinin - Smif N' Wessun
People who added this item 39 Average listal rating (29 ratings) 7.7 IMDB Rating 0
Do You Want More is just a much improved version of "Organix", the concept of the "jazz rap" band but with better songs and overall improved musicians and MC's. The album is definitely a classic and it's the last great album of the "jazz rap" era, the sound is just wonderful with the stand up bass and it's the Roots album that sounds like a band just jamming. The Roots were on an unstoppable incline at this point it seemed, because my god had they barely gotten started. The next two albums would send them right onto rap Mt. Olympus. A ton of classic jazz rap tracks here with superb mic performances anchoring them on the concrete where they belong. They aren't my favorite group of all-time for nothing! The album is quite long but it's filled with classic material from start to finish, it's just really all great and a must-have for all hip hop fans.

Rating: 4.5
Highlights: Proceed, Distortion to Static, Do You Want More?!!!??!, The Lesson Pt.1
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 25 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
E 1999 Eternal - Bone Thugs-N-Harmony
Eazy E may have had a dubious musical career but he left one great thing to the rap world before dying, the discovery of and fostering of the up and coming Bone Thugs N Harmony. Though technically they're from Cleveland Ohio this album is far more west coast then midwest. Being probably one of the last major west coast victories in the region ebfore they lost power after 96'. The Bone Thugs are one of the few acts that just occupies entirely their own corner of the rap world, their very own sub-genre even. It's a half-harmonically sung half-rapped speedy melancholy vaguely gangsta style and there's little else like it out there (all else I can think of is Mikah 9 of the Freestyle Fellowship). For all intents and purposes it's RnB but something about the delivery of even the most obvious singing more closely resembles rapping, I guess it's still emphasizing the rhythm over the melody? In any case I find it to be hip-hop music, and dope at that. The beats are dark and due to their byzantine chorus thing makes the whole thing almost classically gothic in some weird way (I'm not talking The Cure). Like these dudes could make an awesome hip-hop soundtrack to the european dark ages or some shit. Oh sorry...um yes, this album is worth it's hype.

Rating: 4
Highlights: East 1999, Eternal, Down 71' (The Getaway), Mo Murda
mojack's rating:
"Big L R.I.P."

Those 5 words shouted by DJ Premier in 1999 suddenly transformed this album into a classic, cause this record went under the radar when it first got released. But after he died it only then became the "classic" people refer to now. On the surface it looks like it could be a peer of other such material from the time, after all it's got more hardcore noir beats and crime rhymes for that ass. And so much of that stuff was top notch material. But this just isn't in the ballpark of the other Noir giants of the year. I've listened to it so many times and it just doesn't go much beyond so-so beats and a one note performance. His lyrics are great no doubt, vicious witty lines this guy. I mean it's a massive shame he died so soon, and it would have been fascinating to see where he would have gone. But make no mistake, his potential is fascinating, not what he shows here which is merely good. Still one of rap's most overrated LPs.

Rating: 4
Highlights: Put It On, 8 Iz Enuff, Danger Zone, Street Struck
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 0
Curb Servin - Wc & Maad Circle
People who added this item 2 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
4 5 6 - Kool G Rap & DJ Polo
As you should all know by now, Kool G Rap spent the early 90's a lonely maker of violent hardcore rap in an indifferent East Coast. Until with his ultra-violent "Live and Let Die" he unwittingly opened the gates of hell under New York and let out the Noir. Now in the very darkest midst of Noir York he returns (now solo, as if DJ Polo really mattered, he never did much anyway). With this album Kool G Rap moved into the "grimy" hardcore sound NY sound and that really fits perfectly for him. You'd think he's be able to make a supreme quintessential album in this environment. But he didn't exactly use this opportunity to claim his righteous throne, but he made a pretty good one all the same.As for G Rap he keeps on doing his lyrical gymnastics, he's truly one of the most gifted rappers of all time... On every track where he raps he just kills shit, with his rap til you out of breath style (and he never runs out of breath). He makes it all look like it's so easy and other rappers are usually pale in comparison. It's a great listen just because he's finally reached his personal promise land.

Rating: 4
Highlights: Take Em To War, Blowin' Up The World, Ghetto Knows, Fast Life (Norfside Mix)
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 12 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 0
Labcabincalifornia - The Pharcyde
People who added this item 20 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 0
KRS-One - KRS-One
One of the most impressive things about KRS-One is how consistent his discography is, the rappers that have a 7th album that is this good are of a rare breed, it's like he didn't know how to be wack (wtf happened tho). Return of the Boom Bap showed rappers how to rap and how to make a classic late in your career, and KRS-One is definitely a worthy follow up to it. The production is mostly handled by KRS this time around, but he does get the help of DJ Premier (3 beats), Diamond D (2 beats) and Showbiz (1) to patch things up. The production on the whole is some great east coast "boom bap" but it's not quite as impressive as the beats on his previous album. If KRS was criticized for being too preachy on "Edutainment", I wonder why people don't do it for this album because he really is a lot more on this one but that's what makes him great after all. He's not called the teacher for nothing, it's because he teaches and yeah that's preachy. Who cares tho, the guy brings much skills and what he raps about is actually interesting. It's hard to compare his performance with his other albums, it's not quite his best but it's great and it's KRS so it's definitely an album where you should learn all the lyrics. I'd recommend this excellent album to fans of KRS-One and mid-90's east coast, it's damn near essential if you are.

Rating: 3.5
Highlights: MC's Act Like They Don't Know, Free Mumia, Wannabemceez, Out For Fame
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 15 Average listal rating (12 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 0
Doe or Die - AZ
I don't really get how AZ has managed to sort of fall through the cracks, I do think he deserves a bit more love then he gets. Anyway, Noir rap produced one major offshoot, Mafioso rap, and this album is one of the first major examples of the stuff from this era (I would argue Ice T got there first six years earlier). Unlike the soldier level nightmares of most Noir rap (see Mobb Deep) these albums have an interest in the complex machinations of organized crime and (increasingly as the years went by) the gilded rewards of pulling it all off. The greatest strength of the album is AZ's rapping who's definitely influenced by Nas and Kool G Rap with a "rap til your out of breath style", he really comes sharp on all the tracks. The reason why I think this is not a classic is because it really lacks in the production department, after the first few songs, the production really falls apart with only "ok" beats.

Rating: 3.5

Highlights: Gimme Yours, I Feel For You, Mo Money Mo Murder, Your World Don't Stop
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 34 Average listal rating (23 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
Cypress Hill wasn't interested in the lowriding sunny gluttony of G Funk, it didn't really line up with their methods and ways. They found instead a kindred spirit in the darkness being expressed over on the east coast. So like a reverse Sittin' On Chrome this album sounds far more in line with Noir Rap, but it's still definitely a Cypress Hill LP, and still clearly a west coast album. Don't you forget it either. Pushing even more then on Black Sunday, this is really a producer's album, DJ Muggs muscles the emceeing even farther over to the side in order for his creeping beats to waft through your nostrils like the bong smoke it represents. That's not to say B Real and Sen Dog are non-entities but really they're only here to add to the sonics with their voices more then ever. For fans of Muggs there really is no other album to get to best bask in his capabilities, what he makes here is mostly pretty atmospheric. Take "Illusions" for example, it opens with an extended sitar instrumental section before arriving at the main song which is like a slowed down hippie fever dream. Elsewhere we have Wu Tang guest spots and a scathing diss track aimed at Ice Cube. But wherever you turn you get incredibly dope music, and in my opinion the best Cypress Hill album of their golden first three.

Rating: 3.5
Highlights: Illusions, Boom Biddy Bye Bye, No Rest For The Wicked, Locotes
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
On Top of the World - Eightball & Mjg
People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
People who added this item 20 Average listal rating (13 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 0
Mr. Smith - LL Cool J
The last time LL Cool J would be relevant to rap, and his last good album. Of course I'm pretty alone in this opinion, the tone of this is something I get how people can hate and even think of as crossover. But damn it, I sure don't see it that way. As he showed with "Around the Way Girl" LL had finally (after a long list of awful attempts) found a way to make good hip hop ballads. A way to make dope, even somewhat hard, love songs. And this album is mostly based off this approach, even in it's most hardcore moments has a sense of smooth to it. Maybe it's because the overtly hardcore sound of his 93' album fell so flat that I find this actually a refreshing turn rather then anything resembling sellout. Maybe it has more R&B hooks then necessary, but the production is on point, and the emceeing is as well. And it has one flat out badass moment with "I Shot Ya" that should appeal to people who want a more fist swinging LL like from the days of old. I won't argue past this though, as LL really started to go down the drain past this point. But hear me out for now, give it a try if nothing else eh? I've made lots of other good judgements right? Right?

Rating: 3.5
Highlights: Hey Lover, Doin' It, I Shot Ya, Mr. Smith
mojack's rating:

And it was on. The coasts had reached quintessential form in their wildly opposite styles. The West was purely drenched in sun and malt, a fiery orange vibe, ruled by Tupac and Death Row Records. The East was neck deep in the darkest coldest noir rap murk it would ever create, ruled by a variety of hardcore cats from the Wu and BCC to the DITC and Bad Boy Records. They could not be more different, and a tragic collusion was almost inevitable. At the 95' Source Awards Death Row put on a fiery show and words of war were exchanged. Maybe the Golden Age was too good, creating such rivalry over it's limelight. In any case this vacuum like clash would mark the start of the end for the good times.

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

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