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Added by mojack on 7 May 2014 05:29
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1998: Best Rap Albums

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People who added this item 12 Average listal rating (11 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 0
Hip Hop heads had been worshiping at the alter of hardcore rap for the whole of the mid-90's, and in many ways, they had been ever since the 90's began, increasingly neglecting the conscious side of things until it almost died out in the mid-90's entirely. Thanks to evasive maneuvers on the part of groups like De La Soul however a final call out was made for conscious, and ears heard. Now that rap was deep in trouble, especially the east coast with it's Jiggy lords, heads found out their salvation was in those they had neglected all along. This album marks a clear battle cry for the soul of hip hop, not so subtly calling out the Jiggy era, and even devoting a song to Puffy's downfall through a reworking of Slick Rick's Children's Story. Mos Def and Talib Kweli make their major debut here and have stuck in our heads ever since. Both are great emcees, clever and intelligent. Sharp no bullshit types who were desperately needed at the time. Both sound different enough in all the categories that they create a great balance. Talib is more straight forward and direct, while Mos Def has a more mush mouthed delivery that segues into singing. The production is for the most part Hi-Tek's work, and he does probably his best beats here, including the flat-out masterpiece of "Respiration". It's a great album and one that marks the start of the strong underground alternative to the ills of the mainstream that continues today.

Rating: 5
Highlights: Astronomy (8th Light), K.O.S. (Knowledge of Self), Respiration, Thieves in the Night
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 88 Average listal rating (62 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
Aquemini - OutKast
1998! Year of the Dungeon Family. So golden age is over, everyone go home. Don't like No Limit, Bad Boy and what have you? Tough, no more masterpieces and innovation allowed. Sorry. lol sike, I told you the south was still in it's personal golden age and I fucking meant it boy. Outkast wasn't about to let something like country wide stagnation get in the way of either it's rising star or it's aesthetic ambitions, and they went and made probably their best album. If Black Star was defiant in the face of Jiggy and the like, then this is a goddamned full fledged revolution. Organic and smooth southern-fried funk slinks in and out of every track, hitting a large variety of sound within one overall tone. There are slow sad affairs like the title track, catchy jublient anthems like "Rosa Parks", bizarre P Funk like "Synthesizer", and even a holdover from Southernplayalistic on "West Savannah". Meanwhile the boys wax philosophical in the way only they can. Andre 3000 has fully emerged as what we know him for today and he's almost too good, largely overshadowing Big Boi. But both boys really break it down, Big Boi making things more down home, while Dre makes you cry with his sobering life observation. It's an ambitious and gratifying release that rewards with every new listen. Cool collabs with George Clinton, Raekwon, Goodie Mob. All sorts of style mixing. And a nearly nine minute tragic ballad with Liberation. If you're not on your feet after the blazing guitar driven finale of Chonkyfire then damn son, hang your hip hop badge up and go on home. If anything homes in on the fact that dismissing post-golden age hip-hop is complete retardation it's this album. It's more innovative, imaginative, colorful, soulful, and damned good then about 90% of classic 88-96' rap.

Rating: 5
Highlights: Rosa Parks, Aquemini, Da Art of Storytelling Pt. 1, Chonkyfire
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 8.6 IMDB Rating 0
Capital Punishment - Big Pun
Big Pun stands as another major case in the world of squandered potential of late rappers. Right there next to guys like Big L, Pac, Biggie, and Dilla. Though his death was neither as violently dramatic as Pac's, Big's or Big L's, nor as gently tragic as Dillas (Pun died basically because of his weight), it was still a huge untimely shame. What makes Pun such a loss is he was one of the last surviving true blue hard rhymers of the east coast. A classic breed that goes back all the way to Rakim and saw resurgence through the Noir era in guys like Nas and Biggie. By 98 not many of those guys were left. Some had died (L and Biggie) and most had lost their powers and fallen into Jiggydom (Nas, AZ, Jay). Pun didn't give no fuck about any of that and gave us a 98' album that had emcee quality like any of the classics of 94', which was a refreshing exciting glimpse at returning to past standards. But of course he went and died about a year later. Though guys like Mos Def and Talib Kweli brought back NY emcee quality anyway, it was in a style different from the classic NY Renaissance one, which we haven't really ever heard since. The album plays out almost like a high quality mixtape but it didn't bother me. Pun's superb flow is the heart of the matter and never let's you down. Rest in peace.

Rating: 4.5
Highlights: Glamour Life, I'm Not a Player, Boomerang, Tres Leches
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 29 Average listal rating (20 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 0
Moment of Truth - Gang Starr
Phew! It's been a long and wild ride for the two boys of GangStarr. Fighting their way up through the burgeoning bohemian NY, embracing and pioneering then fighting under the Noir banner. Guru's Jazzmatazz projects, The founding of the GangStarr Foundation, Premo's legendary status taking permanent hold as it scattered out it's legendary production to dozens of landmark albums.....man oh man has it been a wild near-decade. At this point most rap acts would collapse from exhaustion into bad music, or at best decent but cliche music. Gangstarr however was most certainly not done. And though NY's golden era had collapsed they weren't going to let that stop them. What's most strange is that Gangstarr are not even just resting on laurels here, instead they're trying new things out. Both soulful tracks and hard tracks. The smooth jazzy beatnik or noir sounds are pretty much gone here. The hard sound is basically the same sort of thing Premo was exploring with MOP and it's mostly alright. It;s those soulful peaceful tracks that move mountains here! Seriously, this is some lying on your back eyes closed thinking music, Above the Clouds alone is just exceptional beyond words. All this new stuff and it still sounds totally and utterly Gangstarr. There's a reason they're one of rap's elites.

Rating: 4.5
Highlights: You Know My Steez, Royalty, Above the Clouds, Moment of Truth
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 10 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 0
Still Standing - Goodie Mob
All the hype and talk seems to revolve around "Soul Food", and in terms of innovation it deserves it for sure. But what people don't seem to talk about is the worthy sequel that came out a few years later. The aptly named "Still Standing". Though it lacks the killer singles the debut had, it hardly needs them to keep up, and part of the one two punch with this list's No.1 that proved the South was now a fully muscular force not to be fucked with. The album starts out kind of mediocre with a few commercial stabs, but once you hit "Beautiful Skin" the album descends into pure sublime excellence for the remaining duration. While Oukast occupied a more energetic creative pop sensibility, Goodie Mob was more about a sort of melancholic spiritual meditation, and this comes perfectly into focus here. Cee-Lo for his part is even more of a standout then before, his rapping voice every bit as strangely beautiful as his singing one. Of course the rest of the Mob are no slouches, this by all means is still a team effort. The production here might not be as groundbreaking as Soul Food's but damn if it doesn't surpass it in execution. Numbers like "Greeny Green" in particular are some of the very highest heights that the Organized Noise team ever cooked up. There's no excuse to skip this release if your out picking up Outkast's discography and Soul Food. As more and more No Limit flooded over the south, not even piling on top of eachother could they touch the heights of the Atlanta titans. Another heapin' helpin' of southern fried ghetto philosophy. Eat up.

Rating: 4
Highlights: Ghetto-ology, Distant Wilderness, Greeny Green, Still Standing
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 5 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 0
Heavy Mental - Killah Priest
Who would have thought that the best wu-tang album of 1998 would have come from Killah Priest and that also it would contain not a single RZA beat? in fact ironically it's his student 4th Disciple, easily outdoing his own mentors 98' output. Priest himself is a strangely hypnotic emcee, his gruff sleepy flow slipping you into a trance as he tells you about all sorts of religious and historical facts and myths. But at the same time never losing sight of the rough dusty Wu street feel. There's such a big synergy between the beats and the rhymes the album really works well. Of course what makes this album so special is the raps from Killah Priest, they really have lots of content and multiple listens are needed to get everything. Perhaps he doesn't have the most impressive flow (still pretty decent), but it's really what he says that makes you come back again and again to this album. If your big into the classic Wu sound, this is absolutely essential to pick up.

Rating: 4
Highlights: One Step, Tai Chi, Atoms to Adam, B.I.B.L.E
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 8 IMDB Rating 0
Soul Survivor - Pete Rock (Artist)
A disappointment or absolute fire? Well a little bit of both. It's a disappointment in a way because it doesn't live up to the greatness of the classic Main Ingredient, but this album is absolute fire anyway. Featuring a wide variety of A-List guests. Guys like Kool G Rap, O.C., nearly the whole Wu, MC Eiht, Big Pun etc etc. With these kinds of emcees on board Pete Rock has a chance to make an amazing display. Pete's beats were getting a little more simple, they don't have the same amount of thickness and details (still more than most producers), but they still bang and are definitely great. It's hard to lose out here, mostly good beats, and stellar guest spots. The only real issue is there's a few too many R&Bish numbers in the second half. Otherwise go hog wild with this, it's pure satisfaction. And a breath of fresh air for 98'. It has all the best rappers of the time and has a sound rapidly vanishing around the time, a collection of great things to help make 98' great.

Rating: 4
Highlights: Respect Mine, #1 Soul Brother, Rock Steady Pt. II, It's About That Time
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 12 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 0
3rd Eye Vision - Hieroglyphics
People who added this item 8 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 0
Can-I-Bus - Canibus
Canibus is something of an ultimate battle rapper for the modern age, tempered in the traditions of Rakim and the Wu he gets most of his fame and name off punishing brag raps. He first made his breakout by attacking LL Cool J around this time and so created intense hype for his solo release. People were expecting a masterpiece, and they got kind of disappointed. Not that I entirely see why, but I can understand. Canibus comes correct, dishing out some great meta-rap about why others suck and should give up, and with that delivery of his? Whoo! To me half his battle rap prowess is his voice, he just sounds so hostile all the time it's great, sharp and ready to kill. The main criticism people aim at it is the production, which I kinda get. Wyclef Jean handled alot of it, and while a great producer he doesn't really match Canibus with his style. While some of the tracks work great, others just kind of left me scratching my head in confusion. So stack that next to the hype he'd garnered and you should see what made people so let down with it. For me, without that hype (if anything with the opposite) I thought it was good stuff. And I'm interested to see what he sounds like if he finally gets great production.

Rating: 3.5
Highlights: Get Retarded, Second Round K.O., Channel Zero, Buckingham Palace
mojack's rating:
People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 0
The Love Movement - A Tribe Called Quest
The final period of Tribe is characterized by their relation with a young J Dilla, the production team "The Ummah" named after the concept of the world population of Islam, and including the members Dilla, Tip, and Ali Muhammed (the Tribe DJ and third member). Together these three worked hard at creating the a new formula, one that is now in retrospect definitely the blueprint for modern D-Soul. A plant that took a awhile to flower into a genre all it's own. It was evident on the fourth Tribe album as well, but it's in full force here though more in essence the execution. Stilted electronic soul beats are great stuff, but here in their infant form they aren't quite developed enough to really bloom, the music is very homogenous and one note. But damn if that sound isn't alluring. It's by far the weakest Tribe album but it's very...intriguing all the same. Their final release, a hint at the shape of things to come almost ten years later.

Rating: 3.5
Highlights: Start It Up, Find a Way, Pad and Pen, The Love
mojack's rating:
Busta rose too quick, too much popularity really got to him too quick. I mean a successful artist will always eventually kind of laze out and dumb down their product to some extent. But I really wish Busta had taken his time getting there with him I feel like he was waaaay too interesting to dumb down so fast as he did. The Coming was such a fun inventive album both mic wise and in his taste of beats, this was still shown on his second album but to a lesser extent, and this is the same deal except even more so. It's still pretty fun, and still has a few cool tracks, but mostly it's just a pure party album. And party is fine, you could party to The Coming, but most of this is ONLY party material. And his taste in beats is really slipping. Every album has been a step down, I'm afraid to see what he sounds like next time...

Rating: 3
Highlights: Everybody Rise, Where We Are About to Take It, Gimme Some More, What the Fuck You Want!!
mojack's rating:

98' was alot like 97', except it had a squad of excellent albums that helped keep hip hop's head significantly above the surface. By this point while mainstream rap had perhaps been forever lost, everything beneath it was working away at rebuilding and reshaping for a new era. This is the year rap found it's new heroes

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Hip Hop Best Album Directory (21 lists)
list by mojack
Published 10 years ago 1 comment

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