I’ve decided to devote a blog to listing some of my favorite rap albums for no other reason than I wanted to and I can. The main qualifier for getting on this list is if I could listen to the album from beginning to end without feeling the need to skip a track. These are by no means all of them and they aren’t listed in any particular order. So let’s get started!
The Chronic 2001 by Dr. Dre
Dr. Dre’s 2001 was one of the first albums that I listened to so much I actually burned out the CD. It was super hyped up and did not disappoint. A jam-packed collection of beats filled with a wide ensemble of guests. It was also at a time when Eminem was still fairly new on the scene and made the record’s first single, Forgot About Dre, into a mainstay on MTV.
The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem
Speaking of Eminem, the music scene was buzzing over whether or not the controversial rapper would be just a fad or if he could continue the momentum with his sophomore album. But The Marshall Mathers LP didn’t just exceed expectations, it crushed them. Every single track on this album proved that Eminem deserved the recognition he was garnering. And with songs like Stan, he also showed his haters that there was more to his lyrical genius than just curse words and homophobic slurs.
Illmatic by Nas
It’s hard to remember a time when rappers were poets and carried a track rather than let the beat do all the work, but Nas is up there as one of the best. Illmatic shows how a real artist can use rhyme and rhythm to take command over a beat. It represents the ultimate rap chill record that you can just throw on relax. Its songs are timeless yet also represent a forgotten age of hip-hop that puts lyrics over autotune.
The Hunger For More by Lloyd Banks
50 Cent might be the most well known member of the rap group G-Unit. But he’s not the best. Lloyd Banks is one my favorite underrated rappers and The Hunger For More shows why. With some big name talent behind him, Banks put together a series of catchy titles that I never get tired of listening to.
Ready to Die by Notorious B.I.G.
The holy trinity of rappers: Chris Rios. Tupac Shakur. And Christopher Wallace AKA Biggie Smalls AKA The Notorious B.I.G. This man was incapable of putting together a bad song and Ready to Die shows why. Juicy. Big Poppa. One More Chance. All classics of the rap world. One could only imagine what else he could’ve created if he didn’t die so young.
College Dropout by Kanye West
Before Kanye West lost his mind, he was a decent rapper. But even more than that, he was an incredible producer, as evident in his debut album College Dropout. This album features a humble and (ironically enough) more mature Kanye than we’re used to seeing now. With an all-star lineup to boot. Jay-Z. Mos Def. Talib Kweli. Common. How could you go wrong?
Get Rich or Die Tryin’ by 50 Cent
When 50 Cent dropped his debut single “In Da Club” a friend of mine called him his favorite rapper. I thought he was crazy. At the time there was a chance 50 would be just a one hit wonder. Seems kind of laughable now. With Dr. Dre and Eminem backing the album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ features a whole host of classic tracks that put 50 Cent on the map. Come to think of it, it’s been a while since I gave it a listen. Might do just that after I’m done writing this.
The Black Album by Jay-Z
Jay-Z has some unbelievably classic tracks, but his albums as a whole were largely a miss for me. Not every song on the albums was a winner. The Black Album, his so called “retirement album,” changed that. For once I could listen to an entire Jay-Z album from beginning to end. Of course, it was far from Jay’s final musical venture. Laughably so. But still, I won’t hold it against him.
The Carter III by Lil Wayne
It’s strange to think how much I enjoy this album when it’s clearly a predecessor to a lot of the terrible rap music we see today, but I just can’t help myself. The beats are catchy. Wayne’s rhymes are ridiculous. And the whole thing is just fun. You truly feel that Wayne is just in the studio having a good time with every track.
Recovery by Eminem
There’s a reason Eminem is the only artist on this list twice. In fact, I could probably put every single one of his albums on this list. Well…almost every one. But Recovery is special. It shows a distinctive transformation in Eminem’s life, style, and artistic maturity. Oh, he still says completely ridiculous things. But those ridiculous things aren’t coming from a punk kid trying to make his mark anymore. They’re coming from a guy that’s been dragged through the ringer and is back to prove his worth.
What about you? Agree with any on this list? Feel some deserve to be taken off? Let me know!