So far during my blog experience I have covered my favorite male MC's, Female MC's, and favorite Hip Hop groups. We all have albums that have changed our lives or altered the way we view that genre in general, making them the standard we will judge everything else on. The following are Hip Hop albums that changed my life. By all means, add some of your experiences and albums that changed you life in the comment section.
Public Enemy(It takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back): Public Enemy, in my humble opinion, is the most important group in Hip Hop history. Period. I'm pretty sure that they knew going in that a rap group with a message might never catch on, but they believed in themselves and the message they were conveying so much that they went full steam ahead anyhow. Even though they came with a political message and talked about what ailed black youth, they never came off as preachy. They were smart enough to give you those aggressive ass bomb-squad tracks that were so pleasing to the ear that after listening to a song you just happen to realize that there was a message in there. This particular album, as much as the rearing from my parents, is probably the soul reason that I have always tried to stay current on the political side of things. "Don't Believe the Hype", "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos", "Night of the Living Baseheads", "Rebel without a Pause", this album is packed with classics to make any Hip Hop fan nod in agreement. Like Chuck said, "Who gives a fuck about a god-damned Grammy!!"
Ice Cube(Death Certificate): Even though I have been critical of the decline of Ice Cube's musical career, I can't front on how "Death Certificate" is one of my favorite albums. The album is so good that Ice Cube could make 40 wack albums with Mac 10 and that still wouldn't change my opinion of him as being one of the best MC's during a specific time period. I have said this for the past 10 years but it still hold up today, I have yet to hear an album that had the same range of topics that Cube addressed on this CD. He talked about blacks in the military, venereal diseases, the health care system, he addressed his old band-mates, gang colors and the ridiculousness of it, you name it he addressed it. This by far is his most controversial CD as well, this is the album that he hopes the interviewer doesn't ask him about when he is plugging his new Disney Movie. This album also shows where Cube peaked lyrically and creatively, after this i noticed a slow decline in the quality of his music.
A Tribe Called Quest(Low End Theory): I was a fan of their first album, and I remember distinctively awaiting what this trio from Queens would come out with next. I was in my freshman year of college, and i was dating a senior who was a hip Hop head as well. When this album came out we knew that we were listening to a Hip Hop classic. It was the perfect blend of aggressive lyricism mixed with jazz sensibilities. I know many of you probably like "Midnight Marauders" better, and that is totally understandable. This album sticks in my mind because I remember me and old girl getting high as a kite, listening to this album, and having deep conversations like "Wow, Phife got better huh?"
De La Soul(Three Feet High and Rising): I respect the shit out of De La Soul because they have always blazed their own trail, and ignored the musical trend of the day. From day one you could tell that these three brothers would push the envelope creatively, whenever they got the chance. Shit, from the first time you heard "Potholes in my lawn" you knew that you were getting cutting edge, refreshingly new Hip hop. One of the reasons I like De La Soul is one of the reasons that I like Public Enemy, because they were trying something completely new and had the balls to go. For all they knew they could of flopped, that musical bravery is commendable. "Pot Holes in my Lawn", "Say no Go", "Me myself and I", "Buddy", the daisy age is not over!
Nas(Illmatic): This is probably one of the albums that I knew would be a classic before I heard it. I was a fan of Nas' verbal stylings since "Live at the Barbecue", remember his line "When I was twelve, I went to hell for snuffing Jesus"? Classic. Nas brought razor sharp delivery, along with street tales about hustling and ghetto philosophy. I think that pure Hip Hop heads were open because I don't think we heard such a precise flow since hearing Rakim's verses, so the lyricism he brought to the table was a breath of fresh air. Plus you can't go wrong when you have Pete Rock, Premiere, and Large Professor producing your album. "New York State of Mind", "Life's a Bitch", "Halftime", the recipe of a classic album.
Notorious B.I.G(Ready to Die): There are two things that I must admit to concerning Biggie. 1)That before the album came out I slept on him, telling whoever would listen that the album wasn't going to be all that. and 2)My favorite Biggie song, up til now, is "Party and Bullshit" As a Hip Hop purist, I will always go on and on about the violence in Hip Hop and how there is no need for it. But then again, if it is done creatively or the beat is dope(i.e M.O.P or this album), I become a lot less adversarial about it. "Ready to die" had tales of crack-peddling, had a introspective view on his own life and mortality, and occasionally laced you with lyrical assault that is damn near unparalleled. I constantly say how Biggie and Pac were overrated, and I never understand how anyone can say that they are the greatest, but today I give the Brooklyn MC his due as to having a album that changed my life.
N.W.A(Straight Outta Compton): When this came out it was like porn to me, I would hide it and listen to it in the complete privacy. People who criticize this group for starting a negative trend in music actually have a point, and I understand what they are saying. But their "I don't give a fuck attitude on "Straight Outta Compton" was kind of inspiring to a young teen as myself. Granted, at that point I had only a couple of run ins with the police, and I didn't know anything about selling crack or your garden variety "hood rat", but N.W.A took me on a magical hood journey. It is also one of the first time West Coast life was brought to the masses on such a high, nationwide level.(Of course there were legends like Too Short and Ice T, but they didn't have the immediate wide spread impact) "Straight Outta Compton", "Gangsta Gangsta", "Parental Discretion Iz advised", all songs I shouldn't have been listening to at the time but stayed in my Walkman.
EPMD(Strictly Business): I have to admit, I loved these guys because they were the absolute truth. I mean, they didn't have any booming personalities or anything, they just came with the uncut Hip Hop. No gimmicks, just Hip Hop. This particular album is near and dear to my heart because this album, along with Biz Mark's "Going off" and "Long Live the Kane" are the three albums that my cousins brought down from New York for me. That summer, my two cousins(Peter and Brendan) would learn every song on each album and rap along each time it was played. Something about EPMD's song "Jane" that stuck to me, maybe it was the line "She's fly, haircut like Anita Baker/looked her up and down and said hmm I'll take her." That's my shit man, also the mere fact that Eric Sermon had a speech impediment but still rocked the mic was cool in itself.