Thursday, May 12, 2005

Hip Hop Albums that Changed my Life..

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.

26 comments:

Luke Cage said...

On point again HC. Jaine and I spoke awhile back about the relevance of some of the more prominent hip hop albums in raps history. Definite essential listening is Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and Low End Theory at the top of the list. De La's effort as well as Illmatic are also in my top 10.

Some others are King of Rock by RunDMC, Criminal Minded by Boogie Down Productions, B.A.D. by LL Cool J and Eric B. & Rakim - Paid in Full. Shit, this album almost made me want to pursue rapping man!

Brother OMi said...

good picks. very closely aligned with my list. PE's is forever immortalized. I am a Midnight Marauders fan myself. De La up unti this day holds it down.

I , too, waited on Illmatic since that Zebrahead joint "halftime." dude was nasty but look at him now.

Death CErtificate was okay. lyrically i always felt that Cube was lacking. i felt Ren was better than him.

savvy said...

i cant deny you got some all time big hitters in that list.

One alblum that hardly anyone ever lists is Dead Prez Let's Get Free

this alblum changed my entire mind frame on life, society and culture. I was a late bloomer with hip hop. My first experiences was Skinny Pimp and Too Short. True when i was in high school i loved me some Biggie and Pac, but i was till greatly influenced by the lines in songs titled Bling Bling and Bout It Bout It.

When i first heard "Its bigger than Hip HOp", "Mind Sex", and "Police State" I was blown away. THis alblum is what opened my eyes to Tribe, the orginal works of NWA, and Public Enemy

Amadeo said...

Ditto on all posted. M.M. is dope but Lower End Theory was the joint.
Edutainment (BDP) - the whole album was dope, but Beef made me change how I ate back when McDonald's had two Big Macs for $2. Stakes is High (De La) - made me feel like real Hip-Hop was hittin' bullshit in the chest at a time I was losing some faith. So I don't take up alot of space: New World Order - (Poor Righteous Teachers), Do You Want More?!?! (The Roots), 93' til Infinity (Souls of Mischief) made me not write off the west coast when everyone was GANGSTA! Enta Da Stage and 36 Chambers made the east coast live again (something Biggie got props for and shouldn't have - he helped, they sparked it).

Joey said...

Low End is, in my mind, the best album of all time. Maybe not the most significant, and maybe not the most influential, but the best. Just perfect music. That's the album that made me fall in love with hip-hop; I was nine years old when I copped it, and ever since then...

Mahogany Elle said...

*Nodding my head* You speaketh the truth H.C! (Of course, I love any reference to Tribe) Midnight Marauders has my faves "Electric Relaxation", "Award Tour" and "God Lives Through". But I think we'd agree on the lyrical beauty of Q Tip (and sometimes Phife) on Low End's "Check the Rhime". (Before this album, I was into hip hop candy -- Kid N Play, Heavy D, DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince) but this set me on the path. Other faves -- "Mecca and the Soul Brother" Pete Rock and CL Smooth, Digable Planets "Reachin'" and *drumroll please* "Illadelph Halflife" by the Roots. All worthy of devotion in my book :)

Apocalypse said...

True. Changed my life is a strong statement....but this would be my list without putting much thought in it...
To the East Blackwards X-Clan...and album that really made me want to read more...

NWA Str8 outta Compton...my CNN in the 8th grade

DeLa: Three feet high...Middle class kids w/ out guns can be cool too? My introduction to the Native Toungs massive

BDP: By All Means Necessary...Edutainment without misogyny? No stunts blunts and hip hop??? WOW

Outkast: Southernplayer...you mean to tell me that the south has more to offer than Luke....errrrrrrrKKKKK (slams on the breaks).

Rakim and Erick B the beat theif: Paid in Full. No explination necessary.

coley said...

Wassup HC.. Good list! I think I came up late in the game, I'm 26, and can remember NWA being one of the first rap albums I bought. That was before they put the "parental advisory" sticker on the front and cared about how old you were... Or maybe they put the warning on there but said fuck it and let you buy it anyway. Either way, I still remeber those damn words, and it's crazy to think back to those days! Yah, it changed my life too... :)

I am Jack said...

You don't know how many times I wore out my Tribe CD back in the day. Cool post.

sherry said...

My personal fav is "Paid in Full", definitely classic hip hop music.

Anonymous said...

Not really a hip hop fan but listening to digital underground brings back memories for me.

hardCore said...

it's funny how most of your readers really didn't read what you said. you said "albums that changed my life"...not my top ten list, or favorite lists, yet that's what most are chiming in with.

the "hip hop" album that changed my life was..."The Chronic", but maybe not how you think. besided the fact that "The Chronic" was revolutionary in its production, it marked the FIRST time i ever bought a hip hop album, on CD. before then, i only bought re-mastered jazz and r&b on cd's. but a friend of mine played "The Chronic" for me the day it came out, and i was so blown away, when i went to the store to buy it, i bought the CD, not the tape, not the vinyl. it sounded so crisp that i wanted it on cd. that was huge. so i guess you can say, "The Chronic" changed how i viewed hip hop... from something to make tape from, to collector's items, and important parts of my music collection. one.

Dee said...

great post...I'm gonna have to dig some old cd's out....

TheSaga said...

dang man, i'ma have to go collect some of that old shit. i wasnt into hip hop much as a kid so i missed out on Rakim and shit. in fact, the first rap tapes i ever got was Cube's Lethal Injection, NWA's Niggaz4Life and Straight Outta Compton. Maaan, i tell yall, NWA changed me, man. there was always a lot of built up anger inside of me and i could never find anything to voice it for me. NWA did it with all their violent lyrics. It ended up influencing me in a bad way cuz i ended up leaning towards the bad side of my block but i at least had some music that represented how i felt, ya know?

as far as Cube, i agree with iselfra. Ren is a little bit better lyricist but Cube had this gangsta style to him that completely caught me. I cant remember Death Certificate... i think i'ma download some of the music and peep it out. Why do u think Cube changed his style after a few albums?... ya gotta admit, he wasnt as street killa, killa as before. i didnt care for that change. its almost like u could see his decline (or incline, depending on how u see it) towards Disney. i still respect him though. i see him as just gotten older and more family oriented, and i aint gonna hate on him for that. i'd say he did his time as a street representative.

summer m. said...

i'm so glad tupac didn't make your list.

william said...

It was cool to see EPMD make yur list, they are monumentaly slept on.

Renee said...

The album that changed my life was Latifah's first one. Seeinh a woman hold it down like that was inspiring.

Anonymous said...

Good Post HC!

princessdominique said...

Tribe and De la are my dudes. You should be writing a column over at PopMatters.com or thehiplist.net!

Dayrell said...

MUCH good lookin' on that Tribe and Public Enemy HC!! :))

crossfader72 said...

don't know what else anyone could add. "Don't believe the Hype" pretty much sums up the post-modern condition. period.

Jdid said...

Actually the one album that no-one else mentioned that I think affected me profoundly was Paris' "The Devil made me do it."
BDP's Edutainment and Blueprints along with Criminal Minded and by Any Means Necessary, Brand Nubian's debut lp and Gang Starr's Step into the arena also had great affects on me too.

I like your mention of PE teaching without being preachy, I think that was an important aspect. Actualy even with some of the newer conscious groups like Dead Pres I find myself saying they sound a tad more preachy and as an old head I've heard what they're saying all before so I cant really get with it.

Ron said...

I love coming here, HC. Because you always give a brotha something to reflect on and make me always go back and listen to other stuff that I might have slept on in my "unenlightened" years aka "the white age"

peace

frenchy said...

ah.. a masterful view on priorities, Crit!
MM from ATCQ is one of my faves, especially Phife's intro on 'God Lives Through': "I kick more game than a crackhead from Hempstead
My styles are milk, man, you'd think that I was breast fed.." Ooooohhh.. man! Still believe that Phife's the better lyricist, but that's just my opinion.. I got all their albums..
Tough call.. flashbacking impact-wise: other breaktrough albums of importance: howzabout "Bazerk, Bazerk, Bazerk" by the Bazerk people? Or "Paul's Boutique" by the Beastie Boys?
"Power" by Ice-T.. nastay!

Kryptonbornson said...

I'm a fool for saying I never really like De La Soul or EPMD, but that's just my opinion. I agree with most of that list. I just would add Nas's second album over Illmatic, I thought Nas's lyrical skill and Trackmaster's production improved every album until Nastradamus. Other albums would be all of Wu-tang's up until "Wu-tang Forever," especially ODB, and Bone's second album. ODB and Bone's second album has some very creative genre defying stuff on there. Never mind that the Bone thugs weren't good lyricists. I couldn't get enough of their harmony and lightning quick rap.

atma brother #1 said...

Dope list man. Can't forget Ice Cube's first solo effort AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Raw, angry, sharp, and funny.

Your blog's on point man. I'll def link to it when I get a chance.

Keep bloggin'.

PEACE.