Still in our time machine and is headed to the 1990’s which is considered ‘the Golden Era’ of hip hop. Let’s check on the list as I countdown the top 10 albums of the 90’s.
10.DMX-It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot
The crazy thing about DMX is, we forget he was one of the best in the game at one point and could have been the greatest, if crack didn’t consume him. If you want proof, get “It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot” DMX visual of the streets was dark to the point it would disturb you, which is the correct depiction of the streets. His past only makes the album darker, DMX is so gritty and hardcore and expressing all he know is pain and his best way to release it is with aggression.What’s great about a DMX album is, he also would break out in a inspirational prayer, WWE wrestler John Cena even use the prayer skit from this album for Wrestlemania this past year. DMX is just a trouble soul who use it as a advantages in making hit records and is what I love about this album, he uses his pain as his strength.
9.Wu Tang Clan-Enter The Wu
RZA, Method Man, GZA, Dirt Ma girt, Ghostface, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, U-God and Masta Killa created the Hip Hop X-Men that is Wu Tang Clan. No super group will ever compare, because nowadys, there’s too many egos. They were so many styles and those style were versatile, so this was really unfair from jump. Each Emcee has highlight on the album and some classics track such as “C.R.E.A.M” “Protect Your Neck” and “M.E.T.H.O.D Man” most of these dudes had successful solo careers down the road as well, which is shocking because it’s like a basketball team roster but 36 Chambers is phenomenal and Wu Tang just gang-bang each track on the album, just so damn disrespectful.
This album is so significant to Common’s career alone, not just to hip hop’s history. This album spark the deep rhymes, heavy metaphors and creativity of Common that turned him into what he is today. “I Used To Love H.E.R” is possibly the greatest hip hop song ever, rapping about his love he was once close with who was free to be herself, till he sees she started popping rock, smoking blunts, hitting switches and hanging with gangster bitches saying she real when she was the realest, before she was selling herself, of course he’s talking about hip hop. Common has some classic verses on this album they were witty with a hint of irony, one classic line; “They say become a doctor, but I don’t have the patience,Adjacent to that situation, I want an occupation that I’m into, ‘Cause yet if I begin to,Live to my potential,I went to school for fourteen years and my best teacher was experience.” Common also sampled ODB from Wu Tangs’s 36 Chambers. Common flow was no natural and would go on and off beat to keep the listener engaged to the song and appreciate the creativity of rhymes he had because he releases some heavy hitter on this album.
Early Jay is unmatched and untouchable when it comes to expressing and showcasing the mind and life of a hustler. This albums makes you want to go out and get yours. The album even explains the negative aspect of hustling with “Devils” and “Regrets”. The Jazzy sounds are just the icing on the cake but one of the strengths is, ironically it’s the blueprint to his success as talks about rising to the top instead of claiming to already be there, like most artist lie and say nowadays and it’s real, everything he talked about, he lived it, so he’s not glorifying negativity by choice, it’s all he knew at the time and he even states it’s not a positive thing to do and only brings out the worst in you. I find it funny so many rappers envy Jay today, but yet they mimic their album to this and it’s not even close to as good as Reasonable Doubt.
The Kings of the South! The lyricism on ‘Aquemini’ is spectacular. You can’t compare this album to anything outside of Outkast which what makes this album so unique and special. The diversity on the album as a whole is incredible and is timeless ride in hip hop. Outkast keeps you on your toes as well with their intelligent rhymes and even thought concepts of song title “Rosa Parks” “SpottieOttieDopaliscious” and “Art of Storytelling” are just to name a few captivating tracks. This is the beauty of the 90’s and proves you didn’t have to sell out, to sell records, because the duo will never not sell.
5.Queen Latifah-Black Reign
While Latifah was shooting her hit show “Living Single” she release a smash of a album in “Black Reign.” This album was the return to the tough-talking, lyrically frank, frequently controversial material that established Latifah as arguably the finest female rapper. “Coochie Bang” and “Weekend Love” were harsh and explicit attacks on the album, while “Just Another Day” and “I Can’t Understand” examined the continuing inequities plaguing inner city youth, and “Superstar” took a pointedly unglamorous view of her situation and the perils of hip-hop supremacy.This is by far the greatest female hip hop album ever. Not a popular album as others on the list but in all honesty, it’s because she’s a female that she loses the credibility. The subject matter is for the female demographic and the flow and high quality rhymes makes this the best of the 90’s easily setting the bar that may never be reached again from another female. New York dominating this list, shout out New York!
4.A Tribe Called Quest-The Low End Theory
Tribe is the greatest rap trio of all time. This album is apart of the great Jazz rap movement and this album perfected the fusion. The hippest album of this era and spark the alternative movement as well. The album is a fun and yet still has a positive vibe and a conscious awareness and thier biggest influnce of the album is N.W.A, talk about irony. With the hits “Butter” and “Scenario” which gave the birth of Busta Rhymes, also the album is one of the hypest album to hear live, it’s contagious to the point it’s hard not to hit the dance floor when this record plays and I’m talking about nowadays, pure timeless music.
3.Notorious B.I.G-Ready To Die
This album is one of the few albums that tell a story. I can seriously recited this album from start to finish. ‘Ready to Die’ is like the gangster movie for the ears. Big’s rhymes express his “Everyday Struggle” (pun intended) with emotional honesty, telling how he felt while making it and slanging drugs on the corner. Big even takes you into the depression and dark reality of society that he faced to the point to that he kills himself in the end of the album which is “Suicidal Thoughts”. He basically tells the listeners he’s not proud of what he became and the paranoia he faced from his lifestyle has wore him down to the point he’s willing to end it before anyone else can. A powerful album and the overall message I think goes over people heads and they just mimic the lifestyle.
2. Mos Def-Black On Both Sides
“I start to think, and then I sink into the paper, like I was ink, then I write now I’m trapped in between the lines, I escape, when I finish the rhyme.” This is one of the few album I can best describe as beautiful. The Mighty Mos takes you on a lyrical journey of his life and what he has seen. Just hearing how he expresses his passion for hip hop and his culture connects the listener to where you feel what he feels. He touches multiple subject matters from secret societies, racism, women, religion, the streets, and hip hop. Mos break down the stereotypical barriers with his subject and doesn’t shy away from his opinion and breaks down his theories intelligently that it’s convincing and most of it is probably the legit truth, hard to discuss hip hop, society or even politics without a mention of something inspired from this album.
Not really a shocker, but still doesn’t get enough credit. People don’t realize this album was to sell only 59,000 copies and this was in the cassette era as well (that’s what we had before itunes youngsters) This album really didn’t get its praise as one of the best till the early 2000’s. Some people say the album is too good and impossible for Nas to do a good follow up or something better, which he constantly got compare to his best. Did I mention another album on this list sampled illmatic single “World Is Yours”? You also find what is hip hop to Nas on the album as well, the struggle of the youth to retain its freedom, which is ultimately the struggle of man to retain his own essence.