JOIN or LOGIN  |  

Hip Hop Albums of the 1990s

Music, Guest Lists | January 19, 2010

Featured Guest List by Rapper Big Pooh

Rapper Big Pooh is best known as a member of the highly acclaimed North Carolina hip hop group Little Brother. Indeed, the group's debut album, The Listening, made The Top 13 Hip Hop Albums of the 2000s. And while Little Brother is planning to release a new album this spring, just last week, Big Pooh released his most recent solo effort, The Purple Tape, a free mixtape on which Big Pooh rhymes over Detroit producer Black Milk's instrumentals based on samples of classic Prince tracks. Listen to it below.

The Purple Tape

Putting together these 13 albums proved to be a difficult task. I'm serious, so difficult it took me over a week to finally decide on these 13 albums. I had to go with the albums that in my opinion changed music or changed how I saw music. I had to go with the albums that will forever have a special place in my memory. I had to go with the albums that when you mention them I could give you a time capsule of my life during that period. I'm sure there will be plenty of people who may feel different, but I knew that already.

expand all
Nas - Illmatic

1

Nas - Illmatic

1994

This is the album that probably had the most influence on me as a rapper. I always enjoyed listening to music but after I heard this album, it made me want to go create my own. The way Nas reeled you in by painting pictures with words over the perfect sonic canvas was too much for me to not want to be a part of this culture.

Dr. Dre - The Chronic

2

Dr. Dre - The Chronic

1992

The Chronic is the album that changed how music would sound. Even now, if you go back and listen to your favorite albums pre-Chronic you will notice that the overall sound quality is inferior to the masterpiece Dr. Dre created. Not only did he usher in a bigger sound quality, Dre also introduced the world to Snoop Dogg, The Dogg Pound, Warren G, and countless others who ended up having a stranglehold on the rap world for years.

The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die

3

The Notorious B.I.G. - Ready to Die

1994

This album introduced us to if not the greatest, then one of the greatest to ever touch a microphone. The way Biggie effortlessly floated over every track made you feel like his voice was another instrument being played. This album also helped change the landscape of rap music when Diddy decided to sample known hits to create new ones. Safe to say that became a trend.

De La Soul - Stakes Is High

4

De La Soul - Stakes Is High

1996

This album also helped to shape the current landscape of rap music as we know it. Stakes Is High came out at the same time as Nas' It Was Written. These two albums seemed to separate the rap world into two categories, underground and commercial.

Ice Cube - AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted

5

Ice Cube - AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted

1990

Ice Cube's first album as a solo artist let us know that Cube was here to stay. Nobody knew what kind of mark he would make after splitting from NWA but he proved his worth to the world. The combination of one of the greatest West Coast representers and Bomb Squad production proved to be timeless.

Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

6

Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

1995

Ask anybody to rank the Wu-Tang Clan albums in order of quality and this one will be number one 99 percent of the time. Hearing Rae and Ghost go back and forth with their own brand of storytelling, as well as their own brand of slang, drew you in and made you listen even more attentively every go round.

OutKast - ATLiens

7

OutKast - ATLiens

1996

In my opinion, this is the best OutKast album. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik was the introduction to the duo from Atlanta, Ga., while their third album Aquemini began the transition to what we see today. ATLiens was the album that made you say, "these boys are one of the best doing it!" You could hear 3000 coming into his own and Big Boi earning the respect of those who may have slept on him the first go round, all while serving you social commentary, shit talk, introspective thoughts, etc.

A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders

8

A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders

1993

Most people would argue that Low End Theory is the best Tribe album ever made. I always counter that Midnight Marauders is the best album of my generation. Marauders produced hit after hit after hit after hit. I can put this album on right now and appreciate it the same way.

Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

9

Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)

1993

When speaking of Wu-Tang Clan you can honestly say that they have a cult following. In fact, they may be the only urban group in the history of music to have a cult following that would compare to groups such as The Greatful Dead or U2. Flawless posse album from top to bottom that unleashed a swarm of killer bees on our listening ears for years.

Mobb Deep - The Infamous

10

Mobb Deep - The Infamous

1995

Even though this is technically their second album, to most of the world, The Infamous was our introduction to the duo out of Queens. Although many albums sound like New York, when you listen to this album it feels like New York City. I remember going to New York for the first time and Infamous was the soundtrack to that journey.

Fugees - The Score

11

Fugees - The Score

1996

I guess if you are in a group and decided to go your separate ways then this is the way to go. It's a creative album put together wonderfully to showcase the talents of all members (especially Wyclef and Lauryn Hill) like it was set up for it to be the last album. Definitely an album that has a time stamp on the hip hop timeline.

Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt

12

Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt

1996

Another one of those emcees whose name will always be mentioned when you ask the question, "who is the greatest?" Jay-Z had the charisma, the word play, the flow, and the production to catapult him into the ears and hearts of all those who loved the east coast and east coast inspired rap. To this day, after all the money and the plaques, Reasonable Doubt is still one of his two flawless albums (the other being The Blueprint), in my opinion.

Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet

13

Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet

1990

This is the album that introduced me to Public Enemy. I eventually went back and listened to It Takes A Nation Of Millions to Hold Us Back but by that time, Fear Of A Black Planet was already my favorite album. The feeling I got when listening to this album is almost the same feeling you have when you haven't been to church in a long time, and when you hear the first sermon back you think the preacher wrote it especially for you. The message they slid in over those Bomb Squad beats made it more penetrable to those who may have refused to listen before.

expand all

Comments Leave a comment

KungFuJay ★★

Ah, the 90s. The last decade I actually liked rap. Great list.

9:38 AM   Jan 19, 2010

brian 

Definitely the best decade for hip hop.

9:24 AM   Jan 20, 2010

stillathreat ★★

A few thoughts about this list. Where are Pac and Black Star? Also, I love The Chronic and maybe Big Pooh is right that it really changed the game, but is it better as a standalone album that Ready to Die or Enter the Wu-Tang, etc.? I don't think so.

10:23 AM   Jan 19, 2010

radiowxman 

I don't think I'd make any real changes to that. However, hearing that "Fear of a Black Planet" was an album that introduced Big Pooh to Public Enemy makes me feel really, really old.

9:25 AM   Jan 20, 2010

radiowxman 

Oh, and I think the Chronic should be up there at #2. Like he said, it definitely changed everything about how hip-hop is produced and played, especially during the 90s -- specifically "Let Me Ride." As far as 2Pac goes, he was following in Dre's footsteps. I give him props, but if it weren't for Dre, he'd would have spent the 90s clowning around with Digital Underground.

9:28 AM   Jan 20, 2010

slickwatts 

snoops doggystyle and having nothing from pac are the biggest omissions imo

5:26 PM   Jan 21, 2010

BANGST 

OOOOO--it'z a shame '...NATION OF MILLIONS..." came out just a year and a half before the 90'z 'cuz that wuz a much better album than 'BLACK PLANET" overall; it would have place PE much higher on the list too; def. top 5

5:17 PM   Mar 30, 2010

Please Join or Login to leave a comment