We all agree that 1988 was the greatest year of Hip Hop right? Cool.
Well what I’m gooing to do is post the top/greatest Hip Hop albums from each year afterwards, starting with 1989 here (Of course I’ll eventually do 1987 and before), anyway … this is my list, I tried to not be too biased, and this one does not ahve a panel of voters like the future ones will. With that being said, you need the majority of these in your collection regardless of the order they are listed.
If you disagree witht he ranking let me know in the comments and on Twitter (@TweetRhymesLife)
Now, Lets get to it!
25. As Nasty as They Wanna Be – 2 Live Crew
Never been a fan of The 2 Live crew outside of their debut, but I have to respect their influence (For better or worse) on the genre.
This album had Me so Horny and that blew up way bigger on a national level that I think it could now, besides that I defy you to name another song of the album (I knew a few of you can), but I WILL say, that the album cover is one of the best EVER.
24. Seminar – Sir Mix-a-Lot
Sir Mix A Lot didn’t come with incredibly hard rhymes but they were fun songs on this album, Seminar had songs like Beepers, Something about my Benzo, and My Hooptie … funny videos, he does get political and raw on a couple of tracks, it’s kinda slept on.
23. And in This Corner… – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
This album was the beginning of the end for the two … it’s flown under the radar though as it’s better than their efforts AFTER the TV show (except for the song Summertime), the song “Then she bit me” is incredibly weird but we got Jazzy’s Groove, and Numero Uno … The Mike Tyson song and a remake of sorts of Too Damn Hype. (If you have the Cassette version of He’s the DJ, you know)
22. Nice & Smooth – Nice & Smooth
The debut album from one of the more underrated duos in Hip Hop, they produced it themselves after doing work on Big Daddy Kane’s “Pimpin Aint Easy”, it showcases both emcee’s personality and flows with songs Perfect Harmony and Dope on a Rope … the stand out song of course is Funky for you, if you can find a re-release I’d cop it.
21. Original Stylin’ – Three Times Dope
The Debut album from the OTHER group from Philly … the thing about this album is it had two STRONG tracks and the rest of it, most people have never heard. The Two Tracks are Greatest Man alive … the drum machine work and the sample, crazy and EST’s bragging rhymes were tops, the second Funky Dividends is a classic IMO … their two singles and two videos alone place this album here on the list
20. Eyes on This – MC Lyte
The sophomore album from MC Lyte, not as good as Lyte as a Rock, but definitely strong and the second best in her discography. The Album had Cha Cha Cha, which is probably her greatest song, Stop Look listen (Which in my opinion is her 3rd best song), Shut the Eff Up her return to Antoinette, and the weird Cappuccino (I will never understand why they are slangin in Starbucks lol
Since it was late 80s and early 90s there’s the prereq House music on there, which was never my flavor, but a solid album here.
19. I Gotta Habit – Cool C
People sleep on this album, maybe they thought “Glamorous Life” was corny (Though everyone sang the hook), or maybe they didn’t know he WASN’T MC Shan (They sound exactly alike) The Hilltop Hustler affiliated with Steady B (and loosely 3XD) tried to get himself into the Bridge wars with Juice Crew Diss (He really went unnoticed) but he had other dope tracks All Hell Freeze, Mary Go Round, Down to the Grissle … it wasn’t a classic but it wasn’t wack at all.
18. Knowledge Is King – Kool Moe Dee
As far as albums, this is probably the best you were going to get from Kool Moe Dee, he had his tracks I Go to Work, and They Want Money, and All night long, not much vs. his nemesis o this album either. Moe Dee was always nice with the lyrics; he just suffered from production, happened again here.
17. No More Mr. Nice Guy – Gang Starr
I’m admittedly no Gangstarr or Guru fan, I love Premo though. I acknowledge Gang Starr’s place in Hip Hop History and their influence, but most of that started with Step in the Arena.
This album’s production wasn’t incredible great, but I’m a sucker for scratching so it doesn’t bother me much. They introduced the Jazz Hip Hop blend here, so that’s a thing
16. The Biz Never Sleeps – Biz Markie
I love this album, and having it at 21 is me trying my best to not be biased (I would’ve placed it higher on a favorites list) Biz produced this album with some hard beats and of course his usually funny lyrics, this was not as classic as Goin off and the Juice Crew wasn’t on it at all… but songs like Check it Out, Spring Again, and A Thing named Kim were all dope, and of course Just a Friend
He even followed up The Biz dance with The Mud foot, grab this joint.
15. Big Tyme – Heavy D & The Boyz
I’m a Livin Large fan, That’s the Heavy D I enjoyed … this album he started the transition to the I like to Dance, House music, Love song, make your mother love him too music; which wasn’t a bad thing, he still hit us with More Bounce, and Let it Flow, as well as the Hit We Got our own thing … this was NOT Public Enemy or NWA and I miss when there was a place in the genre for all three.
I mean the Gyrlz they love me song and the remix … greatness
14. It’s a Big Daddy Thing – Big Daddy Kane
This Kane album in a lot of ways is better than his debut, both releases have Great and Awful … little in the middle, the lyrics are always on point, the subject matter or production fails him. Mortal Combat one of my favorite Kane songs of all time is incredible, along with Smooth Operator, Warm it Up Kane, I get the Job Done, and the aforementioned Pimpin Aint Easy … other songs Calling Mr. Welfare and The House that Cee Built? Well ..
Solid album though.
13. Done by the Forces of Nature – Jungle Brothers
Beats Beats Beats … the production on this album is outstanding! J Beez Comin through is my favorite song on the album, but every track has excellent production, The lyrics? Well … they are no De La or Tribe but this is a must have in your Native Tongues collection!
12. The Cactus Album – 3rd Bass
The other White emcees from Def Jam … actually their replacements, the difference is where The Beasties were a Crew of emcees having fun, and the 3rd Bass Duo of Search and Pete Nice were more serious about their lyricism. They still had fun (Gas Face, the Skits, etc) but when the beat dropped on Steppin to the A.M. and they started rappin we knew the game changed.
Production is tight; they gave us new slang and the song Brooklyn Queens … very dope.
11. Grip It! On That Other Level – Ghetto Boys
Right on the heels of Straight Outta Compton the Houston Trio of Willie Dee, Bushwick Bill, and Akshen dropped Grip It! On That other level, if the NWA release was shocking, I have NO idea what to consider this … they didn’t get ANY mainstream notoriety for this album, if they did the game would’ve definitely changed LOL From Do it Like a G.O. and Read These Nikes, you could tell they were not afraid to talk about any and everything, make sure you check Let a Ho be a Ho, of course the hit Scarface, and my personal favorite Gangsta of Love.
If you can find the original pressing of this album and not the “remixed” version do it and cherish it.
10. Youngest in Charge – Special Ed
Special Ed was ahead of his time in a few ways, I mean the brain that came up with I Got it Made … we were in the age of the brag rap but the way he crafted it was crazy, especially since we were like ” If he has all that, why is he in a junk yard?” lol between that and Hoedown, I’m the Magnificent, and my personal favorite Think about it, he dropped jewels on the majority of the album … it had some skips but Special Ed has really gone underrated.
9. The Boy Genius – Kwamé
Kwame hit the scene with The Man we all know and love, when we didn’t know him at all and it was genius, a short release (8 songs) every song was dope so that helped, The standout besides the first single was The Rhythm … no one dislikes The Rhythm, Kwame gave us a funky debut with witty rhymes and a lot of style … the unnamed crew that Hurby had back then put in a lot of work.
Of course listen to Kwame as he visited the Podcast
8. Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop – BDP
After Criminal Minded and By all means … The Blueprint kinda went under the radar, it still had the classic You Must Learn and Jack of Spades, not to mention the very dope Why is that? We also got D Nice on Breath Control, it’s not quite the first two albums but it’s a strong effort and must have for Hip Hop and BDP fans.
7. All Hail the Queen – Queen Latifah
The debut album from Queen Lah, 12 songs in total 10 Dope… This album features De La on Mama gave birth to the Soul Children, there’s a dope duet with Daddy-O from STET, and of course the Hit Single Ladies First with Monie Love; besides that Latifah’s Law and Wrath of My Madness … as well as inside out ALL DOPE, the missteps come from the Hip House offerings Dance for Me, and Come into My House … if these were not on the album, Hip Hop Classic.
6. Road to the Riches – Kool G Rap & DJ Polo
One of the greatest lyricists in Hip Hop history and one of the most underrated emcees in Hip Hop history … If you’re a fan of lyricism, you must own this, he never sold like his Juice Crew label mates, but his skill is flawless. It’s a Demo, Men at work, Poison, songs like Truly Yours … and of course Road to the Riches; it’s a must own.
5. Paul’s Boutique – Beastie Boys
People LOVE Paul’s Boutique, personally I don’t think it ever got better than Licensed to Ill … this album didn’t sale like LTI but as far as coming with something new, fresh and creative? They killed it! The Samples are crazy … if they tried this album now it would cost millions of dollars to get it cleared lol
I could go on and on about this album, just get it and play B-Boy Bouillabaisse … its epic.
4. Walking With a Panther – LL Cool J
This album gets a little disrespect because of the three love joints … what is overlooked is if you take those away you have about 14 strong songs and at least 3 Classics (Big Ole Butt, Jingling Baby, I’m that type of Guy) … not to mention rhyming the alphabet and 1-900 LL Cool J
LL went from the #1 Spot to Top 5 with Rakim, KRS, Kane, and G Rap emerging and you have to also understand he was out 5 years already.
3. No One Can Do It Better – The D.O.C.
If this album had more features it would be The Chronic, Dr. Dre did his best production on this album, and the lyrics from the longtime NWA Ghostwriter is amazing, from Its Funky Enough, to Let the Bass go, and The D.O.C and the Doctor this album is near flawless; not to mention the Hip Hop Classic The Formula, the only misstep is Beautiful but Deadly, but overall this album is a portrait of a masterpiece.
2. Unfinished Business – EPMD
This was the get back album … after Strictly Business EPMD came from nowhere and blew up, some people thought they were flukes and this album proved that not only were they not flukes they were the new best Hip Hop Duo … it starts off with So wat Cha Sayin and that set the table for an onslaught of dope lyrics and back and forth from E and P, combined with incredible production and samples.
We got the debut of K Solo, a new episode of Jane, Please listen to my demo and more, if you don’t have this album Get the Bozack.
1. 3 Feet High and Rising – De La Soul
One of the most influential Hip Hop albums of all time, why? De La Soul introduced the skits to Hip Hop; the game show on the album combined with the comic strip in the liner notes De La were doing a lot of things for the first time, I mean with the skits there were 23 TRACKS on the cassette!
The Prince Paul production was excellent, the lyrics were unlike what many people were used to with new slang and hard to decipher references … Potholes in my lawn, Say no Go, Plug Tunin, and the classics Me Myself and I and Buddy with Q-Tip and the JB’s; it’s hard to fully explain how great this album is.
That’s the list!
Agree or Disagree?
Hit the comments or Hit me on Twitter @TweetRhymesLife
Next up 1990!
Honorable Mention 1989 Joints
The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech… Just Watch What You Say – Ice – T
Controversy – Willie Dee
Crazy Noise – Stezo
Loc-Ed After Dark – Tone-Loc
And the Winner Is… – Chubb Rock
Independent Leaders – The New Style
Seminar – Sir Mix-a-Lot
Who’s the Boss – Antoinette
Wrecks-N-Effect – Wrecks-N-Effect
The Desolate One – Just-Ice
Bad Sister – Roxanne Shanté
The Kingpin – Craig G
Stone Cold Rhymin by Young M.C.