You know, the "Hey Ya" guys
By Chaz Kangas
Hip-hop is nearly 40, but many still find this slightly-disorienting world of beats, rhymes and oversize personalities a bit daunting.
So consider this our hip-hop Cliff's notes; here are the albums you should know about if you don't want to look silly at cocktail parties. We're not saying these are necessarily the best rap albums of all time, but rather the most accessible. They're also great for dipping your toes into what has become, perhaps, the most influential genre of pop music of our time.
Let's do this!10) Scarface
Houston rapper Scarface is one of the genre's most important figures, and withThe Fix
-- his big budget Def Jam debut -- he delivered an absolute classic. Along with his incredible storytelling and lyricism, he had the ear to select beats from The Neptunes and a young Kanye West as they were gaining momentum.
(1993) While their debut invented the hip-hop skit and their follow-up was one of the most successful reinventions in music history, De La Soul's third albumBuhloone Mindstate
is what cemented their legend. The first visage of a group aging gracefully, it introduced the subtle nuances of adulthood without falling into bitter heavy-handedness.8) Jay-Z
The Dynasty: Roc La Familia
The album falling between Jay-Z's greatest album-length performance (Volume 3...The Life and Times of S. Carter
) and his most critically acclaimed work (The Blueprint
),The Dynasty: Roc La Familia
is the first time where street Jay and songwriter critic darling Jay intersected, making for a great introductory outing.
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(1998) While the east and west coasts dominated rap, the south was sharpening its creative edges. Atlanta's Outkast had been making quantum leaps with each release, eventually resulting inAquemini
, a bold tour-de-force from a rap duo who were different from each other, different from the mainstream, and uniquely southern.
To read the rest of the list and jump in the lively discussion going on in the comments' section, go to this post on West Coast Sound.