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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Greatest Hip Hop Records of the Decade

The greatest albums have a cultural influence, where as the best albums I based just on how good they sounded. College Dropout is more important than Late Registration, but the lyrics and musicality of Late Registration just make it a better album. The Blueprint is better, but not greater than The Black Album. I'll post the best later. My fellow bloggers may disagree, but without further ado here's The Greatest list:

10. Country Grammar by Nelly. Believe it or not there was a time that Nelly was a lyrical force, who I thought was going to be to St. Louis hip hop, as Jay-z and Biggie are Brooklyn hip hop. Granted, I was like twelve when I first thought this, but Country Grammar gives you every reason to think Nelly could have been one of most of important rappers of all time. The strange drawl in his voice, the "does he know these people?" feeling when watching the title track's video, the bizarre ad libs ("hot shit"), the flow that drew you in even when you weren't exactly sure what he was saying (it was just as cryptic as Jay-z's Reasonable Doubt), the pop culture references ("out in New Jersey/ telling me about party up in NYC/ can make it? damn right/ I'll be on the next flight/ first class, paying cash/ sitting next to Vanna White hmm). Why he couldn't make lightning strike twice--Hey, must be the money!

9. Rising Up/Rising Down by The Roots. "If I got beef with you, you the last one to know." In a decade where rap beef smothered itself to death and authenticity was rarely checked twice (ahem, Rick Ross) The Legendary Roots Crew actually know what the fuck their talking about. They know why Philly's youth have "Lost Desire" ("never was I into chasing trouble, I was followed by/ hands get to itching, man, I got to get the calamine") and they know why they have reason to start "Rising Up." The Roots bring out the best in everyone on this album, top notch verses from Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Dice Raw, Common, Styles P, Peedi Peedi, Wale, and more. "I'm kinda like W.E.B Dubious meets Heavy D and The Boys" my thoughts, exactly.

8. Lupe Fiasco's Food and Liquor by Lupe Fiasco. "I got this theory right? That the world is seperated into two things/ you got your good and your bad, your food and your liquor" That intro is about as simple as gets form Lupe, who's lyrics often to make you go "now, I get it... 2 year later." He shows off his superb storytelling, intelligence, and his willing to take hip hop in a different direction, which isn't something you always get from "conscious" acts.

7. King by T.I. This is probably the most fun hip hop record, well, ever (apologies to The Beastie Boys). Once the horns kick in for "What You Know [About That]" you can't help, but to put a smile on your face. This album proved T.I. wasn't just an urban legend, but a cross-over artist that anyone with a pulse could enjoy. This album is T.I. at perfect synergy, before he began to fight with himself (T.I. vs. T.I.P) and before he began to fight with the rest of the world, who couldn't sympathize with a man who's amassed an international fame and acclaim only to see his best friend get shot right in front of him without a trial, on Paper Trail. This T.I. at his best.

6. Get Rich or Die Trying by 50 Cent. 50 Cent, ending careers, giving you something to party to, and providing a raw manifesto to get you through an East Coast winter. 50 was hungry, his flow was polished (not immunized, like it is today) and showed its range on "Many Men." (It's not every rapper that can make you forget Eminem was featured on his record). Hip hop was fun and dangerous on this record (a balance 50 could never strike again). "Go, shorty, it's your birthday"

5. Chronic 2001 by Dr. Dre. Just in case you forgot who the most consistent hip hop producer was this decade. Timbaland can make hit, Dr. Dre can make a brand. Nelly Furtado, good album. Eminem, great career. Snoop Dogg had a great decade, along with 50 and even The Game has had a good run despite leaving the doctor's office. Even Devin The Dude shows up on this record. "Motherfuckers act like they forget about Dre."

4. Tha Carter 2 by Lil Wayne. In case you've been too busy listening to his mixtapes or "Hello Brooklyn" I'd like to point you to Wayne's best, you know, album. Wayne won over entire cities, where his music is dumped out everyone's car, with tracks like "Fireman." He throws so much at the track that lines that are incorrect "she wet that's a carpool [maybe, but it makes more sense to be a carwash]" just get washed away. It's when Wayne takes a step back that he deliver's the best, certainly the most inspirational, song of the decade "Hustler Musik".

3. The Marshall Mathers LP by Eminem. Every teenager needs to listen to this. But what you miss when 
listening to this album as youngin' in how technical of a rapper Eminem is. His flow is the still his best kept 
secret.That's one thing that hasn't been said enough about him, you guys know all the rest.

2. The Black Album. Because if you pressure an unassuming twentysomething on the street to name a Jay-z 
album, this is the one they'll say. Because there's a sense of loss, and losing something you love that every-
one can resonate with. Because he finally tells you flat out that he's the best rapper alive and you have every 
reason to believe him.

1. College Dropout in a way, The Blueprint is the most influential hip hop album of a five year period in 
which sounding like Jay-z was in style (it hasn't gone out of style, but was most prevalent then) and The 
Blueprint didn't really make Kanye the rapper (his verse on the "The Bounce" was not good) rather Kanye 
the producer helped to make it a classic album. With that said, without this classic album you would not 
have a lot of average backpack rap, but you also wouldn't have Drake, Wale, or Kid Cudi. And those 
are the names that make the next decade so exciting. 


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