Remember when hip hop albums had upwards of 20 tracks, with as many features? Oh, early 2000’s, how I miss you! Perhaps no album personifies this era of “underground crew albums” as the sophomore release of Jedi Mind Tricks: Violent By Design. Featuring the devastating one-two punch of two emcees and the exclusive production of mad genius (and best name in Hip Hop) Stoupe The Enemy Of Mankind. Mainstay Vinnie Paz (aka Ikon the Hologram) and on-again-off-again emcee Jus Allah deliver an acerbic barrage against the White Christian One Percent Establishment.
That, and whack emcees.
Seriously, this album is a seminal classic that ushered in the brutal era of violent, underground rap at it’s lyrical peak.
“Heavenly Divine” is one of the hallmark tracks of the underground era. What’s your favorite? Comment below!
Before hip hop denigrated into the mumble rap/trap garbage it became today, there existed larger than life lyrical legends that defined the culture. Chief among these were Big Punisher, the Brooklyn based Puerto Rican monster with the fastest tongue on the East Coast. Most of your so-called “lyrical” rappers owe at least a chunk of their game to this husky voiced (and huskier framed) 400lb emcee.
Capital Punishment hit the streets like a freight train, and featured the most versatile ‘street-level’ rapper since Biggie Smalls. Pun smashed the previous stereotype of street rap and brought a verbal acrobatic ability previously unmatched. Other rappers could be faster, sure, but none had the content and the storytelling abilities that Pun brought to the table.
“Capital Punishment”, the title track, is a tour de force in hip hop storytelling and features a tragic story of Pun’s relative. What’s your favorite track? Comment below!
Ask Chuck D of Public Enemy, and he will tell you one of his favorite rappers is Sage Francis. Not as well known as other rappers of his day, Sage came to fame as the winner of the coveted ScribbleJam Battle tournament several years in a row. Not as much of a cocky kid anymore, Sage Francis matured with his sophomore release and focused his laser beam intellect on larger than life topics like war, love, death, and loneliness.
Showing a new generation of emcees that it’s okay to be the smartest guy in the room with the biggest heart on your sleeve, and that gangster rap is ludicrous, Sage elevated his status tenfold with the release of ‘A Healthy Distrust.’
Recruiting poet Saul Williams for one of the standout tracks “Sea Lion” was a ballsy, yet beautiful move. What is your favorite track? Comment below!
An unlikely, yet sonically devastating triple team of lyrical behemoth MF DOOM, producer Danger Mouse (of Gnarls Barkley), and the voices of some of Adult Swim’s stable of cartoon wackos, Dangerdoom comes together like a hip hop stoner snob’s version of a turducken. From Aqua Teen Hunger Force’s Meatwad’s cameos during the hilarious skits, to DOOM’s trademark growly super-scientist flow, this album is how promotional collaborations should be done.
DOOM, often called “an emcee’s emcee”, is at his best teamed with the sparse soundscapes conjured by the enigmatic Dangermouse.
Relentless, punishing bars over masterfully arranged production, coupled with the perfect amount of humor make this one of 2006’s best albums, period.
“Sofa King” is one of the hardest Hip Hop tracks in DOOM’s vast repertoire. What’s your favorite track? Comment below!
It’s hard to not nod your head to “36′ chain,” our favorite track.
Underground messiah El-P, formerly of Company Flow and one-time CEO of Def Jux Records (home to NY mainstays Aesop Rock and Cannibal Ox) was an already established legend in the hip hop community. When he met Dungeon Family stepchild and rap monster Killer Mike and produced an album for him, the chemistry was undeniable. Enter the freshman album that redefined independent promotion: Run The Jewels.
Mining the same gold vein they tapped in their first collaboration, this album debuted to near universal acclaim and relaunched the names of these underground stalwarts into the modern rap zeitgeist. At once political, farcical, tongue-in-check, and irreverent, RTJ cemented their spot in hip hop right out of the gate.
It’s hard to not nod your head to “36′ chain”, our favorite track. What’s yours? Comment below!
Starting off our list of hip-hop’s most influential albums.
1998 was another banner year for hip-hop as it saw the release of several albums destined to resonate and define the careers of their creators. Perhaps no album defied convention more than Atlanta duo Outkast’s third studio album: Aquemini.
At once a synth-slathered love letter to P-Funk, Black Pride and the Southern lifestyle, and yet also a mature chastisement of frivolous gangster proclivities, Aquemini defined the sound that was to boom out of Georgia for decades to come. An auteur look at the development of emcees Andre ‘3000’ Benjamin and Antwan ‘Big Boi’ Patton, this album has gone on to influence many, and even modern acts such as Run The Jewels stem from the lineage first set down by these Dungeon Family elders.
We are particularly fond of “Synthesizer”, which was the standout track to you? Comment below!