Album 94: Atmosphere – When Life Gives You Lemons…

After five studio albums, massive national tours, their own label success with Rhymesayers, and positive attention on various late night shows, Atmosphere’s album “When Life Give You Lemons, Paint That Shit Gold” is perhaps their most grounded album. Slug’s storytelling abilities and Ant’s versatile musicianship fused into an album of pure middle class Americana. As close to a blues album as a hip hop album could get, “Lemons” features Slug’s ‘sexy scumbag’ snarl lamenting on the massive tragedies and small victories of the under served, unglamorous side of America.

Music legend Tom Waits makes the most appropriate of cameos on an album that is as many equal parts Waits, Leonard Cohen, and Bob Dylan as it is Public Enemy, Eminem, and Big Daddy Kane. A breakthrough for the Rhymesayers Boys.

“Guarantees” is what would happen if Bob Dylan was born 1985 and rapped in his 20’s, and is our favorite track. What is yours? Comment below!

Most Influential Rap Albums Of All Time: Jedi Mind Tricks – Violent By Design

Remember when hip hop albums had upwards of 20 tracks, with as many features? , 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 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!

Featured Chain 10 – Method Man, II

Method Man has already appeared on this list, and he rightfully appears on it again with a chain that is hip hop history: the Upside Down Wu-Chain. “You could never capture the Method Man’s stature, for rhyme and for rapture” he once famously rapped, and the solid gold chain is just that. Solid gold. Very little ice. At least for the original chain.

Meth has had multiple versions for the upside down Wu for years, and searching for images of it proves that something it’s not the content, the bling, or the ice, or even the chain that it hangs on. It’s the man, and the design that makes it special.

Oh, and also having each lavishly designed piece being worth thousands, upon thousands of dollars.

What do you think of Method Man’s Upside Down Wu-Chain? Share this article, and let us know the comments.

Most Influential Rap Albums Of All Time: Big Punisher – Capital Punishment

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.

Big Pun

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!

Featured Chain 9 – Beanie

When people talk about the best chains representing the best labels, names like Rocafella, No Limit, Death Row, and Dipset get thrown around. Then when the children are done talking, the real icons start slowly letting everyone know they should not be forgotten.

Enter State Property, as hung around the neck of Beanie Sigel. It’s understated. It flashes. It is whispers at you. It doesn’t need to scream, because 300 grams of bling doesn’t need to scream. It already has your attention. You may think you’re hard, but then when you have 18k gold hanging around your neck on an equally ice chain you don’t have to guess. Everyone knows you’re hard.

Beanie went the route of simple sophistication on this $35,000 chain, representing his label in State Property. It’s crazy, and it’s legendary.

What do you think of Beanie Sigel’s State Property Chain? Share this article, and let us know in the comments.

Most Influential Rap Albums Of All Time: Sage Francis – A Healthy Distrust

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!

Album 98: Dangerdoom – Dangerdoom

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.

Danger Doom

“Sofa King” is one of the hardest Hip Hop tracks in DOOM’s vast repertoire. What’s your favorite track? Comment below!

Featured Chain 7 – Shawty Lo

Do you want the world to know how much of a true player you are? Wear a diamond in a crack vial around your neck like Shawty Lo. The entire chain was a risky move to take, and Shawty not only pulled it off, but he shows why boundaries should be pushed. It is gangster. It is silly. It is $15,000 of street hanging on your neck. Complemented by an icy chain, some may think this is going to far. We say it not just went far enough, it actually complimented the other chains he had hanging from his neck.

All that you need to know about the legendary status of Shawty’s chain is that when people first saw it they were disgusted. Then they wanted it. That is true street cred.

What do you think of Shawty’s crack vial piece? Share this article, and let us know in the comments.

Most Influential Rap Albums Of All Time: Run The Jewels – Run The Jewels

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 mainstays Aesop Rock and Cannibal Ox) was an already established legend 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!

Featured Chain 6 – Bun B

If you hear the word “trill” you know for a fact that you are listening to Bun B. The Dirty South legend of course then had to make a chain that defines “trill” and proves why he is the unofficial mayor of . Hanging the 10 Commandments from his neck, Bun lets the world know that he is carrying the laws of man and life with him at all times.

The lettering on this $40,000 piece compliments it nicely. It’s raised, not engraved, giving it an impressive 3-D touch. Hanging on thick gold, and silver ropes Bun proves that the yellow and white diamond piece is a legend in the hip hop chain world.

This isn’t an ordinary accessory for an ordinary man. This is Bun pushing the boundaries once again, and showing the world what “trill life” means. The chains, and the man, are a true OG.

What do you think of Bun’s piece? Share this article, and let us know in the comments.