Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My favorite albums of all time (11-20)

Last year, I did post my favorite albums (11-20) in separate posts. Since my top 10 are all but well known, I've decided to create a post showing my favorite albums from 11-20 (21-25 will come later), and basically what you're going to read is what I posted previously. Enjoy!


When it comes to the summer of 97, my best summer ever, this was an album that was frequently played and even when I play it today, it instantly takes me back to that moment and time in my life that I simply will NOT forget. Strong nostalgia indeed!!!!!

Fugees - The Score.png

Just LOOKING at this cover brings me back to 1996, instantly of course! As we all know, their 1994 "Blunted On Reality" was a completely unfocused album, although it was saved by "Nappy Heads (Remix)" and "Vocab". You can say for sure that they were trying to find themselves, and it showed on that album. When it comes to their sophomore album, "The Score", talk about an album that has classics up and down the lineup! Almost every song on this album is a hit in some form, and some of them still receive (deserved) attention to this day. Wyclef's very good production, Lauryn Hill holding it down on the mic in a "hip hop soul" kind of way, and Pras playing the memorable sidekick, this album fires on all cylinders with no filler in sight.

Another thing I really like about this album is how it brilliantly and creatively merged the souls of hip hop, R&B, soul, jazz, and reggae, and it was done in such a manner that you can't help but like it. In addition to "How Many Mics", classics like "Ready Or Not", "Fu-Gee-La", and "Killin Me Softly" had a very consistent presence on radio, BET, and MTV in 96, deservedly so. Other favorites of mine include "Family Business", "The Mask", "The Score", and "Cowboys", and much like every other song on this album, I can listen them back to back and never get tired of them at all, and that's one of the makings of a classic album. 


When I think of this album, the first word that comes to mind is classic. This is one of MANY albums that has been part of my collection since it's initial release, so that also means a STRONG nostalgia factor as well. I first heard this album thanks to a guy name Cory, who used to live downstairs in the same building as me in 1995. He had the cassette, so at the time I asked to borrow it, and saying I enjoyed the hell out of it was an understatement. I liked it SO much I didn't even want to give the tape back, lol. I ended up buying the album months later, but I'll always remember those moments when I first listened to it. The production was on point and lyrically he was as sharp as they come. This entire album brings back SO many memories and when I play it today, it always takes me back to those moments in time. If only the remix to "One More Chance" was on this album, but it was released in 95 as we all know. Classic all around.


 This is one of many albums that come to mind when I think of the resurgence of East Coast hip hop in the early 1990s. As the first Boot Camp Clik release (by way of Nervous Records), Black Moon started things off with a bang, and created one of the templates for the NY hip hop sound/scene at the time, and it has aged WELL. No filler, hard beats and rhymes, and what we got was Black Moon's best album, no question. Classic right here.

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After a memorable (and historic) run as part of Boogie Down Productions (which he also founded with the late Scott La Rock), KRS-One took some time away after 1992's disappointing "Sex & Violence" album (which also turned out to be the last album with under BDP) and returned with a vengeance in 1993 with his first solo album, "Return Of The Boom Bap". Going back to BDP, he had already established one hell of a track record, releasing two classics in the form of 87's "Criminal Minded" and 88's "By All Means Necessary", two almost classic albums in 89's "Ghetto Music: The Blueprint of Hip Hop" and 90's "Edutainment", as well as hip hop's first live album ("Live Hardcore Worldwide"), and the aforementioned "Sex & Violence".

This is actually one of the first albums I ever owned, and it was on cassette too. Due to constant playback, the tape popped months after I got it and I was crushed, until I copped the CD that is, lol! Produced largely by DJ Premier, an inspired and energetic KRS-One delivered the goods on this album, classics up and down the lineup. "KRS-One Attacks" starts this album off with a bang, as it's one of the best intros I've ever heard. "Outta Here" is a classic and "Sound Of Da Police" is one of the best songs I've ever heard. No question, this is KRS' finest hour on the solo tip.

Ice Cube-Death Certificate (album cover).jpg

Arguably the best album of 1991, Ice Cube really made a mark on hip hop with this incredible release. When it came to highlighting issues of the day, especially from a social and political standpoint, as well as the issues in our own communities, Cube not only did it, but it did it WELL and EXPERTLY, basically better than anyone in hip hop at the time. This is an album you NEEDED to hear, and once you heard it, chances are you wouldn't forget it. It's simply that good. Production wise, Cube himself, Sir Jinx, and the Boogiemen held things down nicely, and lyrically Cube was as sharp as ever, especially when it came to his storytelling on this album.

Just about every song on this album is a classic in its own right. "Steady Mobbin" instantly takes me back to 91, and I remember when I first saw the video and how great I thought it was. "Us" is one of the best first hand accounts of how African Americans were (and in some cases still are) towards each other I've ever heard. And who can forget "No Vaseline", the scathing, memorable N.W.A. diss? Certainly one of the best diss records of all time. Even Mack 10 in one of the Beef documentaries said, "after No Vaseline, that was it", and I couldn't agree more.
Overall, EVERY song on this album, Cube has something to say and a message is present throughout. You'd be hard pressed to find something wrong with this album.


I’ve always been a fan of this album. One of the best (and most slept on) albums of 1990, Brand Nubian’s debut “One For All” is a true classic statement when it comes to social & politically conscious content, and members Grand Puba, Sadat X, & Lord Jamar delivered very nicely (Alamo mostly played the background). Not only was the production handled by Brand Nubian themselves, they also got assistance from Dante Ross, Dave “Jam” Hall, Skeff Anselm, and the Simulation Dummies, who provided the remix to “Feels So Good”.  The three rhyming members always displayed great chemistry together, whether it was a combination of all three of them, or two of each, and you find that on every song on this album. Puba had one of the smoothest flows ever, not to mention a way with words. Sadat X was often comical yet informative, and even with a slight high pitch in his voice at the time, he still had a certain flair about him on the mic. Lord Jamar was the righteous one, and he often displayed that side well. When it comes to classics, this album has many of them. “Slow Down”, “One For All”, “To The Right”, “Dance To My Ministry”, “Step To The Rear”, “Dedication”, “Concerto In X Minor”, just to name a few. There’s NO filler on this album, as every song served its purpose indeed. 

The members of N.W.A. look down to the camera and Eazy-E points a gun to it

N.W.A. is one of the influential hip hop groups of all time. Talk about a group that was a hip hop dream team of sorts. You had the awesome production of Dr. Dre (and DJ Yella), the lyrical skills (and penmanship) of Ice Cube, the mastermind Eazy-E, and supporting member MC Ren, and as far as the West Coast goes, it doesn’t get any better than that. This “Straight Outta Compton” is such a landmark in the annals of hip hop history, and being released in the “Golden Age” year of 1988, well, that makes it all better right there. With a memorable combination of superior production and gritty, gangsta lyrics, this is one of those albums that captivated its audience, as well as “touching another element of society that no one else had touched on” (quote taken from the “Welcome To Death Row” documentary), and when you get the attention of the FBI because of one song (the classic “F*** Tha Police”), you’ve done something. Also, shortly after this album’s release, it sold over a million copies, without any radio or video play, and at the time, that was unheard of. It eventually went on to go double platinum as of March 27, 1992. In a word, timeless.


The D.O.C. could’ve had one great career ahead of him after even dating back to the early days of N.W.A., however, an unfortunate car accident (which crushed his larynx), permanently affected his voice forever. I’m so thankful in more ways than one that he was able to deliver his classic debut in 1989 (the best album that year). Probably second after the great Ice Cube, D.O.C. was one of the best artists on the West Coast. He was quite tight on the mic, and never was that more clear on classics such as “The Formula”, “The Doc & The Doctor”, & “It’s Funky Enough”. Flowing expertly over the fine production of Dr. Dre, he created one outstanding album that still holds up today.


You’re probably thinking,  now what are the odds of Wayne having three back to back West Coast classics occupy my 18, 19, and 20 favorite album of all time slots (with my known East Coast bias to boot)?  Well, believe it, it’s 100%  legit!!

Dope. Strong shock value. Controversial. Those three things come to mind immediately when I think of this album to this day, and it worked. Coming three years after the seminal “Straight Outta Compton” album (also after the “100 Miles & Runnin EP”) and with Ice Cube no longer part of the group, N.W.A. returned with a vengeance in 1991 with their last studio album, although it wasn’t referred to as such at the time. Although Eazy-E and MC Ren still delivered their signature lyrics (with a little more aggression this time around), the real star of this album is Dr. Dre’s production. In what would be a small bit of foreshadowing to “The Chronic” the next year, Dre continued to get better behind the boards, as his sound was as polished (and gangstafied) as ever on this album. This album reads like the tale of two, as the first half was vintage N.W.A., hardcore to the bone, controversial as ever, and not caring what anyone thinks. The “Prelude” is one of the hardest intros to start an album, and from there you get straight classics in the form of “Real N***** Don’t Die”, “N***** 4 Life”, “Appetite For Destruction” (one of my favorite N.W.A. songs), “Alwayz Into Somethin”, and “Real N*****”. 

Starting with the extreme storytelling vibes of “One Less B****”, then other cuts like "Findum, F***em, & Flee", and "She Swallowed It", the second half was controversial as hell and it clearly wasn’t for everyone. This portion more or less details their "adventures" with the opposite sex. Mostly due to the production and the sheer entertainment of the lyrics (that’s what it is at the end of the day), I can listen to it without taking it too seriously. It was also designed to make you laugh and your jaw drop at the same time. It succeeded with flying colors. Good thing a hardcore track like "Approach To Danger" and the sentimental "Dayz of Wayback" end this album of a high note, respectively. Even though this was the last N.W.A. album, they went out with a complete bang.

21-25 will be posted next week.


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