Tuesday, May 01, 2007

The TAN 25 Hip Hop Albums

Joey over at Straight Bangin' decided to try and compile a list of the Top 25 Greatest Hip Hop Albums. "Greatest" was eventually deemed too overblown with ulterior connotations and was changed to "Favorite" as hip hop bloggers began to send in their lists. Since the project was announced Passion of the Weiss has joined the accounting team to help crunch the numbers; Weiss has also posted a list with some of the other hip hop bloggers who are participating (Byron Crawford, Dallas Penn, Start Snitchin' to name three), and done some digging into those albums that didn't make his top 25 cut.

I hope to write more about some of these albums, hip hop's affinity for lists, and why some albums didn't make the cut, but for now, without further delay, here is the TAN 25.

1. Midnight Marauders - this album deserves a coronation ceremony as the greatest hip hop album of all time, it makes everyone's top ## list.

2. The Black Album - I would say all of Jay's value and worth is wrapped up in this album; I would argue it's the most important album since the turn of the century. There is a lot more to say about this one.

3. De La Soul Is Dead - The masterpiece from the hip hop artist's hip hop artists.

4. Like Water For Chocolate - Common's first three albums are all classic, but I submit this as his zenith, it's an album for just about any occasion.

5. Marshall Mathers LP - Its interesting how compartmentalized the Eminem era has become with more distance; nevertheless at his peak hip hop doesn't get any better.

6. Donuts - The most contemporary album to make the cut, Dilla's instrumental/beat opus is a perfect record for these iTimes.

7. Things Fall Apart - The Roots opus, if I had to give someone an album that would make them a fan of The Roots this is the one. I only wish the Badu/J. Scott live version of U Got Me from Chappelle's Block Party was on this album.

8. Mama Said Knock You Out - This is the album that makes LL stand for Living Legend. Arguably the most versatile mainstream emcee ever.

9. The Infamous - Prodigy's lyrical performance on this pushes it above and beyond. With their first two albums The Mobb helped usher in the street thug era as much as BIG and Jay did.

10. Muddy Waters - After a great debut, and an interesting artist statement with Dare Iz A Darkside, everything clicked on the third album, Reggie Noble's best.

11. 36 Chambers - The Wu debut is a no-brainer, and hasn't been surpassed by any of their members individually, or as a collective, since.

12. Liquid Swords - Well except that, for me, Wu Tang loses a lot of appeal if you don't include GZA. This is the quintessential emcee's album.

13. Illmatic - One intriguing revelation discovered in making this list is that I consider Liquid Swords and Illmatic about the same. I'd probably give Illmatic the edge for production variety, but then again that makes it less cohesive than Swords.

14. Paid In Full - Rakim was way ahead of the curve, this album has all his classic joints.

15. The Great Adventures of Slick Rick - The storyteller, the slick personality, and the voice. Slick Rick was always a uniquely refreshing emcee, and one of the few able to walk the thin line ... "Hey Young World" was the song other emcees could never do.

16. A Prince Among Thieves - This is my baby, the album that's least likely to be found on other lists. It's the ultimate concept album. Taken as individual parts, it wouldn't quite add up, but seen as a whole it may be the most beautiful and complete project hip hop has ever created. When we talk about the future, I think this album needs to be in the conversation. Surely Chris Rock thought so also when he purchased the rights for his film production company.

17. Long Live The Kane - Kane, a pantheon emcee; I'm not positive this his best, but I'll go with it, and he needs to be on here.

18. The Score - I suspect I like Lauren's album better, but I'm not sure that's hip hop enough. Fugees had a great formula, if one of the male emcees was better lyrically, they may have been the greatest of all time.

19. The Chronic - Dre changed the world with this one. Not as consistent as I'd like to remember, and wish I could combine this with selected joints from Doggystyle, but whatever.

20. Enta Da Stage - Classic east coast hip hop. The Beatminers pushed this one over the top.

21. Internal Affairs - Pharoahe is the most slept on. He does it all, and does it on this album.

22. Criminal Minded - KRS needs a slot, his albums can be inconsistent, but you can't go wrong with this one.

23. The Main Ingredient - PR and CL need to have a slot on my list, they held me down. I'm not positive this is better than the mecca and the soul brother, but its definitely not worse, and its not mentioned nearly as often. Mecca established them, but this album made them a household name in hip hop.

24. Takes A Nation of Millions ... - you can only go so far before mentioning this. Its lower on the list simply because everyone loves it, and I find it a little inconsistent, but if you're making a true "greatest" or "most important" this clearly vaults near the top.

25. Ready To Die/Straight Outta Compton - tie for the last slot. I think the first 4 or 5 joints on Straight Outta Compton are as good as it gets, but I don't ride it all the way through. And I don't jock BIG as much as everyone else, much rather have a collection of his assorted hits than either of his albums riding all the way through.

And there you have it, I think final numbers get crunched this week but if you want to submit a list, send it to me, or leave it in the comments, and I'll pass it on to Passion & Bangin' LLC.


  1. No love for the Jungle Brothers?

  2. like I tell my top 25 ladies, just cause you not on the list doesn't mean I don't got love for you baby ...

  3. Midnight Marauders had too many interludes. I don't need an interlude between every song. I handle handle two per album.

  4. Damn thats good for a while I though I was the only dude with Pharoahe's album on a Top25 list but good job.....Prince among thieves is criminally slept on.

  5. Anonymous5/01/2007

    No love for the Low End Theory? They effectively shucked the corny El Segundo hangers-on with that album, I thought.

    I'm also sad to see you've left Diamond D and Brand Nubian off your list.

    Eminem, to me, is Al Jolson reanimated. How he makes anyone's top lists is beyond comprehension.

  6. If Prince Among Thieves could ever be made a movie, or at least if they extended the concept of the video, that would be H.O.T.

  7. i love the ll cool making the list with "mama said...", but "bigger and deffer" is hard to keep off that list. but i'm white, so what do i know?

  8. Anonymous5/03/2007

    any hip hop list should include illmatic, ready to die, lets get free, lifestyles of the poor and dangerous, supreme clientele, and reasonable doubt in the top 10. anything else is bullshit. LL? are you kidding me? Your taste is mediocre, TAN

  9. Anonymous5/03/2007

    good list for the Tribe and De La picks although Three Feet High and Rising is actually in the top five of most important rap albums evar.

    The internets(the council of bloggers that actually gives a shit) are continually amazed that as iconic as Tupac Shakur is to rap music, for the most part no one really puts him on their top 25 lists.

  10. no cube? no snoop? no biggie until the end, like you added him just so we wouldn't be pissed? disappointing list.

  11. Anonymous5/05/2007

    i've been checking the site out for a minute without posting, but yo that is a pretty dope list. I'd take the roots and eminem off but other than that i can't be mad at that.

  12. No love for Digable Planets?! What's a top-25 list without "Blowout Comb"?!


  13. Anonymous5/06/2007

    "Mama Said Knock You Out" in the top 10? "Paid in Full" all the way down at 14? "Step into the Arena" and "Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde" don't even make the list?! Nay, I say. A thousand times, nay.

  14. It's pretty good. Ready To Die has to be higher - it's amazing how well that album holds up. And you've got the wrong Tribe album at #1...gotta be Low End Theory. That blows the doors off everything else.

    And I must say that I think you have a healthy East Coast Bias. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

    OutKast? That's the most glaring omission, to me.


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