A Bad Place Full Of Bad Jerks
A Bad Place Full Of Bad Jerks
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The 25 Best Hip Hop Albums of All Time & Other Worthwhile Efforts

Update 10/27/16: With this complete, the decision has been made to convert it to a book. And I want your submissions:

After 25,000 words on what hip hop means to me it’s getting the book treatment, and now I want 600 words on what it means to you – good, bad, or ugly. As a group we can tell a better story, and I’ll gladly post royalties for that. You – yes, you – can get your essay printed. (continued...)


Go do it! Pitch!!

So here you have it - after much ado, the 25 Best Hip Hop Albums of All Time, plus 25 others. As a twist from the ordinary, there were two rules - 1) each artist is limited to only one album, and 2) it’s a merit-based list, not legacy-based.


I’m always game for feedback, so always feel free to post here or on any of the articles. I always respond, and I think it’s always fun. Enjoy!

FAQ and general background

Disqualifications: Fantastic albums excluded by the one-album rule

Jay Z - The Black Album
Kanye West - Late Registration
Common - Like Water for Chocolate
Outkast - Aquemini
Eminem - The Slim Shady LP


Omissions: Albums notable for not being on the list

Anything released before 1987
DJ Shadow - Endtroducing...
Run-D.M.C. - Raising Hell
Mos Def, Talib Kweli, and Mos Def & Talib Kweli
The Underground Kings - Ridin Dirty
GZA - Liquid Swords


Miscellaneous Awards: Some good, some bad.

Most Overrated Album: NWA - Straight Outta Compton
Most Overrated Artist: Boogie Down Productions
Best Sample: Pete Rock, Tom Scott’s “Today,” “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)”
Best Song: Common – “I Used to Love H.E.R.”


Honorable Mention: Worthwhile artists and albums seriously considered, but not on the final list

Ice Cube - Death Certificate
Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III
Gang Starr - Moment of Truth
LL Cool J - Mama Said Knock You Out
Snoop Dogg - Doggystyle
Main Source - Breaking Atoms
Honorary Honorable Mention: The Streets - A Grand Don’t Come For Free (explainer)


The List: (And Prelude)

#25: Madvillain - Madvillainy
#24: Drake - Take Care
#23: 2Pac - Me Against the World
#22: Scarface - The Fix
#21: Ghostface Killah - Fishscale
#20: Common - Be
#19: Kendrick Lamar - To Pimp a Butterfly
#18: J Dilla - Donuts
#17: Pete Rock & CL Smooth - The Main Ingredient
#16: Outkast - Stankonia
#15: Dr. Dre - 2001
#14: Eric B. & Rakim - Paid in Full
#13: A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory
#12: Public Enemy - Fear of a Black Planet
#11: De La Soul - 3 Feet High and Rising
#10: The Beastie Boys - Paul’s Boutique
#9: Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx...
#8: Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
#7: Mobb Deep - The Infamous
#6: Big Pun - Capital Punishment
#5: Jay Z - Reasonable Doubt
#4: Wu-Tang Clan: Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
#3: The Notorious B.I.G.: Ready to Die
#2: Kanye West: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
#1: Nas - Illmatic

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