Why They Were Important to the Hip Hop Genre!
As a Hip-Hop fan, I like to go back, study the old school stuff, and figure out what effect each artist, album, or song had on the hip-hop genre. Here's my list of the Top 10 Hip-Hop songs or albums (sometimes I can't just pick one song, it's got to be the entire album, with a song or two mentioned) of all time, listed in chronological order.
1. Sugarhill Gang by The Sugarhill Gang, 1980.
To me, this was one of the first REAL hip-hop albums ever released. The song "Rapper's Delight" was in some ways, the beginning of the hip-hop we know today (and it's always a fun song to listen to).
2. The Great Adventures of Slick Rick by Slick Rick, 1988
Slick Rick introduced the art of storytelling to the genre, and his song "Children's Story" is amazing to study and listen to. For anyone wanting to learn about hip-hop, or study true lyricists, listen to this song. Rhyming and telling a story with no lapse in the plot of the song is a feat that Slick-Rick accomplished on his debut album. Impressive.
3. Fear of a Black Planet by Public Enemy, 1990.
Public Enemy was a group that raised awareness, enhanced the minds of their listeners politically, and did whatever they had to do to get their point across. "Fight the Power" asks people to rise up, "911 is a joke" lets everyone know how they really feel, and "Power to the People" ..? Man! Check this album out, if you don't already know what it's about.
4. The Chronic by Dr. Dre, 1992
So I'll admit it, and leave me hateful comment, but I don't like Dr. Dre. I just don't, he's not my style. BUT I listed this album because it DID have an impact on the Hip-Hop genre. This is when gangster hip-hop began, and when west coast rap became very mainstream. He made the way for a lot of rappers on the West Coast, and it changed the style of the genre, leading to what I consider mainstream rap these days. It also debuted at #3 on billboards charts, so that's gotta count for something. (I'm still not a fan.)
5. Illmatic by Nas, 1994.
I personally love this album because listeners get an inside view on street life, the poverty in urban areas, and a first person point of view on trying to get out of the lifestyle and better himself. Nas tells us about what effects crack had on NYC, and we see that many both accept the power and the destruction that drugs have on street life. The beats are perfect, his rhyming is impeccable, and everything about hip-hop that MAKES hip-hop what it is, is on this album. My favorite tracks are "One Love" and "It Ain't Hard to Tell."
6. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik by Outkast, 1994.
Outkast was something Hip-Hop had never seen before. They rapped about different subject matter, although some was the same, their beats were insane, and their lyrics were so creative, they were considered "weird" to many listeners. All of this makes me only respect Outkast MORE. The beats were funky, but they got a real message across, and captured the good days of the streets in songs like "Player's Ball" and "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik."
7. Reasonable Doubt by Jay-Z, 1996.
This was Jay-Z's debut album into mainstream Hip-Hop, and still my favorite by him. My favorite song is "A Dream" featuring none other than the Notorious B.I.G. One of the reasons I mention this song is not only because of my admiration of Jay-Z's lyrical abilities, but because of my respect for Biggie too. The song is powerful and the beat is addictive.
8. "It's Bigger Than Hip Hop" by Dead Prez, and the entire album Let's Get Free, 2000.
Mainly I wanted to list the song, because it's real, it slams what Hip-Hop had started to become, and gives a reality check to artists on the rise, or on the fall, considering the decline in Hip-Hop sales in the last decade. The entire album is great, I love Dead Prez because they are political hip-hop and focus a lot on issues that are important to me.
9. "Hip Hop Is Dead" by Nas, 2006.
I have mentioned his album earlier, but this song was VERY controversial when it was released, and struck a chord (or several) within the industry at the time. I won't lie, when it first came out I was like "man, forget nas!" but he was RIGHT, hip-hop was dying, and I respect him for again checking artists when they needed it. Hip-Hop is slowly making a comeback, but you still gotta search HARD to find artists that are focused on the RIGHT things in Hip-Hop even now.
10. "American Terrorist" by Lupe Fiasco, 2006.
This song was never released to mainstream radio stations and was never a single, but I mention it because it speaks on a LOT of issues that I was happy to see a hip-hop artist address. Check it out.
Now that my list is complete, let me say, I see that I didn't mention any albums by artists like LL Cool J (who's album "Mama Said Knock You Out" is one of my favorites) or Tupac (need I mention one album?) but again, this is only a list of TEN... There are TONS of amazing artists, albums, and tracks out there. So please don't be angry if I didn't mention someone who you thought should be on the list, they probably should be! But I would LOVE to hear comments. Add your Top 10, hate or love mine, I can talk about music all day long.
2010 © Associated Content
By Jessica Stafford