Lately, Southern Hip-Hop has been anything but hospitable. The beef between Young Jeezy and Gucci Mane is still on people’s minds. Lil Wayne’s current controversies over his Emmett Till lyrics and his claiming to be intimate with Chris Bosh’s wife have left many scratching their heads.
AllHipHop.com decided to look back at some of the South’s finer Hip-Hop moments by creating a list of its greatest LPs. These great pieces of work have stood the test of time, brought attention to amazing talent, and changed rap forever and for the better.
Andre 3000 once famously proclaimed, “The South got something to say,” and he was right. So, without further adieu, here are the albums that speak up the most: The 10 Greatest Southern Hip-Hop Albums of All-Time.
10). Ghetto D - Master P (1997)
It is no secret that Master P is not in the upper echelon of skilled rappers. However, this album is still very important to southern rap. On Ghetto D, more so than any other No Limit release, Percy Miller and company combine elements of East (Bad Boy’s jacking of popular tunes) and West (Death Row’s hardcore content) to create something significant for the South. And for that reason alone, it has earned a place in Hip-Hop history.
9). Back for the First Time - Ludacris (2000)
Ludacris’ first Def Jam album is actually a repackaged version of his independently released Incognegro with the addition of four new tracks. The fact that most of the music is being re-released is a testament to the quality of Luda’s material. And the added songs, especially “Southern Hospitality,” proved that the former Atlanta disc jockey could hold his own in the big leagues. In the span of thirteen years, Ludacris has clearly lived up to his potential and then some by reaching legendary status as a rapper.
8). In Our Lifetime, Vol. 1 - Eightball & MJG (1999)
The beats use live instruments instead of samples, and the lyrics come across as an audio autobiography. “Paid Dues,” for example, plays like their version of EPMD’s “Please Listen to My Demo” with the two Memphis rappers reliving their come-up in rap. When Eightball starts the second verse with, “A C-note for a concert, I know that sounds preposterous/ N***a, we didn’t have a pot to piss/ So we got on stage and rocked the b***h,” it’s hard not to be moved.
7). 400 Degreez - Juvenile (1998)
Prior to Lil Wayne’s ascent, this was the LP that all of Cash Money’s albums were compared to. And for good reason: multiplatinum sales, hit singles, original flows, and a producer, Mannie Fresh, who lived up to his name. The project also not only showcased Juvenile’s rapping talent, but also served as a stage for the rest of the label’s roster to shine as well. 400 Degreez proved that the $30 million dollar distribution deal Universal had with Cash Money was worth every penny.
6). Just Tryin’ ta Live – Devin the Dude (2002)
“Who’s That Man Moma?” finds Devin the Dude rapping about young children in the crowd at his Hip-Hop show and “Lacville ’79” has him giving props to a lemon. With these things in mind, know that Mr. Copeland takes conventional Hip-Hop topics and gives them his own personal touch with humor and honesty to a fault in 16 songs. The result is a funny, endearing, and crude collection of records that cohesively form one of the most amazing (and overlooked) albums that the Hip-Hop genre has produced.
5). Trap Muzik - T.I. (2003)
This album justifies T.I. calling himself, “King of the South.” The theme of hustling is nothing new to Hip-Hop, but T.I. explains it in such detail that the content still manages to come across as unique. And rather than glorify the trap, he encourages listeners to learn from the error of his ways. Additionally, the album’s production does an excellent job of complementing T.I.‘s delivery and supporting his claims to be, “a legend in my own time” and “a prophet in my own rhymes.”
4). Ridin’ Dirty – UGK (1996)
Bun B and Pimp C have a helluva project with Ridin’ Dirty. It masterfully combines the vibes of soul music with the gritty realities of the tough Texas streets. “One Day” is about how fragile life is, while “Murder” depicts violence at level that would even make Martin Scorsese cringe. And those are just the first two songs. By the end, it’s no surprise that this album is hailed as a classic, or that it has influenced so many emcees since its release.
3). The Fix – Scarface (2002)
During Scarface’s stint as the President of Def Jam South, he released a landmark album of his own, The Fix. On it, the veteran emcee tackles heavy themes such as spirituality, death, and artistic integrity. And to help get his messages across, he enlisted the likes of current producers Kanye West and The Neptunes for beats. The outstanding instrumentals they provided matched perfectly with Face’s baritone delivery and the songs that came forth from those sessions are some of the most thought-provoking rap records ever made.
2). The Resurrection – Geto Boys (1996)
After years apart, Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill reunited to create the strongest album in the Geto Boys’ catalogue. Lyrically, the album has a bit more of a political slant to it and the production is at a higher level than their previous work. But this is the Geto Boys, and they reassured people they were the still real deal by getting Larry Hoover [former leader of the Chicago gang called Gangster Disciples] to call from jail to be on the project.
1). Aquemini – Outkast (1998)
Aquemini is a masterpiece of an album. It’s ambitious (“SpottieOttieDopaliscious”) and it’s authentic (“Rosa Parks”). It’s jazz (“Liberation”) and it’s rock (“Chonkyfire”). And the list goes on. In every way possible, Outkast’s third album pushed the boundaries of what Hip-Hop could be and yet still sounded very rooted in Southern culture. It shouldn’t work, but it does and that is why it is nothing short of brilliant and the best Hip-Hop album to emerge from below the Mason Dixon Line.
Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik - Outkast (1994)
The Diary – Scarface (1994)
Word of Mouf - Ludacris (2001)
Let the debate(s) begin! What do you think? Share your feedback and opinions in the comments section!