But rap has a really short memory. So while the nine-three offered plenty of quality Hip-Hop albums, some of them have aged better than others.
Therefore, AllHipHop.com has put together a list of rap albums that came out the same year that the Chicago Bulls achieved their first three-peat. These releases are just as memorable to Hip-Hop listeners as John Paxson’s 3-pointer is to basketball fans in the Windy City.
So without further ado, here are the 10 best rap albums from 20 years ago.
10). Bacdafucup by Onyx: Considering Onyx were signed with Jam Master Jay (R.I.P.), it shouldn’t be surprising that they incorporated rock into their music. But where Run-DMC did records with Aerosmith, Onyx ventured further with it and entered into heavy metal territory. To this day, “Slam” can still start a mosh pit. The group was no fluke; their follow-up LP also delivered, and group member Sticky Fingaz even dropped a great solo album in 2001 as well.
9). Black Sunday by Cypress Hill: As the title suggests, this is a dark collection of songs. “Insane in the Brain” was a huge hit and it allowed them to showcase their skills to the masses as a result of this project going multi-platinum. The group’s support of weed also extends beyond the music and makes its way into the liner notes with facts about marijuana and the drug’s positive attributes.
8). 93 ‘Til Infinity by Souls of Mischief: Released when they were just teenagers, this Oakland, California, Hip-Hop collective dropped a too often overlooked West Coast gem. The four rappers trade-off rhymes smoothly, and many of the tracks transition into each other without any break. And while the title track is arguably the album’s highlight, the entirety of it proves that the Native Tongue sound wasn’t just limited to the East.
7). Enta Da Stage by Black Moon: This trio isn’t super lyrical, but they make up for it with delivery. Buckshot especially is able to switch up his style, and that makes the album a great listen. And while it didn’t perform as well commercially as other notable East Coast releases from that time, it still deserves as much credit as them from bringing New York back from years of Hip-Hop obscurity.
6). Buhloone Mindstate by De La Soul: Unfortunately, this was the last De La album that Prince Paul produced. Things on this album like the live instrumentation (courtesy of the JB Horns), the musical interlude (“I Be Blowin’”), and homage to old-school (“Breakadawn”), maintain the group’s avant-garde approach. The intro sums it up best: “It might blow up, but it won’t go pop.”
5). Return of the Boom Bap by KRS-One: For Mr. Parker’s first official solo album, he connected with producers DJ Premier, Showbiz, and Kid Capri, so that it could live up to its name. The project succeeds and then some. There is the autobiographical “Outta Here.” The powerful “Sound of da Police” which compares officers to overseers. There’s also “I Can’t Wake Up” where he raps from the perspective of a blunt. And that’s just naming a few.
4). Strictly 4 My N.I.G.G.A.Z. by 2Pac: While this album doesn’t embody the “Thug Life” tattoo on Pac’s torso that some of his later work would, it certainly captures the attitude of the city streets at that time. From the frustration on “Holler If Ya Hear Me” to the compassion for women on “Keep Ya Head Up,” Afeni’s baby boy was clearly a rebel with a cause who left few stones unturned.
3). Midnight Marauders by A Tribe Called Quest: The follow up to The Low End Theory was two years in the making, but the wait was worth it. When Q-Tip says, “Lyrically I’m Mario Andretti on the momo,” he isn’t kidding. Couple that with the intricacy of the album’s beats and the result is a beautifully sequenced piece of work which is one of the most memorable releases in ATCQ’s catalogue.
2). Doggystyle by Snoop Doggy Dogg: While the chemistry between Dre and Snoop had already been established on The Chronic, Snoop’s official debut surpasses it because of its perfect balance between gangsta rap and pop. The project has no filler and album cuts like “Tha Shiznit” and “G’z and Hustlas” hold up just as well blockbuster singles, “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” and “Gin and Juice.”
1). Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) by The Wu-Tang Clan: This album was a game-changer. The nine-man collective made the most out of raw beats and martial arts metaphors. The underground feel of the 12-track set was a great contrast to the clean sounds of G-funk. In short, the Wu presented something amazing and original. Two decades later, it’s been often imitated, but never duplicated.
What do you think of the list? Please share your thoughts in the comments section and let the debate begin!