9. Method Man – Tical
Once Wu Tang burst on the scene with their ensemble album, the question was which member would release the first solo album. Method was the right choice, and since his arrival on the scene has consistently dropped the hottest lyrics on any track he is on. In keeping with the time period, this album is basically a love song to weed, with some 5% Nation talk thrown in for good measure.
I still don’t know why he and Redman make the kind of movies they like to make. Also of note, he used to rock a grille before grilles were cool.
8. Ice Cube- Death Certificate
This is a concept album with Cube recording what happens on the street on the first side, and being more aspirational on the second side. This was back in his Nation of Islam days so there are a lot of lyrics that are racially charged and hurt some feelings. The state of Oregon went so far as to ban his picture! But at same time, Cube was shilling for St. Ides (remember that drink, remember the drama?). Even though this album was “angrier” than AmeriKKKa’s most wanted, it was also a big hit and Ice Cube really was the nigga you love to hate. Now he’s known as the dude from Friday and Are we There Yet? When he made this album he was also at war with NWA, and the song No Vaseline is an all-time great dis record.
7. Eric B and Rakim – Paid in Full
There is nothing more to say about this album that hasn’t already been said a million times. Rakim played around with internal rhymes, change of tempo, and syncopation when everyone else was still telling glorified nursery rhymes. Eric B for President indeed. Plus they rocked some of the fattest, stupidest, chains ever
6. Public Enemy – Yo! Bum Rush the Show
This was the first Hip Hop album I ever heard. They are the godfathers of rap. Flavor Flav is a crack-smoking VH1 minstrel now, but as PE’s hype man he brought a levity to Chuck D’s booming bass, and the almost anti-music that Terminator created. In an era when rap was mostly just party songs, PE flipped the script and was up in America’s face. The whole Sister Soulja thing is a bit regrettable now, but during the Reagan years on the whole, PE was the perfect antidote to all that Gipper bullshit. And then all of a sudden Anthrax played with them, and Axel would front G&R shows with a PE shirt and it really was Morning in America. Any of their albums during this time could have made the list.
5. A Tribe Called Quest – Midnight Marauders
After Low End Theory, it didn’t matter what Tribe did next, they were Hip Hop Royalty, but they actually topped it, with MM. Phife Dawg is underrated, and drops crispy goodness all over this album, but yeah, Tribe is really all about Q-Tip. When you think about how good they were it is kind of mystery as to why their solo careers were so mediocre.