We are amidst, perhaps, the best time of the year in the sports universe. As the NBA and NHL seasons wind down and transition to playoffs, we still have all the excitement of March Madness, Opening Day and the highly coveted NFL Draft. A recent conversation I had in regards to LeBron’s legacy not being affected by his absence in the NBA playoffs led me to create the series of blogs that I am about to introduce. This conversation about LeBron inevitably led to the Jordan vs LeBron argument and then to us debating our top 10 NBA players of all-time. We inadvertently began to transition to baseball and listed our top 10 MLB players going into this season, followed by our top 10 NFL draft prospects when we moved on to football. What I noticed after this discussion around the sports world is our culture, and maybe even our generation, is obsessed with lists and having quantifiable ways to determine legacy or greatness.
The often overlooked fact is that these lists are meant to be objective, but almost always are done with some subjectivity. At the end of the day we are all fans, which means fanatics, who rarely act with logic. We are human, afterall, right? Thus I feel it is intriguing to begin a series of top 10 blogs for not only sports, but all pop culture subjects. I wanted my first Top 10 lists to be something other than sports to show how much passion everyone at the Sensibly Loud family has beyond the realm of sports.
This week I thought it would be appropriate to live up to my name of Kyle Beats and start with music and specifically the “Top 10 Hip-Hop Albums of the 2000’s.”
The 1990’s are generally regarded as the Golden Era for hip-hop, specifically in the mid 90’s, when Tupac and Biggie were both still alive. However, I would beg to differ. I believe the following decade was the apex for the genre. While many will argue against my premise of the 2000’s being a better time for hip-hop I will not lose sight of the fact that this era brought us monstrosities like Kevin Federline, Young Joc, Chingy, and MIMS. You even had Ron Artest out there dropping an album.. Once you look at this list of albums you may feel differently though. I tried to put into perspective content and impact more so than record sales, but sometimes those will all have a strong correlation. Without further adieu here is the list:
The Black Album by Jay-Z– This album, start to finish was an instant classic and it was obvious from the day it dropped. The Black Album is unique since it was Jay’s “final album” at the time and essentially his retirement tour. Every song on the Black Album foreshadows his retirement or what was his artificial retirement, looking back, may look like. It was like when Jordan left the Bulls after 3 rings in the 1993. Everyone was shocked and confused, but knew he would be back.
Favorite Tracks: My 1st Song, Moment of Clarity
College Dropout by Kanye West– If you catch me in the right mood, this album could easily be in the number one slot for the decade. This was our introduction to the genius of Kanye West and to this day is arguably his best project. In a time where rappers wore XXL jerseys, huge chains and rapped primarily about guns and drug dealing, Kanye brought a new flavor to the genre. This album had an incredible blend of simplification and sophistication that may never be duplicated.
Favorite Tracks: Family Business, Last Call, All Falls Down
Stankonia by Outkast– Simply put, this is an absolute masterpiece. I believe it is the most creative, unique and artful album on this list. This is the very first hip-hop album I ever fell in love with. The way Big Boi and Andre 3-Stacks compliment each other is unprecedented in any other rap duo. The beauty of this album really is a perfect blend of technological advancements, but not dependence.
Favorite Tracks: Ms. Jackson, Slum Beautiful
The Carter II by Lil Wayne– This may be a surprise to some because of the amount of music Wayne has put out. Because of this, some of his best work gets overlooked or forgotten about. The Carter II (2006) was Wayne’s apex. The 22 track album takes you on a ride through all different styles, all of which he captures so well. I like to refer to this type of an album as elegant gangster rap.
Favorite Tracks: Hustler Musik, I’m a D-Boy, Shooter
Supreme Clientele by Ghostface Killah- This album is easily the most dense on this list. The lyricism of Ghostface is undeniable and this is his best project, in my opinion. The combination of world play and social commentary while tying in the 90’s sound is magical. I think this could be the most slept on album of the decade that does not get anywhere near the recognition it deserves.
Favorite Tracks: Nutmeg, Malcom
Get Rich or Die Tryin by 50 Cent- The biggest of any album on my list, by way of record sales, but also just having the biggest moment in time. There was a 3 month window where it looked like 50 might be the next Pac or Biggie. While I am not a huge 50 Cent fan, this album is a banger. There are 7 or 8 classics on here. Even if you do not like hip-hop, you know, at least 3 songs on here when they come on… In Da Club, P.I.M.P and 21 Questions.
Favorite Tracks: Heat, Many Men, 21 Questions
God’s Son by Nas– Prior to the release of this album, Nas was already a legend, but this cemented him on the Mount Rushmore of East Coast hip-hop. The social commentary and awareness is unparalleled by any other album of the decade. His proactive voice weighed heavily on the minds of thoughtful individuals and has always stuck out to me. When I listen to Nas I feel like I’m listening to hip-hop and being educated at the same time. I felt inspired when I heard this album for the first time.
Favorite Tracks: Thugz Mansion, Book of Rhymes
Late Registration by Kanye West– I was apprehensive to put more than 1 album by any artist on the list, but Late Registration was one that I just couldn’t pass up. This was far from a sophomore slump for Kanye, but rather a completion of his coming out party as a hip-hop superstar. Perhaps the success of this album is what turned Kanye into the egotistical maniac that we now associate him with, but this was our last real dose of humble Kanye.
Favorite Tracks: Drive Slow, Heard ‘Em Say, Diamonds from Sierra Leone
The Blueprint by Jay-Z- This album set the foundation for what this decade of hip-hop would sound like. Ironically it was the blueprint for the genre, whether it was intended to be or not. The subtleness mixed with Jay’s savviness was alluring. Although it is not my favorite project of his it is maybe the most influential.
Favorite Tracks: Renegade, Izzo, Heart of the City
The Documentary by The Game– As stated on the album, this brought the west coast rap scene back. The Game embodies everything about the west coast at its core and this album was a perfect representation of that. I believe this brought relevance back to the left coast and provided for a strong run after its release in 2005.
Favorite Tracks: Dreams, Hate it or Love it, Where I’m From, How We Do
Food & Liquor
Like Water for Chocolate
Marshall Mathers LP