If you wanted to get into Hip Hop but didn’t know where to start, you would ask people who are fans. If you poll 20 classic Hip Hop fans, all 20 of them will tell you that you need to own Public Enemy’s “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.” Those same people will follow with Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid in Full”, A Tribe Called Quest’s “The Low End Theory”, and Run DMC’s “King of Rock”. What those people may not tell you is that you need to dig a bit deeper in order to round out your education.
The Golden Age of Hip Hop is loaded with classic albums. It is also loaded with piles and piles of one and done artists. In between the Young MCs and the Public Enemies of the industry lies a long list of overlooked classics. Here are five albums that you probably don’t have, but should.
With so much music being released in the late 80s and early 90s, it is understandable that you missed some of it. There are many more out there; this is just a quick five that should no longer escape your collection.
5. D-Nice “Call Me D-Nice” (1990)
D-Nice, the youngest original member of Boogie Down Productions takes to the mic for his own record. Not only does he do all of the rapping, but he produced the album, as well. Once you hear the bass line in the title track, it will stay with you for the rest of your life. Other notable tracks on this release are “Glory” and “Crumbs on the Table”. Don’t believe that KRS is the beginning and end of BDP, get this record.
4. Black Moon “Enta Da Stage” (1993)
Buckshot and 5 Foot on the mic with the Beatminerz doing the production; how can you go wrong? This album showcases Buckshot at his absolute best. He is rapping about being a general menace to society, and he doesn’t care. Memorable tracks on this record are “Buck Em Down”, “How Many MC’s” and “Who Got Da Props?”. With so many artists coming out of New York in the early 90s, this Black Moon record gets overlooked too often. It is never mentioned in discussions about “classic records”, but it is one that should be in every fan’s collection.
3. Gravediggaz “6 Feet Deep” (1994)
Prince Paul (The Undertaker), Frukwan (The Gatekeeper), Too Poetic (The Grym Reaper) and RZA (The Rzarector) come together like a giant Hip Hop Voltron to form Gravediggaz. Horrorcore was a very small sub-category of rap that also included Flatlinerz. “6 Feet Deep” benefits from the production talents of Prince Paul and RZA; two Hip Hop visionary song makers. “Diary of a Madman” is the track on this record to listen to, and shows RZA and Frukwan at their best. Horrorcore was laughed off by many, but this record stands out in the crowd and deserves your attention.
2. Lord Finesse & DJ Mike Smooth – “Funky Technician” (1990)
Produced by the incredible DJ Premier. Lord Finesse is at his most raw on this record. The future DITC member was an unknown entity when “Strictly For The Ladies” came around in 1990. Sampling everyone from Big Daddy Kane to the Honey Drippers, Finesse made his mark quickly. This is one of the first records produced by Preem, and you can see the genius being born. Notable tracks are “Strictly For The Ladies”, “Funky Technician” and “Track the Movement.”
1. Schoolly D “Schoolly D” (1985)
This six track debut effort from Schoolly D can be considered the birth of “Gangsta Rap”. The funny thing about that is Schoolly isn’t from Compton, but from Philadelphia, PA. Don’t let the media fool you; N.W.A. may have brought Gangsta Rap to the forefront, but Schoolly is its Father. This album hits you hard with songs like “Put Your Filas On”, “P.S.K, What Does it Mean?” and “Gucci Time.” To hear Schoolly D say “Lookin’ at my Gucci, it’s about that time” will remind you of so many other songs, because it has been sampled so many times. Don’t miss out on this one.