The Top 20 Disappointing Albums From Elite Artists
20. Mobb Deep - Infamy
The fourth effort from QB’s most infamous can arguably be seen as their weakest effort. On the heels of Jay-Z’s “Takeover”, where he took P to task on the song, P did his best to accentuate his tough-guy talk that earned him such a following. The result had him and co-defendant Hav releasing an album that was all tough guy mantra, but sub par lyricism.
While Hav began his upward climb lyrically, P fell to an all-time low. Furthermore, this was missing the chill factor that their prior classics of The Infamous and Hell On Earth contained. They eventually recovered, although it took a few projects to do so.
19. Redman - Reggie
This is one of those bad decisions every artist makes along their discography. Redman, up to this point, had put out banger after banger, with Muddy Waters being his most revered and celebrated. However, he wanted to introduce us to “Reggie”, his self-professed alter-ego even though it’s actually his real name.
The album that followed was anything but his best in terms of the thumping, blunted Hip Hop we had been used to from him. With pop-sounding tracks plus his excessive use of auto-tune, this was anything but the Redman we knew. Fortunately, he reemerged with last year’s EP, Mudface, which brought us back the Sooperman Luva we all knew and loved, but this experimental album was not a great one.
18. Eminem - Encore
Mr. Mathers is known as one of Hip Hop’s craziest lyricists ever. This was apparent on his prior three releases: The Slim Shady LP, his brilliant Marshall Mathers LP, and the almost equally incredible The Eminem Show.
However, he was also at the height of his drug-induced frame of mind at this point. His love of recording was waning and he didn’t put as much heart musically as we had seen up to this point. Don’t misunderstand me, this album has some high points such as the controversial “Mosh” and “Like Toy Soldiers”, but overall this became known as the beginning of his end in terms of cohesive full-length albums, even though Recovery was pretty damn good as well.
17. Canibus - Can-I-Bus
The debut from the one-time Wyclef protege was seen as a bust. Fresh from knocking people on their asses with “Second Round K.O.”, expectations were high, but definitely failed to deliver on the promising potential he had amassed. For every one decent spot like “Buckingham Palace” and “I Honor U”, the rest were mediocre to borderline terrible. Most of the rest of his albums have been fairly bad to worse than this, until he met up with former Jedi Mind Tricks’ producer Stoupe for his album Rip The Jacker. We wish he had more albums like that instead of this. Lyrics were never his problem, the accompanying beats were.
16. 50 Cent - Curtis
There wasn’t a more explosive cat from Queens during the early millennium than the dude name ‘Fiddy’. His classic debut, Get Rich Or Die Tryin’, launched him into the stratosphere with nearly Diamond units sold, and then continued with his sophomore album, The Massacre, which sold nearly one point five million in one week.
His third album, however, went more into the pop arena and it showed in to critical dismay. Although cuts like “Amusement Park”, “I Get Money” and “Fully Loaded Clip” were signature 50, the rest of the album suffered from lackadaisical lyrics and average production. It didn’t help that it was released the same day as Kanye’s exceptional Graduation album, which showed in relatively low number for Mr. Jackson. Although it’s been a struggle to get back to the acclaim his first two albums garnered, he’s sounding better than albums like this at least.
15. Goodie Mob - World Party
Innovators of the ATL sound, and originators of the term “Dirty South”, Goodie Mob made quite a statement in ’95 when they released their classic debut, Soul Food, and followed it up with an equally amazing effort in Still Standing.
However, in the quest to achieve Platinum status, they sacrificed their sound for more of a Pop appeal and not bringing as much soul and consciousness as the first album, thus including the word ‘party’ into their title. The album lacked a huge part of what made them such critical darlings, not just in the South but in all of Hip Hop. This was the last album they made before the break-up and we saw the emergence of the solo career of Cee-Lo Green. They reassembled two years for their somewhat decent album Age Against The Machine, but it was this album that started the fall of the Goodie Mo crew.
14. Method Man - Tical 0: The Prequel
In terms of overall presence and star appeal, there was none that accentuated that more from the Wu than the M-E-T-H-O-D Man. His debut, Tical, is still regarded as one of the single highlights not just within the Wu camp, but in all of the game to this very day. His follow-up, Tical 2: Judgement Day, was not as brooding or gutter as the debut, but was nonetheless very strong and had more focused lyricism and production.
Getting word from Def Jam that he needed to aim for more of a Pop/commercially accessible sound, he got up with Diddy and then Bad Boy A&R Harve Pierre for his third effort, Tical 0: The Prequel. Truthfully, this is one of those albums, that wouldn’t have sounded too great with anyone not under the Bad Boy label at this time, much less Mr. Mef. While the first single with Busta Rhymes “What’s Happening” wasn’t bad, nor were other cuts like “The Motto” and especially the Raekwon-assisted “The Turn”, this was not his style of album, and he was vocally displeased about it later.
He attempted to correct his mistakes with 4;21…The Day After, which by all accounts was a very decent follow-up and was a lot more enjoyable. His most recent album, The Mef Lab, was also considered a disappointment. Here’s to hoping his final album, Crystal Method, will be the sizzler we all know he’s more than capable of bringing.
13. Puff Daddy - Forever
By all accounts, Mr. Combs, himself, has openly admitted he’s not a rapper, he’s an entertainer. With that being said, we really shouldn’t be surprised that he hasn’t made a sure shot fantastic album on his own…EVER.
His debut with The Family, No Way Out, was by far his magnum opus, with radio-friendly, yet excellent, production. However, he has yet to assemble an album on his own that is captivating. This is a great example. While this is deliberately made for the radio, this was a rather skippable album (although it’s a hard toss up between this one and his album Press Play as to which one is worse). Below average performances from most guests on the album and average production makes this among his worst albums to date.
12. Noreaga - Melvin Flynt: Da Hustler
In ’97, Hip Hop had been presented its new bloodbath classic in The War Report, courtesy of the Lefrak City/QB connection, Capone-N’-Noreaga. However, the majority of the album was done by Noreaga and then mentor Tragedy Khadafi, as Capone was serving a bid when the album was released. Nore decided to do the solo thing until his co-defendant came home, and he delivered his very dope debut, N.O.R.E. (Niggaz On the Run Eatin’) in ’98. Unfortunately, tragedy struck when Noreaga’s father passed just before he started recording his sophomore follow-up, Melvin Flynt. He did, but the album sounded uninspired and lacking the same hunger as his debut. We will give him a pass on this one because of that reason, for it’s something we can all sympathize with, but with albums that followed like God’s Favorite and his reunion album with Capone, The Reunion, he more than made up for it.
11. Raekwon - Immobilarity
The “chef” of the Wu has long been considered one of the more gritty and impassioned storytellers from the camp. His debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…, is considered one of Hip Hop’s best gems and a classic in every sense.
The anticipation was on for his sophomore effort, and it was met with less than favorable results. For starters, there was no RZA influence. None. Zero. There was also little Wu involvement in terms of guests as well, with the exception of Meth on “Fuck Them” and Masta Killa on the exquisite “The Table”. This wouldn’t have been a bad album necessarily if we didn’t already know what to expect from him. This, to nobody’s surprise, is considered his worst album, and fortunately he hasn’t made another one this mediocre since (although some are saying his most recent F.I.L.A. comes close).
10. Jay-Z - Magna Carta Holy Grail
The almighty Hovi is on this list, and in fact, he should’ve been on the list at least one other time. While we can never deny stellar albums like his memorable debut, Reasonable Doubt, and albums like Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life and The Black Album, he has also had missteps like this one. This, in no way, shape, or form, ranks among his most inspired or his hungriest. In fact, everything on this album is just…well…average, and even at times mediocre. Some consider his Blueprint 2 or Kingdom Come his worst, but both of those albums are in better sonic places than this one. I guess that, because he’s a “business, man”, he doesn’t have to still come correct on that microphone. This was the best example of that statement by far.
9. Ma$e- Welcome Back
The former rapper-turned-pastor-turned-rapper again first debuted with his debut smash album, Harlem World, in ’97, and it was a charming, non tough guy-esque, blatant radio-accessible album, and it garnered him two Platinum plaques. His sophomore album, Double Up, didn’t strike quite as hard, but it nevertheless was a decent album to rotate. However, once he left the stage for the pulpit, Mason Betha could’ve cared less about the Hip Hop world.
After lots of thought, and chances are lots of outside influence, he returned with Welcome Back, to much criticism, but not just from his faithful flock and the Christian community. The album was just as radio friendly as his debut and squeaky clean language, but the content and the production was very subpar. This had good heart, but the album just was below many people’s expectations and is just very skippable altogether.
8. Jay-Z & R. Kelly - Unfinished Business
This was just nothing less than a very bitter disappointment. Their collaborative debut, Best Of Both Worlds, was met with mixed reviews then, as there was clear drama between the two and it affected the recording of the album. While a slight, and I do emphasize that word, improvement, it still was considered a flop, especially on a critical level. After this project, they never worked with each other again, and this was the death blow.
7. Wiz Khalifa - O.N.I.F.C.
Truth be told, I can’t truly say I really can recall a great album from Wiz, post-major label signing. His underground stuff was actually dope and is what garnered him his fan base to start with. After his major debut, Rolling Papers, it went downhill from there. Aside from the fact that everything was formulaic in terms of just rapping about pussy, money, and weed, the production was bland and boring. He hasn’t learned his lesson since. Good artist overall, bad series of albums.
6. Nas - Nastradamus
There’s no denying the fact that Illmatic is considered by many as the greatest Hip Hop album of all-time. Its author, Nas, was seen as Hip Hop’s next prophet and became the ghetto’s own Langston Hughes. His sophomore album, It Was Written, failed short of Illmatic expectations (in hindsight that was unfair to do in the first place), but was still an excellent album, plus still stands as his most commercially successful album to date. His next album was
His next album was I Am…The Autobiography. The original plans for it were for it to be a double album, but due to rampant bootlegging, the album got split up, with some tracks going to I Am, some for mixtapes, and others to get released for his fourth effort, Nastradamus. While the revamped version of I Am was still very good and underappreciated, it was Nastradamus that was the bad hand. In all due respect, the album isn’t THAT bad, as tracks like “Project Window”, “Life We Chose” and “God Love Us” were quite profound, but it’s nowhere near the load and acclaim of his prior work. Partially due to him wanting to get more radio spins again, but suffered from overall bland production and lack of cohesiveness.
This was undeniably his weakest effort, but fortunately he hasn’t made the same mistake twice.
5. Common - Electric Circus
It’s not many times we say Common and disappointing in the same sentence. One of Hip Hop’s most prolific and enduring emcees has crafted many outstanding pieces of work, most notably the practically perfect BE.
However, in 2002, Lonnie Rashid Lynn followed up his exceptional Like Water For Chocolate with this very unique and experimental album. While not necessarily a WACK album per se, it was just a way different, very eclectic album. One that sonically challenges the listener as it often times contains very ethereal production from the likes of Quest-Love and the late icon Dilla and The Neptunes, who did Hip Hop’s best love song by far “Come Close”.
By his own admission, he wasn’t feeling Hip Hop at that time so he put in every other genre except Hip Hop. Perhaps this is a slight more so for the listener more so than the artist, but to those of us that had known his prior work, this had Erykah Badu written all over it, as this was, in many aspects, NOT the Common we knew. Thank GOD he came back with BE, and all but eliminated the fact that this experimental album even existed.
4. Jay-Z & R. Kelly - Best Of Both Worlds
This was supposed to be a game changer. Something that been long talked about for years. Bridging the Hip Hop and R&B worlds together was going to be the next big thing. The best from each genre coming together for a joint project.
The result: a monster fail. Although the album went platinum, the project appeared as lazy, and the start of the in-fighting between the two started to emerge. This became a slippery slope for what could’ve been a trailblazing album.
3. The Firm - The Firm: The Album
One of Hip Hop’s most anticipated supergroups was The Firm, headed by Nas, and featured Brooklyn diva Foxy Brown, close homie AZ, and at that time QB cohort Cormega. Fresh off the standout track “Affirmative Action” from Nas’ It Was Written, they decided to do a full-length Hip Hop album. On top of that, this was a joint venture between at-that-time poppin’ production team Trackmasters and the almighty good doctor himself, Dr. Dre.
How could this possibly go wrong? That’s what we may still may be trying to figure out. Before the album was even released, Cormega was ousted and QB upstart Nature was brought in, thus indicating inner turmoil. The album, itself, was just a great disappointment and almost a practical failure. Although cuts like the fantastic “Phone Tap” and “Firm Fiasco” were ridiculous, unfortunately the rest of the album couldn’t keep up and couldn’t withstand the weight, much less the expectations.
While not necessarily WACK, this is still surely underwhelming and one of Hip Hop’s greatest disappointments.
2. Ja-Rule - Blood In My Eye
Say what you will, Jeffery Atkins had hits, lots of them. Before the whole Murder Inc./G-Unit war, he was churning out top ten smash after top ten smash, with a few hitting number one. In this desparate attempt to be all the way street and solidify his hard street cred, he came with this album, who had Benzino as his ally to back him up, as well as former Outlaw, the late Hussein fatal.
The album was dedicated to going after those who had been dissing him like the aforementioned G-Unit, Shady Records, and DMX. He tried WAY too hard, likely at the influence of Irv Gotti, and it was just disastrous. This was the truly the end of the Shady/G-Unit vs. Murder Inc war, and after this album Rule had no choice but to wave the white flag.
1. Lil’ Wayne - Rebirth
The legacy of Lil’ Wayne is that of being one of the game’s most polarizing, yet indisputably talented, emcees over the last twenty years of him picking up a mic.
Becoming a juggernaut in the mid-millennium, his albums have mostly been easy to digest and, in the case of The Carter III, win him a million fans within a week. Wayne, wanting to push his artistic envelope, embraced the rocker/skater lifestyle, thus presenting Rebirth, an album filled with themes that almost sound a parody of a rock album.
This should be an embarrassment to the rock community, because it damn sure is to the Hip Hop world. Maybe that was his point, to not make anything that had to do with Hip Hop (see Common from earlier), but even with this being a non-Hip Hop album, this is still a disgraceful album that should’ve never left the cutting room floor. Not only are his lyrics excessively tacky and juvenile (no pun intended longtime Cash Money heads), but the production is just inexcusable.
Thankfully, this experimental album of his has only been attempted once, and let’s hope this part of his musical life is gone forever.
Other disappointments include:
Master P – Only God Can Judge Me Wasn’t sure if this or Ghetto Postage belonged on this list. Both stunk up the joint.
Kris Kross – Da Bomb Nothing worse than hearing good kids turn hardcore, but that what we got with these cats’ sophomore album. RIP Mac Daddy!
Brand Nubian – Everything Is Everything Not even close to the parameter set by One For All, or even for that matter In God We Trust.
T.I. – No Mercy Many consider this his weakest piece of work, and based upon his past dope material, I’m inclined to agree
Busta Rhymes – Back On My B.S. Hands down his worst project to date, and that’s saying something considering It Ain’t Safe No More was a let down as well
Juvenile – Project English Trying to capitalize off his breakout 400 Degreez album, he tried to duplicate the success of it, to no avail.
Common – UMC Although not the messiness Electric Circus was, this was still in all rights a sub-par album from the one who brought us Resurrection and Like Water For Chocolate before this one
Main Source – Fuck What U Think It’s hard to follow-up an INCREDIBLE debut like Breakin’ Atoms, but once Large Pro left and replaced with Mikey D, not only was it not the same, it was worth shaking your head over.
Pras – Win, Lose, Or Draw Has he really done anything on his own that was worth meriting? His Ghetto Superstar debut was barely acceptable, but this album…???
2Pac – Loyal To The Game This is NOT the type of album Pac would approve of. No diss to Em, but this just wouldn’t be it
Goodie Mob – One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show A Cee-Lo-less album made for a fail. They tried their best, but it was obvious who carried the group, and this was the result of it all.
Leaders Of the New School – T.I.M.E. The second, and last, album of L.O.N.S., caused by beefing among the group, primarily between Busta and Charlie Brown. Unfocused and no real vision, this album should’ve been better than it became.
Ras Kass – Rasassination Not a terrible album, overall, but compared to his later work like Van Gogh, Blasphemy, Eat Or Die, and especially his classic debut Soul On Ice, this was below standard. However, tracks like “Conceited Bastard” and “H20 Proof” were quite dope.
Nicky Minaj – Roman Reloaded Deliberate Pop album, and to this day remains unforgivable to many people.
The Game – The R.E.D. Album Much like fellow west coast native (and former rival) Ras Kass, this wasn’t a “bad” album per se, but compared to the rest of his strong discography, this doesn’t measure up.
Killah Priest – A View From Masada Incredible, intelligent lyricist, but not a formidable follow-up to his excellent debut, Heavy Mental.
DMX – Year of the Dog…Again The last bark from the dog, who had released banger after banger after banger up until this point. Unfortunately, Undisputed didn’t fare any better. Here’s to hoping X can get himself back together and hopefully can put out material we know he can bang out.
As you can tell, there’s almost as much to be ashamed of as to celebrate. While a lot of albums on this list weren’t essentially bad albums or terrible albums, most were either thoroughly disappointing or way below our levels of expectations when we know these artists were capable of putting out quality product. Fortunately, most on the list did redeem themselves quite nicely, so there’s a silver lining to all this. That’s all for now cats and dogs, see you on the next one!