This was another great year for Hip Hop, the second year of arguably the strongest 5 year period in Hip Hop ever – 1992 through 1996 – a period that would give us monumental releases from both coasts and from the South & Midwest as well. 1993 was a year filled with quality Hip Hop albums. We have selected the 40 best 1993 Hip Hop albums for this list. Agree? Disagree? Feel free to give your opinion in the comments!
Also read: Top 250 Hip Hop Albums Of All Time
1. Wu Tang Clan - Enter The Wu Tang (36 Chambers)
What can be said about this seminal album that hasn’t been said a thousand times over already? One of the most innovative, groundbreaking, influential, and important Hip Hop albums EVER. New York’s answer to Dr. Dre’s world-shaking The Chronic of the year previous. RZA’s incredible innovative production resulting in that trademark dirty and gritty Wu-Tang sound, complemented by 9 emcees who all bring their A-game and show crazy versatility and never-seen-before lyrical creativity: unbeatable.
Top tracks: Bring Da Ruckus | C.R.E.A.M. | Protect Ya Neck | Da Mystery Of Chessboxin’
2. A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Marauders
Almost a toss-up for the number one spot on this list, that is how good this album is. Arguably less groundbreaking and epic than Wu-Tang’s Enter The Wu-Tang, Midnight Marauders is a Hip Hop super classic in its own right. Faced with the impossible task of following up on the flawless masterpiece that is The Low End Theory, Tribe delivered an album that is every bit as awesome as its predecessor. There can be no greater praise. As fresh today as it was on the day it was released: the mark of a true classic.
Top tracks: Electric Relaxation | Award Tour | Oh My God | We Can Get Down
3. Snoop Doggy Dogg - Doggystyle
In the pre-internet and Social Media days, when music promotion was a whole different ballgame, there have been few albums that were as hyped and anticipated as Snoop Doggy Dogg‘s solo debut. Having made an incredible impression with his unique style on Dr. Dre’s “Deep Cover” single and later as the top emcee on Dre’s monumental The Chronic, Snoop was hailed as Hip Hop’s next superstar.
With mentor Dr. Dre on the boards, Doggystyle managed to meet the crazy high expectations – no mean feat. An all-around Hip Hop classic, on the West Coast arguably only surpassed in ‘classic-ness’ by N.W.A.’s Straight Outta Compton and Dre’s The Chronic, Doggystyle is and always will be Snoop Dogg’s magnum opus.
Top tracks: Gin & Juice | Murder Was The Case | Gz & Hustlas | Da Shiznit
4. De La Soul - Buhloone Mind State
De La Soul‘s third album, De La Soul’s third classic. Few groups in Hip Hop, if any, can boast both the longevity and consistency De La Soul has shown over the years. Buhloone Mind State may be the most underappreciated album of De La Soul’s first four. The reason for that probably is that it has less commercial appeal than the others. Artistically it is every bit as strong, though – cohesive and consistent throughout – an artistic peak for both De La Soul and producer Prince Paul. De La Soul’s first four albums are all classics, this one is definitely up there with the best of them.
Top tracks: Ego Trippin Pt 2 | I Am I Be | Breakadawn | Area
5. KRS One - Return Of The Boom Bap
After 5 albums as Boogie Down Productions, KRS One decided to start releasing albums under his own name. In his 30-year career, KRS dropped many classic albums – this one ranks with the best of them. Lyrics, flow, delivery, message, beats, diversity – this album has everything. You know you can’t go wrong with KRS One, and with the likes of DJ Premier, Showbiz, Kid Capri, and KRS himself on the boards the result has to be a classic.
Top tracks: Sounds Of Police | Outta Here | Mad Crew | Return of The Boom Bap
6. Black Moon - Enta Da Stage
What’s the definition of a classic album? It has to be ‘timeless’, contain no filler tracks, have endless replay value and it has to be groundbreaking and influential. Enta Da Stage is such an album. Rough, rugged & raw, the epitome of the early 90s NYC street sound.
Top tracks: Who Got Da Props | How Many MCs | I Gotcha Opin | Buck Em Down
7. Freestyle Fellowship - Innercity Griots
The follow-up to their dope but somewhat rough around the edges debut To Whom It May Concern. With this sophomore effort, Freestyle Fellowship deliver the goods. The jazzy production provides the atypical backdrop for a West Coast album, but perfectly complements the lyricism – and that’s what this album is all about. Conscious, humorous, clever, versatile: emcees Mikah 9, P.E.A.C.E., Self Jupiter, and Aceyalone bring it all.
Top tracks: Respect Due | Everything’s Everything | Heavyweights | Innercity Boundaries
8. Souls Of Mischief - 93 'Til Infinty
Together with Hieroglyphics‘ 1998 group album 3rd Eye Vision, this album is the crown jewel in Hieroglyphics’ all-around excellent catalog.
Souls Of Mischief succeeded in dropping a West Coast album without the gangsta cliches, an album that sounds as fresh today as it did when it came out. Amazing, rapid-fire wordplay by Opio, Phesto, A-Plus, and Tajai, who flow together really well with intelligent, funny, and clever lyrics. Dope beats, dope rhymes – dope album.
Top tracks: 93 ‘Til Infinity | Live And Let Die | That’s When Ya Lost | Make Your Mind Up
9. Digable Planets - Reachin'
Smooth and jazzy, Digable Planets’ debut album deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, and The Roots albums of that era. All about positivity and empowerment, Digable Planets sadly flew a bit under the radar in a time when gun-toting gangsta posers started to get more and more of the spotlight.
Reachin’ was and is a flawless listen from start to finish though, an album that has definitely stood the test of time.
Top tracks: Where I’m From | Rebirth Of Slick | Nickel Bags | Escapism
10. Ultramagnetic MCs - The Four Horsemen
After their classic debut album Critical Beatdown (1988), Ultramagnetic MCs dropped their somewhat disappointing sophomore album Funk Your Head Up in 1992. They came back strong with this third album, however. Ced Gee and especially Kool Keith are in top form, and the production is tight.
Top tracks: Two Brothers with Checks (San Francisco, Harvey) | Raise it Up | Saga of Dandy, the Devil, & Day | One Two, One Two
11. Cypress Hill - Black Sunday
Cypress Hill is an act with massive crossover- and commercial appeal and this is the album that introduced them to new (non-Hip Hop) audiences all over the world. For Hip Hop purists perhaps not as enjoyable as their classic self-titled debut album, Black Sunday nevertheless is an entertaining listen, with a few classic tracks on it. There are some filler tracks too however and a few interludes that irritatingly break the flow of the album, but what makes this album a winner anyway is DJ Muggs’ terrific and utterly recognizable production work.
Top tracks: Insane In The Brain | I Ain’t Going Out Like That | When The Sh** Goes Down | Lick A Shot
12. 2Pac - Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z.
On his sophomore album, 2Pac hadn’t fully embraced his thug persona yet (and some might say it’s better for it). Still looking for his ‘style’, Pac’s raw talent and powerful charisma are already fully on display here – which makes this album the perfect stepping stone to his real break-out album Me Against The World.
Strictly For My N.I.G.G.A.Z. has that raw, sometimes a bit unpolished, underground feel to it and it’s less consistent (production-wise) as the following albums would be – but it is a classic album anyway, if only because it showed the world a legend in the making.
Top tracks: Keep Ya Head Up | Hollar If Ya Hear Me | I Get Around | Last Wordz
13. Lords Of The Underground - Here Come The Lords
Lords of the Underground are a group from Jersey consisting of Mr. Funke, DoItAll, and DJ Lord Jazz. Production on this album was handled by Marley Marl and K-Def. The production is inspired and the emcees’ delivery is full of energy and passion, in style somewhat similar to Das EFX and Fu-Schnickens but less gimmicky.
Top tracks: Chief Rocka | Funky Child | Here Come The Lords | Flow On
14. Queen Latifah - Black Reign
Although her debut album may have been more important as a trailblazer for female emcees, this third effort arguably is Queen Latifah‘s best record. Latifah’s charismatic and powerful personality really comes through on this album, as well as real and heartfelt emotion in some of the songs (partly due to personal tragedy prior to the recording of Black Reign). Most famous for the Grammy-winning anti-misogynist song U.N.I.T.Y., Black Reign has much more to offer.
Top tracks: U.N.I.T.Y. | Just Another Day | Superstar | Black Hand Side
15. Fat Joe - Represent
Before Fat Joe became a ‘pop’ star, he was a rugged and straightforward emcee. This debut album is a typical beats-and-rhymes record. Fat Joe’s rhymes are on point, but the real strength of this album is the rich New York-flavored D.I.T.C. beats, supplied by the likes of Lord Finesse, Showbiz, and Diamond D. A must-have for NYC boom-bap fans rap in general and D.I.T.C. fans in particular.
Top tracks: Flow Joe | Bad Bad Man | Livin’ Fat | Watch The Sound
16. Del - No Need For Alarm
Like Souls Of Mischief’s 93 Til Infinity, Del‘s second album is very much a Hieroglyphics group effort on the production side. Del is one of the few artists (like Masta Ace and Kool Keith) who manages to stay relevant and interesting by constantly reinventing himself. Del’s flow is distinctive and intelligent and his lyrics never drift into the gangsta posturing cliche that was prevalent in 1993, especially on the West Coast.
No Need For Alarm is a more mature album than his debut I Wish My Brother George Was Here, with a smoother sound and a solid display of Del’s lyricism and personality. This is a dope and important part of the Hieroglyphics catalog.
Top tracks: Catch A Bad One | Wack MCs | No Need For Alarm | Worldwide
17. Ice Cube - Lethal Injection
This album always polarized opinions. Many people will disagree with the position of Lethal Injection on this list just because it’s an Ice Cube album. Should this album be higher on this list? If it’s judged a bit harshly by this ranking, it’s because it falls short when compared to Ice Cube’s previous albums, especially his first two, AmeriKKKas Most Wanted and Death Certificate. On his first two Cube was still angry and hungry and didn’t hold anything back when it came to social commentary.
The real anger and hunger that were so typical of Ice Cube are mostly gone here. The album lacks a bit of punch and it also lacks real big singles like its predecessor The Predator had. What’s left is a solid and perfectly enjoyable album, with plenty of strong tracks, but also with some filler material.
Top tracks: Ghetto Bird | You Know How We Do It | Really Doe | When I Get To Heaven
18. The Roots - Organix
Raw, stripped down and unpolished, Organix sometimes almost feels like a demo tape or a jam session. The pure energy of it is part of the appeal, though. Clearly, The Roots were still looking for their style, but the talent and ambition are evident. Often overlooked, Organix is a crucial part of The Roots’ discography and it shouldn’t be slept on.
Top tracks: The Session | Pass The Popcorn | Leonard I-V | Grits
19. Masta Ace Inc. - Slaughtahouse
One of the most respected yet underrated artists in the game, Masta Ace always comes with something new, something different. Few are able to stay relevant by constantly reinventing themselves like Masta Ace is able to do. As always with Masta Ace, both the beats and the lyrics are superbly crafted. On this album, Ace criticizes the attitude of gangsta rap and the glamorization of violence. A refreshing point of view in a post-Chronic Hip Hop world, Masta Ace successfully ridicules gangsta poseurs and their brand of Hip Hop. A dope and intelligent album from start to finish, Slaughtahouse is an important document that was way ahead of its time.
Top tracks: Slaughtahouse | Boom Bashin | The Mad Wunz | Saturday Nite Live
20. Too Short - Get In Where You Fit In
Too Short‘s fifth studio (and eighth overall) album is one of the best in his quite extensive discography. Nothing new on the lyrical front, with Too Short you always know exactly what you’re going to get. The funky and bass-heavy production on this album is tight, which makes it a stand-out in a body of work with enough other really good albums. Like fellow Bay Area giant E-40, Too Short’s consistency and longevity are just impressive.
Top tracks: Get In Where You Fit In | Playboy Short | Gotta Get Some Lovin’ | I’m A Player
21. Geto Boys - Till Death Do Us Part
For Geto Boys‘ fourth album, Rap-A-Lot rapper Big Mike was brought in to replace Willie D, who had left the group after We Can’t Be Stopped. Although missing the chemistry Willie D had with Scarface and Bushwick, Big Mike is more than a competent emcee, who carries a lot of this album with his input. The lyrical content might not please everyone – as per usual with the Geto Boys – but musically this album is very accessible and enjoyable. Another solid entry in the Geto Boys discography and a Southern classic.
Top tracks: Six Feet Deep | G.E.T.O. | Straight Gangstaism | Raise It Up
22. Ice T - Home Invasion
Opinions are divided on this one. Lots of people feel that Ice-T’s heart wasn’t really in it (or he was too pissed off at the time of the recording of this album) and it’s almost universally recognized that Home Invasion can’t compare to its classic predecessor Original Gangster. Home Invasion may lack the fun, the energy, the consistency, and the overall quality of Original Gangster, but there’s still plenty to enjoy here.
Top tracks: It’s On| Gotta Lot Of Love | 99 Problems | That’s How I’m Livin’
23. Mac Mall - Illegal Business?
A typical product of the Bay Area of that time, E-40’s cousin’s debut album is a West Coast classic. Mac Mall (incredibly just 15 years old at the time of recording of this album) is on point lyrically with his tales of life on the streets, but what makes this album really stand out is the production. Producer Khayree gave Mac Mall an album full of amazing beats and deep bass, sounding as fresh today as it did 20 years ago. Don’t sleep on this album.
Top tracks: It’s All Good | Cold Sweat | Don’t Wanna See Me | Versatile
24. Scarface - The World Is Yours
Scarface is one of those artists that always brings consistent quality. Geto Boys’ most prolific member drops another solid album with The World Is Yours, his second solo album. Not his best album, but a good stepping stone to what arguably is his magnum opus, 1994’s classic The Diary.
Top tracks: Now I Feel Ya | Coming Agg | The Wall | Mr. Scarface, Part III: The Final Chapter
25. The Coup - Kill My Landlord
Oakland’s The Coup always occupied their own little niche in Hip Hop. Thoughtful, intelligent, and socially conscious lyrics over Boots Riley’s fantastic funky beats – this debut album is underrated and a slept-on gem, the first in a series of excellent albums.
Top tracks: Dig It | Not Yet Free | The Coup | Kill My Landlord
26. Leaders Of The New School - T.I.M.E.
An album that was underappreciated at the time of its release, but one that gained more recognition as time went by. Dense, complex, and abstract, it may be hard to get into at first, but the experience is ultimately rewarding. Unfortunately, this would be LONS’ last album, due to internal tensions largely because of the high profile and popularity of Busta Rhymes, whose larger-than-life personality seemed to undermine the ‘group-feel’. Nevertheless, L.O.N.S. left us two excellent albums – and although not as good as their debut, this is one of them.
Top tracks: Classic Material | Syntax Era | Connections | The Difference
27. Tha Alkoholiks - 21 & Over
A West Coast party classic, this short album (10 tracks clocking in under 40 minutes) is all about fun. Not taking themselves too seriously, Tha Alkoholiks – with the help of mentor King Tee – debuted with this funky banger without any filler tracks.
Top tracks: Likwit | Only When I’m Drunk | Turn Tha Party Out | Make Room
28. King Tee - Tha Triflin Album
Much like his protegees Tha Alkoholiks’ 21 & Over album, King Tee’s own 1993 release is a quality and all-around fun album. The L.A. legend dropped a number of dope albums in the late 80s and early 90s, this one is the most successful and arguably his best.
Top tracks: I Got It Bad Y’all | Black Togetha Again | Blow My Sox Off | Just Flauntin’
29. Intelligent Hoodlum - Tragedy: Saga Of A Hoodlum
Like his debut album, this album is shamefully slept on. Compared to his debut, Tragedy’s second album shows a more mature emcee with a little grittier tone of voice. Production is dope NYC boom-bap and lyrically the album is intelligent, thought-provoking, and socially conscious – typical Tragedy Khadafi.
Top tracks: Grand Groove | The Posse | Street Life | Mad Brothas Know His Name
30. Naughty By Nature - 19 Naughty III
Another solid album from Naughty By Nature. Like the previous one, this album does everything right: tight production by KayGee complemented by Treach’s unbeatable flow. NBN’s problem always was that they had one leg in the streets and one leg in the clubs/charts – and this combination didn’t quite work for everybody. Nevertheless, this is a totally enjoyable album and one of NBN’s best.
Top tracks: Hip Hop Hooray | It’s On | The Hood Comes First | Hot Potato
31. Onyx - Bacdafucup
Onyx: a hate ’em or love ’em kind of group. If you’re not into the ‘grimy’/screaming style of rapping you will not like this album. If you do, this album is pure gold. Excellent production by Jam Master Jay (among others) – the typical sound out of NYC that year, but done better than most. Onyx oozes pure energy, menace, and hardcore attitude. A totally entertaining and very consistent album, one that has stood the test of time without a doubt.
Top tracks: Slam | Throw Ya Gunz | Bichasniguz | Atak Of Da Bal-Hedz
32. Eightball & MJG -Comin' Out Hard
This is an early Southern classic. Memphis legends Eightball & MJG played an important part in the rise of Southern Hip Hop, together with groups like UGK and Geto Boys in Houston and Outkast and Goodie Mobb in Atlanta. Deep, bass-heavy beats and tales of pimping and gangsta antics, these cats cover that played out subject matter better than most.
Top tracks: Pimps | Comin’ Out Hard | Armed Robbery | Mr Big
33. MC Ren - Shock Of The Hour
Like most of MC Ren‘s solo work, Shock Of The Hour is underrated. Lyrically diverse (with lyrics that may be hard to digest for some) and sonically consistent (dark, eery, and atmospheric) from start to finish – this is a more than a solid album from N.W.A.’s ruthless villain.
Top tracks: F*** What Ya Heard | Same Old Sh** | Mayday On The Frontline | Do You Believe
34. K-Rino - Stories From The Black Book
K-Rino is a still active Houston legend and long-time regional favorite. He dropped a lot of albums over the years, Stories From The Black Book – his official debut – arguably his best in an all-around impressive discography. Praised for his lyrical abilities and variety in his subject matter (he was never just another gangsta rapper), K Rino delivered a slept-on masterpiece with this album.
Top tracks: Step Into The Mind | Stories From The Black Book | Ultimate Flow | You Created A Monsta
35. Big Daddy Kane - Looks Like A Job For...
Big Daddy Kane is one of Hip Hop’s most respected emcees, universally recognized as one of the best to EVER do it. Strangely enough, he doesn’t have the discography to back up his legendary status as an emcee. His first two albums are bonafide Hip Hop classics, but the rest of his discography is quite inconsistent. Every one of his later albums contains one or two gems, but more tracks let down by weak production or misplaced attempts at a commercial / R&B-like sound – something that just doesn’t suit a killer lyricist like BDK. This album, BDK’s fifth, is somewhat of a return to form after his weaker third and fourth albums.
Top tracks: The Beef Is On | Stop Shammin’ | How U Get A Record Deal | Looks Like A Job For…
36. E-40 - Federal
Bay Area phenomenon E-40‘s official debut album, the first of the many, many albums E-40 would go on to release. Like Too Short, another Bay Area titan and pioneer, E-40 started recording in the mid-80s and sold his tapes out of his trunk. With Federal he drops an impressive debut album, consistent throughout and thoroughly enjoyable. E-40 always had his own “Bay Area” style and sound – maybe not for everyone, but you just have to respect the man’s consistent output.
Top tracks: Drought Season | Carlos Rossi | Hide N Seek | Let Him Have It
37. MC Lyte - Ain't No Other
MC Lyte followed the 1993 NYC trend and went for a harder – both lyrically and sonically – sound on her fourth album. The result is a little hit-or-miss (much like in LL Cool J’s case with his 1993 album). Lyte dropped two albums in the late 80s that are universally recognized as Hip Hop classics, especially her debut Lyte As A Rock. Her third album had more commercial sound and was somewhat less acclaimed. It looks like she tried to come back hard on this album, and overdid it a bit.
Lyte will always be one of the finest (f)emcees to ever do it, the beats on this album just do not always do her service. When it’s good, it’s great, but the album is a bit too long with a few tracks that don’t really work. Overall it’s a solid work though, and worth having if only because it’s an MC Lyte album.
Top tracks: Ruffneck | I Go On | Ain’t No Other | Brooklyn
38. LL Cool J - 14 Shots To The Dome
By 1993, LL Cool J already had 4 classic albums under his belt (well, 3 anyway). In the rapidly changing Hip Hop landscape, LL may have tried a bit too hard to emulate the ‘hardcore / grimy’ NYC sound of the time. Production on this album is a little all over the place, too loud sometimes and too bland elsewhere. Half of the tracks on this joint are classic LL, the other half not quite so strong. So: not a classic album by any means, but with enough dope tracks on it to deserve a place on this list anyway.
Top tracks: Back Seat | Funkadelic Relic | Crossroads | Straight From Queens
39. Poor Righteous Teachers - Black Business
Always coming correct on the socially-conscious Hip Hop front, PRT drop yet another dope album with this one. By 1993, conscious rap groups were getting drowned out by all the gangsta rap, but PRT always kept doing their thing and kept doing it well. Not for everyone, mainly because of the ragga infused sound, Black Business is an entertaining and consistent listen nevertheless.
Top tracks: Nobody Move | Here We Go Again | Ghetto We Love | Mi Fresh
40. Above The Law - Black Mafia Life
Not quite as perfect as Above The Law‘s 1990 debut album Livin’ Like Hustlers, but there’s still plenty to enjoy here. The production by G-Funk innovator Cold 187um is dope, but it is missing the magic touch of former affiliate Dr. Dre, who had already moved on by this time. The overall sound is a bit darker than on LLH but still funky as hell. Great cameos by 2Pac & Money B, Kokane, MC Ren, and Eazy-E too. This is an album well worth having in your collection and a must-have for West Coast Hip Hop completists.
Top tracks: V.S.O.P. | Never Missin’A Beat | Commin’ Up | Game Wreck-Oniz-Iz Game
- Guru – Jazzmattaz
- Just Ice – Gun Talk
- Brand Nubian – In God We Trust
- Run DMC – Down With The King
- Jungle Brothers – J.Beez Wit The Remedy
- Digital Underground – The Body Hat Syndrome
- DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Code Red
- Kam – Neva Again
- B.O.N.E. Enterprise – Faces Of Death
- Mobb Deep – Juvenile Hell
- Das EFX – Straight Up Sewaside
- Erick Sermon – No Pressure
- Menace II Society Soundtrack
- Spice 1 – 187 He Wrote
- Funkdoobiest – Which Doobie U B?
- Kaos – International Dope Dealers
- Threat – Sickinnahead
- Domino – Domino
- MC Breed – The New Breed
- Original Flavor – Beyond Flavor
- Yall So Stupid – Van Full Of Pakistans
- Capital Tax – The Swoll Package
- Trends Of Culture – Trendz
- Illegal – The Untold Truth
- Da Youngstas – The Aftermath
- Rumpletilskinz – What Is A Rumpletilskin?
- Prime Minister Pete Nice & Daddy Rich – Dust to Dust
- Brokin English Klik – Brokin English Klik
- Ant Banks – Sittin’On Somethin’ Phat
- Bloods & Crips – Bangin’ On Wax
- Shaquille O’Neal – Shaq Diesel
- Yo Yo – You Better Ask Somebody
- Bo$$ – Born Gangstaz
- Esham – KKKil The Fetus
- Akinyele – Vagina Dinner
- The Click – Down & Dirty
- Mac Dre – Young Black Brother: The Album
- JT The Bigga Figga – Playaz In The Game
- DMG – Rigormortiz
- Da King & I – Temporary Jeep Music
- Mad Kap – Look Ma Duke, No Hands
- Blood Of Abraham – Future Profits
- The Conscious Daughters – Ear To The Street