Top 40 Hip Hop Albums 2000: this was a strong year for Hip Hop, with a couple a mega-selling mainstream classics (Eminem, OutKast) and lots of strong underground releases too. For this piece, we have complied OUR top 40 Hip Hop albums 2000 list (not included are EP’s, compilations, or instrumental albums). What do YOU think?
1. Eminem - The Marshall Mathers LP
Eminem in his prime, lyrically unbeatable. Released after his breakthrough The Slim Shady LP (1999) and before the excellent The Eminem Show (2002), The Marshall Mathers LP still stands as Eminem’s magnum opus – the middle of an impressive three-album run and one of the best-selling Hip Hop albums ever.
Top tracks: Stan | Kill You | The Way I Am | The Real Slim Shady
2. Deltron 3030 - Deltron 3030
Simply brilliant. One of the best concept albums ever created, this collaboration between producer Dan the Automator (as The Cantankerous Captain Aptos), rapper Del the Funky Homosapien (as Deltron Zero/Deltron Osiris), and DJ Kid Koala (as Skiznod the Boy Wonder) is as timeless a piece of music as it gets. Literally too – as it is set in the year 3030, telling about the fight by Deltron Zero against huge corporations that rule the universe. A challenging listen maybe, but ultimately extremely rewarding – a milestone not just for Hip Hop, but for music in general.
Top tracks: 3030 | Virus | Positive Contact | Love Story
3. Ghostface Killah - Supreme Clientele
No sophomore slump for Ghostface Killah. Where most of his Wu-Tang colleagues struggled (and failed…) to follow-up their classic solo debuts with worthy follow-ups, Ghostface even surpassed his awesome debut Ironman with Supreme Clientele. If not for the little lag – with a few skits too many – in the middle of the album, Supreme Clientele would have been an absolute Hip Hop classic. As it is, it’s still a monumental album, and Ghostface’s very best in an all-around strong catalog.
Top tracks: One | Apollo Kids | Mighty Healthy | Wu Banga 101
4. Common - Like Water For Chocolate
Common‘s best album? In an overall excellent discography, Like Water For Chocolate certainly is up there as one of Common’s best, together with Resurrection, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, the recent Black America Again, and the monumental BE – arguably Common’s absolute best.
Like Water For Chocolate is just about as good as BE is though, and it is one of those rare albums that musically transcends the genre of Hip Hop but at the same time is pure Hip Hop to the core. With jazzy and soulful production work from the likes of Questlove, J Dilla, and DJ Premier, and with Common in top form on the mic – this truly is a masterpiece that has aged like a fine wine.
Top tracks: The Light | 6th Sense | Doonit | The Questions
5. OutKast - Stankonia
OutKast‘s fourth album is yet another excellent effort from the Southern giants. Stankonia is a musical masterpiece, as was Aquemini, as was ATLiens, and as was their debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, and it cemented OutKast’s status as one of Hip Hop biggest and best-selling acts ever.
Top tracks: So Fresh So Clean | B.O.B. | Ms. Jackson | Slum Beautiful
6. Reflection Eternal - Train Of Thought
Sometimes seen as part three in an unofficial trilogy, with part 1 and 2 being Black Star’s Mos Def And Talib Kweli Are Black Star and Mos Def’s Black on Both Sides, Talib Kweli’s and Hi-Tek’s Train Of Thought album is almost as brilliant as the other two. Hi-Tek comes with excellent production throughout and Talib Kweli once again proves he is a gifted emcee who can write meaningful lyrics and has the emcee skills to deliver them. No skippable tracks on this album – quality all the way. Intelligent, conscious, positive – Train Of Thought is an all-time Hip Hop classic.
Top tracks: This Means You | Soul Rebel | Ghetto Afterlife | Move Somethin
7. Jurassic 5 - Quality Control
Perfectly capturing that throwback Hip Hop vibe, this Californian crew are all about flawless emceeing over dope instrumentals. Chali 2na, Mark 7even, Zaakir, and Akil can flow and harmonize with the best of them. while DJ Nu-Mark and the legendary DJ CutChemist add value with the beats and cuts they provide. Much needed upbeat Hip Hop in times when materialism and violence of gangsta wannabes dominated the mainstream.
Top tracks: The Influence | Swing Set | Great Expectations | Quality Control
8. dead prez - Lets Get Free
In an era where conscious Hip Hop had long lost the spotlight to empty-headed materialism and violence, dead prez was one of the crews who kept the tradition started by Public Enemy and KRS-One alive: bringing intelligent, socially and politically charged messages over some kick-ass beats. Whether you agree with all of dead prez’s points of view or not, you can’t deny the power of their messages. Amidst all the bling-bling, materialistic, candy-coated ‘I wanna be a gangsta’ rap pumped out by the rap factories like No Limit and Cash Money Records, this Hip Hop album for the thinking man was an undeniable breath of fresh air.
Top tracks: Hip Hop | Police State | Animal In Man | Assassination
9. Slum Village - Fantastic, Vol. 2
Pretty much everything J Dilla has been involved in bears the mark of pure quality, and this official debut album from Detroit’s Slum Village is no exception. Brilliantly produced, this is an album you will appreciate more for the beats than for the lyrics, and that’s perfectly fine. Some great guest spots, great vibe – this is an album for the ages.
Top tracks: Get Dis Money | Conant Gardens | I Don’t Know | Thelonius
10. Binary Star - Masters Of The Universe
One of the most slept-on albums of the year (or the decade even) is Binary Star’s Masters Of The Universe. Where dumbed down factory rap is selling millions of copies, this gem of an album sold less than 50.000 units, which is crazy when you think about it. Binary Star’s One Be Lo and Senim Silla, along with producer Decompoze, give us intelligent lyrics, great flows, captivating soundscapes, and dope beats – what more should a Hip Hop album offer?
Top tracks: Reality Check | Conquistadors | Fellowship | Indy 500
11. Zion I - Mind Over Matter
This Oakland-based crew is yet another example of how real Hip Hop survived the West Coast gangsta craze and is still alive and kicking. Positive, socially conscious lyrics over innovative beats and live instrumentation – this is an awesome album.
Top tracks: Critical | Elevation | Revolution (B-Boy Anthem) | Fools Gold
12. Jedi Mind Tricks - Violent By Design
Violent By Design is Jedi Mind Tricks’ sophomore outing and another great album from the underrated Philly crew. Vinnie Paz & co. rip the tracks on this album with sick flows and clever punchlines. The beats provided by Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind and Mr. Len are as good as you could wish for, which makes the total package an excellent album from one the greatest and most underrated crews in the game.
Top tracks: Heavenly Divine | Sacrifice | The Deer Hunter | Retaliation
13. Quasimoto - The Unseen
Experimental and left-field, this album from Madlib’s alter ego Quasimoto is sure to satisfy the taste buds of those who are into layered, metaphorically and musically complex compositions. Mindblowingly creative, filled with jazzy loop and breaks, short songs, interludes, and Lord Quas’ off-the-wall high-pitched rhyme style, The Unseen feels more like a musical tapestry than a conventionally structured album. The Unseen probably is a hate-it-or-love-it kind of affair, but there is no denying Madlib’s particular brand of genius.
Top tracks: Microphone Mathematics | Return Of The Loop Digga | Real Eyes | Boom Music
14. Del The Funky Homosapien - Both Sides Of The Brain
Del’s fourth solo album – almost entirely self-produced – is another great album from the Hieroglyphics crew frontman. Dell’s dope, innovative beats combined with his clever lyrics, complex rhyme schemes, and great flow & delivery make this one of his best solo outings. Don’t sleep on Both Sides Of The Brain.
Top tracks: Pet Peeves | Press Rewind | BM’s | Stay On Your Toes
15. Masters Of Illusion presented by KutMasta Kurt
Kutmasta Kurt arguably is the only beatmaker that has ever fully understood Keith’s style and who was able to provide him with the most suitable framework for his lyrical expressions on multiple projects. Besides Sex Style and First Come First Served, Masters Of Illusion is their best collaboration.
On this album, Kool Keith is paired up with Bay Area rapper Motion Man. Both emcees spit great rhymes over Kutmasta Kurt’s stellar old-school-style production. As always Kurt provides beautiful boom-bap beats complemented with some real scratching & cutting. Plenty of excellent cuts on this one, but you have to check out “The Bay-Bronx Bridge” – a perfect throwback old-school flavored Ultramagnetic track. Make no mistake – this is a GREAT, 100% Hip Hop album.
16. Bumpy Knuckles (Freddie Foxxx) - Industry Shakedown
After killing it in numerous guest appearances on other artists songs for over a decade, Freddie Foxxx’s third album – after the hard to find Freddie Foxxx Is Here (1989) and Crazy Like a Foxxx (1994) – is his best, and one of the most overlooked albums of the year.
Independently released on Foxxx’s own label, Industry Shakedown represents a true victory for real Hip Hop. Over thumping beats laid down by DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Diamond D, The Alchemist, and Freddie Foxxx himself, he spits his raw, hard-hitting lyrics track after track, taking no prisoners. Not for those who like commercial rap, only hardcore Hip Hop heads need to check this album out.
Top tracks: Industry Shakedown | Part Of My Life | MCs Come And MCs Go | Tell Em I’m Here
17. Wu-Tang Clan - The W
Does this third Wu-Tang Clan album match the classic-ness of their epic debut or the greatness of their monumental sophomore record? No, it doesn’t. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad album. In fact, it’s quite good – nice and tight at thirteen tracks, all but one produced by RZA. The W could have done with fewer guests (and without the unfortunate “Conditioner” track), but all in all, this is a more than solid addition to the Wu catalog.
Top tracks: Protect Ya Neck (The Jump Off) | Gravel Pit | Hollow Bones | I Can’t Go To Sleep
18. Aesop Rock - Float
Float is Aesop Rock‘s second full-length album and his first major release. For those who can only appreciate lyrics about money, guns, weed, and bitches, Aesop Rock’s left-field Hip Hop will be too complicated to digest. The epitome of underground Hip Hop with its experimental, industrial beats and Aesop’s razor-sharp, intricate rhymes, Float may be inaccessible for the mainstream listener, but is truly a gem for Hip Hop heads with a more refined taste. Float is a great album and a prelude of even greater Aesop Rock material to come.
Top tracks: Commencement At The Obedience Academy | Big Bang | Basic Cable | Fascination
19. Big L - The Big Picture
“A victim’s a mark / A sweatbox is a small club, a ticker’s your heart / Your apartment is your pad / Your old man is your dad / The studio is the lab and heated is mad / I know you like the way I’m freaking it / I talk with slang and I’mma never stop speaking it…”
Was this the sophomore album Big L had in mind after the (underground) success of his first album? We’ll never know because he was murdered before the album was finished. Released after his death, this posthumous release displays Big L’s insane lyrical skill, but also feels a bit incohesive somehow, because it is partly a collection of Big L’s unreleased work and his own finishing touch is missing. Be that as it may – The Big Picture contains some absolute classics and will forever be a sad reminder of a young life and possibly epic career tragically cut short.
Top tracks: Ebonics | The Heist | Flamboyant | Platinum Plus
20. Dilated Peoples - The Platform
This is another one of those ‘underground’ albums that is underrated as hell. Dope rhymes by Rakka-Iriscience and Evidence, with guest spots from B-Real, Aceyalone, Defari, Likwit Crew, Planet Asia, and Everlast, over banging beats provided by DJ Babu along with Alchemist, E-Swift, Joey Chavez, Ev, T-Ray, and Kutmasta Kurt – you can bet the result is real Hip Hop through and through.
Top tracks: Work The Angles | Right On | Triple Optics | Shape Of Things To Come
21. People Under the Stairs - Question In The Form Of An Answer
Another great People Under The Stairs album, an excellent sophomore effort that is even better than their dope debut The Next Step (1998). L.A. duo PUTS have released a bunch of very good records over the years, but this one still stands as one of their very best. No bling-bling crap here – PUTS give us mellow beats, positive messages, a perfect Golden Age vibe – don’t sleep on People Under The Stairs.
Top tracks: Youth Explosion | Suite For Creeper | Stern To Western | Blowin Wax
22. Foreign Legion - Kidnapper Van: Beats to Rock While Bike-Stealin'
Foreign Legion (Marc Stretch, Prozack Turner, and DJ Flip) released a slept-on gem with this album. Strictly underground, Kidnapper Van: Beats to Rock While Bike-Stealin’ showcases dope beats throughout and clever lyrics worth listening to. 100% pure uncut Hip Hop.
Top tracks: Full-Time B-Boy | Reference Check | Underground | Let Me Tell You Something
23. De La Soul - Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump
After 4 straight creative masterpieces (3ft High & Rising, De La Soul Is Dead, Buhloone Mindstate, and Stakes Is High), it was almost inevitable that De La Soul would one day release an album that is not an absolute classic. Even though Art Official Intelligence: Mosaic Thump may not be their most memorable or greatest effort, it still is heads and shoulders above most other Hip Hop released at the turn of the century. There are a few tracks and (Timbaland) beats that do not really work, but other than that AOI: Mosaic Thump is a solid album from one of Hip Hop’s best crews ever.
Top tracks: Oooh | My Writes | Set The Mood | Foolin
24. Beanie Sigel - The Truth
Beanie Sigel may not the best emcee to ever pick up the mic, but what makes him special is that he is REAL. Few are able to convey emotion the way Beanie Sigel can, you can feel him pouring his heart and soul into each and every track. Tight beats, ill flows – The Truth is a great debut from one of Roc-A-Fella’s best artists.
Top tracks: The Truth | Remember Them Days | What Ya Life Like | Ride 4 My
25. Rah Digga - Dirty Harriet
One of the best albums to come out of the Flipmode Squad. Rah Digga is sorely underrated as an emcee, easily one of the best female emcees to ever pick up the mic. Commendable for never resorting to Lil Kim/Foxy Brown ‘sex sells’ marketing tactics, Rah Digga delivers battle-ready rhymes, hard-hitting punchlines, metaphors, and stories in superior style. Production is not always up to par with her bars, but all in all, this is a great album.
Top tracks: Straight Spittin’, Part II | Lessons Of Today | Tight | Do The Ladies Run This
26. M.O.P. - Warriorz
Another M.O.P. banger, their fourth and arguably best album. As always their raw power and energy on the mic is crazy as ever, and the production (by DJ Premier and others) is consistently strong. Their ‘in your face’ style of rapping is not for everybody, but this is a classic for heads who are into that grimy NYC street sound.
Top tracks: Cold As Ice | Roll Call | Ante Up | On The Front Line
27. Cali Agents – How The West Was One
Cali Agents is a collaboration between West Coast emcees Planet Asia and Rasco. How The West Was One has gotten more recognition over the years but has always been underrated – it’s one of Hip Hop’s better albums of 2000, filled with great beats and dope flows.
Top tracks: How The West Was One | This Is My Life | Talking Smack | Just When You Thought It Was Safe
28. Scarface - The Last Of A Dying Breed
Scarface is one of the best, if not the best, and most important rappers to ever come from the South. His ability to transfer his feelings and emotions into his music is second to none. This album usually has opinions divided. Sure, it may be not one of Scarface’s very best albums, but it is not as bad as some critics would have you believe. It sure is better than its predecessor My Homies, shorter, tighter, and with fewer guest spots. Production could have been better in places, but lyrically Face is on point as always.
Top tracks: In My Time | Watch Ya Step | In And Out | Look Me In My Eyes
29. D.I.T.C. - D.I.T.C.
A nice compilation album (with songs recorded between 1997 and 1999) bringing all the talent from the D.I.T.C. crew – Lord Finesse, Showbiz & A.G., Diamond D, Fat Joe, O.C., Buckwild, and the late Big L – together, with guests such as KRS-One and Big Pun to up the lyrical quality even further. Strangely enough – with such a group of talented beatsmiths – the beats are not always up to par. That said, this is a dope album and a must-have for fans of that NYC boom-bap.
Top tracks: Day One | Stand Strong | Drop It Heavy | Thick
30. Antipop Consortium - Tragic Epilogue
Tragic Epilogue is one of those albums that went tragically unnoticed in an era where materialism and jigginess were the norms. Addressing exactly that kind of mainstream Hip Hop cliches, this album offers quality and originality – intelligent lyrics over innovative, boundary-pushing instrumentals. Maybe not for everybody due to the experimental nature of the musical backdrops and the off-kilter rhyme styles of the three emcees but this is an excellent album nonetheless.
Top tracks: Lift | Your World Is Flat | Heat Rays | What Am I?
31. Snoop Dogg - Tha Last Meal
Snoop Dogg‘s fifth album and last of three on the No Limit label, and his best since his epic debut Doggystyle. Dope beats and rhymes mostly, with just a few ‘misses’ (“I Can’t Swim” most notably). The album could have done with fewer skits and fewer guest spots – especially Kokane (who is featured on eight songs) overstays his welcome – but overall this is a solid Snoop Dogg album and somewhat of a return to form after three disappointing albums following the classic Doggystyle.
Top tracks: True Lies | Go Away | Set It Off | Lay Low
32. Big Pun - Yeeeah Baby
Not quite the classic his monumental Capital Punishment was, but a solid Big Pun album nonetheless. Yeeeah Baby is Pun’s second and last album, posthumously released in April of 2000, in the wake of Big Pun’s death in February of that year. Suffering from breathing problems due to his extreme obesity, Pun’s legendary flow was getting slower – but he managed to pull off some great performances here anyway.
The biggest problem with Yeeeah Baby is the at times lackluster production (with some corny choruses here and there) and the overabundance of guests. On a Big Pun album, we want to hear Big Pun, not a bunch of lesser rappers. That said, Yeeeah Baby is a good (not great) end to a career that ended much too soon.
Top tracks: Watch Those | New York Giants | Leather Face | Laughing At You
33. DJ Quik - Balance & Options
DJ Quik made a number of excellent albums in his long career, and this one – Quik’s fifth – certainly is one of his best. One of the things that ensure DJ Quik’s longevity – besides his incredible musical talent – is the fact that he isn’t afraid to change. He keeps maturing and has moved on from gangsta posturing, his lyrics here are mostly lighthearted party type stuff – and nothing wrong with that. The production is top-notch as always, smooth and mellow as only DJ Quik can do it. An album to ride to.
Top tracks: Change Da Game | Do Whatcha Want | Did Y’all Feel Dat? | Well
34. Jay-Z - The Dynasty
For marketing purposes billed as a Jay-Z album, it is actually more of a Roc-A-Fella album which has Jay-Z sharing the spotlight with his labelmates, from whom especially Beanie Sigel brings strong performances. Others like Memphis Bleek and Amil are less impressive though, making this album somewhat of a mixed bag. Some bangers here, but also some filler tracks. All in all, The Dynasty is a worthwhile album and definitely not Jay-Z’s worst.
Top tracks: Where Have U Been | Change The Game | This Can’t Be Life | Streets Is Talkin’
35. Murs - Murs Rules The World
Great production and great lyrical content, as usual with Murs. Murs Rules The World – his third album – sounds a bit more polished than his previous efforts, and lyrically he keeps improving. You can’t go wrong with a Murs album.
Top tracks: I Hate Your Boyfriend | Sucks To Be You | Way Tight | In The Zone
36. The Pharcyde - Plain Rap
The Pharcyde may have lost some of their spark after the departure of Fatlip, but the remaining members prove that as a three-man crew they are still able to bring that heat. Sure, this album does not come close to the brilliance of Bizarre Ride (1992) and Lacabincalifornia (1996) – but it is a very enjoyable album nonetheless. Tight and cohesive, Plain Rap gives us smooth and laid back boom bap and is undeservedly overlooked.
Top tracks: Frontline | Trust | Network | Somethin’
37. Analog Brothers - Pimp To Eat
Kool Keith and Ice-T joining forces for a full-length album? Along with a trio you never heard of – Silver Synth, Mark Moog, and Rex Roland – Kool Keith and Ice-T drop some crazy, spaced-out pimp shit with Pimp To Eat. With its futuristic beats and weird lyrics, Pimp To Eat will not be for everybody, but it’s a must-have for Ice-T and Kool Keith fans at the very least.
38. Ice Cube War & Peace Vol. 2 (The Peace Disc)
Far from Ice Cube’s best work, but also not his worst. An improvement on the more uneven War & Peace Vol. 1 (1998), this one definitely has some fine moments. It starts out incredibly strong with the N.W.A reunion track “Hello” and would have been a classic album if it could have maintained that standard. As it is, War & Peace Vol. 2 is just a bit too long and inconsistent to be ranked higher, and even though Ice Cube lost the hunger and sharpness that made his first solo albums the classics that they are, a mediocre Cube album is still better than most others.
Top tracks: Hello | Record Company Pimpin’ | The Gutter | Supreme Hustle
39. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony - BTNHResurrection
Bone Thugs-N-Harmony has always been a group for listeners with an acquired taste. If you don’t dig their sing-song harmonizing style of rapping it’s hard to listen to more than a few songs at a time, if you do then you will love them. This comeback album is not their best, but it is an improvement on the overlong mixed bag of an album that was Art Of War (1997), exhibiting all the talent, lyrics, and production that makes BTNH great. BTNHResurrection is more mature than their earlier albums and less mainstream-oriented than The Art Of War, making this a must-have for BNTH fans at the very least.
Top tracks: Show Em | The Righteous Ones | Resurrection (Paper, Paper) | Change The World
40. Prodigy of Mobb Deep - H.N.I.C.
H.N.I.C. could have been better if it had been a bit shorter and tighter, but this is a solid album anyway. Even though Havoc only produces two of the tracks on this joint, H.N.I.C. is reminiscent (though not as good) of Mobb Deep in their prime (1995 – 1999).
Top tracks: You Can Never Feel My Pain | Keep It Thoro | Infamous Minded | Three
- The Shape Shifters – Know Future
- Tony Touch – The Piece Maker
- LL Cool J – G.O.A.T.
- Busta Rhymes – Anarchy
- Kool Keith – Matthew
- Porn Theatre Ushers – Sloppy Seconds
- Xzibit – Restless
- MC Eiht – N My Neighborhood
- Too Short – You Nasty
- Cypress Hill – Skull & Bones
- Mack 10 – The Paper Route
- Capone N Noreaga – The Reunion
- Easy Mo Bee – Now or Never: Odyssey 2000
- Brother Ali – Rites Of Passage
- Black Eyed Peas – Bridging The Gap
- E-40 – Loyalty And Betrayal
- Lil Kim – The Notorious K.I.M.
- Da Brat – Unrestricted
- Memphis Bleek – The Understanding
- Nature – For All Seasons
- The Lyricists – Outta Nowhere
- Necro – I Need Drugs
- Screwball – Y2K The Album
- Jungle Brothers – V.I.P.
- Afu-Ra – Body Of The Life Force
- Guru – Jazzmatazz: Streetsoul
- The Dwellas – The Last Shall Be First
- Encore – Self Preservation
- Canibus – 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus)
- Killah Priest – View From Masada
- Ludacris – Back For The First Time
- Cam’ron – S.D.E.
- Nobody – Soulmates
- Daz Dillinger – R.A.W.
- Souls of Mischief – Trilogy: Conflict, Climax, Resolution
- Mystikal – Let’s Get Ready
- Delinquent Habits – Merry Go Round
- Field Mob – 613: Ashy To Classy
- First Degree The D.E. – Damn That D.E.!
- Three 6 Mafia – When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1
- Andre Nickatina – Daiquiri Factory Cocaine Raps Volume 2
- Scienz of Life – Coming Forth by Day: The Book of the Dead
- Various Artists – Lyricist Lounge 2