CHAZ’S TOP TEN RAP ALBUMS OF THE DECADE NOT NAMED “SUPREME CLIENTELE!” (C.A.T.T.L.E.)
It’s a little known fact that everybody knows and agrees on “SUPREME CLIENTELE” by Ghostface Killah being the absolute best rap album of the decade. It came out within the first quarter of the first year and stood for the entire stretch without being topped. You’ve had ten years to listen to it and chances are if you’re reading this you’re either nodding and going “Why yes, I agree with this statement” or you’re buying the album off Amazon.com for $6.99 here or you’re a lame. Regardless, putting this album at the top of another list is masturbatory at best and auto-erotically asphyxiating at worst. So, how about we talk about the ten best rap albums that aren’t this album, eh? Alright, let’s make with the rap-rap!
Also, I’ve deliberately chosen to share songs that weren’t singles because #1 these entire albums are awesome and #2 I’m awesome.
10) Turf Talk – “West Coast Vaccine” (2007)
The magnum opus of the exciting, innovating and defiantly ‘Hip-Hop’ Hyphy movement, Turf Talk and producer Rick Rock teamed up for record that, even after multiple listens, surprises and stuns while keeping the party moving. An acquired taste if there ever was one, “West Coast Vaccine” stands the pinnacle of a moment that ended before its time.
9) Non-Prophets – “Hope” (2003)
While the latter half of the decade featured rappers attempting to make music that sounded like eras they were born too late to be a part of, Sage Francis and producer Joe Beats beat them to the punchline by making a traditionalist boom-bap record that plays more like historical fiction than a love letter. By using subtlety where others used nostalgia, Sage and Joey made what was once old new again and, dare I say, fresh!
8 ) Cannibal Ox – “The Cold Vein” (2001)
Following the fallout of his group Company Flow, El-P channeled his cold outlook on life in New York City through the warmth of his ASR-10 for his label’s landmark album “The Cold Vein.” More than a beatmaker, El-P showed what makes him a truly great producer by using MCs Vast Aire and Vordul Mega as tools in his soundscape, accentuating their positives and hiding their negatives for an experience countless others have failed to duplicate since.
7) M.O.P. – “Warriorz” (2000)
While M.O.P. spent most of the decade in record label limbo, they remained on the Hip-Hop audience’s radar for nine years with what CBRap’s Andrew Noz refers to as “the last boom bap record.” A brutal swan song for Loud Records, “Warriorz” features Brownsville’s finest cracking skulls and snapping necks with such fervor that you can’t help but yell along with them.
6) TI – “King” (2006)
While you could make the argument that he was a better rapper on “Trap Muzik” or had better production on “I’m Serious,” the soundscape TI created on his 2006 masterpiece “King” is as complete a statement as albums get. The only rap album released that year that went platinum, TI represented the genre at its all-time lowpoint with not only a fantastic performance all his own, but defining a sound by bringing the best out of his in-house production team* and getting the likes of B.G. and Common to drop their best verses of the decade on their cameos.
5) Clipse – “Lord Willin” (2002)
In the post-9/11 post-shiny suit era, the Neptunes’ minimalist production on “Grindin” by the Clipse proved sometimes skeletons cast the largest shadows. While the album frequently faced the “they only rhyme about coke” critique, Pusha T and Malice didn’t use the subject as a crutch, rather a launching pad for how intertwined and trickled-down the hustlers’ profession affected their lives as well as a unifying theme that made it an incredibly entertaining and cohesive album.
4) Brother Ali – “Shadows on the Sun” (2003)
Some lives are so eventful, their memoirs read like textbooks. In the case of Brother Ali’s 2003 debut “Shadows on the Sun,” sometimes they’re just as enlightening. Ali’s brutal honestly and bombastic delivery makes his vulnerable juggernaut persona one of rap’s most compelling characters, and with producer Ant at the helm he was guided to start his career off with a masterpiece.
3) Sean Price – “Monkey Bars” (2005)
The buzz surrounding the man once known as “the other half of Heltah Skeltah” has been arguably the most surprising comeback of the past ten years. Reinventing himself as “the brokest rapper you know,” Sean Price let his charisma stream-of-consciously wander through his apathy over a hodgepodge of beats ranging from the Boot Camp aggression of “Boom Bye Yeah” to the 9th Wonder-laced “Heartburn” bringing new meaning to the term ‘hopeless romantic.’ Price’s ridiculously subtle and complex writing catches both the listeners who appreciate the face value thug tales, as well as rewards repeat listeners who catch the numerous double and triple entendres.
2) Masta Ace – “Disposable Arts” (2001)
The Juice Crew’s Masta Ace returned to the rap world with “Disposable Arts,” alerting an entire generation of backpackers that #1 ‘this is how it should be done’ and #2 ‘Masta Ace is lightyears ahead of you.’ The first honest documentation of a long-silent Golden Age rapper in the twilight of his career, Ace’s “Disposable Arts” was both life-affirming and effortlessly relevant. The number of rap concept albums that actually work is very low** but Ace pulls it off with this required listening for every rapper, listener, or person with even a passing interest in the genre.
1) Scarface – “The Fix” (2002)
Wow, where to begin. It’s daunting to even think about how much Scarface accomplishes over this 47:16 running time. From the best ‘back in the day’ song ever recorded (“On My Block”) to outshining two frequently argued ‘greatests of all time’ without breaking a sweat (Jay-Z on “Guess Who’s Back” and Nas on “In Between Us” who both still turn in two of their all-time best performances) all the way through “Heaven” a track that explains Face’s relationship with God foresaking heavy-handedness in favor of testifying with more genuine sincerity than the entire genre of “Christian rap” it is without peer. In a genre where most careers end after two albums***, Scarface’s seventh solo album stands as a shining example of what happens when an artist grows with their audience. Incredible.
So those are my favorite favorites.**** Pretty good decade for rap. Remember, these albums are all available at your nearest internet collection.
(RUNNER UP BUTTERCUPS:
UGK – “Underground Kingz”
Madvillain – “Madvillainy”
El-P – “I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead”
semi.oFFICIAL – “The Anti-Album”
Big Moe – “City of Syrup”
Atmosphere – “Strictly Leakage”
Paul Wall & Chamillionaire – “Get Ya Mind Correct”
Murs & 9th Wonder – “Murray’s Revenge”
Three-6 Mafia – “Most Known Unknowns”
Z-Ro – “Let the Truth Be Told”)
*Grand Hustle: The World’s Most Talented Weed-Carriers.
**A whopping ‘one.’
****To be honest, I’ve probably listened to The Outsidaz “The Nightlife EP” more than anything else this decade, but alas it’s an EP so it’s disqualified. Fear not my boy, it will be a treasured subject for another day.
Until next time let’s agree to agree!
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