Posted by: vincentlopez | April 3, 2008

5 Mics (or broken records) in The Source

I know one of you are/were looking for this list of Source 5 mic album ratings.  I just found the link below.  I’m not sure of just how accurate it is until I find the issue where they re-rated some albums. There are some clear NON-classic albums on this list (I count 16) but that’s just my opinion.  I’m sure your opinion is different.  Which album(s) should not be listed here?




  1. 16????

    Anyway. that is the right list. Someone even took the liberty of puttin’ them in chronological order. It’s a lil’ old though, cuz the last album to get 5 Mics was Lil’ Kim’s The Naked Truth

    What shouldn’t be on there?

    Well for starters Kim’s The Naked Truth isn’t a 5 (I’d say for 4.5 for all those that can’t fanthom the fact that she’s nice on mic. La Bella Mafia got 4.5 and that’s a 4 so maybe next time she’ll drop that undisputed 5)

    The biggest two albums that I always felt that didn’t belong where:

    Brand Nubian All For One (Let’s face it: this shit hasn’t aged well AT ALL. It’s kinda like Brand Nubian got 5 Mics instead of the actual album. Like Edtuainment and Let The Rhythm Hit Em’ arent’ the best efforts from those respective artists but you can kinda give them a pass. This album though…not at all)

    De La Soul Is Dead (I mean you know what they aimed to do but musically, this doesn’t even have one standout track that you hear on classic Hip-Hop playlists and it’s sooo long, it won’t do you much good starting anywhere besides the beginning)

    Musically albums like Radio, License To Ill, and Grip It! aren’t on that 5 Mic standard, but it terms of impact (an oft-overlooked important factor that comes along with rating albums) they can get the nod

    Stillmatic could’ve have benefitted from a few songs being left off but “One Mic,” “You’re Da Man,” “What Goes Around,” “Every Ghetto” lol hold up I’m bout to name the whole album. That shit is a 5 lol


    Mobb Deep’s Murda Muzik (They did what a billion rappers before them did: build off an earlier classic and upgrade their sound for the 2K. Received 4.5 Mics)

    Kanye West’s The College Dropout (This disc got eleven 5 mic songs not to mention hit singles. And let’s not even mention the production Received 4.5 Mics)

    Jay-Z’s American Gangster (Too detailed.)

  2. Mobb Deep:

    They did what a billion rappers before them COULDN’T do

  3. @TC – I think it’s kind of obvious that our hip-hop tastes are clearly different but Lil Kim getting a 5? You and my grandmother could start a new group as the new Outkast and get a 5 before her. There is nothing she’s ever put out that I would give a 2 much less a 4 or 5. A lot of the other stuff on that list I would give 3’s or 4’s but not 5’s. Brand Nubian definitely belongs on that list. It’s a real classic and was right on time when it came out. And there’s the rub right there. Some albums could be clear 5’s on the day they come out but not be viewed that way today and vice versa. Our tastes may change as we get older so who knows if you’ll still be listening to your Snoop Dogg No Limit Top Dogg CD when you’re fifty years old. You probably will but I don’t know how you could view real lyricism and consciousness (Brand Nubian) below some garbage like Lil Kim but whatever. De La Soul is Dead has been one of the trickiest albums to rate by anyone since it first came out. I remember getting it in ’91 and thinking it was a 5 immediately. Nowadays, I’d still say that because they accomplished something with that album that is much rarer (in hip-hop) than making a hit with a hot beat. They changed their image but more importantly they made a cohesive album that you must listen to from beginning to end. The focus and determination to do that is way too overlooked in this ringtone/download world we live in now. How many artists even think about creating good, cohesive albums anymore? I remember having a walkman and a book bag full of tapes back in high school. Back then, you had to listen to every song on the album because AA batteries were so expensive and you couldn’t risk too much fast forwarding. But it forced people to listen and digest the entire album. I ask students at my job all the time do they buy whole albums(CD’s or Mp3’s) or just download music to their Ipods. Every single one told me that they only buy or burn individual songs. One student told me that the last album he bought was The Blueprint. And these people will be the music critics and execs of the future.

    Those missing albums you listed are missing for a reason. They’re not 5’s. And I know this won’t be a shock to you at all but Jay-Z has never made a 5 mic album, in my opinion.

  4. I forgot to mention one album that I think should have been given a 7 out of 5.

    The Roots – Illadelph Halflife

  5. As big of a 2Pac fan that I am I’m going to say that “Me Against The World” should not be on there. I think there is the feeling that album was his most east coast sounding or leaning album I don’t know. I think the best work he ever did was “2pacalypse Now” and “7 Day Theory” and even then I still wouldn’t say those were 5 mic albums.

  6. @ Vince

    I didn’t say Kim’s album was a 5 but it’s pretty close. I don’t think our tastes are that much different but it seems to me during the times when the culture started becoming marketable and different sub-genres started to gain a voice, you kinda took a stance against change like some sort of Hip-Hop conservative. Would I want to keep buying the same pair of Nikes as I was 10 years ago? Of course not…you would think you want something upgraded, more new but equally as fresh/dope. Like the times, criteria on what should be considered a ‘5 Mic’ album changes also. An Audio Two flow or a beat from The Bomb Squad wouldn’t have the same impact as it does today. I’m not saying the have to use every knob and switch in a million dollar studio to make the beat but creativity and innovation have entered the picture and simplicity gets frowned upon. (i.e. Marly Marl ruined Hip Hop Lives) So while Krs-One got his point across beautifully with “Love’s Gonna Get’cha (Material Love),” Kanye hit the same nerve with “All Falls Down.” Not to say one is better than the other, it’s a matter of preference, but as long as there’s a stylistic balance of lyricism and content, you can still be able to measure the quality. And in reality, that 5 Mic list is pretty slim compared to the amount of albums that have been released since 1983. BUT —

    How many artists even think about creating good, cohesive albums anymore?

    Plenty. Radio/TV didn’t reflect the nature of an album in ’88 and it still doesn’t today. Hell in ’07 we got:

    Jay’s American Gangster(did you sleep?) and Lupe Fiasco’s The Cool. Both albums were thematically based and exhibited top-tier execution. Not just recording 15 songs and callling it an album. Same goes for:

    Common’s Finding Forever, Kweli’s Ear Drum, Little Brother’s GetBack, Pharoahe Monch’s Desire, Ghostface’s Big Doe Rehab, Scarface’s Made Consequence’s Don’t Quit Your Day Job!, Kweli & Madlib’s Liberation EP and Kanye’s Graduation. All 4 or better on my scale (the real one) and all received 4 in The Source. You can’t have tunnel vision in this music game.

    And speakin’ of criteria, how does Illadelph earn 5 (or 7) Mics when Black Thought never hangs on to any concrete subject matter. I mean the album is fine @ 4.5 Mics cuz the dopeness can’t be denied but I even heard ?uestlove call him out sayin’ “You can’t talk about how nice you are forever.” So while his choice of content could be considered more “hip-hop” then some lyrical D-Boys like the Clipse, it’s still repetitive and isn’t variation honored?

    @ mz510

    Like I said, “impact” plays an important factor on an album’s rating. I’m pretty sure any sound argument can discredit the “G.O.A.T.” title 2Pac has, but he was a good rapper. I’m a Pac fan myself and I wouldn’t give Me Against The World 5 Mics based on a cut n’ dry review, but look what it has on it:

    “Me Against The World”
    “Dear Mama”
    “So Many Tear”
    “If I Die 2Nite”
    “Fuck Da World”
    “Old School”

    “Powaful Impak!” © Black Moon. Not saying ya’ll have to agree, but when you look @ it from their perspective, it all becomes clearer

  7. Like I said before, our tastes are different and I have no problem with that. I have these debates with people all the time. Lil Kim close to 5 mics? In my opinion, she has never said anything on an album that would get her to 2 mics. And American Gangster put me right to sleep just like the last one and the one before that. You may say an artist upgraded or got better with an album and it may be the opposite for me. And I think I forgot to mention, that I like music that I can feel. Maybe the artist doesn’t have super lyrical ability or a great voice but I have to feel the artist and their music. I’m just a grumpy oldhead that loves hip-hop music (mostly from my youth) that still inspires and makes me feel and THIMK. I thought you knew…

  8. Hey hey differences aside, we can all agree this isn’t a ‘definitive’ list of all-time greatest albums. Everyone has their own opinions, and it’s just that – opinions. One question though. How come Midnight Marauder’s didn’t get a 5-mic rating (or did it?)? Like you, Vince, I enjoy The Low End Theory a little bit more than Midnight Marauders (although both are classics), however even Q-Tip stated MM was their best album in that interview I sent and I feel MM had a bigger impact from what I keep reading and hearing from heads. What was The Source’s reasoning behind that?

  9. i have 200th source issue where they re rated many albums.
    like over 30 albums received 5 mic status just in that issue, maybe i can scan it one day, i dont have scanner now 😦

  10. I always thought Midnight Marauders should have gotten a 5 and I’m shocked that none of the editors caught that when doing the re-reviews. I thought it was the best Tribe record and def. beats their 1st album and it also beats every album that they re-reviewed.

  11. Just for the record : most of these records have not been given 5 mics in the Ource when they first got reviewed. First, there was no such thing as The Source until 1988, and they didn’t rate albums until the summer 1990 issue.

    Originally Geto Boys had a 3.5 rating,
    BDP’s Edutainment was 5, Quest’s Instinctive Travels was 5, Low End Theory was 5 as well, let the Rhythm was 5, Amerikka Most Wanted was 5, Breaking Atoms was 4.5, De La Soul Is Dead was 5, Death Certificate was 4.5, The Chronic was 4.5, Doggy Style was 4, Cuban Linx was 4.5, Enter The Wu-Tang was 4.5, Ready To Die was 4.5, The Infamous was 4.5, Illmatic was 5, Reasonable Doubt was 4, not sure about the rest.

  12. Originally Geto Boys had a 4

    The Diary, Me Against The World and The Score had 4’s also.

    All Eyez On Me was never reviewed.

    2001 had a 4.5

  13. I counted 2 that don’t belong, which are Lil Kim, and Scarface, Scarface being a 4, Lil Kim being a 2

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