Posted by: vincentlopez | December 10, 2008

Almost Classic – The Source’s 4.5 mic/broken record album reviews (through 1995)

We’ve already gone over most of these but there are still a few we’ve never discussed.  I’m not sure if these are all of the albums that received 4.5 mics/broken records (through 1995) but it’s a start.  You be the judge.  Was the rating correct?  If not, what should have been the rating on all of these albums?


FYI – Instead of wasting a ton of time searching through every Source I own, I swiped some of these reviews from so thank SLurg when you get a chance.



















  1. Here are my views, and I’m going to focus squarely on the ratings:

    Ice Cube – Death Certificate
    This album should’ve been 5 mics. Cube fires on all cylinders, and this my friends is his best album hands down.

    Boogie Down Productions – Sex And Violence
    I wouldn’t have given this 4.5, but I feel the rating for this album should’ve been 3.5, respectively. KRS is a legend, no doubt, but this album was the lesser of the BDP albums.

    EPMD – Business Never Personal
    I agree w/ the 4.5 rating for this album. I wouldn’t change it.

    Redman – Whut Thee Album
    For Red’s debut album, I have to listen to this one again, but I’m pretty sure my rating would be 5 mics.

    Dr.Dre – The Chronic
    5 mics hands down. Nuff said. NO filler, other than that “Doctor’s Office” skit, but even that pointless skit can’t drag this awesome album down.

    De La Soul – Buhloone Mind State
    Very good album that I would’ve given 4 mics.

    Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
    My 3rd favorite album of all time. 5 mics completely.

    Outkast – Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
    I’ve been back and forth about the rating for this album, but w/ hindsight being 20/20, I’d go the full monty on this one and give it 5 mics.

    Mobb Deep – The Infamous
    5 mics material here. This is Mobb Deep’s best album.

    And last but not least…….

    Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
    My #2 favorite album of all time. A VERY COMPLETE 5 mic album, and anyone who thinks otherwise is crazy, lol.

  2. another good post vincent, bringin back mad memories son, im glad i have most of these issues. so here we go!

    Ice Cube: i have this LP, it is pretty dope. im gonna go ahead and stick with the orig. rating on this one. 4.5 sounds right. at this time Cube was that MC, he had the torch then. This LP also has one of Cube’e best tracks “True 2 The Game”!!

    KRS-One: i know im gonna get killed for this, but i never heard that LP yet. so i cant say much on this one. and im not gonna disrespect KRS for trying to give him a rating on this. so this will be continued at a later date……

    EPMD: i have this one as well, its another dope LP. i would say 4 or 4.5 will do. U just cant front on “Crossover” or “Headbanger”, those are timeless classics.

    Redman: this is one of my fav’s right here, i would say the Source got it right with 4.5. I kinda remember when this 1st dropped, “Time 4 Sum Aksion” was that joint, i mean Tyson came out to it so u already know what time it was when that came on!
    Plus u cant forget about “Tonights da night” & “Blow ur mind”!!

    Dr.Dre- this LP is beyond a 5 mic rating to me. This changed the whole landscape of hip-hop when this came out. I was in the 5th grade when this came out and everybody and their mama was playin this joint!! so i cant see how the Source messed this up. beyond 5 mics!

    De La Soul: this LP is pretty dope as well. i think the Source got it right with 4.5. i mean all i bang on this album is “Breakadawn” & “Ego tripppin”. so a 4 or 4.5 is appropriate for this.

    Wu-Tang: this LP to me again is beyond 5 mics. This album changed hip-hop again and put the east coast on top! I remember when my boy 1st told me about this group in the 7th grade. all he told me was that they used kung-fu sounds. i was like what? but when i seen the CREAM video, i was hooked. those images stay in ya head forever. They had like 4-5 singles just off this LP, thats crazy! 5 mics isnt enough for this LP!!

    Outkast: u kidding me 4.5? please, this is a 5 mic classic easy!! They was the 1st ones to break through aTL & the south period!! (props to UGK & Eightball & MJG) but how can u front on “Players ball” & ‘Git Up & Get Out” and etc!! my joint was “Aint No Thang”, i remember bangin that tape like 4-5 times a night. I loved these dudes right from the jump. like Andre said at the ’95 Source awards “the south got somethin to say!!” who knew?

    Mobb Deep: beyond 5 mics, no questions asked. I remember seeing that “Shook Ones pt.2” video, another one of vivid images that stay in ur mind. Same goes for “Survival of the Fittest” video, that record just brings out the grimiest in u. I remember hearing their album for the 1st time at school, a friend let me hear it and i couldnt get past “Give Up the Goods”, i must have repeated that song like 10 times. Then next was “Temperature’s Rising”, i repeated that song like 10x and so on and so on. That album means alot to me, beyond mics!!

    Raekwon: u already know how i feel about this album from ur last post!! Beyond 5 mics, no questions asked. Legendary LP.

    • Southernplayalisticadilacmuzik received 3.5 (not 4.5).

  3. I don’t have time to check all my back issues now, i’m sure Main Source had 4.5 also but I can’t think of any other right now. May be Run DMC’s best of. I’m surprised there were not more than that, especially during Reginald C Dennis ”5 mics embargo”.

  4. @ SLurg

    Yeah they did. And it got bumped up to 5 in 2003. The album was pure granite.

    The biggest flaw The Source exhibited during the reign was their blatant East Coast bias.

    Like I said earlier, they saw firsthand the immediate impact The Chronic made, so a 4.5 (and the 4 they gave to Doggystyle for that matter) was just inexcusable.

    So the rating for Sex & Violence is bullsh*t. That’s a 3.5 easy. (Like Wayne stated). Matter fact, the 5 Mics they gave to Edutainment ain’t cuttin’ it either.

    FTR: Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Death Certificate, Enter The 36 Chambers, The Infamous, & The Chronic were all eventually corrected. (Rightfully so too).

    I still don’t see how that Cuban Linx review justifies the rating. And I always point out there would be NO Menace II Society without Death Certificate. Look at the songs. Every scene influenced the Hughes Brothers to put that side of humanity on the big screen.

    Back to it:

    Outkast- The thing about Kast is they continued to get better as they got more experienced. Even when their albums kept growing more ecletic hair, the styles continued innovate. Now Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik is cool @ 4.5 Mics but when you consider what ATLiens and Aquemini brought to the table, realistically, it’s a 4. Dudes got talent.

    Redman – Reggie is one of the rawest MCs that ever lived but his first 3 albums are 4 Mics. Nothing more, nothing less. One big maxi cipher session. You could switch out songs and it wouldn’t change things not a bit.

    De La Soul – Buhloone Mind State may be their best album in terms of fludity and accessibility, but it’s just a 4.

    EPMD – This could go either way. At the time of it’s release, this joint was definitely crack on the streets — with a touch of Nino Brown, but now, it’s just another good album. I’ma say 4.

  5. @SLurg – Kool G Rap‘s Killer Kuts also received 4.5 mics but since it was a compilation, I didn’t post it up.

    • Can you add all reviews for all the albums that got 4.5 or 5 from 1988-1999?

      • @Trey – Soryy but I don’t have time for that.

  6. […] Atoms in The Source (1991) Review of Main Source classic album, by Jon Shecter in may 1991. Over there Vincent Lopez has an almost complete run down of all the almost classic album rated in The […]


    A Tribe Called Quest – People’s Instinctive Travels And The Paths Of Rhythm (5 MICS)
    Eric B. & Rakim – Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em (5 MICS)
    Brand Nubian – All For One (5 MICS)
    De La Soul – De La Soul Is Dead (5 MICS)
    A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory (5 MICS)
    Main Source – Breaking Atoms
    Boogie Down Productions – Sex And Violence
    EPMD – Business Never Personal
    Redman – Whut? Thee Album
    De La Soul – Buhloone Mindstate
    Wu-Tang Clan – Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
    Nas – Illmatic (5 MICS)
    The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready To Die
    Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
    Mobb Deep – The Infamous
    The Roots – Illadelph Halflife
    Mobb Deep – Hell On Earth
    The Notorious B.I.G. – Life After Death (5 MICS)
    Gang Starr – Moment Of Truth
    Jay-Z – Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life
    Nas – I Am
    Mobb Deep – Murda Muzik
    Made Men – Classic Limited Edition
    Black Rob – Life Story
    Beanie Sigel – The Truth
    Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele
    Wyclef Jean – The Ecleftic
    Jay-Z – The Dynasty
    Jay-Z – The Blueprint (5 MICS)
    Ghostface Killah – Bulletproof Wallets
    Nas – Stillmatic (5 MICS)
    Lil Kim – La Bella Mafia
    Dead Prez – Revolutionary But Gangsta
    Lil Kim – The Naked Truth (5 MICS)
    Jay-Z – Kingdom Come
    Nas – Untitled
    Reflection Eternal – Revolutions Per Minute
    The Roots – How I Got Over
    Fat Joe – The Darkside

    Ice Cube – AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted (5 MICS)
    Ice Cube – Death Certificate
    Dr. Dre – The Chronic
    Westside Connection – Bow Down
    Dr. Dre – 2001
    The Game – Doctor’s Advocate

    OutKast – Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
    OutKast – Aquemini (5 MICS)
    Hot Boys – Guerilla Warfare
    Scarface – The Last Of A Dying Breed
    Scarface – The Fix (5 MICS)
    Little Brother – The Minstrel Show
    Big Boi – Sir Lucious Left Foot
    Bun B – Trill OG (5 MICS)

    Kanye West – The College Dropout
    Common – Be
    Kanye West – Late Registration

  8. Hi,

    Where did you get this info? Where can you find the 4.5 mic list? many thanks

    • If you are talking about my list I created it going through all my Source magazines from 1993-present time plus research online

  9. Didn’t Pharoahe Monch – Internal Affairs get 4.5 mics?


  10. i wonder if someone could let us know albums that got 4 mics

  11. How Cuban Linx wasn’t rated 5 mics from the get makes no sense. That album is a movie!!!!

  12. I find this rating system by the source to be very difficult to digest. By this I mean, what do they rate this ranking on. Is it is based upon the time period it came out, or overall. Also is it about lyrics or culture impact, production, album quality? I personally think they should state like 10 categories, and give each of those categories a ranking out of 5, then give the overall average of those categories. That would make it more fare across the board. I say this, because there is many albums that they give 4.5 mics for that are better than the 5 mics they give for other albums. Like seriously, how can you give 36 chambers by wu-tang, and the chronic by dr dre 4.5 mics, when you give “the score” by the fugees 5 mics… that’s hilarious!

    • As I remember it, The Score originally got 4 mics. It’s one of the many that was re-ranked years later. If I have any complaint at all, it’s that the magazine felt the need to go back and re-rank. 5 mics seemed almost unachievable back then… which made records like Illmatic so special.

  13. A lot of the 4.5 mic albums were later given 5 mics by the Source.

  14. Whats the latest albums up to 2017 any additions from the ones we already know about?

    • 4.5 Mic Ratings (as of late)

      Dr. Dre – Compton
      Kendrick Lamar – good kid, m.A.A.d. city
      Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly (should’ve been 5)
      Nas – Life Is Good
      Pusha T – My Name Is My Name
      Royce Da 5′ 9” & DJ Premier – PRhyme
      Run the Jewels – Run the Jewels
      Vince Staples – Summertime ’06

  15. Saigon – The greatest story never told 4.5 mics

  16. […] Quincy Jones “Summer in the City” (perhaps more famously sampled by Pharcyde) sample and the 4.5 mic-sized chip on their shoulder from their debut album and we were in for some trouble. This was foreshadowing to […]

  17. 2 errors on one page with Outkast and Coolio albums. It Takes A Thief is easilly a 3.5 Dope. They messed up a year later giving Ganstas Paradise something like 4 mics (3 mics at best). And Penicillin on Wax 4.5?!? 3.5 would have been fair.

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