I haven’t done this in a minute mainly because it’s time consuming and most of you want those magazines more than this. But whatever. I’ve been bumping three albums in my car lately and something was telling me that I just had to post them because some (or most) of you have never bought them.
The D.O.C. – No One Can Do It Better (1989)
Most of you Dr. Dre fans know about this album already. But it wasn’t the production that made this album so fantastic to me. Lyrically, D.O.C. was in a zone on this album. Yeah, he was cocky, arrogant, and brash but he was also on point. I think he was trying to make a statement that there was more than one good lyricist in the crew and he patiently waited his turn to literally explode. He tore apart my favorite tracks (Mind Blowin’ and Portrait of a Masterpiece) with ease. Is there any wonder why he had a solo album out before Ren and Ice Cube?
Ultramagnetic MC’s – Critical Beatdown (1988)
1988. It’s still the greatest year in hip-hop to me and this album (as you already know) is one of the best ever. It’s clearly in my top 20 hip-hop albums of all time and if you haven’t heard it yet, then shame on you. Can you even call yourself fan of hip-hop? Looking back, we really took things for granted in the late 80’s. There was a clear expectation that every artist/group would come out with their own style and not copy anyone else. And that’s what made it so great. You could listen to political rhymes, braggadocio rhymes, party rhymes, love rhymes, gangster rhymes, etc. from a slew of different rappers. But when Ultramagnetic came out, they took it a step further. I can’t remember which song I heard first (Ego Trippin’?) but I know that it had the same effect on me as Rakim’s rhymes did to me in late ’86. I hadn’t heard anything like Kool Keith before. None of my friends could figure out what he was saying but that didn’t stop us from blasting that tape from our faithful little boombox. I recently re-read the ‘making of’ interview in the book Rakim Told Me by Brian Coleman. I suggest you buy that or Check The Technique by the same author to read the full interview. In the meanwhile here are a couple of quick excerpts:
Released in the fall of 1988 in the face of fierce competition (Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation Millions To Hold Us Back, Boogie Down Productions’ By All Means Necessary, and Eric B & Rakim’s Follow The Leader), the album was an all out triumph. “It had a big impact on the way that people produced when it came out, during 1988 and later with people like Large Professor and DJ Premier,” beams Ced. “But also, groups were free to say: We can do any style that we want, we don’t have to rap like everybody else.” Ced notes groups like the Jungle Brothers, De La Soul, and A Tribe Called Quest as inheritors of the Ultra freedom.
Looking back, Keith lays it down like so: “1988 was the Golden Era, it was the best year for rappers who were distinctive and had different voices. When we went in to do Critical Beatdown, we knew what we wanted stuff to sound like, and it worked. We’re also a great match because we grew up knowing what we want, plus we’re all musicians and we make our own stuff. Our lyrics are different, and they should be on top of some different shit. Critical Beatdown is a classic because we didn’t copy anybody, we were ourselves, we were the originals. That record stuck out like a sore thumb. There was nothing else like it.”
Boogie Down Productions – Live Hardcore Worldwide (1991)
If you’re a fan of live hip-hop, then this album is the one you must have in your collection. Why? Because it’s the greatest live hip-hop album ever. Period. My boy Chris out in Las Vegas (originally from North Jersey) still swears by this album and I agree. I’ve bought this album 3 times already after wearing out the tape and scratching the first CD. KRS-One (the G.O.A.T.) can still rock a party (by himself) better than anyone. The funny thing is that he could probably take out 99.9% of these young cats today because as we all know, Kris is an entertainer born for the stage. He has no fear, no need for a big platinum chain around his neck and he can still freestyle the way an MC should be able to. If this album doesn’t get you hyped, then you must be dead or a fan of Rick Ross.
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