What people dont know is before Chris Rock became a comedian, He was also a DJ and its clear that after reading this he’s a hip hop junkie. Journey with Chris Rock as he names his 25 greatest rap albums and explains why. Very good article!
25.) DIZZIE RASCAL – Boy in Da Corner (2004)
This shit is so ahead of its time, I don’t know why they told him to do it slower and make it sound American or whatever they did on his next album. It’s hard, man. I’m surprised no American rappers were smart enough to have him produce them. When you hear those beats, you think “OK, if blankety-blank was on this, it would be a hit.”
That Dizzee Rascal is just fucking ridiculous. Make this one my last one.
24.) DJ QUIK – WAY 2 FONKY (1992)
This is such a mindless gangsta-rap record, but some of it is actually very smart. There’s a song on there about how different cities are “just like Compton.” It’s about how this gang shit is spreading all over the country.
23.) LAURYN HILL – THE MISEDUCATION OF LAURYN HILL (1998)
Lauryn Hill was groundbreaking because for the first time since Salt-N-Pepa the world was hearing a heterosexual woman rap an couldn’t believe it. This is a masterpeice of a record.
I know there’s a lot of singing on there, but there’s a lot of rapping, too.
People don’t have a problem with conscious rap; they have a problem with conscious beats.
If you make some ignorant beats, you can say all the smart shit you want.
22.) PUBLIC ENEMY – IT TAKES A NATION OF MILLION TO HOLD US BACK (1988)
It still holds up. The beats and production are just incredible. Chuck, Flavor, political conscious-ness–we all know why this album’s great. I can’t say anything that hasn’t been said about it.
21.) OUTKAST – AQUEMINI (1998)
All their records are good, but this one went to the next level. “Liberation” is my favorite. You can hear the Erykah Badu influence on this record. OutKast did a great record while Andre was with Erykah. Common made a great record when he was with Erykah. Before I write any more jokes, I think I’m gonna call Erykah Badu.
20.) NAS – STILLMATIC (2001)
Do you know what I like about Stillmatic? Jay-Z (who is famously dissed on the song “Ether”) should have gotten a co-producer’s credit on it, because Nas was definitely floundering just before it. It’s like Mama Said Knock You Out eleven years earlier, where a guy just reclaimed his spot with some great records. There’s a record on there called “2nd Childhood” about people who won’t grow up, that’s just so fucking smart.
19.) JAY-Z – REASONABLE DOUBT (1996)
I love this CD and I hate it. I love it ’cause it’s Jay’s best record — best beats, best flow — and I hate it ’cause since it came out every rap record is trying to copy it. What Jay-Z did with Rea-
sonable Doubt is take the Scarface formula and pretty it up for New York. Reasonable Doubt is his real Blueprint. I still listen to it.
18.) SCARFACE – MR. SCARFACE IS BACK (1991)
Everything Biggie did, everything ‘Pac did, everything Jay-Zdoes was originally done on the first Scarface album. Biggie kills himself at the end of his first record; well, Scarface did it three years earlier. He was the first guy to do his rhymes in the first person about robbing people and drug dealing; he was the first guy to really talk about being depressed and being institutionalized, and how his mama is scared of him. He is the most underrated rapper of all time and absolutely in the top three. You cannot get to four without mentioning Scarface. Any rapper knows that.
17.) ICE CUBE – AMERIKKKA’S MOST WANTED (1990)
This is the original Best of Both Worlds. You’ve got the East Coast and the West Coast together.
And you’ve got Ice Cube at his maddest. He was the mack. I remember when Ice Cube played at the Apollo on this tour. Every rapper in town was there. It was like seeing Hendrix or some shit.
From 1990 to 1994, Ice Cube was unquestionably the best rapper in the world — without peer.
16.) WYCLEF JEAN – THE CARVINAL (1997)
Forget all that you know. Much like Liquid Swords, The Carvinal is the best Fugees record. It’s better than The Score. They’re all on there — it’s Wyclef Jean, it’s Lauryn Hil, it’s Pras, it’s that John Forte cat who’s in jail. And it’s all of them at their best. Even the Neville Brothers are on the album. They rap in French; “Gone Till November” is on there; it’s insane. Go back and listen to this album, and try to block out all his other records. It’s like watching Rocky. If you forget about most of the other Stallone films, you have a masterpiece.
15.) GETO BOYS – THE RESURRECTION (1996)
The last line of the whole album is “I’m the type of nigga that throws a party when the flag burns/I’m at the point of no return.” When I heard that lyric, I was like, “OK, you got me, man.” The whole Resurrection album is Scarface, Willie D, and Bushwick Bill getting politically conscious, but in a Geto Boys way. It’s gangsta, and it’s an incredible record. It’s also (Audioslave/Rage Against The Machine guitarist) Tom Morello’s favorite album.
14.) GHOSTFACE KILLAH – SUPREME CLIENTELE (2000)
This will go down as the last great Wu-Tang album. “Stroke Of Death” is so gangster it makes you wanna stab your baby sitter. There’s a record on there that’s just a scratch; Ghostface lets the beat play for four seconds, then keeps bringing it back. My other favorite Wu-Tang albumis Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s Nigga Please.
It’s so much fun. It’s kind of like There’s A Riot Goin’ On, because he was that high.
13.) GENIUS/GZA – LIQUID SWORDS
For my money, Liquid Swords is the best Wu-Tang Clan album. It’s like the Songs in the Key of Life of rap.
It’s so fucking smart and so hard. Everybody’s on there, too. You don’t really need a Wu-Tang album; Liquid Swords is all you really need to know. As you grow older, you look for records that hold up. And Liquid Swords holds up.
12.) ERIC B. AND RAKIM – FOLLOW THE LEADER (1988)
If I ever have a son, his middle name will be Rakim. “Lyrics Of Fury” is probablly, lyrically, the best rapping anyone’s ever done. The line I love most is on “Follow The Leader”: “I can take a phrase that’s rarely heard/Flip it/Now it’s a daily word.” That’s what every writer aspires to. It’s the flyest shit I’ve ever heard. I have that on a wall in my office. The coolest thing about Rakim is that he’s the only rapper who really has a mystique.
He’s still to this day the most mysterious guy in rap. He’s not quite Sly Stone, but people wonder.
11.) THE D.O.C. – NO ONE CAN DO IT BETTER (1989)
Before Dre found Snoop, he had the D.O.C. I was going to school in Brooklyn, and the only time you could see rap videos was on a weekend show with Ralph McDaniels called Video Music Box. D.O.C.’s video for “It’s Funky Enough” premiered, and D.O.C. had an L.A. Kings hat on. When I came to school on Monday, half the kids in Brooklyn had L.A. Kings hats on. It was official. The whole album was great, especially the last cut, “The Grand Finale,” with the D.O.C. and NWA.
10.) DE LA SOUL – BUHLOONE MINDSTATE (1993)
The first two De La Soul albums are two of the greatest albums ever, but Buhloone Mindstate is so grown up.
It helped shape me as a comedian. It’s the last album Prince Paul produced for them and, as far as I’m concerned, he’s a member of De La Soul. If you take Prince Paul out, none of the albums hold up. It’s also got that great line “Fuck being heard, Posdnuos is complicated.” That’s some gangsta shit, because he don’t give a fuck.
9.) A TRIBE CALLED QUEST – THE LOW-END THEORY (1991)
It’s really hard to top this album. They made other good records, but they never got to this level again. It is from beginning to end a masterpiece. Phife has got a weird midget-DMC energy. And as much as I love Q-Tip, nobody’s bigger than the group. He and Phife together are just incredible.
8.) BEASTIE BOYS – PAUL’S BOUTIQUE (1989)
Don’t go anywhere without it. It’s one of those records that you buy every time you’re in a rental car. It’s also one of those records that you thought sucked the day you bought it. You were mad because it sounded nothing like Licensed To Ill. Then a month later, you’re like, “This is the best shit ever. High Plains Drifter is the best song ever made.”
7.) EPMD – UNFINISHED BUSINESS (1989)
The second EPMD album is as good as two guys can get whose names aren’t Run and DMC. The production is insanity. Before Eminem made “Lose Yourself”, “Please Listen To My Demo” was the best record about wanting to become a rapper ever made.
6 LL COOL J.) – MAMA SAID KNOCK YOU OUT (1990)
The beauty of LL’s Mama Said Knock You Out is that it’s like the Secret deodorant: strong enough for a man, but made for a woman. It’s hard gangsta shit. But at the same time, I could put the CD on with my mother in the car and drive from New York to Philly. It’s also the first comeback in rap. It’s the real blueprint: if people think you’re done, this is how you come back. It’s one of my favorite albums ever. It’s LL at his best and Marley Marl at his best. It’s LL as Madonna, in the sense of Madonna saying, “Who’s the hot producer? Let me get that person.” LL was the first rapper smart enough to do that. Now it’s what everyone does.
5.) PHARCYDE – BIZARRE RIDE II: THE PHARCYDE (1992)
Only in rap do you get one-album-wonders. The Pharcyde are like the Boston of rap. I don’t know what happened afterward, but the first Pharcyde album is incredible. The rhyming is great, the vocals are great, the production is ridiculous. Everything is just way ahead of its time. It’s a shame everybody got overtaken by gangsterism. Everyone wants to be hard, so they don’t make records like this anymore. It happens to comedians, too. They want to be cool, but just being funny is cool.
4.) RUN-DMC – RAISING HELL (1986)
Raising Hell is the first great rap album ever. I like Run, but I love DMC. No one ever sounded like DMC; no one ever looks like DMC. He’s like a superhero. Raising Hell is probably Rick Rubin’s best record. “It’s Tricky” is a weird song because it’s so gangsta and pop at the same time. There’s a track on there, “Hit It Run”, which is just DMC with Run doing the human beatbox: “I leave allsuckers in the dust/Those dumb motherfuckers can’t mess with us.” It was actually the first time I heard a guy curse on a record.
3.) 2PAC – RAP PHENOMENON II (MIX TAPE, 2003)
You’d have to go to Harlem or a swap meet to get this one. It’s done by DJ Green Lantern, DJ Vlad and Dirty Harry. They got tapes of Tupac’s vocals and put them over all the newest, baddest beats of the last four years. So you hear Tupac rapping over the “Hate Me Now” beat. It’s the best shit in the world. It’s ultimate fighting music. You will kill somebody listening to this shit.
2.) SNOOP DOGGY DOGG – DOGGYSTYLE (1993)
Doggystyle, to me, is better than Dr. Dre’s Chronic. It has held up way better because it’s a party album, and its lyrics are better. The Chronic is sonically incredible, but it’s hard to drive around singing songs about “Eazy-E can eat a big fat dick.” But I got a feeling I’ll be singing “Gin and Juice” when I’m ninety.
1.) N.W.A. – STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (1988)
N.W.A. is the most influential act of the last thirty years — bigger than Nirvana, Madonna or the Sex Pistols. Nothing has ever been the same since they came. I remember I was in L.A. when I was a kid, and I brought Straight Outta Compton back to New York. More people were coming over to my house to listen to N.W.A. than were going across the street to the crack house. I had the real shit. It was kind of like the British Invasion for black people.