Every year hundreds of artists release albums. Some go unnoticed, while others come and go, but the albums that have lasting impressions are remembered for years to come. We celebrate the day they came out years later, and still hear the songs, whether it be on the radio or playing through your AirPods. They are timeless songs that people recognize the moment they begin playing.
Every few years, these classic albums are celebrated when they reach the milestones of five or ten years. With a new year underway, plenty of albums are reaching the milestone of having been out for 20 years now. But the albums we care about and remember are the ones that left an impression when they released, all the way until know. Here are five big albums in hip-hop’s history that will be turning 20-years-old in 2019.
- MF DOOM – Operation: Doomsday
Considered an underground classic, Operation Doomsday is the first album by rapper MF DOOM. It is undoubtedly one of DOOM’s best projects in his long-running career. Filled with jazz instrumentals like the title track “Doomsday,” which interpolates the classic “Kiss of Life” by Sade, the songs have a plethora of metaphors and witty punchlines.
“Not many people listen to DOOM and it’s a shame. The man has bars and he’s so creative,” said Steven Faustin, music major and avid hip-hop listener. The album helped propel the underground artist on the path to becoming the legend that he is today. Artists like Joey Bada$$, Tyler the Creator and Logic are just a few of the many current rappers in the game in which you can hear the influences from this album and the many DOOM has dropped since then.
2. Dr. Dre – 2001
Contrary to what some may think, the classic album released by Dr. Dre did not come out in 2001. The follow up to Dre’s first solo album, The Chronic, another classic in its own right, helped solidify him as one the greatest producers in hip-hop’s history and a legend in the genre. Songs like “Still D.R.E.,” “The Next Episode” and “Forgot About Dre” are still heard played heavily in rotation to this day.
If you ask people like Wyatt Malloy, a record collector and passionate music fan, this project is very important.
“It’s the album, I feel, that set up the genre for years to come. The production and the use of Eminem, mixed with culture of that time; you can see the impression it has made,” Malloy said.
The album won Dre two Grammy awards for best producer, non-classical and best rap performance with the song “Forgot About Dre,” featuring Eminem. Kid Cudi and Kendrick Lamar are just two of the many artists that Dre has come to influence with this classic release.
3. Eminem – The Slim Shady LP
As controversial as it is influential, the first album by Eminem turns 20 this year. Filled with lyrical threats and attacks, the then up-and-coming artist was relentless in terms of rap skill and insults. There is no shortage of references to pop stars of the day between lines that can go over your head if you’re not paying attention. It also brought us into the mind of an individual who had come from nothing and was trying to aggressively make his mark.
The lead single from the album, “My Name Is,” has become arguably his most known song. From this project, Eminem would become one of the top and most influential rappers of all time.
“What can you say about this album that hasn’t been said 100 times over,” Faustin said. “I would be surprised if I ever came across someone who hasn’t heard even one song from it. It is something I still find myself playing at least once a month and I know I’m not alone in doing so.”
4. The Roots – Things Fall Apart
Hip-hop is filled with plenty of party songs that help you enjoy yourself. But it’s not just that, as many artists will release some of the most informative and creative albums in music. One group that always does just that is The Roots.
Before the release of this record, The Roots had a cult following, but had not yet broken into mainstream success. They found themselves on Things Fall Apart. Braggadociousness and politicalness mixed with funk and jazz, The Roots were able to break into the mainstream and dropped one of their best projects, even getting nominated for a Grammy for rap album of the year.
It’s a very cohesive album with features including Mos Def, Common and the frequent collaborator, Dice Raw. They all add to the album. The classic track, “You Got Me,” with Erykah Badu can still be heard today whether it be alone on the radio or in samples on countless tracks.
5. Mos Def – Black on Both Sides
Coming off the success of his collaborative album, Black Star, with Talib Kweli, Mos Def released his first solo project 20 years ago to critical acclaim. With live instrumentation and conscious lyrics, the album left a lasting impression with ranging topics, from the negatives that come with flaunting your wealth to corruption. Mos Def executes each song flawlessly.
Mos himself producers on almost every song, and you can hear the comfortability he has on each track. You can also hear the execution and message he was trying to convey at a high level. The album flows effortlessly and you are taken into the mind of one hip-hop’s most conscious and skilled rappers of its time.