Awhile back commenter and blogger KevDog, asked me to compile a list of essential hip-hop records, for non-hip-hop fans looking to expand. I've resisted doing this, mostly because these sorts of lists always end with some dude whose tattoed "THUG LIFE" on his chest insisting that Tupac is the most slept-on artist of all time. Or some other dude whose pissed that Divine Styler wasn't on the list. The partisans and the extremist tend to love his sort of thing, and somehow they always manage to take over the conversation.

Anyway, I'm going to venture forth and offer a highly biased, incredibly subjective list of records that are my favorites, and that, I think, display the genius of hip-hop. I encourage people to disagree. I also encourage people to create their own lists. Maybe at the end, we can come up with some sort of highly biased, unauthorative, unofficial master-list. But please, people who stand stand on the trains loudly reciting hip-hop lyrics should not comment here. If you think you may begin your list with "I love hip-hop more than my own Moms, son!!" then nuff respect, kid. But if it's all the same to you, I'd ask that you sit this one out.

Anyway here it goes, in no particular order.

1.) Outkast--Aquemeni
2.) A Tribe Called Quest--Midnight Marauders The Low End Theory
3.) EPMD--Unfinished Business
4.) Ice Cube--Death Certificate
5.) Jay-Z--The Blueprint
6.) Nas-Illmatic
7.) Raekwon--Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
8.) The Fugees--The Score
9.) Gza-Liquid Swords
10.) Public Enemy--It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
11.) De La Soul--3 Feet High And Rising
12.) Gang Starr--Full Clip
13.) The Roots--Illadelph Halflife
14.) Mobb Deep--The Infamous

There's a lot wrong with that list--it's rooted in the early to mid-90s, there aren't any women on there, and its skewed to the East Coast. But beyond that it ignores some truly great feats of MCing. We'll save that for another day, though.

UPDATE: Couple changes, I had the wrong Tribe album as someone mentioned. Also added The Roots--Illadelph Halflife. And yeah Mobb Deep, also. Just forgot those.

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