People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm is the debut album by the alternative hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, released on April 17, 1990 on Jive Records. Though the album was well-received critically, it had little mainstream appeal. The album did earn the band a devoted following, however, within the alternative hip hop community. People's Instinctive Travels was praised for its lyrical inventiveness and bizarre sense of humor, mixed with socially aware and literate message tracks. It is one of three A Tribe Called Quest albums included in The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums. It also was certified gold by the RIAA on January 19, 1996. The record was given the perfect rating of 5 mics in The Source in 1990 — according to Pitchfork, it was the first album ever to receive this honor.
Since its initial reception, Illmatic has been recognized by writers and music critics as a landmark album in East Coast hip hop. Its influence on subsequent hip hop artists has been attributed to the album's production and Nas' lyricism. It also contributed to the revival of the New York City rap scene, introducing a number of stylistic trends to the region. The album is widely regarded as the greatest hip hop album of all time, appearing on numerous best album lists by critics and publications. Its production was handled by DJ Premier, Large Professor, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, L.E.S. and Nas himself. Styled as a hardcore hip hop album, Illmatic features multi-syllabic internal rhymes and inner-city narratives based on Nas's experiences in Queensbridge, New York.
All Eyez on Me is the fourth studio album by American rapper 2Pac, released on February 13, 1996 under Death Row Records and distributed by Interscope Records. The album is frequently recognized as one of the crowning achievements of 1990s rap music. The album featured the Billboard Hot 100 number one singles "How Do U Want It" and "California Love". It featured five singles in all, the most of any of Shakur's albums. Moreover, All Eyez On Me (which was the only Death Row release to be distributed through PolyGram by way of Island Records) made history as the first double-full-length hip-hop solo studio album released for mass consumption. It was issued on two compact discs and four LPs.
Ready to Die is the debut studio album by American rapper The Notorious B.I.G.; it was released on September 13, 1994, by Bad Boy Records. The label's first release, the album features production by Bad Boy founder Sean "Puffy" Combs, Easy Mo Bee, Chucky Thompson, DJ Premier and Lord Finesse, among others. Recording for the album took place during 1993 to 1994 at The Hit Factory and D&D Studios in New York City. The partly autobiographical album tells the story of B.I.G.'s experiences as a young criminal. Ready to Die is his only studio album released during his lifetime, as he was murdered just days prior to the release of his second album, Life After Death (1997).
The Chronic is the debut studio album by American hip hop recording artist Dr. Dre. It was released on December 15, 1992, by his own record label Death Row Records and distributed by Priority Records. Recording sessions for the album took place in June 1992 at Death Row Studios in Los Angeles and at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood. The album is named after a slang term for high-grade cannabis, and its cover is a homage to Zig-Zag rolling papers. It was Dr. Dre's first solo album after he had departed from hip hop group N.W.A and its label Ruthless Records over a financial dispute. On The Chronic, he included both subtle and direct insults at Ruthless and its owner, former N.W.A member Eazy-E. Although a solo album, it features many appearances by Snoop Dogg, who used the album as a launch pad for his own solo career.
Life After Death is the second studio album by the American rapper The Notorious B.I.G., released on March 25, 1997, on Bad Boy Records. A double album, it was released posthumously following his death on March 9, 1997. It features collaborations with guest artists such as 112, Jay-Z, Lil' Kim, Mase, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, Too $hort, Angela Winbush, D.M.C. of Run-D.M.C., R. Kelly, The LOX and Puff Daddy. Life After Death exhibits The Notorious B.I.G. further delving into the mafioso rap subgenre. The album is a sequel to his first album, Ready to Die, and picks up where the last song, "Suicidal Thoughts", ends.
Midnight Marauders is the third album by hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, released November 9, 1993 on Jive Records. It was released two years after A Tribe Called Quest's second album, The Low End Theory, and reached #1 on the R&B/HipHop Charts and #8 on the Billboard 200 in 1993. Midnight Marauders is also seen by many fans and critics as a classic jazz rap album along with The Low End Theory.
The distinctive sound of Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) created a blueprint for hardcore hip hop during the 1990s and helped return New York City hip hop to national prominence. Its sound also became greatly influential in modern hip hop production, while the group members' explicit, humorous, and free-associative lyrics have served as a template for many subsequent hip hop records. Serving as a landmark record in the era of hip hop known as the East Coast Renaissance, its influence helped lead the way for several other East Coast hip hop artists, including Nas, The Notorious B.I.G., Mobb Deep, and Jay-Z.
Reasonable Doubt is the debut studio album by American rapper Jay-Z. It was released on June 25, 1996, by Roc-A-Fella Records and Priority Records. The album features production provided by DJ Premier, Ski, Knobody and Clark Kent, and also it includes guest appearances from Memphis Bleek, Mary J. Blige and The Notorious B.I.G., among others. The album features Mafioso rap themes and gritty lyrics about the "hustler" lifestyle and material obsessions.
Fear of a Black Planet is the third studio album by American hip hop group Public Enemy, released on April 10, 1990, by Def Jam Recordings and Columbia Records. It was produced by the group's production team The Bomb Squad, who sought to expand on the dense, sample-layered sound of Public Enemy's previous album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988). Having fulfilled their initial creative ambitions with that album, Public Enemy pursued a different direction and aspired to create what the group's lead rapper Chuck D called "a deep, complex album". Their songwriting was partly inspired by the controversy with member Professor Griff and his dismissal from the group in 1989.
Black on Both Sides is the debut album of American rapper Mos Def, released on October 12, 1999, by Rawkus Records and Columbia Records. Prior to the album's recording, Mos Def had collaborated with rapper Talib Kweli for the duo's studio album, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star (1998), which raised high expectations for a solo effort. Black on Both Sides features an emphasis on live instrumentation and socially conscious lyrics. On February 2, 2000, the album was certified Gold in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), following sales in excess of 500,000 copies.
The record features outer space-inspired production sounds, with OutKast and producers Organized Noize incorporating elements of dub, reggae, and gospel into the compositions. Several songs feature the duo's first attempts at producing music by themselves. Lyrically, the group discusses a wide range of topics including urban life as hustlers, existential introspection, and extraterrestrial life. The album's title is a portmanteau of "ATL" (an abbreviation of Atlanta, Georgia) and "aliens", which has been interpreted by critics as a commentary about the feeling of being isolated from American culture.
Upon its release, The Score was a commercial success, peaking at the number one spot on both the Billboard 200, and the Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums chart (it was a number-one album on the latter in 1996 on the year-end chart). The singles "Killing Me Softly", "Fu-Gee-La", and "Ready or Not" also achieved notable chart success, and helped the group achieve worldwide recognition. On October 3, 1997, The Score was certified six times platinum in sales by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). In addition to receiving mostly favorable reviews upon its release, the album has garnered a considerable amount of acclaim over the years, with many music critics and publications noting it as one of the greatest albums of the 1990s, as well as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time. In 1998, the album was included in The Source's 100 best rap albums list, and in 2003, it was ranked number 477 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
It Was Written is the second studio album by American rapper Nas, released July 2, 1996 on Columbia Records in the United States. Following the moderate sales success of his acclaimed debut album, Illmatic (1994), Nas chose to focus his efforts in a more mainstream direction. The album proved to be Nas’s most commercially successful release, debuting at number one on the US Billboard 200 chart. It also heralded Nas’s mainstream popularity and followed the success of other mafioso rap albums such as Raekwon's Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… (1995). However, his stylistic changes and increased mainstream success fostered accusations of selling out within the hip hop community. It has been viewed by music writers as one of Nas's best records and remains Nas' best-selling release, with over 4 million copies in the United States alone.
Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star is the only studio album by Black Star, a hip hop duo consisting of emcees Talib Kweli and Mos Def (the latter of whom now goes by the stage name Yasiin Bey). The album was released on September 29, 1998, to critical acclaim. The title is a reference to the Black Star Line, a shipping line founded by Pan-Africanist Marcus Garvey. The album deals with modern-day issues, philosophical ideas, and life in Brooklyn, New York City, as the two artists know it.
2001 is the second studio album by American rapper and producer Dr. Dre. It was released on November 16, 1999, by Interscope Records as the follow-up to his 1992 debut album The Chronic. The record was produced primarily by Dr. Dre and Mel-Man, as well as Lord Finesse, and features several guest contributions from fellow American rappers such as The D.O.C., Hittman, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Xzibit, Nate Dogg, and Eminem. 2001 exhibits an expansion on his debut's G-funk sound and contains gangsta rap themes such as violence, promiscuity, drug use, street gangs, and crime.
Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones, born September 14, 1973), better known by his stage name Nas, is an American hip hop recording artist, record producer, actor and entrepreneur. The son of jazz musician Olu Dara, Nas has released eight consecutive platinum and multi-platinum albums and sold over 25 million records worldwide since 1994. He is also an entrepreneur through his own record label; he serves as associate publisher of Mass Appeal magazine and is the owner of a Fila sneaker store. He is currently signed to Mass Appeal Records.
Tupac Amaru Shakur born Lesane Parish Crooks; June 16, 1971 – September 13, 1996), also known by his stage names 2Pac and Makaveli, was an American rapper, record producer and actor. As of 2007, Shakur has sold over 75 million records worldwide. His double disc albums All Eyez on Me and his Greatest Hits are among the best selling albums in the United States. He has been listed and ranked as one of the greatest artists of all time by many magazines, including Rolling Stone which ranked him 86th on its list of The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. He is consistently ranked as one of the greatest rappers ever, as well as one of the most influential rappers of all time.
Christopher George Latore Wallace (May 21, 1972 – March 9, 1997), better known by his stage names The Notorious B.I.G., Biggie, or Biggie Smalls, was an American rapper. He is consistently ranked as one of the greatest and most influential rappers of all time. Wallace was raised in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. When he released his debut album Ready to Die in 1994, he became a central figure in the East Coast hip hop scene and increased New York's visibility in the genre at a time when West Coast hip hop was dominant in the mainstream. The following year, Wallace led his childhood friends to chart success through his protégé group, Junior M.A.F.I.A. While recording his second album, Wallace was heavily involved in the growing East Coast–West Coast hip hop feud.
A Tribe Called Quest is an American hip-hop trio that was formed in 1985, and was composed of MC and producer Q-Tip, MC Phife Dawg and DJ and producer Ali Shaheed Muhammad. A fourth member, rapper Jarobi White, left the group after their first album in 1991. The group is regarded as a pioneer of alternative hip-hop music, having helped to pave the way for many innovative artists. Along with De La Soul, the group was a central part of the Native Tongues Posse, and enjoyed the most commercial success out of all the groups to emerge from that collective. Many of their songs, such as "Bonita Applebum", "Can I Kick It?", "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo", "Scenario", "Check the Rhime", "Jazz (We've Got)", "Award Tour" and "Electric Relaxation" are regarded as classics. The group released five albums between 1990 and 1998 and disbanded in 1998. In 2006, the group reunited and toured the United States.
The Wu-Tang Clan is an American hip hop group from New York City, originally composed of East Coast rappers RZA, GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Inspectah Deck, U-God, Masta Killa, Ol' Dirty Bastard and Cappadonna. The group was formed in and is associated with the New York City borough of Staten Island. The Wu-Tang Clan has released seven gold and platinum studio albums with worldwide sales of more than 40 million albums, including members' solo projects, since 1992. Its debut album, Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), is considered to be one of the greatest albums in hip-hop history and it is said to have been groundbreaking for hip-hop and one of the most important albums of the hip-hop golden age.
He is the founder and current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. Dre was previously the co-owner of, and an artist on, Death Row Records. He has produced albums for and overseen the careers of many rappers, including 2Pac, The D.O.C., Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Xzibit, Knoc-turn'al, 50 Cent, The Game and Kendrick Lamar. He is credited as a key figure in the popularization of West Coast G-funk, a style of rap music characterized as synthesizer-based with slow, heavy beats. In 2014, Dr. Dre was ranked as the second richest figure in the American hip hop scene by Forbes with a net worth of $550 million; he is at the top of the 2015 Forbes list, with an estimated pre-tax take of $620 million in 2014.
AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted is the debut studio album by American rapper Ice Cube. It was released on May 16, 1990, by Priority Records. It was released as his first solo album, after his acrimonious split from his former group N.W.A. The album was primarily produced by Public Enemy's production team The Bomb Squad, and the album was an unexpectedly large critical and commercial success, and remains one of the defining hip hop albums of the 1990s.
Aquemini is the third studio album by American hip hop duo OutKast, released on September 29, 1998 through LaFace Records. The title is a portmanteau of the two performers' Zodiac signs: Aquarius (Big Boi) and Gemini (André 3000), which is indicative of the album's recurring theme of the differing personalities of the two members. The group recorded the majority of the album in Bobby Brown's Bosstown Recording Studios and Doppler Studios, both in Atlanta, Georgia. Released as the follow-up to the duo's 1996 album ATLiens, Aquemini expands on the previous record's outer space-inspired compositions by incorporating live instrumentation. The commercial success of ATLiens allowed for more creative freedom for the group, which led to the members self-producing the majority of the tracks.
The Infamous is the second studio album by the American hip hop duo Mobb Deep. It was released on April 25, 1995, by Loud Records. The album features guest appearances from Nas, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, & Q-Tip. Embedded with hyper-visual lyricism, dark soundscapes, gritty narratives, and hard beats, it marked Mobb Deep's transition from a relatively unknown rap duo to an influential and commercially successful one. Most of the left-over songs from the album became bonus tracks for Mobb Deep's The Infamous Mobb Deep album (2014).
The Low End Theory is the second album by American hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest. Released on September 24, 1991 through Jive Records, the album produced three singles: "Check the Rhime," "Jazz (We've Got)," and "Scenario." The Low End Theory was one of the first records to fuse hip hop with a laid-back jazz atmosphere. Ali Shaheed Muhammad along with Q-Tip and Phife Dawg are credited with showcasing how rap was done before commercial success influenced many rappers' creativity. The album's minimalist sound is "stripped to the essentials: vocals, drums, and bass." The bass drum and vocals emphasize the downbeat on every track. Engineer Bob Power has been quoted numerous times calling the album, "The Sgt. Pepper's of hip hop" referring to Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band released by The Beatles in 1967.
Master of Ceremony. In the late 1970s, the term emcee, MC or M.C. became an alternative title for a rapper and for their role within hip hop music and culture. The term is often used as a term of distinction, referring to an artist with good performance skills. Some people who MC don't know what this term means.