Cover Story | My love for Hip Hop music goes back as far as I can remember. When I got my first cd player, I would go into my room after school and nobody would see me for hours. Even now, I’ll get into a mood, put in my AirPods and next thing you know it’s time for bed. In middle school, my friends and I would trade cd’s to dub at home to expand our collections and talk about new releases at the lunch table. With that in mind here’s part 2 of my favorite 90’s Hip Hop albums.
Lil Kim Hardcore (November 12, 1996)
Lil’ Kim might’ve gotten her start as a member of Junior M.A.F.I.A. but it was clear to most she was stood out from her group mates. And in ’96 with the release of her debut album, Hardcore, she demonstrated just how standout of an artist she was. Her leading singles “No Time” and “Crush on You” both reached number 1 on the rap charts (the first time a female rapper had done so with consecutive singles). She is also the first woman emcee I remember being open, if not explicitly detailed, about her sexuality and using that sexuality to get what she wanted/needed from men. This is a trend that is prevalent in rap music today, but she was an innovator in the 90’s when many of her counterparts chose to rap about less risqué topics.
1999 Eternal (July 25, 1995)
Growing up, I was a big Bone Thugz N Harmony fan. They were the first rappers that I remember incorporating harmonizing into rap lyrics and I was intrigued by it. The group’s lyrics about inner-city Cleveland, OH reminded me of many of the situations I saw growing up in Chicago. E. 1999 Eternal was their 2nd studio album and the follow-up to their successful EP Creepin on ah Come Up released through the late Eazy-E’s label Ruthless. It is also their best-selling body of work with over 15 million copies sold to date. With classic singles such as “1st of tha Month”, “East 1999” and “Crossroads” the album went 4x platinum just in the U.S. and sold millions more worldwide. The group continued to put out successful music for years, but E. 1999 will always stand out to me.
Reasonable Doubt (June 25, 1996)
I’m pretty sure we all know about this masterpiece from Mr. Carter (if not, please gather your things and exit the premises), right? The debut album from Jay-Z has stood the test of time. It was not his highest-selling album (not even close), but it is considered by many to be his best work. Songs like “Dead Presidents II”, “22 Two’s”, “D’evils” etc. put him among the elite lyricists in the rap game at that time. He even held his own with one of the premier emcees at the time, The Notorious B.I.G., in “Brooklyn’s Finest”. After its success, he went on to release an album every year for 8 straight years. And even with a discography of almost 20 solo/collaboration albums I still consider “Can’t Knock the Hustle” with the queen Mary J. Blige in my top 5 songs ever (of any genre).
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