10 UNPOPULAR HIP-HOP OPINIONS
Because somebody disagreeing with popular opinion ain’t being a “hater” …its called "having an opinion".
Hip-Hop opinions, I hate em. Why? Because hip-hop is the only form of music where your opinion will get your head blown off. Have you ever seen a Biggie vs. 2Pac argument in a barber shop? I rest my case. Well, hopefully the demographic that checks for this corny little blog I have is grown enough to accept clashing opinions on the world’s most violent genre of music, and they‘re too worried about their mortgages to care about something this trivial and silly. We need to argue this stuff out like the old men in the barber shop in Coming To America, not the dudes that will wait for you outside the Brooklyn barber shop for not being a Jay-Z fan. When I say things like “TROY” isn’t in my Top 5 favorite Pete Rock beats, I’m usually met with a screw face, but opinions are opinions, no more no less.
So here’s a fun little debate for all my fellow rap FANS (that means everybody‘s opinions are equal)…you all know that there’s an album that’s regarded as the Thriller (RIP MJ) of hip-hop, but you never really got into it. Stop frontin. Or maybe the album where MC Such and Such fell the fuck off to the general public is the only one you like by him. Whatever your oddball opinion is, put it out there, because I’m sick of the same lists of best albums in hip-hop history. Have some balls and stop being so damn textbook. Let’s have some friendly debate as rap FANS.
Here are my unpopular opinions. Please respond with yours. Argue as a FAN, not as a know it all. It’s all opinion anyway…or will someone get death threats?
I’VE ALWAYS FELT THAT…
10. M.O.P’s BEST ALBUM IS TO THE DEATH
It’s often written off as a demo by the group themselves (a la No More Mr. Nice Guy by Gang-Starr). And I KNOW, Primo and M.O.P go together like hot sauce and catfish. But those low budget, non-musical, semi-amateur rock demo beats on To The Death go so well with the uncouth, crass and barbaric image that embodies the M.O.P. we all love so much. Fame and Billy Danze sound like they just rapped over whatever the fuck was in the studio that day, but that’s what makes M.O.P so great. Just look at the Rugged Neva Smoove video with the OG version vs. the Primo remix. Primo’s remix is crazy, but the OG makes you want to go into one of those hipster loft parties in Williamsburg and just fuck it up for everybody.
9. EFIL 4 ZAGGIN > STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON
OK, Cube was obviously the best MC in the group. Best MC leaves, rhyme content suffers. Given. But when the production quality goes up tenfold, the new album plays like a god damn Tarrentino film and the entertainment value goes through the roof, I think we have a new winner. And is it me, or is MC Ren one of the most slept on MC’s in history?
8. LEGAL > YOUNGEST IN CHARGE
Sometimes I wish that Legal came out in a donut hole album cover, then I may have a better chance when trying to win this debate. Like many albums in 1990, Legal suffers from it’s artwork (which features pics of Ed in some horrendous homemade gear and laid out in vogue shots). I remember going with my cousin to Music Factory on Jamaica Avenue when this dropped, and we’re standing in the store looking at the cover. Without hearing it, I assumed Ed went pop and I bought the K-Solo and Lord Finesse albums instead. My cousin had a crush on Ed, so she bought Legal anyway. When I heard her playing it, I stole the tape. I Like “I Got It Made” as much as the next man, but Ed’s performance on here crushes Youngest In Charge. And Howie Tee is slept on for no reason. The “Im The Magnificent” remix bodies the OG, and EVERY track on here was hittin. “Ready 2 Attack” and “Cmon Lets Move It” still knock hard, and I think “Ya Wish Ya Could” was the first to put “Superman Lover” to use. “5 Men & A Mic” is a Top 10 posse cut to me. Even the reggae cut was better than the one on Youngest In Charge. I like his debut, but it ain’t touchin Legal. Lets just hope they reissue it with different art.
7. BUSINESS AS USUAL IS EPMD’s BEST ALBUM, BY A LANDSLIDE
Here’s an example of a groundbreaking group’s debut overshadowing better albums in their catalog, simply because the first time you ever heard them you were blown away. This happened with Eric B. & Rakim and a few others, but we’ll examine the least controversial case first, EPMD. Nobody from NY rapped this slow and funky, nobody used Eric Clapton loops and nobody DARED use their government names to rap under. EPMD broke ground with their debut, Strictly Business. But their “reloaded” approach when they signed to Def Jam for their third album, Business As Usual, took the cake. EPMD were harder, smarter and more polished. It also helps when arguably the best all around DJ in hip-hop (DJ Scratch) is now in the group and you’ve added some subject matter besides “Jane” to your songs (“The Steve Martin” didn’t count and this album had the best “Jane“ story by far too). Pound for pound, Strictly Business ain’t comin close to Business As Usual. I’ll end this argument with taste of classic from a new, improved and more arrogant Parrish Smith on “I’m Mad”:
“In my 560, lampin on my Metro phone/ chrome kit beamin all off your dome/ like a sucker, yeah, you look the other way/ that’s how I know you’re on my dick, kid, but it’s OK/ it’s normal…” Mean. I won’t even mention his verse on “Rampage” or the fact that this album introduced the world to Redman, because then you wouldn’t have room to argue.
6. I LIKED A TRIBE CALLED QUEST’S ALBUMS IN DESCENDING ORDER
I may be the only dude on earth that liked People’s Instinctive Travels… the best. Tribe is a group that deviates from the norm, in that people seemed to like them the most mid way through their career as opposed to at the start. I remember goin crazy over the “I Left My Wallet In El Segundo” video in 1990, but everybody I knew thought it was corny. Their debut album (Peoples Instinctive Travels…) was only trumped (at that time) by 3 Feet High & Rising and Paul’s Boutique as the most ambitious lesson in sampling ever assembled. I won’t snitch because I doubt all that shit was cleared, but not many people touched all the genres they did in 1990. It went on deaf ears until “Bonita Applebum” blew up, then every ensuing album was a bigger and bigger hit, leaving Peoples… in the forgotten files. I loved Low End Theory nearly as much, but I can accept a lashing from the entire rap world for admitting I only got into 3-4 songs on Midnight Marauders. I’m not a big Fender Rhodes fan, if that means anything. The same went for the two albums after. They had their moments, but “I don’t eat no ham n eggs, cause they’re high in cholesterol” may be the best/worst hook ever written. You gotta have a set of balls to do that.
5. LL COOL J’s SECOND BEST ALBUM IS WALKING WITH A PANTHER
There’s little doubt that Mama Said Knock You Out is LL’s best work. In 1990, a recharged LL and Marley Marl made 14 tracks of magic that were timeless (and he didn’t even curse on that album). But the great debate is always “what’s his second best album?” It usually boils down to Radio or Bigger and Deffer. I also know one psycho that insists its 14 Shots To The Dome, but he also still wears a Carhartt jacket in 90 degree weather and still says phrases like “catchin wreck”, “flip the script” and “keep it real” in regular conversation. Safe to say, he’s stuck in 1993, he don’t count. I always had love for Walking With A Panther, even when it was hated by the rap community at large. I read an interview with Bobbito and he said he was interning at Def Jam when it dropped and he thought it was “bone” (read: Trash). OK, so he had a few corny ballads, but what groups aside from PE, NWA and the Beastie Boys didn’t in 1989? LL murdered that god damn album, from start to finish. Bottom line, it has “Big Ole Butt” and “1900 LL Cool J”, case closed. Y’all were just jealous because it was 1989 and he was bangin high priced hoes over sinks in minks instead of buying Africa Medallions in Chinatown. Fuckouttahere, he was ahead of his time on this album and his staggering level of arrogance was beyond royal.
4. PAID IN FULL IS NOT ERIC B. & RAKIM’S BEST ALBUM, NOR IS IT THE SECOND, OR THE THIRD
Let The Rhythm Hit Em is the best album the group ever made. Not only is Ra in a zone, but the fingerprints of a late great Paul C and a still in John Bowne HS Large Professor are all over this one. The beats on this album are damn near flawless. “Mahogany” is Ra at his storytelling best, and “Run For Cover”, “Keep Em Eager To Listen”, “No Omega” and the title cut are all vicious. “In The Ghetto” could possibly be Rakim’s best song ever, so it leaves me to wonder why Paid In Full is always unanimously seen as the groups best offering. Nobody will deny how the algebra of taking 7 MC’s and putting em in a line re-invented the MC game, or how “I Know You Got Soul” and “Eric B Is President” still rock a party, but lets not clutch at straws for the sake of being Rooftop-era nostalgic. The album also had “Chinese Arithmetic” (say what?) and a handful of filler. Paid In Full was our first glimpse of somebody that would become a candidate for the best who ever did it, but a first impression, while the most lasting, isn’t necessarily the best impression. As far as the group goes (excluding Rakim solo efforts), I always felt Paid In Full was their weakest effort, essentially a collection of dope singles and a few filler tracks (which was the norm at that time). Go back and listen, and if you still feel that Paid In Full is actually better than Let The Rhythm Hit Em (or even Follow The Leader and Don’t Sweat The Technique for that matter), then we’ll agree to disagree.
3. FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET > NATION OF MILLIONS…
Hip-hop blasphemy, I know, but I always thought Black Planet was a much better album than Nation Of Millions. Nobody had done what PE did with Nation Of Millions, so the music world was in awe and the bar was set high. Black Planet took what they did 5 notches higher, but that’s such a tall order that when you actually do it, nobody notices . With the turmoil of 1989 (the Professor Griff drama, etc.), Chuck only had more ammo on Black Planet, and he matured as an MC. The conversational tone he used on “Pollywannacracka” was previously uncharted territory for him. “Weclome To The Terrordome” and “Brothers Gonna Work It Out” are the best examples I can come up with for a perfect hip-hop record and for Flav’s solo shot, “Can’t Do Nuthin For Ya Man” , has “Cold Lampin With Flavor” beat by a mile. If you’re talking production, nobody thought the Bomb Squad could take the wall-of-sound approach further than what they did on Nation Of Millions, and they did it with Black Planet. “Revolutionary Generation” and the use of the Prince guitar riff for “Brothers Gonna Work It Out” will either make you want to re-invent the wheel or give up producing altogether. They took this style to the max on the Son Of Bazerk album, but Black Planet was so focused and cohesive, yet so cacophonic, that all you can do is sit there and wish you made it. As amazing and epic as Nation of Millions was, it didn’t give me the frustrated motivation that Black Planet did, if that makes any sense. Add to all this that it was made in the same sessions as Ice Cube’s AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted and Bell Biv Devoe’s Poison albums (two more of my favorites), its no wonder why I prefer it. Speaking of Cube, his verse on “Burn Hollywood Burn” had nothing to do with the song, but it was the hardest 8 bar verse ever. That’s all the more reason Fear Of A Black Planet was a better album than Nation Of Millions.
2. TOUGHER THAN LEATHER > REST OF RUN-DMC’s CATALOG
Let’s face it, Run-DMC’s fame was declining in 1988, so they took the approach of the most popular group of the time (Public Enemy) and tried a sample stacked production style…and the result was this amazing and unfairly panned album. As a kid, I sang “Sucker MC’s” every day walking to school, “My Adidas” was my shit and “You Talk Too Much” was a favorite quote of mine, but I was never floored by a full Run-DMC album until Tougher Than Leather came out. The debut was OK and Raising Hell was the best rap album up to that time, but King Of Rock was weak to me. I support musical growth and all, but I never bought into therap/rock thing I thought it was corny (I still cant listen to “Walk This Way” or “Rock Box”). Adidas endorsements and Aerosmith collabs helped give em the worldwide love they deserved, but I always felt that Tougher Than Leather was the best they had to offer. “Beats To The Rhyme” is just insane, as is “Run’s House”. “How You Do It Dee?” is the best use of a Meters sample I’ve ever heard, and the use of pan mixing and sample chopping on “I’m Not Goin Out Like That” was ridiculous. JMJ (RIP) and David Reeves went all out on this one production wise. This is all producer nerd shit, but so be it. All of their auto-biographies (and JMJ’s biography) allude to a mound of personal problems and lack of focus during the making of this album, but I always felt Tougher Than Leather was Run and them at their best. Their debut was the ground breaker, King Of Rock pushed them up a notch and Raising Hell had the hits, but I cant be textbook in saying that any of those were realistically their best albums, especially the first two.
1. IT WAS WRITTEN WAS LYRICALLY BETTER THAN ILLMATIC
I’m expecting to be ambushed by keep it realers for this but, fuck it. The producer line up of Illmatic was the god damn dream team and the flossy and jiggy Trackmasterz handled It Was Written, so I’m not talking production here. But that, fact plus the fact that Nas traded in his Columbia rain suit (them shits made you sweat your balls off) for an Armani sweater pissed everybody off. What the fuck do you expect? The dude left Queensbridge, he can’t front like he’s still there. Anyway, It Was Written was crushin Illmatic on the rhyme tip, but I felt the image, style and beat changes threw everyone for a loop. “I Gave You Power”, “The Message”, “Black Girl Lost”, “Shootouts”, “Suspects” and the tape only “Silent Murder”? Those repped Nas at his best. Illmatic represented a return to rapping for real after a year of gimmick rap where nobody could complete a sentence. 1993 was more about onomatopoeia, screaming and "flipping ill styles". Let’s be for real, if your name wasn’t Sticky Fingaz, it wasn’t working for you. Even pretty boy rappers bought field jackets and went that route. It was corny. Illmatic was a breath of fresh air (in the same boat as Resurrection and Word Life…albums with major distro that actually featured people rappin for real), but was Nas’ performance better on there than It Was Written?…hell naw!
P.S…I liked Wu-Tang Forever better than 36 Chambers and Words From the Genius better than Liquid Swords, but arguing those is pointless, LOL. Especially the latter.
Grow a set of balls and list your unpopular rap opinions!
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