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Culture Music

The 25 Best Future Features

Say what you want about Future, but it’s abundantly clear that the Atlanta native is one of the kings of great features. 

The rapper/singer hybrid artist (whose real name is Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn) has crafted tons of bangers on his own and done a hell of a lot of fire features along the way. Whenever industry friends such as DJ Khaled, Drake, Lil Uzi Vert, and more pull up to give him a guest spot on their songs, greatness ensues. It’s about time we give Future his flowers and acknowledge his finest guest spots across 22 amazing tracks. 

Be sure to add these songs to your playlist so you can get all the more familiar with Future aka “Future Hendrix” aka “Future Pendergrass.”

1. ‘Bugatti’ with Ace Hood and Rick Ross

Once Future comes in with his foreboding chorus, the anticipation hits a fever pitch. He shouts out the Haitian and Jamaican massive before going crazy with the one line everyone remembers from this song. “I WOKE UP IN A NEW BUGATTI!” You can’t help but jump out of your seat (and possibly spill your drink on the club patron next to you) when Future’s chorus takes over the track.

2. ‘3500’ with Travis Scott and 2 Chainz

One of the more underrated hip-hop artist combinations is the one between Travis Scott and Future. Whenever they hop on a track together, their signature vocal deliveries flow together so well and compliment each other in the best way possible. On this track, Future glides in with a quick intro and returns, later on, to bless the track with one of his hardest (and lengthiest) verses.

3. ‘Grammys’ with Drake

What A Time to Be Alive clearly proves that Drake and Future are a match made in Trill Heaven. Future made sure to hop on Views to assist the Canadian superstar for some good old-fashioned bragging in lyrical form. His brief interlude provides a more hysterical moment, then he gets serious with a catchy chorus and an expectedly braggadocious verse. All the while, Future gets to shine with a beat switch-up that perfectly compliments him.

4. ‘All I Know’ with The Weeknd

It seems like the woman that The Weeknd is pursuing has heard about how he moves out in these streets. That’s why the sultry singer makes it his mission to ease her doubts. Future pops up here to here with a totally different mission statement, though. But it doesn’t take away from the song one bit – it provides a cool yin and yang moment between the two singers that work on the whole.

5. ‘Love Me’ with Lil Wayne and Drake

Future and Drake share chorus duties here, with Future doing most of the heavy lifting in that regard. He’s the very first voice you hear and catches your attention with some hella catchy lines that you’ll be singing at an ignorant volume before you know it. Of course, Future’s part helps you vibe out even more once you have a little “inspiration” and some good drank inside your system.

6. ‘Down for Life’ with PARTYNEXTDOOR, Travis Scott, Rick Ross, and Kodak Black

Future is always willing to hop on a DJ Khaled-produced posse track. With songs like this one, you’ll instantly recognize just how integral Future Hendrix is to Khaled’s most recent LPs. Future blessed this tough tune with its first verse and handles his duties well. Once Future gets out of his spelling bee bag at the beginning, he drops a few cool bars about finding a real one he’d spend it all for and protect at all times. You gotta appreciate the Hot Boyz bars he threw in here, too – “You better hope I don’t OD, I keep a chopper like BG/Young Money n***a no PG, slow it down for me like Juvie.”

7. ‘That Range Rover Came With Steps ’ with Yo Gotti and DJ Khaled

Like the title says, it took a whole lotta work to cop the finer things in life for your favorite rap artists. Future got that point across quite well on this track as he drops some inspirational bars about everything it took to get to where he is now. Plus he made sure to speak on the many ills that come with having all that success and what he’s willing to do to put his haters to rest. Future rides this beat to infinity and beyond, fam.

8. ‘Die for Me’ with Post Malone and Halsey

Future is not to be trifled with in the love department. The same goes for Post Malone. On this track, they lament the broken promises delivered to them by that special lady they thought was “The One.” Future details his troublesome relationship with a woman via a heart-tugging verse, plus he also makes sure to offer his own flip of this song’s catchy ass chorus.

9. ‘New Level’ with A$AP Ferg

The hype levels for this banger are off the charts! You can let this thing ring off in any club across the world and everyone will turn the dancefloor into the biggest of mosh pits. Future’s inclusion here comes across as essential thanks to his immaculate shit-talking about leveling up to the max and calling out those fakers. “I just dipped and dabbed with the semi tucked/You on the red carpet surrounded by pop stars tryna act tough.” TELL EM, FUTURE!

10. ‘Don’t Judge Me’ with Ty Dolla $ign and Swae Lee

This R&B ode to not judging anyone by their cover shines thanks to the trio of superstars featured on it. Future gives this song a verse that describes his inebriated state and mentions an indecent proposal that he hopes to have fulfilled while he’s in it. His featured verse meshes so well with the song’s moody production even though it’s shorter than we would have liked it to be.

11. ‘Smoke Break’ with Chance The Rapper

This is one of Chance’s more underrated songs and it totally deserves way more plays thanks to its chill production & dope concept. Everyone can relate to not having much time to enjoy their old hobbies with their significant other once a baby comes into the picture. Future joins Chance here and offers a worthwhile verse that’s all about honoring his lady the best way he knows how. “Super ain’t saving no hoes” cause Future’s “tryna crown me a queen.” Priorities.

12. ‘holy terrain’ with FKA twigs

Is Future worthy enough of meeting FKA twigs’ high standards for a potential partner? After listening to him pour his heart out here and attempt to better himself, we think he has a shot. Both artists tell a heartfelt story here that’s easy to comprehend. This song in particular presents one of Future’s more “under the radar” classified verses. Future makes it abundantly clear that any woman that prays for his soul is clearly the right lady for him.

13. ‘Jump Out The Face’ with Meek Mill

Another artist that Future has developed amazing chemistry with is Philly’s own Meek Mill. Whenever they link up, it’s always a movie! On this banger, Future spends most of his time hustling to the max, stunting as hard as possible, and stealing a few of his foes’ “lady friends” along the way. Future’s work on this track’s bridge, chorus, and singular verse is worthy of a championship ring.

14. ‘Live Off My Closet’ with Lil Baby

Lil Baby has quickly morphed into one of the new generation’s hottest rappers thanks to his non-stop flow. With Future by his side here, listeners are treated to an absolute neck breaker of a track. Future’s appearance is capped off by a verse that matches Baby’s ability to easily adjust to the cadence of any track he hops on. When these two get into some of that good old-fashioned “rich talk,” it sounds next level. We clearly need more collaborations from these two!

15. ‘Wassup’ with Lil Uzi Vert

Future and Lil Uzi Vert have hopped on a bunch of dope turn-up tracks with each other thus far. One of the best joint works is most definitely this one. Their heavy boasting here over an infectious beat is so live! “Everybody know I come from outer space/I got racks on me, you do not wanna race.” Future’s not tryna hear from any of you lil’ peons!

16. ‘Simple Things’ (Remix) with Miguel and Chris Brown

Miguel, Chris, Brown, and Future aren’t looking for someone famous to call their own. They just want a real one, obviously. You can’t fault them for that – keeping it simple in the relationship department as they live the lives of not-so-simple pop stars sounds like a win-win to us. Future’s verse on this remix describes his dream situation with that one special lady. After hearing it in full, it’s easy to recognize that he left this song with its very best segment.

17. ‘Happiness Over Everything (H.O.E.)’ with Jhené Aiko and Miguel

This song has such a super chill vibe. That’s usually the case with everything Jhené Aiko sends into the universe. Future’s contribution to this rooftop lounge track comes in the form of some fitting adlibs and a verse that’s all about his baby girl & the wild allegations thrown against him thus far. Future just wants you to leave the drama behind and embrace him – is that too much to ask?

18. ‘Ready’ with B.o.B

It may be hard to believe now, but there was a moment in time when B.o.B was one of the biggest Southern rap artists on the scene. During the height of his career, the Winston-Salem, North Carolina-born MC delivered a headbanger of a track that had Future adding that extra sense of excitement to the proceedings. Future’s chorus here is on par with the party-setting hype that he gave us on his feature alongside A$AP Ferg.

19. ‘Real Thing’ with Tory Lanez

Getting caught up in a love affair definitely complicates things. After experiencing all the drama that comes with that, all one would like to do is be with a real one and leave those days of infidelity behind. Future makes sure to get that point across on this track as he acknowledges messing around, leaving a troubled “situationship” behind, and linking up with a lady that’s not all over the timeline. “She don’t post, so I know she won’t expose me.” Gotta keep a lady like that one real close!

20. ‘Money Ain’t No Issue‘ with Meek Mill and Fabolous

Like the song title says, Meek Mill, Fabolous, and Future have no issue dropping a band or two wherever they go. This bass-heavy party track rings off in the club thanks to the combined efforts of all three MCs. Future keeps the wealthy vibes going on this banger with a memorable chorus and a verse that gives us all an inside look at the life of luxury. TURN UP!

21. ‘Way 2 Sexy’ with Drake and Young Thug

Sampling Right Said Fred’s mega-hit “I’m Too Sexy” ended up being the right move to make for this Drake single. Even more great decisions were made once it was decided that Future and Young Thug needed to be on this track as well. Future’s inclusion here results in a nice flip of Right Said Fred’s iconic chorus, which means we get a whole lotta talk about being too sexy for your girl, your gang, that cap, etc.

22. ‘N 2 Deep’ with Drake

First off, the sample of “Get Throwed” for this song’s first half is masterful. Secondly, Drake’s mellow singing goes hand in hand with the production backing him up. And thirdly, Future makes good use of the mid-song beat flip. His quality verse is all about repping the finer things in life, showing off whenever he feels like it’s appropriate, and letting everyone know that the ladies flock to him with relative ease.

23. ‘B*****s and Bottles (Let’s Get It Started)’ with Lil Wayne and T.I.

DJ Khaled can always rely on Future whenever he needs a hook that can grab anyone’s attention. While Lil Wayne and T.I. offer up some triumphant verses here, Future supports their efforts with a chorus that can convince anyone to become their most ratchet self at any shindig. The two B’s mentioned on this track can make any situation that much better and Future makes sure to remind us hereafter every verse.

24. ‘U.O.E.N.O.’ with Rocko and Rick Ross

Some of you may have forgotten just how big this song was when it originally dropped in 2013. The soundscape backing this track up is so wavy, plus the verse delivered by the song’s main artist Rocko matches its tempo to perfection. Then there’s Future, who voices the track’s clever title with precision and gives you the most memorable part that you can’t help but belt out every time it comes on.

25. ‘Snitching’ with Pop Smoke and Quavo

Atlanta and New York join together for a musical union on this track that truly shines. Future arrives here in rare form here as he comes correct with one of his hardest verses of all time. The braggadocious lines about his riches are all here and accounted for, of course. But he also makes sure to drop a few extra bars about the paid “defenders” he has on speed dial and just how powerful the “Woo” is & always will be. It doesn’t get any baller than this line right here, though – “I caught a wave on some Maison Margiela/Audemars, water, Beretta, vendetta.”

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Culture Movies/TV

TJ Atoms on Favorite MCs, ‘Wu-Tang: An American Saga,’ and More

Mark Elzey

Ask anyone who’s watched an episode of Wu-Tang: An American Saga and they’ll tell you that TJ Atoms’ role as Ol’ Dirty Bastard is simply surreal. The young rap artist/actor honors the legacy of the fallen Wu-Tang Clan member’s legacy through his commendable acting chops and convincing mannerisms. Before the highly rated documentary drama series returns to Hulu for its second season on September 8th, we made sure to check in with TJ and pick his brain. Join us as we learn about TJ’s childhood spent in Philadelphia, his musical inspirations, and everything it took to master his important role as ODB.

ONE37pm: So I read that you were born and raised in North Philadelphia. What are some of your warmest memories from your time spent there as a child?

TJ Atoms: Some of my warmest memories in North Philly would definitely have to be just me and my homies chilling, laughing, and recording music at our crib we called the “Baked Carlton” – one of my favorite places, it was basically a frat house for kids who didn’t go to college.

ONE37pm: I made sure to do my research and check out the Bakery Boys, which is the Philly hip hop group you helped create. How did that rap collective initially come together?

Atoms: The Bakery Boys started with me and a few homies that skated in the city. At first, we were just recording raps over old-school hip-hop beats we found on YouTube. Then it kind of just took off from there – we started selling out shows around the city and the fanbase grew. This was before Twitter and Instagram really took off. We didn’t even know how to promote our music; we just had a movement.

ONE37pm: Who are some of the MCs that inspired you to pursue rapping back then? And who are some current artists that inspire you to keep making music today?

Atoms: Rappers that inspired me back then were Mobb Deep, Wu-Tang, Tupac, and Nas. I was a real hip-hop head and that’s all I really listened to. Currently, I don’t really have too many rappers or MCs that inspire me. I get inspired by life these days, real-time events, and things that happen in my day to day.

ONE37pm: I went ahead and looked up the music video for August Burns Red’s “Fault Line” and peeped you in there wreaking havoc on that poor car. Take me through the process of you getting cast for that opportunity.

Atoms: I got cast in the August Burns Red video when I was about 18. I was reading this book about quantum leaping and manifesting the life you want at the time, and one day I was just sitting in a park when this woman came up to me and said I had this look she was going for this video she was casting. It ended up being “Fault Line” and that video changed my life. Shout out to August Burns Red for that!

ONE37pm: Your casting credits include some pretty major TV shows, such as Blue Bloods, Orange is the New Black, and Godfather of Harlem. Which TV role would you say was the most challenging thus far?

Atoms: Playing ODB is definitely the most challenging role I have had so far because he was such a presence. He was really hard to imitate.

Mark Elzey

ONE37pm: You’ve gotten rave reviews for your portrayal of Ol’ Dirty Bastard on Wu-Tang: An American Saga. What steps did you take in order to fully embody him onscreen?

Atoms: The steps I took to really embody ODB was studying every clip I could find, talking to anybody who knew him personally, and using what I already knew as a Wu-Tang fan growing up. I watched every clip of ODB I could find on the internet. I even studied his son’s movements just to be super authentic in my delivery!

ONE37pm: Now you know I gotta ask this question – what are your top five favorite Wu-Tang tracks?

Atoms: My top five Wu tracks are “Can It All Be So Simple,” “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit,” “Da Mystery Of Chessboxin’,” “Ice Cream,” and “Shame on A…”

ONE37pm: What has you excited about the second season for Wu-Tang: An American Saga?

Atoms: I’m most excited to see the group finally come together in Season 2. Some people might feel like this is really Season 1 because this is the first time we see the Wu-Tang clan together, making music and performing their hit singles. We get to see how people are supposed to unite for the bigger picture. Wu-Tang Season 2 is about brotherhood, comradery, and unity.

ONE37pm: Your next film project is Fels High opposite Omari Hardwick. How has it been working alongside him?

Atoms: Working with Omari was a learning experience because he’s a real OG in the acting world. He’s really like a teacher on set, helping actors reach their fullest potential in every scene. He’s a very respectable person and I was grateful to have had him a part of that project.

ONE37pm: Thank you for a great interview!

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Culture Music

The Best Drake Albums, Ranked

This Friday (September 3, 2021), the music world will come to a halt for Drake once again when he releases his 6th solo studio album, Certified Lover Boy. It’s his first album since 2018’s Scorpion and has been in the works for years. A couple of months ago, we put together all of the information we had for it, and you can check that out here.

When you have an artist of this magnitude, people will always be split down the middle. His biggest supporters will argue that he’s the best rapper of all time, while his harshest critics call him one of the most overrated. The truth, as it usually is, is somewhere in the middle. Either way, when CLB drops on September 3rd, the world will be tuned in.

For now, before the LP drops in just a couple of days, we thought it would be an excellent time to take a step back and look at all of the projects that led to this point. Below, we’ve ranked every single one of Drake’s albums and mixtapes (and a compilation and a playlist) from worst to best. Let us know what you think about our picks.

12. Room For Improvement

The title of Drake’s first mixtape would end up being slightly prophetic, as so much of his work is. It’s not that Room For Improvement is a bad project per se because it’s not. Some fans swear to this day that he’ll never outdo this era of music. That feels like an exaggeration, though. The raps here are raw and unpolished, and Drake was yet to stand out from the pack with his signature style. This is certainly worth a listen, though, especially ‘City Is Mine’ and his freestyle over Lupe Fiasco’s ‘Kick Push.’

11. Comeback Season

Drake’s second mixtape was in a similar lane to his first, but hints of the superstar that we’d be introduced to a couple of years later were now a little more present. Even if you haven’t sat with the 2007 mixtape from start to finish, you’ve more than likely heard ‘Replacement Girl’ with Trey Songz, which Drake credits as his first time collaborating with a star from the States. Some other guests on here that Hip-Hop heads wish Drake would have collaborated with since, like Phonte, Lil Brother, and Elzhi.

10. Dark Lane Demo Tapes

Throughout the top of 2020, Drake music was leaking very frequently. In a few months, fans had an album’s worth of leaks like ‘Not Around,’ ‘Zodiac Sign’ with Jessie Reyez, and ‘Vital.’ Drake addressed them once on Instagram Live, saying that they were all old.

The leaks ended up giving him the idea of compiling some music that he had sitting around, and the result was Dark Lane Demo Tapes. It gave loosies’ War’ and ‘Desires’ a home, gave us the final versions of ‘Deep Pockets’ and ‘From Florida With Love’ and gave fans the full version of ‘Not You Too’ and ‘Pain 1993’, which fans had been playing snippets of on repeat. The project has some gems on it, namely ‘When To Say When’ and ‘Chicago Freestyle,’ but overall, it falls short of Drake’s standard with official albums and mixtapes, which is why it’s labeled as a compilation on streaming services.

9. What A Time To Be Alive

It’s funny to remember now, but Drake’s joint mixtape with Future originally came about out of spite for Meek Mill. We were fresh off of ‘Charged Up,’ ‘Back To Back,’ and ‘Wanna Know,’ and a few months before it all on The Breakfast Club, Meek named Future as one of the only artists he listens to day-to-day. That was without a doubt a major reason that Drake decided to do What A Time To Be Alive in the first place. He is the self-proclaimed “petty king,” after all.

Naturally, many of Drake’s verses on this are sprinkled with brags about winning the beef and subtle shots, but not enough for the tape to not be relevant and playable in 2021.

The main criticisms of this project are that, at times, it feels more like a Future project with Drake features on it than a 50/50 collaboration. With that being said, ‘Digital Dash’ and ‘Diamonds Dancing’ remain standouts in either’s discography. Both of them made our recent list of the 50 best Drake songs.

8. More Life

More Life isn’t an album. It isn’t a mixtape. It isn’t even a compilation. It’s a playlist. At least, that’s what it was marketed as.

Essentially, there’s not too much difference about it structurally to a tape or compilation project. You could argue that Skepta and Sampha having their own songs on it lends itself to more of a playlist, but Drake also gave Kendrick his own song on Take Care, PARTYNEXTDOOR his own song on If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and Majid Jordan their own song on Views.

Judging it as a piece of music, there are some great moments on here. Some of them are Drake’s energy on ‘Free Smoke’ and his upgrade from ‘Controlla’ to ‘Blem’ on here. However, the project suffers from the same thing that a couple of other projects on this list did. It’s too damn long. In all honesty, the playlist tag feels more like an excuse for not thinking so much about concepts, transitions, and themes than anything.

7. Thank Me Later

Drake entered the game with his third mixtape, So Far Gone, having an impact like a big album. While that’s the kind of thing artists pray for and fantasize about, it meant that on his actual first album, he had all of the pressures of the infamous sophomore slump.

When you look at the tracklist for Thank Me Later, the first thing you’ll notice is how star-studded it is. JAY-Z, Lil Wayne, T.I., and Alicia Keys make appearances on it, while Timbaland, Kanye West, and No I.D. are some of the producers that the L.P. boasts work from. This was entirely intentional, and it was Drizzy trying to prove to the world that a kid from Canada could not only get features from big names like this but hang with them too.

In terms of sound, TML felt like a transition from the melancholy, atmospheric vibe of So Far Gone, which was later reapproached and mastered on Take Care. It feels like Drake has been thrust into his position as a superstar and doesn’t know what to do with it.

Despite that, it’s a concise project with incredible highs like ‘Shut It Down’ and ‘Light Up.’

6. Scorpion

Until about a month before Scorpion dropped, Drake had done everything right. In response to the idea that he took smaller artists’ songs and jumped on them to take their shine, he did ‘Look Alive’ with BlocBoy JB and did the video with him. He gave away $1 million in the ‘God’s Plan’ video. He put black women on a pedestal for the ‘Nice For What’ visual. But then, the Pusha T beef hit its height.

‘The Story Of Adidon’ put pressure on Drake like we could have never imagined for someone of his magnitude. Scorpion was his answer and a direct one at that.

Somewhat controversially, Drake spent a lot of time of the Rap portion of the album talking about Pusha T and Kanye West. Some felt that it took away from the album, while others argued that it gave the music a fierce edge that was necessary.

All in all, Scorpion could have been a really great album if Drake wasn’t married to the idea of doing a double-disc. There’s just too much fat on it to place any higher on the list.

5. Views

Views is an album that was so critically acclaimed when it dropped that people put a little too much weight on its flaws, perhaps just to be contrarians. The album’s commercial success puts it in a weird space.

Drake has said that the concept of Views is inspired by the weather in Toronto, specifically the extremes of its harsh winters and scorching summers. He told Zane Lowe that the album starts off in the winter, takes us through the summer, and ends again in the winter. That feels a little bit like an afterthought to justify having some moody music and some fun records on the same project.

Either way, Drake’s fourth studio album doesn’t get the credit it deserves for doing what it did for Afrobeats and Dancehall. Whether anyone likes it or not, Drake popularised the genres for a mainstream audience, and Views encapsulates that moment perfectly with songs like ‘One Dance’ and ‘Controlla.’ We’re not sure anyone could blend a handful of genres together more smoothly than this.

4. So Far Gone

For some, as is always the case, the nostalgia of Drake’s 2009 mixtape So Far Gone means that it can never be topped.

With this project, Drake created an aura attached to Hip-Hop and R&B music from Toronto for a decade. As he poetically put it on ‘Say What’s Real,’ it marks the moment that he transitioned “from fitting into standing out.”

There are hard Rap moments like ‘Uptown’ and vulnerable gems like ‘Brand New’, and they live in harmony under the same umbrella.

3. Take Care

Drake’s sophomore album took the ‘contentious relationship with fame’ topics from Thank Me Later and mixed it with the desolation of So Far Gone. The result is the project that shaped Drake’s career and gave us an authentic glimpse of the places he could go as an artist.

Take Care is flawed only by its overly sweet moments like ‘Make Me Proud’ and ‘We’ll Be Fine’ that piece through its ambiance and even feel out of place conceptually. To Drake and 40’s credit, they acknowledged that the album was slightly too long and went out of their way to fix that for Drake’s next album.

When you talk Take Care, The Weeknd’s contribution must always be acknowledged. The singer helped Drake in some of the more ballad moments and gave up some of his own music for the project.

2. If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late

Technically a mixtape, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late came at a time when Drake had gone around a year and a half without an album and needed a sort of bridge to the already-announced Views.

Drake had always wanted to lock in with Boi-1da and do a tape full of more aggressive Rap songs, which was the perfect opportunity. We ended up with a cold project that had much more impact than Drake intended or anticipated.

IYRTITL is Drake’s second-best body of work because it’s one of his easiest to play from start to finish, and although it’s evident that part of Drake’s goal with it was to put on banger after banger without giving much thought to transitions or a larger picture, that’s also one of its gifts.

For some, this LP will always be marred by its association with Quentin Miller, but if you’re able to look past his contributions, the 2015 tape is special.

1. Nothing Was The Same

Coming off of Take Care, there was a transition taking place for Drake. He was turning from ‘the leader of the new guys’ to just one of the top rappers, his idols truly becoming his peers and rivals. He was well aware of the perception that he was the #1 rapper on the planet in 2013, and he owned it, no pun intended.

Nothing Was The Same’s title even alludes to the fact, as does a lot of its content. “Fuck all that ‘happy to be here’ shit that y’all want me on, I’m the big homie,” he acknowledges on ‘Paris Morton Music 2’.

It helped that he was coming off of a fight with Chris Brown, and tension with Kendrick Lamar was already building. ‘The Language’ sees Drake dismiss the Compton MC entirely, singing, “I don’t know why they been lying, but your shit is not that inspiring.” He was stepping up to the plate, unapologetically so.

More than anything, NWTS is the project that it felt like Drake and 40 had been trying to make up until that point. The rapper talked about correcting the mistakes of Take Care where two good songs could have been one song and intentionally capping himself to 13 tracks. It paid off.

Categories
Culture Music

The 52 Best Drake Features

Who’s the first rapper/singer you think of when the phrase “HE DON’T MISS!” comes to mind? It can be no one other than Toronto, Canada’s very own Drake. The man went from starring in the lowkey fire series Degrassi: The Next Generation to blossoming into one of the biggest stars in all of music. Everyone knows that when you get a feature from the “Champagne Papi” himself, that song will most likely rocket up the charts and become an even better listen because of it. There’s a seemingly endless lineup of tracks that feature a memorable “Drizzy Drake” feature, but we managed to shorten that list down to 52. So without further ado, here are the very best Drake features of all time.

1. ‘Stay Schemin’ with Rick Ross and French Montana

Drake came ready for war as he arrived with plenty of lyrical ammunition for his haters. He especially had a whole lot of energy for Common, who he was beefing with at the time. Drake’s verse on here is extra combative, which is just how we like it. Rick Ross’ Kobe adlib and Drake’s furious vitriol for his adversaries easily make this track an unforgettable banger.

2. ‘Amen’ with Meek Mill

This pre-Meek Mill and Drake beef recorded track flips a familiar Sunday Service tune. And it still slaps to this very day. Drake provided this song with a verse that’s all about the many blessings afforded to him and his loved ones. He also provided a bit of his signature shit-talking with one of the best lines of the song – “Talking bout these other rappers getting old is even getting old.”

3. ‘No Guidance’ with Chris Brown

For some reason, Drake has a penchant for recording some really good music with artists he once hated. After patching things up, he and Chris Brown decided to hop in the studio and provide this sultry R&B tune. The video makes this song even better, by the way! Anyway, Drake taps into his sing-songy vibes as he lovingly describes a special lady in his life that definitely “got it.”

4. ‘Going Bad’ with Meek Mill

This song arrived after Meek Mill and Drake’s beef got left to the wayside. The grown men talk on this tune is inspiring and so is the video that has a bunch of powerful figures in it suited up to perfection. Both rappers flex their mass success here and provide verses full of poignant lines. Drake’s braggadocious style matches the tone of this track wonderfully as he goes “I got more slaps than The Beatles (Beatles)/Foreign shit runnin’ on diesel, dawg/Playin’ with my name, this shit is lethal, dawg.”

5. ‘Work’ with Rihanna

Drake’s undying affection for Ri-Ri comes through every time the both of them are onscreen. While the lovable songstress sings about wanting a deeper connection with her love interest, Drake is only interested in the types of activities that happen underneath the sheets. His verse immaculately breaks down those sentiments and showcases the immense chemistry that both artists have developed over the years.

6. ‘Aston Martin Music’ with Rick Ross and Chrisette Michele

The smoother the track, the better whenever Rick Ross and Drake link up. The name of this track is pretty much directions as it’s letting the listener know that it’s perfect for a two-seater with your current lady. Drake does double duty here as he provides a smooth hook alongside Chrisette Michele and a verse that’s still one of his very best. “I never threw away that paper with my Grammy speech/Because I haven’t hit the pinnacles I plan to reach.” How prophetic.

7. ‘Moment 4 Life’ with Nicki Minaj

Young Money era Drake was and still is a whole vibe. You can tell the man was hungry and always ready to show the world how much of a prime lyricist he could be. On this Nicki Minaj-helmed hit single, Drake delivered a celebratory verse that showed love to his team and the man that brought him into the game. And remember, folks – ‘Cause everybody dies, but not everybody lives.” Now that’s a quotable to live by!

8. ‘Seeing Green’ with Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne

You can never go wrong when this Young Money/Cash Money trio goes bar for bar on the very same song. In the case of this song, Drake easily stood out as the person with the best verse of ‘em all. What we get from a more seasoned version of Drake here are some major boasts about his career and his riches, plus a fun lil’ verbal break beforehand that produces a line worth living by – “You know, one of the perils of makin’ money is you can afford to be dramatic.” FIRE!

9. ‘Forever’ with Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem

Do you know what’s funny? No one can probably tell you the name of the documentary this song is meant for, but they can damn sure tell you the whole lineup of MCs featured on it. Kanye West, Lil Wayne, and Eminem all came through with incredible verses. And thankfully, so did Drake. Alongside his lyrical workout, Drake also provided a chorus that has the power to inspire anyone to pursue their dreams.

10. ‘Believe Me’ with Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne and Drake usually come together like a championship tag team and dominate any track they hop on. On this early cut featuring the two, Drizzy Drake spoke on the immense potential he showed during his start in the industry and his proud mentor. His masterful verse truly embodies his love for Wayne and how much of a loyal YMCMB soldier he was always willing to be.

11. ‘BedRock’ with Young Money

The late 2000s run of Young Money is the stuff of legend. Lil Wayne signed a bunch of promising artists that started strong as a collective. Their opening salvo of posse cuts was certainly radio-friendly and catchy as all hell. This lovey-dovey single let Drake rap about his special someone with a short and sweet verse that matched the vibes of everyone featured on it.

12. ‘Poetic Justice’ with Kendrick Lamar

Kendrick Lamar’s first album is considered a classic and for good reason – it tells the story of Kendrick’s California upbringing via strong production, great features, and K-Dot’s immense lyrical skill. When it came time to speak to the ladies on that album, Drake arrived with a very worthwhile assist. Anytime Drake drops a bunch of fly lines about his latest female infatuation, you know it’s gonna be a good time. And that’s definitely the case here.

13. ‘F**kin’ Problems’ with A$AP Rocky, 2 Chainz, and Kendrick Lamar

Do you guys wanna talk about a great all-star hip-hop cut? Then you gotta mention this fun-loving ode to stunting with a vengeance and having an addiction to the finest of ladies. Drake stepped up to the plate to deliver a home run of a verse that saw him take aim at his rivals and make it clear that he’s willing to “upgrade” his main squeeze at any cost. “I will pay to make it bigger, I don’t pay for no reduction.”

14. ‘Walk It Talk It’ with Migos

The Soul Train vibes that were on full display in the music video for this track truly bring it to life. And once Drake joins the famous “Soul Train Line” to show off his fly footwork, hilarity ensues. But his verse is no laughing matter – Drake provides some momentous bars about ignoring needless beefs, vibing with the Migos, and always staying in his zone.

15. ‘No Frauds’ with Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne

The Three GOATs of YMCMB came together once again here and produced quite the lyrical assault. Nicki Minaj takes aim at Remy Ma, while Lil Wayne and Drake speak on the highs & lows of their respective careers. Once again, Drake takes MVP honors via his game-winning verse. When someone literally describes the sound of their net worth, you can’t help but feel every bit of that grand proclamation.

16. ‘Sicko Mode’ with Travis Scott

The opening salvo unleashed by Drake here clues you into just how legendary this track will be. The main star featured on this banger gets plenty of time to enter into a higher form of excellence, of course. But Drake gets to slide over two fire instrumentals and damn near take the song for his own. You’ll be left wanting a full version of the beat held up by Drake at the very start of this song every time. But at least you’ll still leave satisfied thanks to his second verse. Never forget, folks – “Checks over Stripes.”

17. ‘Every Girl’ with Young Money

In retrospect, this song has some facepalm-worthy cornball lyrics. Luckily, that’s not the case when Drake pulls up to provide his flirtatious second verse. Young Drizzy harps on his special lady having trouble fitting her immense exterior into some jeans, all the ladies he’s forgotten the names of, and asks a very important question – “Are any of y’all into girls like I am? Les-be-honest!”

18. ‘Pop That’ with French Montana, Rick Ross, and Lil Wayne

French Montana knows just who to call when it’s time to produce a track that will dominate the clubs and get a dizzying amount of radio plays. Uncle Luke’s “I Wanna Rock” lays the foundation for this twerking anthem and gives French, Ricky Rozay, Weezy F. Baby, and Drizzy Drake the perfect opportunity to spit some party-friendly bars. Drake’s verse easily commanded the most attention and showcased his swaggiest persona to date, which is “Champagne Papi.”

19. ‘Blessings’ with Big Sean and Kanye West

Gratitude should always be your best attitude. That’s clearly the motto here when Big Sean, Kanye West, and Drake come together for a song that counts their many blessings. Drake makes it clear that he and his crew on this song aren’t making a return & never left, plus he eloquently speaks on those failed individuals that don’t do a whole lot but sure have a lot to say. When he said “I am just worried ‘bout my mama worrying less,” we definitely felt that!

20. ‘Who Do You Love?’ with YG

When Drake links up with West Coast rap artists, greatness ensues. He and YG came together like Voltron here to speak on the immense clout they both possess. Once YG gets done flaunting his power, Drake follows up by doing the same via a fire verse. His whole “too big” diatribe still sticks out in our mind for all the right reasons – “And my name too big and my gang too big/Young Money shit, me and Lil Wayne too big/I’ma crush that ass even if it ain’t too big/I would pinky swear but my pinky ring too big.”

21. ‘No New Friends’ with Lil Wayne and Rick Ross

“No new friends, no new friends/No New friends, no, no new.” That single quotable had everyone and their grandmother screaming it out and living by it through the spring and summer months of 2013. Drake provided that life-changing line, but he also made sure to supply this DJ Khaled-helmed anthem with a memorable verse. That familiar OVO Sound came through heavy here thanks to Drake’s short yet sweet lyrical exercise. “F**k her on the floor ‘fore we make it to the bed/That’s what yo’ ass really call started from the bottom.” Well damn, Drake!

22. ‘What’s My Name?’ with Rihanna

Do you know what the world needs right about now? More Rihanna and Drake songs. If we’re going to get any closer to world peace, then they both need to head into the studio and record another ode to love together. Songs like this one are proof that their musical chemistry is undeniable. The way he mentions a mathematical equation and immediately segues into some flirty bars on this song is nothing short of amazing.

23. ‘Un-Thinkable (I’m Ready)’ (Remix) with Alicia Keys

Drake arrived on this Alicia Keys gem to give us the best of both worlds, which is his lyrical dexterity and his soft-spoken singing. His bars about fearing a life where he hasn’t met that special one, searching for a woman with substance, and doing the unthinkable for that special lady still resonates years after he spit them. And his soulful vocals alongside Alicia sound oh so wonderful.

24. ‘Love Me’ with Lil’ Wayne and Future

As long as the ladies in these three men’s lives love them, then there’s simply nothing else to care about in this world. That message comes across loud and clear thanks to the combined efforts of this three-man superteam. Drake helps magnify this track’s catchy chorus by joining in alongside Future, which was an early glimpse into the magic both men would eventually create years later.

25. ‘Family Feud’ with Lil Wayne

When Drake starts going in on this track, he speaks on all the biggest issues and feuds that went on at the time. As a very topical song, this remix of the quality Jay-Z original proves to be an incredible lyrical time capsule. Drake makes it clear that solutions need to be made in order to prosper, but things can still be handled on wax if the situation calls for it. Lil Wayne’s verse is equally amazing here, by the way.

26. ‘Versace’ (Remix) with Migos

Drake slid right into the all-powerful Migos flow as if it was always embedded into his rapper DNA. It’s impressive how much he manages to sound like the fourth unofficial member of the Atlanta trio. “I’m tryna give Halle Berry a baby and no one can stop me (smash!)” Drake verses and Migos ad-libs go together like fine wine and aged cheese. We need more collabs like this ASAP!

Honorable Mentions
27. ‘No Lie’ with 2 Chainz

28. ‘Shit’ with Future and Juicy J

29. ‘Gold Roses’ with Rick Ross

30. ‘Used to This’ with Future

31. ‘Where Ya At’ with Future

32. ‘Truffle Butter’ with Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne

33. ‘Girls Need Love’ (Remix) with Summer Walker

34. ‘Come Closer’ with WizKid

35. ‘No Stylist’ with French Montana

36. ‘Oprah’s Bank Account’ with Lil Yachty and DaBaby

37. ‘Look Alive’ with BlockBoy JB

38. ‘Never Recover’ with Lil Baby and Gunna

39. ‘Big Amount’ with 2 Chainz

40. ‘Both’ with Gucci Mane

41. ‘Yes Indeed’ with Lil Baby

42. ‘I’m On One’ with DJ Khaled, Lil Wayne, and Rick Ross

43. ‘Having Our Way’ with Migos

44. ‘100’ with The Game

45. ‘Life is Good’ with Future

46. ‘Say Something’ with Timbaland

47. ‘Mine’ with Beyonce

48. ‘Recognize’ with PARTYNEXTDOOR

49. ‘Money to Blow’ with Birdman and Lil Wayne

50. ‘Only You (Freestyle)’ with Headie One

51. ‘Tuesday’ with iLoveMakonnen

52. ‘No Complaints’ with Offset

Categories
Culture Music

The 50 Best Kendrick Lamar Songs

K. Dot. King Kendrick. Cornrow Kenny. King Kunta. Kung Fu Kenny. Top Dawg Entertainment’s shining beacon of hip-hop greatness has many monikers, but his born name precedes them all – Kendrick Lamar.

Kendrick’s a definite fave of ours and a multitude of hip-hop diehards thanks to his masterful wordplay, strong discography, and dedication to reflecting on the social ills of the modern world. When he hops on a track, you can bet that he’ll deliver a bevy of quotables and make you reflect on the serious topics he touches on. His delivery of quality mixtapes, EP’s, and LP’s have made it so hard to hit the skip button – why would you when K. Dot regularly provides incredible bars backed by wonderfully crafted beats? We made sure to revisit all of Kendrick’s projects so we could reflect on the best songs he’s put on each one.

Prepare to build yourself an all-new daily commute playlist as we list the 50 greatest Kendrick Lamar songs of all time.

1. ‘Wanna Be Heard’

A young K. Dot popped up on this joint to deliver some bars about his desire to be placed among the greatest. And he made it clear that he wanted to do that by properly representing the hood he knows so well. “Wanna Be Heard” acts as a brief history lesson that covers Kendrick’s upbringing and his grand ambition as a world-renowned MC. 

2. ‘Far From Here’ (feat. ScHoolboy Q)

Anytime a member of TDE’s Black Hippy crew gets together on a song, magic ensues. And that’s definitely the case here as Kendrick and ScHoolboy Q join forces to lament their many struggles. Times are definitely hard no matter the time or place. Both rappers make those hard times sound so soulful and make it easy to relate as you bump your head extra hard to their heartfelt delivery.

3. ‘Thanksgiving’ (feat. Big Pooh)

This is one of those celebratory records that sounds like Kendrick is in the middle of the Super Bowl celebrating a championship win. The added element of a triumphant Big Pooh verse makes this stadium status banger even better. “Thanksgiving” is quite the bold statement in hip-hop form and we’re glad Kendrick got to be the one to deliver it.

4. ‘P&P 1.5’ (feat. Ab-Soul)

Do you know what will definitely make you feel alright? The two main elements that K. Dot and Ab-Soul rap about on this super chill tune. This is another one of those joints that speak on the ills that constantly trip up both rappers’ lives. By the end of each verse, both MCs make it clear that the only thing that can lift their spirits is the company of a beautiful woman and some good liquor.

5. ‘Barbed Wire’ (feat. Ash Riser)

The instrumental for this one goes extremely hard, which is part of the reason why it’s such a gem. “Barbed Wire” features a K. Dot that stays right in the pocket in the finest way possible. By kicking off every verse with “Have you ever felt like…,” Kendrick delves into a series of questions and events that makes you reflect on everything he’s spitting about on this track in comparison to your life.

6. ‘F**k Your Ethnicity’

This booming introduction to Section.80 makes quite the bold statement with its title. But after it comes to a close, you leave it with a clearer idea of what K. Dot was going for and end up appreciating it even more. It doesn’t matter what you represent because Kendrick rocks with you all the same. This tune hits hard and stands out as one of the best hip-hop album starters the genre has ever been treated to.

7. ‘Hol’ Up’

As far as feel-good Kendrick songs go, this one is certainly among the best. What we get here is a braggadocious track that speaks on Kendrick’s many highs and how quickly he’s managed to bypass most of his peers. Listening to him go on about being wise for his young age is also another crucial element of this song’s overall message.

8. ‘A.D.H.D.’

“A.D.H.D.” is a super spacey tune that places your mind, body, and soul onto another plane of existence. Its production makes you feel as if you’re floating through space, while Kendrick’s wonderful wordplay puts you on a natural high. You can’t help but see everything move in slow motion as this chill-inducing tune comes through your loudspeakers.

9. ‘Chapter Six’

The jazzy overtones tied to this one also exude those relaxed vibes a lot of early Kendrick songs live by. While it may not offer a bunch of mind-blowing quotables, “Chapter 6” still puts forth an easy-to-comprehend message that quickly gets stuck in your head. We also hope and pray that a lot of you young heads reading this also make it to 21.

10. ‘Ronald Reagan Era (His Evils)’ (feat. Ash Riser, Ab-Soul, and RZA)

Kendrick goes all out here to make it clear that the individuals that came up in his city had quite a tough upbringing during a tumultuous time in American history. Thanks to the added presence of Ash Rizer’s soulful intro, Ab-Soul’s hilarious callout, and RZA’s unexpected assistance on the chorus, “Ronald Reagen Era (His Evils)” reaches the top of the list for K. Dot’s best songs. You can’t help but feel like you’re riding through Compton looking for trouble when this one comes on.

11. ‘Poe Mans Dreams (His Vice)’ (feat. GLC)

The trials and tribulations of a young street prodigy come into full view here. Kendrick details all the inner thoughts that go through one’s head as one witnesses the ills that come with being raised in a tumultuous environment. But by the time this track wraps up, Kendrick drops a bunch of life lessons for those that went through what he went through and are looking to become a better person.

12. ‘Rigamortis’

The flow that your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper adores is all over this impressive display of fast and furious wordplay. “Rigamortis” is one of those Kendrick tracks that instantly makes it clear just how much of a lyrical threat he is. First-time listeners are usually left in awe once this one wraps up and longtime K.Dot Stans go back to it on the regular. Kendrick leaves several bodies in his wake by the time he brings his super-fast flow to an end.

13. ‘Blow My High (Members Only)’

As soon as this track kicks in, Kendrick blesses us with a few bars from the late great Pimp C. That rousing dedication sets the tone perfectly for “Blow My High (Members Only),” which is a song that sends all the love in the world to Pimp C, Aaliyah, and Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes. The production tied to this track is certainly bop-worthy, while K. Dot’s bars provide a noteworthy dedication to three musical legends.

14. ‘HiiiPower’

Kendrick gets real reflective and provides a whole lot of food for thought on this one. This Section.80 cut is most definitely one of his most powerful contributions to the hip-hop medium – it examines the everyday ills of being a black person trying to thrive in America and mentions the many leaders that fought to help them fight for prosperity. Fighting the system with the words spoken on “HiiiPower” will certainly get anyone amped up in the fight for equality.

15. ‘Sherane aka Master Splinter’s Daughter’

The prayer placed at the beginning of this album intro exudes images of a group of young brothers seeking holy refuge from their everyday struggles. And once the beat kicks in, K. Dot tells the story of a young woman that takes him on a wild ride through feelings of puppy love. This song’s breakdown of a young Kendrick pursuing the girl of his dreams is quite an engrossing tale. Shout out to Kendrick for tagging the name of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ master on this song’s clever title.

16. ‘B***h, Don’t Kill My Vibe’

Kendrick isn’t really asking for much here – he simply wants to vibe out without any negative elements disturbing his peace. Getting into an uplifting mood and feeling out everything around you are the sort of themes that come through front and center on this track. K. Dot floats so wonderfully over the soothing soundscape for this track and turns it into a complete vibe setting experience.

17. ‘Backseat Freestyle’

This head banger sounds like Kenny’s pulled up to a cipher to body anyone and everyone in his vicinity. “Backseat Freestyle” is supremely braggadocious and showcases a rare moment of Kendrick talking that fly ish. We’re glad he decided to stop being humble for a moment – this song thrives because of it. We’re betting that a lot of you reading this rapped a few bars to this song’s instrumental in your homie’s ride.  

18. ‘The Art of Peer Pressure’

We’ve all been there before – the homies say anything and everything to make you engage in some illegal activities. And once you’ve decided to heed their advice, you end up on the bad end of your horrible decisions. “The Art of Peer Pressure” provides one of those well-crafted storytelling tunes that Kendrick is most known for. A whole lot of lessons are learned here as K. Dot retells the sort of stories that have become tied to the young, wild, and reckless.

19. ‘Money Trees’ (feat. Jay Rock)

“Money Trees” has so many moments where a concert audience can join in and belt out its lyrics. As soon as the first few notes of this track come on, you and everyone around you will instantly get excited. K. Dot and Jay Rock show off their Black Hippy chemistry with their super chill flow on this one – you can’t help but rap along to this tune as both MCs wax poetics about getting’ to that paper.

20. ‘Poetic Justice’ (feat. Drake)

A Janet Jackson sample. A Kendrick verse that’s dedicated to the ladies. And a quality Drake feature. Those three elements ended up concocting one of the smoothest odes to women K. Dot has ever recorded. Kenny shows off the casanova side of himself here while Drake offers his usual delivery of lyrics that keeps his heartthrob status intact. “Poetic Justice” works so well when the lights are low and the mood is set (if you know what we mean).

21. ‘Good Kid’ (feat. Pharrell)

Coming up in Compton provided a pretty tough upbringing for Kendrick. With the assistance of Pharrell, TDE’s top dog gives listeners a detailed account of the thoughts that run through his head regarding that arduous lifestyle. K. Dot speaks on unfriendly encounters, drug addiction, gang affiliations, and everything in between on this one.

22. ‘m.A.A.d city’ (feat. MC Eiht)

We go from a mellow reflection on Kenny’s life on “Good Kid” to a banger that changes the mood to a chaotic one with “m.A.A.d city.” This song places you smack dab in the middle of some intense gang warfare – Kendrick’s vivid descriptions and ScHoolboy Q’s signature callouts bring you into their tumultuous hometown. The switch-up in the middle of this track makes it even better thanks to a booming 90s Dr. Dre-esque beat and a hard verse from West Coast veteran MC Eiht.

23. ‘Swimming Pools’

The many ills that plague folks that deal with alcoholism can be detrimental to one’s physical and mental attributes. Kendrick touches on that rarely rapped-about topic and delves into the inner monologue that goes through his head when liquor is a part of the equation. As far as hit singles go, this is one of Kendrick’s best since it covers a very serious topic and still manages to be a total club/radio banger.

24. ‘Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst’

Three individuals come into the picture on one of Kendrick’s finest examples of past reflections. “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst” transports listeners into the life of a troubled youngster, a pissed-off brother of a sister that does whatever she can to get by, and that very same sister. This track produces four chapters full of deep looks at the lives of a group of people whose stories must be told. The way Kendrick wraps up this song by speaking on the people he mentioned beforehand is masterful.

25. ‘Compton’ (feat. Dr. Dre)

You just can’t go wrong with a song that features bars from Kendrick and Dr. Dre. And the added element of some incredible production from Just Blaze is just the perfect cherry on top. “Compton” is an audio tour through one of California’s most talked-about locales and excels as the city’s unofficial theme song. It doesn’t get any harder than this collaborative track that brings together two of the West Coast’s hip-hop kings. 

Honorable Mentions
26. ‘The Recipe’ (feat. Dr. Dre)

27. ‘Black Boy Fly’

28. ‘Wesley’s Theory’ (feat. George Clinton & Thundercat)

29. ‘Institutionalized’ (feat. Bilal, Anna Wise & Snoop Dogg)

30. ‘These Walls’ (feat. Bilal, Anna Wise & Thundercat)

31. ‘Alright’

32. ‘For Sale? (Interlude)’

33. ‘Momma’

34. ‘Hood Politics’

35. ‘How Much a Dollar Cost’ (feat. James Fauntleroy & Ronald Isley)

36. ‘Complexion (A Zulu Love)’ (feat. Rapsody)

37. ‘The Blacker the Berry’

38. ‘You Ain’t Gotta Lie (Momma Said)’

39. ‘I’

40. ‘Mortal Man’

41. ‘DNA.’

42. ‘FEEL.’

43. ‘LOYALTY. (feat. Rihanna)

44. ‘HUMBLE.’

45. ‘LOVE.’ (feat. Zacari)

46. ‘DUCKWORTH.’

47. ‘Untitled 03 | 05.28.2013.’

48. ‘Untitled 08 | 09.06.2014.’

49. ‘All The Stars’ (feat. SZA)

50. ‘Big Shot’ (feat. Travis Scott)

Categories
Culture Music

The Best Notorious B.I.G. Albums, Ranked

“It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! magazine/Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine/Hangin’ pictures on my wall/Every Saturday Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl.”

How could you not know the lyrics to one of the most inspirational, coming of age themed rap songs of all time? The way Christopher Wallace aka “The Notorious B.I.G.” eloquently described his rise to hip-hop stardom was masterful and simply unforgettable. When Biggie Smalls existed on this Earth in physical form, he blessed our ears with two solo albums that showcased his mastery of the microphone. He exuded a different type of swag, instilled confidence in all the fellas that looked just like him, and came hard on every song he starred on. We lost the Notorious B.I.G. far too soon, but his family, friends, and fans have done an incredible job of making sure his memory is never forgotten.

We’re going to aid in those commendable efforts and take a look at all the LPs that were graced by Biggie Small’s presence. From the albums he recorded while he was still here right on up to his posthumous efforts, these are all of the Notorious B.I.G. albums ranked from weakest to strongest.

6. ‘Conspiracy’

After dropping his debut album for the world at large, Biggie chose to link up with his ensemble of fellow MCs to offer up this collaborative effort. That LP is the Junior M.A.F.I.A. project known as Conspiracy. To be quite honest, this album hasn’t really aged all that well. The production featured on the majority of it screams “generic mid-90s boom bap fare” and the bars aren’t particularly memorable. There’s a few undeniable hits on this album, though – “Player’s Anthem,” “Get Money,” and “Lyrical Wizardry” have definite replay value. As for the rest of this LP, Conspiracy just doesn’t hold up in this day and age. And judging by the reviews that came out for it at the time of its release, a lot of critics weren’t too fond of it either.

5. ‘The King & I’

Faith Evans’s soulful vocals and Biggie’s smooth cadence when it comes to rapping prove to be the perfect match. This posthumous collaboration LP brings the two together for an album that has a few gems worth mentioning. “A Billion” offers a rousing solo from Faith herself, while “Legacy” delivers a soothing vibe that kicks off the album on a very strong note. Then there’s a bunch of other solid tunes littered throughout the rest of this album’s tracklist – “Can’t Get Enough,” “Tryna Get By,” “The Reason,” and “I Don’t Want It” are supremely strong efforts. The one thing holding this album back from being great is the overstuffed feeling it produces due to it featuring 25 songs in total. And sadly, a lot of those songs feel like filler and should have been left on the cutting room floor. The King & I is still a recommendable effort from Faith and Biggie, but it doesn’t truly excel as a full playthrough.

4. ‘Born Again’

Biggie’s first posthumous compilation album isn’t well remembered by many, which is a crime. Born Again has a couple of songs on it that are still held up as some of B.I.G.’s best songs from his storied catalog. “Notorious B.I.G.,” “Dead Wrong,” “Dangerous MCs,” and “Biggie” still have a ton of replay value. Some of the harder cuts on this album feature some surprising guest stars, such as Redman, Sadat X of Brand Nubian fame, Snoop Dogg, etc. “Who Shot Ya” is on this project, which should let you know how much of a forgotten gem this is. The more party-friendly songs on this album are the weakest efforts on it, however. And the beats that accompany those tracks are nothing but ear sewage, sadly. It’s hard to be upset with Born Again when you have quality Bad Boy group efforts like “Let Me Get Down” and “If I Should Die Before I Wake” on it, though.

3. ‘Duets: The Final Chapter’

Biggie’s second posthumous effort features a who’s who of hip-hop and R&B legends strewn all over it. And for the most part, they match up with Biggie’s archived verses quite well. “Spit Your Game,” “Whatchu Want,” “1970 Somethin,”, and “Get Your Grind On” are fiery rap-a-thon clinics. The main party-ready joint (“Nasty Girl”) still rings off in the club and at random weddings. The Bob Marley collab (“Hold Ya Head”) is the type of track that the world never thought they’d even get to hear – thankfully, Duets: The Final Chapter makes that dream music scenario a reality. This album is a bit stuffed, which means a few songs here and there feel like total wastes. But the good far outweighs the bad here, so there’s a lot to love from this Biggie collab compilation.

2. ‘Life After Death’

Just a few weeks after the tragic passing of B.I.G.’s death, the world was treated to his second album. And man, what a hell of a follow-up it is. Life After Death is one of the few hip-hop double albums that’s a lot better than you’d expect. “Hypnotize,” “Kick In The Door,” “I Love the Dough,” and “What’s Beef” are just some of the songs on this massive project that hit on all cylinders. A good majority of this LP provides an easy listen thanks to some amazing beats, quality collabs, and classic Biggie bars. “Sky’s the Limit,” “Ten Crack Commandments,” and “Sky’s the Limit” make up the second half of this project and do an awesome job of keeping the good streak of songs going. There are a few weaker tracks on this project, which should be expected since it’s a double album. But once you reach the end of Life After Death, you’ll be left satisfied and a bit depressed when you start to ponder about what would have come from Biggie if he was still with us.

1. ‘Ready to Die’

Ready to Die is considered hip-hop royalty by many – its cover is the very definition of paradigmatic and the songs that make up its tracklist are considered homework for anyone looking to research the very best of the genre. Biggie came into the game like a force to be reckoned with as evidenced by the wealth of quality material he dropped on this album. “Things Done Changed,” “Gimme the Loot, “Machine Gun Funk,” and “Warning” hit hard and leave an indelible mark on anyone that jams out to them. Then there are iconic songs featured on here, such as “Juicy,” “Big Poppa,” “Unbelievable,” and “Respect.” Ready to Die is the type of exclamation point that all rappers should hope to attain with their first major studio effort. Biggie’s greatness was solidified from the very beginning thanks to this amazing debut album.

Categories
Culture Music

The Best Notorious B.I.G. Albums, Ranked

“It was all a dream, I used to read Word Up! magazine/Salt-n-Pepa and Heavy D up in the limousine/Hangin’ pictures on my wall/Every Saturday Rap Attack, Mr. Magic, Marley Marl.”

How could you not know the lyrics to one of the most inspirational, coming of age themed rap songs of all time? The way Christopher Wallace aka “The Notorious B.I.G.” eloquently described his rise to hip-hop stardom was masterful and simply unforgettable. When Biggie Smalls existed on this Earth in physical form, he blessed our ears with two solo albums that showcased his mastery of the microphone. He exuded a different type of swag, instilled confidence in all the fellas that looked just like him, and came hard on every song he starred on. We lost the Notorious B.I.G. far too soon, but his family, friends, and fans have done an incredible job of making sure his memory is never forgotten.

We’re going to aid in those commendable efforts and take a look at all the LPs that were graced by Biggie Small’s presence. From the albums he recorded while he was still here right on up to his posthumous efforts, these are all of the Notorious B.I.G. albums ranked from weakest to strongest.

6. ‘Conspiracy’

After dropping his debut album for the world at large, Biggie chose to link up with his ensemble of fellow MCs to offer up this collaborative effort. That LP is the Junior M.A.F.I.A. project known as Conspiracy. To be quite honest, this album hasn’t really aged all that well. The production featured on the majority of it screams “generic mid-90s boom bap fare” and the bars aren’t particularly memorable. There’s a few undeniable hits on this album, though – “Player’s Anthem,” “Get Money,” and “Lyrical Wizardry” have definite replay value. As for the rest of this LP, Conspiracy just doesn’t hold up in this day and age. And judging by the reviews that came out for it at the time of its release, a lot of critics weren’t too fond of it either.

5. ‘The King & I’

Faith Evans’s soulful vocals and Biggie’s smooth cadence when it comes to rapping prove to be the perfect match. This posthumous collaboration LP brings the two together for an album that has a few gems worth mentioning. “A Billion” offers a rousing solo from Faith herself, while “Legacy” delivers a soothing vibe that kicks off the album on a very strong note. Then there’s a bunch of other solid tunes littered throughout the rest of this album’s tracklist – “Can’t Get Enough,” “Tryna Get By,” “The Reason,” and “I Don’t Want It” are supremely strong efforts. The one thing holding this album back from being great is the overstuffed feeling it produces due to it featuring 25 songs in total. And sadly, a lot of those songs feel like filler and should have been left on the cutting room floor. The King & I is still a recommendable effort from Faith and Biggie, but it doesn’t truly excel as a full playthrough.

4. ‘Born Again’

Biggie’s first posthumous compilation album isn’t well remembered by many, which is a crime. Born Again has a couple of songs on it that are still held up as some of B.I.G.’s best songs from his storied catalog. “Notorious B.I.G.,” “Dead Wrong,” “Dangerous MCs,” and “Biggie” still have a ton of replay value. Some of the harder cuts on this album feature some surprising guest stars, such as Redman, Sadat X of Brand Nubian fame, Snoop Dogg, etc. “Who Shot Ya” is on this project, which should let you know how much of a forgotten gem this is. The more party-friendly songs on this album are the weakest efforts on it, however. And the beats that accompany those tracks are nothing but ear sewage, sadly. It’s hard to be upset with Born Again when you have quality Bad Boy group efforts like “Let Me Get Down” and “If I Should Die Before I Wake” on it, though.

3. ‘Duets: The Final Chapter’

Biggie’s second posthumous effort features a who’s who of hip-hop and R&B legends strewn all over it. And for the most part, they match up with Biggie’s archived verses quite well. “Spit Your Game,” “Whatchu Want,” “1970 Somethin,”, and “Get Your Grind On” are fiery rap-a-thon clinics. The main party-ready joint (“Nasty Girl”) still rings off in the club and at random weddings. The Bob Marley collab (“Hold Ya Head”) is the type of track that the world never thought they’d even get to hear – thankfully, Duets: The Final Chapter makes that dream music scenario a reality. This album is a bit stuffed, which means a few songs here and there feel like total wastes. But the good far outweighs the bad here, so there’s a lot to love from this Biggie collab compilation.

2. ‘Life After Death’

Just a few weeks after the tragic passing of B.I.G.’s death, the world was treated to his second album. And man, what a hell of a follow-up it is. Life After Death is one of the few hip-hop double albums that’s a lot better than you’d expect. “Hypnotize,” “Kick In The Door,” “I Love the Dough,” and “What’s Beef” are just some of the songs on this massive project that hit on all cylinders. A good majority of this LP provides an easy listen thanks to some amazing beats, quality collabs, and classic Biggie bars. “Sky’s the Limit,” “Ten Crack Commandments,” and “Sky’s the Limit” make up the second half of this project and do an awesome job of keeping the good streak of songs going. There are a few weaker tracks on this project, which should be expected since it’s a double album. But once you reach the end of Life After Death, you’ll be left satisfied and a bit depressed when you start to ponder about what would have come from Biggie if he was still with us.

1. ‘Ready to Die’

Ready to Die is considered hip-hop royalty by many – its cover is the very definition of paradigmatic and the songs that make up its tracklist are considered homework for anyone looking to research the very best of the genre. Biggie came into the game like a force to be reckoned with as evidenced by the wealth of quality material he dropped on this album. “Things Done Changed,” “Gimme the Loot, “Machine Gun Funk,” and “Warning” hit hard and leave an indelible mark on anyone that jams out to them. Then there are iconic songs featured on here, such as “Juicy,” “Big Poppa,” “Unbelievable,” and “Respect.” Ready to Die is the type of exclamation point that all rappers should hope to attain with their first major studio effort. Biggie’s greatness was solidified from the very beginning thanks to this amazing debut album.

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Culture Music

The 50 Best Hip-Hop Albums of All Time

As a musical genre, hip-hop has morphed into a mainstream force that impacts everything from the way we dress to the way we speak.

From the rough & tumble streets of the Bronx in the 70s right up until the current day, masterful wordsmiths have taken to the mic to put their lyrical art on full display. Rap/hip-hop aficionados all over the globe have been treated to some of the finest pieces of work in all of music from mega-popular acts and underground legends. While there are hundreds of recommendable albums worth mentioning here, we decided to come up with a definitive list of 50 hip-hop albums that will always stand the test of time due to their unbridled musical excellence and relevant social commentary.

The LPs scattered all over this list should implore you to dig into the digital crates and unearth the lyrical gems each GOAT-tier MC provides.

1. ‘The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill’ – Lauryn Hill

Queen Hill arrived on the scene as a member of the legendary trio The Fugees (more on that group later). When she decided to step out on her own and deliver her first solo LP, the world got treated to an all-time classic. This LP props up black women as a whole and speaks on the issues that plague them on a daily basis (dealing with one’s sexuality and sense of identity, for instance). Lauryn Hill mashed up a number of genres and came away with an amazing hodgepodge of songs that inspired an entire generation of women to pursue their musical dreams.

2. ‘Criminal Minded’ – Boogie Down Productions

The debut LP from the collective trio of KRS-One, D-Nice, and DJ Scott La Rock is an East Coast gem that still knocks to this very day. The clever amalgamation of rap/hip-hop, rock & roll, and reggae influences played the background perfectly while KRS-One released a flood of hard-hitting bars. Songs like “South Bronx” and “The Bridge is Over” are monumental hits off of this monumental LP. Thankfully, the rest of the songs on offer here are just as phenomenal as those undisputed hip-hop gems.

3. ‘Only Built for Cuban Linx…’ – Raekwon

Mafioso rap sounds so legit whenever Raekwon the Chef and Ghostface Killah deliver it. Both of these Wu-Tang affiliates mastered that art and inspired a generation of fellow MCs to follow in their footsteps thanks to this certified classic. The production is ace, the skits are actually worth listening to, and the songs themselves are top-tier 36 Chambers material. From front to back, Only Built for Cuban Linx… provides listeners with a rugged trip through a life filled with gangland activities and unmatched machismo.

4. ‘Liquid Swords’ – GZA

GZA is truly “The Genius.” He put his proficiency for intelligent raps on full display on his debut LP, Liquid Swords. RZA truly got in his production bag and blessed this LP with some of the finest beats he’s ever created. And thankfully, GZA’s flows perfectly stayed in the pocket for each banger as he broke down the trials and tribulations of a hood upbringing. When the opening notes to “4th Chamber” kick in, every rap head in the vicinity has no choice but to rock an ugly scowl while they bump their head in place.

5. ‘Raising Hell’ – Run DMC

Run DMC’s unmatched synergy can be dissected in full just by listening to this seminal LP. Run and DMC go back and forth like the fast & furious tandem they are over masterful beats/cuts from Jam Master Jay. “Peter Piper,” “It’s Tricky,” and “My Adidas” are peak Run DMC. And one can’t forget the mega hip-hop/rock & roll crossover hit that is “Walk This Way” with Aerosmith. Raising Hell is required homework for any modern-day MC that wants a lesson or two about mastering the art of rap.

6. ‘Get Rich Or Die Tryin’ – 50 Cent

As soon as that quarter drops, everyone knows what’s coming next. 50 Cent’s blockbuster album starts off with a bang and doesn’t slow down the whole way through. The man known as Curtis Jackson caused a bootlegging frenzy upon release and broke into the mainstream consciousness due to the greatness of this LP. “In da Club” is just one of the many solidified bangers that have pushed this album to legendary status and signified Fif’ as one of the best to ever do it.

7. ‘The Infamous’ – Mobb Deep

Queensbridge’s very own Havoc and Prodigy (RIP, King!) catapulted themselves to a higher level of hip-hop excellence once their second album offering hit the streets. The Infamous offers gritty descriptions of two young men making their way through a life filled with plenty of turmoil. Both MCs brought furious young energy to each track and did it all while dropping street knowledge on the back of classic beats. “Shook One, Pt. II,” “Survival of the Fittest,” and “Give Up the Goods” are just three of the reasons why this album will always stay in rotation.

8. ‘3 Feet High and Rising’ – De La Soul

Noted producer Prince Paul helped form the soundscape for De La Soul’s debut album. It was released during a time where gangsta rap was all the rage, yet it still managed to garner plenty of attention and praise thanks to a deviation in theme and sound. The colorful cover itself is iconic and so are the songs that match that image’s super cool vibe. Posdnuos, Trugoy, and Maseo have always been a winning trio – jamming to joints like “The Magic Number” and “Me, Myself, and I” do a good job of convincing everyone of that undisputed fact.

9. ‘The Marshal Mathers LP’ – Eminem

Detroit’s premier wordsmith built up a strong catalog of songs with his first two albums. But things truly took a turn for the better once Eminem released The Marshal Mathers LP. Em’s slick wordplay and outlandish disses for the world at large are in fine form here. Songs like “Stan” showcase a version of Em that’s willing to delve into the sorts of topics that are rarely mentioned within hip-hop. The rest of The Marshal Mathers LP hits all the high notes that fans have come to champion about one of rap’s certified GOATs.

10. ‘Reasonable Doubt’ – Jay-Z

The Jigga Man arrived on the scene in full mafioso garb and had the lyrics to match all that bravado with Reasonable Doubt. The very best luxury raps are littered all over this magnificent debut LP. It says a lot about an album when you can play the first five seconds of every song on it and most folks recognize it without too much effort. Listening to this album is a worthwhile experience since it successfully mirrors the high stakes that come with organized crimes and other risky endeavors.

11. ‘Hard Core’ – Lil’ Kim

The “Queen B” kept it all the way real and raunchy when she stepped into a hip-hop arena that tends to be dominated by the opposite sex. With Hard Core, Lil’ Kim threw all caution to the wind as she spits with the best of ‘em. While there aren’t a ton of features on this one, the guests that do appear do a great job of further strengthening Kim’s repertoire of provocative (in a good way) songs. “Big Momma Thang,” “No Time,” “Crush on You,” and “Drugs” are held up as some of Kim’s greatest songs. And as luck would have it, they all appear on this album.

12. ‘The Blueprint’ – Jay-Z

The Blueprint is practically a how-to guide on how to put together an album that simply can’t be denied. With a nice mix of Kanye West and Just Blaze beats to support him, Jay-Z floats all over each track with ease and exudes his best qualities as an MC. He goes for the jugular on “Takeover,” gets super celebratory with “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” throws lyrical bouquets at the ladies with “Girls, Girls, Girls,” and goes toe to toe with Eminem on “Renegade.” This is the album that laid the foundation for some of your favorite rappers, so all praises due to The Blueprint.

13. ‘Paid in Full’ – Eric B & Rakim

Rakim is referred to as the God MC for good reason – his furious flow and penchant for crafting bars that hit you right in the soul have afforded him the right to accept that moniker. With DJ Eric B by his side, Rakim changed the rap game in a dramatic fashion with this incredible LP. The cover itself evokes dreams of making it big through one’s undefeatable hustle – thankfully, Rakim reflects that hunger for greatness through his kingly bars and delivery. Paid in Full inspired a whole generation of 90s babies to step to the mic and it’s easy to see/hear why. Never forget – “MC means move the crowd.”

14. ‘It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot’ – DMX

Darkman X’s yin and yang qualities made millions of fans flock to him. Even though he may have found himself in the worst situations imaginable, his faith and undeniable passion inspired others to remain strong just like he did. DMX’s magnum opus It’s Dark and Hell is Hot showcases the Ruff Ryder representative’s many trials and tribulations through some of the hardest rap songs ever laid on wax. “Get at Me Dog,” “Stop Being Greedy,” and “The Convo” are just a sample of the headbangers that make this album an unforgettable trip with the Darkman himself. 

15. ‘It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’ – Public Enemy

Chuck D’s socially conscious lyrics, Flavor Flav’s magnetic persona, Terminator X’s intense scratches, and The Bomb Squad’s boomin’ beats were a winning combo back in the day. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back masterfully combined all of those elements while producing an album with an unapologetic message that remains relevant to this day. “Fight the Power” and “Bring the Noise” are clear examples of the heavy hitters that define this bodacious hip-hop classic.

16. ‘Ready to Die’ – The Notorious B.I.G.

Christopher Wallace aka The Notorious B.I.G. left an indelible mark on the world of hip-hop. Even though he only left the world before he could really get going, his two solo projects produced a discography full of tracks that Golden Era rap fans swear by. Biggie’s hard-hitting lyrics and flow delve into a wide range of hood tales all over his amazing debut album, Ready to Die. This classic album features songs that describe the daily lives of stick-up kids (“Gimme the Loot”), achieving one’s lofty dreams (“Juicy”), and staying ahead of those that simply want to stick you for your paper (“Warning”). Ready to Die is an autobiographical listen that perfectly encapsulates the rough and tumble upbringing of Bad Boy’s greatest MC.

17. ‘Illmatic’ – Nas

The world truly sat in the hands of a young Nas when he arrived with his debut LP, Illmatic. He managed to meet the overwhelming hype attached to his name and did it with only 10 tracks. Nas’s production dream team at the time (DJ Premier, Large Professor, Q-Tip, Pete Rock, and L.E.S.) created a strong array of soundscapes that allowed the Queensbridge MC to lyrically prosper. Nas’s aptitude for storytelling and smooth flows can be heard through songs like “N.Y. State of Mind,” “The World is Yours,” “Represent,” and “One Love.”

18. ‘Doggystyle’ – Snoop Doggy Dogg

Doggystyle is practically a West Coast party that bangs through your speakers every time you throw it on. Young Snoop tapped into the sounds of the region that raised him as he took listeners on a wild ride through the streets of L.A. Doggystyle remains an easy listen to this day thanks to a number of factors, which includes top-notch beats from Dr. Dre, raunchy lyrics that always elicit a few laughs every time they’re heard, and a collection of L.A. MCs that ruled the 90s. Snoop Dogg came into the game like a force of nature – his continued relevance is due in part to this hard-edged album debut.

19. ‘Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)’ – Wu-Tang Clan

Never forget – Wu-Tang Clan ain’t nothin to ‘eff with. That statement will always ring true no matter the time we live in. Every member of the Wu-Tang got together like Voltron to give hip-hop heads across the globe one of the grittiest records of all time. Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) can get a flood of fans to flip into mosh pit mode, which should tell you just how monumental everything on that LP is. The posse cuts are out of this world and helped define the best qualities of each Wu-Tang member. “C.R.E.A.M.,” “Method Man,” “Protect Ya Neck,” and “Da Mystery of Chessboxin’” are essential listening if you ever want to consider yourself a true rap aficionado.

20. ‘The Score’ – The Fugees

New Jersey’s own Fugees camp ascended from their underground origins to a level of mainstream superstardom thanks to this album. All three parts of the mega trio brought their signature traits together and managed to craft undeniable jams in the process. The East Coast vibes knock extra hard on this one, as evidenced by “How Many Mics,” “Ready or Not,” “Fu-Gee-La,” and “The Score.” “Killing Me Softly With His Song” put Lauryn Hill’s heavenly vocals front and center, which is one of the many gifts The Score gave to the world.

21. ‘Midnight Marauders’ – A Tribe Called Quest’

A Tribe Called Quest mastered the art of jazzy samples and boom-bap instrumentals when it released its third album. Hip-hop stables don’t get any better than the trio of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Muhammad, and Jarobi White. Their incredible synergy can be heard throughout each and every part of this album (special shout out to Tribe’s long list of friends that agreed to appear on the cover, too). Backpackers everywhere live by songs like “Award Tour,” “Electric Relaxation,” and “Lyrics to Go.” Midnight Marauders is a whole vibe that’s super chill and worth experiencing on more than one occasion.

22. ‘Aquemini’ – Outkast

This pick also falls into the category of “amazing third release from an illustrious hip-hop group.” Outkast already built up an amazing track record with Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and ATLiens – once they released Aquemini, it was quite evident that their superstar status had reached another level. This LP featured those signature Andre 300 and Big Boi traits that we’ve all come to appreciate, such as southern bounce, tongue-twisting flows, and thought-provoking lyrics. “Rosa Parks,” “both parts of “Da Art of Storytellin’,” and “Aquemini” all lift this project to the high heavens where only the greatest hip-hop albums reside.

23. ‘All Eyez on Me’ – 2Pac

Once 2Pac’s prison sentence came to an end, he aligned himself with Death Row and emerged from its studios with the album most people hold in high regard. 2Pac’s frustrations and triumphs were told in equal parts across this two-disc LP. Most double albums feel bloated and full of filler, yet All Eyez on Me stands apart from the pack thanks to a mix of strong singles and underrated B-Side cuts. “Ambitionz Az a Ridah,” “How Do You Want It,” “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted,” and “I Ain’t Mad At Cha” are just a few of the bangers that define the greatness of this album.

24. ‘Mecca and the Soul Brother’ – Pete Rock & CL Smooth

This album is one of those ultimate knockers that cause necks to break everywhere due to excessive head bobbing. Pete Rock laid the audio groundwork for his man’s CL Smooth to lay down his most memorable rhymes. Mecca and the Soul Brother describes the everyday life of an urban NYC denizen thanks to CL Smooth’s vivid wordplay. “They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” still stands tall as one of the greatest song tributes of all time. The rest of this LP exposes those who don’t know to the incredible production of Pete Rock and the slick bars that come courtesy of CL Smooth.

25. ‘The Chronic’ – Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre is a noted perfectionist. Whenever he drops an album, it’s an event that brings everything to a standstill. That’s because it rarely happens due to the fact that Dre works his sound until it matches the high quality established by his debut album. The G-Funk established by The Chronic inspired an army of West Coast MCs to follow in Dre’s footsteps, which should clue you in to just how monumental it was. “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” “Let Me Ride,” and “F**k wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)” are the type of songs that simply can’t be denied. The Chronic is GOAT album material, no matter the coastal region.

Honorable Mentions
26. ‘Black on Both Sides’ – Mos Def

27. ‘The Low End Theory’ – A Tribe Called Quest

28. ‘To Pimp a Butterfly’ – Kendrick Lamar

29. ‘Efil4zaggin’ – N.W.A.

30. ‘Madvillainy’ – Madvillain

31. ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ – Kanye West

32. ‘Fantastic, Vol. 2’ – Slum Village

33. ‘Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101’ – Young Jeezy

34. ‘Tha Carter III’ – Lil Wayne

35. ‘The Minstrel Show’ – Little Brother

36. ‘Good Kid, M.A.A.D City’ – Kendrick Lamar

37. ‘Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde’ – The Pharcyde

38. ‘The College Dropout’ – Kanye West

39. ‘Paul’s Boutique’ – Beastie Boys

40. ‘Supa Dupa Fly’ – Missy Elliot

41. ‘Critical Beatdown’ – Ultramagnetic MCs

42. ‘2001’ – Dr. Dre

43. ‘Trap Muzik’ – T.I.

44. ‘Supreme Clientele’ – Ghostface Killah

45. ‘Death Certificate’ – Ice Cube

46. ‘The Renaissance’ – Q-Tip

47. ‘The Black Album’ – Jay-Z

48. ‘ELE (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Event’ – Busta Rhymes

49. ‘EVE’ – Rapsody

50. ‘AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted’ by Ice Cube

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Culture Music

What Does Top Dawg Entertainment Have in Store for May 7?

May 7, 2021 – that’s the date marked for a very special day for anyone that considers themself an aficionado of West Coast rap label, Top Dawg Entertainment. Yesterday on Twitter, TDE CEO Anthony “Top Dawg” Tiffith got everyone’s hearts racing by sending out a Tweet that teased something monumental. Considering how strong of a force TDE is thanks to its amazing roster of MCs and R&B vocalists, music heads everywhere certainly have a lot to look forward to next Friday.

So the burning question that everyone and their grandmother have been asking is this – is TDE getting ready to drop new music from Kendrick Lamar? If that question does get answered with a resounding yes, then a whole lot of prayers (including ours) will have been answered. Consider this sobering factoid – the last time K. Dot dropped a full LP was back in 2017 with DAMN. That just happens to be the exact word most TDE diehards belt out every time they think about the lack of new Kendrick material these days. The thirst is ever so real at this point for a new single, music video, or even a quick Instagram clip of King Kendrick spitting a few seconds of whatever he’s been working on. K. Dot rarely disappoints, so the world will be more than satisfied if he happens to be hitting these digital streets with a batch of new music in tow real soon.

If May 7 doesn’t bring us all something fresh from Kendrick, then there’s still no need to fret. TDE’s roster has a ton of other artists that are just as highly anticipated when it comes to offering something truly worthwhile. R&B songstress SZA being the one to bring the world a whole new project would be everything and more. She dropped some pretty dope visuals for a new song called “Good Days” last month, so it would make a lot of sense for her to drop even more quality songs as a worthy follow-up. Seeing as how she recently hopped on a collab with Doja Cat for “Kiss Me More,” we’re guessing she has some extra special guests on deck for her upcoming album.

There are a few other TDE representatives that haven’t dropped new music in a while that we’d love to make a grand return on May 7, too. Isaiah Rashad has certainly kept a low profile since dropping The Sun’s Tirade in 2016 and a loosie track in the form of “Why Worry” last April. He reportedly has an album in the works entitled The House Is Burning, so hopefully, that’s ready to drop sooner rather than later. Ab-Soul is another pillar of TDE’s strong reign over rap and we’d be more than happy to see him hit us with a brand new album. His last LP (Do What Thou Wilt.)  came in 2016 and his most recent song drop came in the form of “Dangerookipawaa Freestyle.” We’re sure he’s been hard at work on a fifth studio album and we’d love for it to dominate playlists everywhere this summer. Schoolboy Q, Jay Rock, Lance Skiiiwalker, Sir, Reason, and Zacari make up the rest of the TDE army. And judging by the overwhelming quality delivered by each of those artists’ previous projects, listeners have an abundance of TDE heat to bask in if any of them releases something new on May 7.

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Culture Music

The Best Jay-Z Albums, Ranked

Brooklyn’s very own Shawn Corey Carter has built a legendary career on lyrical superiority and a presence that transcends many of his peers. Since staking his claim in the rap game from 1995 to the current day, Jay-Z has taken over my headphones and car speakers thanks to a strong catalog of instantly recognizable tunes. Alongside those smash hit singles are a collection of underrated songs and extra cuts that deserved just as much airplay as the songs that dominated radio play in the past.

I consider myself one of Jay-Z’s loyal Stans and have stood by him through thick and thin. Throughout all the great, good, and mediocre albums he’s delivered, I’ve listened intently and come away with my own personal listing of his entire discography. Feel free to get your pitchforks and torches ready for this one, folks. I want all the smoke!

13. ‘Kingdom Come’

Most Jay-Z fans regard this comeback album as his weakest body of work to date. While I agree with that sentiment, “Kingdom Come” isn’t a complete miss whatsoever. Sure, it’s filled with some production choices that didn’t resonate with me back then and never will (“Do U Wanna Ride” bores me to tears every time I hear it). But gems like “Show Me What You Got,” “Lost One,” and “30 Something” will forever shine and reflect a revitalized Jigga Man that was ready to take back his mantle as the king of rap after “retiring.” The slick Rick James sample on “Kingdom Come” is and always will be goated. The same can’t be said for “Beach Chair,” however…

12. ‘The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse’

Having to dig through a whole bunch of mediocre tunes to get through the truly remarkable ones is never a fun task when listening to any album. Sadly, that’s the case here for the second installment of “The Blueprint.” “The Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse is just far too bloated and packed to the brim with unremarkable tracks (I don’t think you’ll ever hear a DJ drop “What They Gonna Do, Pt. II” during a Jay-Z celebration set). But the good stuff on here truly resonates with me and still gets replayed to this day – “Hovie Baby,” “03’ Bonnie & Clyde,” “Excuse Me Miss,” and “Poppin’ Tags” are the shining beacons on an album that’s overshadowed by less than stellar tunes.

11. ‘Magna Carta…Holy Grail’

Jay was definitely in his “I’m richer, wiser, and ready to ball out on expensive art” bag here. While I enjoyed his renewed focus on living life to the fullest here, a majority of his fanbase wasn’t feeling this one too much. Most of the tracklist for this LP comes off well – in fact, there isn’t a single song that I outright dislike here. The only problem is most of these songs don’t really stand out as some of Jay’s best songs when compared to his more recognizable hits. “Magna Carta…Holy Grail” is full of good tracks that are worth a replay, but I never really go out of my way to listen to it on a regular basis. But when it gets shuffled into my playlist, I’m pleasantly surprised by how good it still is.

10. ‘Vol. 3…Life and Times of S. Carter’

There are two songs from this album that knock so hard and bring me to life whenever a live band decides to produce their own rendition for it when backing Jay on stage – “So Ghetto” and “Do It Again (Put Ya Hands Up).” Then there are tunes like “Nymp, “Snoopy Track,” and “Dope Man” that stand out to me as three of Jay’s less celebrated yet highly underrated tracks. A lot of the other songs on here feature the type of production that’s a product of its time, which makes them come off really cringy in this day and age. But when you have an album that’s spearheaded by “Big Pimpin’” and “Is That Yo B***h,” you can’t really be too mad at its faults.

9. ‘The Blueprint 3’

I practically lived by this album during my final semester in college. I always found the will to knock out a thesis paper the night before it was due thanks to the triumphant stadium sound that accompanies “Real As It Gets.” “The Blueprint 3” just has so many memorable songs on it that still slap tremendously – “What We Talkin’ Bout,” “Thank You,” “On to the Next One,” and “So Ambitious” deserve all the praise in the world. Then there’s “D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune),” “Run This Town,” and “Empire State of Mind,” which has to be the strongest three-track run on any album I’ve ever heard. There are a few letdowns here, like the Drake collab everyone was hyped about that ended up being super meh (“Off That”) and “Venus vs. Mars.” Even still, I enjoy a good amount of the tracks featured here.

8. ‘Vol. 2: Hard Knock Life’

The year 1998 ended up being a treasure trove full of some of the dopest hip-hop albums of all time. And one of the replay-worthy LPs that dropped that year happens to be this one. “Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)” really took an Annie sample and turned it into a hood anthem. This album will forever be held in high regard because it also plays home to “N***a What, N***A Who,” “Money, Cash, H**s,” “Can I Get A…,” and “Reservoir Dogs.” The less enjoyable tracks featured here don’t bring this album down too much in my eyes, thankfully. “Vol 2: Hard Knock Life” is an audio time capsule that perfectly captures the spirit of New York’s golden era run.

7. ‘The Dynasty: Roc La Familia’

Ah, the good old days of Roc-A-Fella Records. Jay made sure to throw an alley-oop to some of the now-defunct label’s strongest signees and came away with this quality album in the process. “Intro” kicks things off so wonderfully and sets listeners up for a tour through the trenches of Roc-A-Fella. What follows is a string of songs that showcases Jay during one of his best runs alongside his labelmates in Memphis Bleek and Beanie Sigel. “You, Me, Him and Her,” “1-900-Hustler,” “This Can’t Be Life,” and “I Just Wanna Love U” still hold weight as Jay’s greatest songs of all time. This LP begins to falter near its closing moments, but everything that comes before it keeps it from crashing and burning altogether.

6. ‘4:44’

I enjoy my fair share of “ignant” rap that causes me to wild out and belt out the sort of lyrics that would make my parents hang their heads in shame. But I also have a strong appreciation for grown man raps and that was on full display here from a much older and wiser Shawn Carter. “4:44” blesses listeners with 10 heavyweight tracks that drop so many gems while backed by some of the best beats Jay has ever performed on. “The Story of O.J.” is a conceptual tune that puts forth a strong message that confronts the issue of race, then you have something like “Family Feud” that offers an inspiring proclamation all about prospering with a loyal crew.  You’re left wanting more by the time this LP wraps up, which says a lot about its overall quality.

5. ‘In My Lifetime, Vol. 1’

The sophomore slump can never be denied – some of your favorite rappers have hit the game hard with an amazing debut LP and followed it up with a less than stellar album. That’s definitely not the case with Jay – “In My Lifetime, Vol. 1” helped maintain his rise to rap royalty. As soon as the first track came blasting through the speakers, you just knew you were in for something special. “Imaginary Players,” “Streets is Watching,” “Friend of Foe ‘98,” and “Who You Wit 2” all put this album on its backs and catapulted it to greatness. The more radio-friendly tunes on here may not resonate with me as much as those aforementioned songs do, but they’re still decent in their own right. You can’t be too mad in that case when you can always skip right to “Where I’m From.”

4.’ American Gangster’

I was and still am in awe of how the one-two combo of the American Gangster film and this album came together. You can just listen to this LP and vibe with an incredibly inspired Jay that has a new fire lit up under him. Jay dove into his old self here and got back to the kingpin struggles that kicked his career off. The “Reasonable Doubt” vibes are strong here, which is why I have such a deep love for it – “No Hook,” “Sweet,” “Say Hello,” and “Success” are clear evidence of that feeling. Even the songs that noticeably adopt a radio-friendly sound still hold up (“Hello Brooklyn” and “I Know” are the clearest examples). “American Gangster” reminded me that Jay’s decision to do a U-Turn on his retirement was for the best.

3. ‘The Black Album’

Speaking of Jay’s retirement, “The Black Album” was set up as his final body of work. And if Jay actually stuck to his guns and walked off into the sunset like he promised, I would have been perfectly fine since he would have left us all with this all-time classic. This is a hell of an audio victory lap for the Jigga Man that’s full of some of the dopest beats and bars I’ve ever come across. “What More Can I Say,” “Encore,” “Threat,” and “Lucifer” epitomize the pure heat this album put forth. “Change Clothes” may be the weakest tune for sure, but even that song has its own merits worth applauding. “The Black Album” will forever be a heavy hitter from Jay’s long and storied catalogue.

2. ‘Reasonable Doubt’

“I’m from where n****s pull your card, and argue all day about/Who’s the best MC, Biggie, Jay-Z or Nas.” All three of those GOAT-tier rappers certainly have one thing in common – they all delivered incredible debut albums. In Jay-Z’s case, he opened everyone’s eyes and ears with the mafioso-inspired “Reasonable Doubt.” From start to finish, Jay brought us into the glamorous and dangerous world of illegal conglomerates and managed to make it sound so damn good. There are just far too many magnificent tracks to list here from this debut LP. You won’t ever have to worry about hitting the skip button on this one – “Reasonable Doubt” cemented Jay-Z as the one to watch and still knocks to this very day.

1. ‘The Blueprint’

Jay’s strongest body of work is undoubtedly this one. “The Blueprint” mapped out a winning game plan for other MCs that most definitely inspired a lot of the rappers that shine in this day and age. Just Blaze and Kanye West gifted Jay with defining soundscapes that accompanied his most memorable songs – “Takeover,” “Izzo (H.O.V.A.),” “U Don’t Know,” and “Heart of the City (Ain’t No Love)” provide all the proof in the world of that undisputed collaboration. People still argue about whether Eminem or Jay took the lyrical W on “Renegade” to this very day, plus “Lyrical Exercise” is still held up as one of Jay’s best B-Side tracks. “The Blueprint” is damn near perfect in my eyes.