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On Topic Of: 10 Old School Hip-Hop Albums You Should Own

September 22, 2013

“Old School Hip-Hop” gives different meanings to whomever has heard or used the term.  Even more divergent are what years Old School Hip-Hop encompasses.  For me, I say 1984 to 1994.  A solid decade of the best Hip-Hop has ever had to offer.

10 Old School Hip-Hop Albums“…what kind of criteria did I use in choosing these 10 albums I’d recommend?  Number of good or great tracks on the album, for one.  Message and lyrics, and BYH (Bob Yo Head) factor, for others.  I’ve added official videos where applicable – so be forewarned, the music (videos) may have adult content and themes.  And while I don’t condone the use of the “N word” or violence or other negative behaviors, I appreciate their place in Old School Hip Hop and their meaning, culturally conveyed.

Now remember, this is stuff I think you should own.  Which means its stuff that I like; therefore, there are likely to be omissions of artist that some may see as sacrilege.

On to the countdown (in no particular order)…

  • N.W.A. – “Straight Outta Compton” (1988)



It’s arguably the album that kicked off the “gangster rap” era.  For me its starts with the title track digging in deep, exposing a raw nerve.  Almost every track is backed up by great old-school drum tracks, simpler DJ scratches and mixing, and confrontational rhymes.

Track listing:

“Straight Outta Compton”,

“Fuck Tha Police”, “Gangsta Gansta”, “If It Ain’t Rough It Ain’t Me”, “Parental Discretion Iz Advized”, “8 Ball”, “Something Like That”, “Express Yourself”,

“Compton’s N the House”, “I Ain’t the 1”, “Dope Man”, Quiet on tha Set”, “Something 2 Dance 2”.

(resources: Wikipedia  and  NWA World)

  • Run-D.M.C. – “Raising Hell” (1985)



Defining what it meant to be a Hip-Hop with “street cred” while crossing over with mainstream success, Run-D.M.C. took their brand of high-energy, back and forth lyrical exchanges and propelled them to number 5 on the pop charts.

Track Listing:

“Peter Piper”, “It’s Tricky”,

“My Adidas”, “Walk This Way”,

“Is It Live”, “Perfection”, “Hit and Run”, “Raising Hell”, “You Be Illin”, “Dumb Girl”, “Son of Byford”, “Proud to be Black”

(resources: Wikipedia  and RUN-DMC)

  • Wu-Tang Clan – “Enter The Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)” (1993)



Produced by the RZA.  Nuff said.  But add Method Man, Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, GZA, ODB, and Inspectah Deck?  Boom.  The most amazing use of samples, intertwined with some of the most real lyrics you may ever hear.  Maybe the best the East Coast has to offer.  By the way, should you want a cool Wu-Tang name – mine is the Vizual Genius – just visit

Track Listing (“side one, tracks 1-5, known as ‘Shaolin Sword side’. Side two, tracks 6-12, ‘Wu-Tang Sword’ side) :

“Bring da Ruckus”, “Shame on a Nigga”, “Clan in da Front”, “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber”, “Can It Be All So Simple”, “Da Mystery of Chessboxin”, “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit”,


“Method Man”, “Protect Ya Neck”,

“Tearz”, “Wu-Tang: 7th Chamber—Part II”, “Method Man (Skunk Mix)”

(resources: Wikipedia  and Wu-Tang Corp.)

  • Snoop Dogg – “Doggystyle” (1993)



Compton’s on yo lips, breakout Cali style fo’ shizzle, baby!  Its Snoop, d-o-double g, produced by Dre.  Lots of cross-over appeal, lots of weed smoked (by others) to this album.

Track Listing:

“Bathtub”, “G Funk Intro”, “Gin and Juice”,

“W Balls”, “Tha Shiznit”, “House Party”, “Lodi Dodi”, “Murder Was the Case”, “Serial Killa”, “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?”,

“For All My Niggaz & Bitches”, “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)”, “Chronic Break”, “Doggy Dogg World”, “Betta Ask Somebody”, “Gz and Hustlas”, “U Betta Recognize”, “Gz Up, Hoes Down”, “Pump Pump”

(resources: Wikipedia  and

  • Public Enemy – “Apocalypse ’91, The Enemy Strikes Black” (1991)



The album was released in October of ’91.  The Rodney King verdict was that following spring.  And Public Enemy spoke to my soul, to my “blackness” and the racial injustice I too had personally experienced.  The commanding and defiant Chuck D, the dopest hype-man ever in my man Flava Flav, Terminator X, Sister Souljah, and the S1W’s (Security of the 1st World – “clear the way for the S, the S1W’s…”).  Man, I still get choked up listening to this album!

Track Listing:

“Lost at Birth”, “Rebirth”, “Nighttrain”, “Can’t Truss It”,

“I Don’t Wanna Be Called Yo Niga”, “How to Kill a Radio Consultant”, “By the Time I Get to Arizona”,

“Move!”, “1 Million Bottlebags”, “More News at 11”, “Shut Em Down“, “A Letter to the New York Post”, “Get the Fuck Outta Dodge”,

“Bring tha Noize (feat. Anthraz)”

(resources: Wikipedia  and

  • Beastie Boys – “Licensed To Ill” (1986)



Slant Magazine sums it up best: “Rife with layer upon layer of sampling, start-stop transitions, and aggressive beats, it helped transform the genre from a direct dialogue between MC and DJ into a piercing, multi-threaded narrative” and “helped set an exciting template for the future”.  Yeah, it was a MONSTER!

Track Listing:

“Rhymin & Stealin”, “The New Style”, “She’s Crafty”, “Posse in Effect”, “Slow Ride”, “Girls”, “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (To Party!)”,

“No Sleep till Brooklyn”,

“Paul Revere”, “Hold It Now, Hit It”,

“Brass Monkey”, “Slow and Low”, “Time to Get Ill”

(resources: Wikipedia  and

  • Cypress Hill – “Cypress Hill” (1991)



The best blend of Latin hip-hop and west coast styles, this album jumps at you with its anti-establishment message from the very first track.  The nasally-delivered lyrics by B-Real, hyped by Sen Dogg compliments the use of samples and loops (like from “Duke of Earl”) which adds an instant old-school flair that has proved timeless.

Track Listing:

“Pigs”, “How I Could Just Kill a Man”,

“Hand on the Pump”, “Hole in the Head”, “Ultraviolet Dreams”, “Light Another”, “The Phuncky Feel One”,

“Break It Up”, “Real Estate”, “Stoned Is the Way of the Walk”, “Psycobetabuckdown”, “Something for the Blunted”, “Latin Lingo”,

“The Funky Cypress Hill Shit”, “Tres Equis”, “Born to Get Busy”

(resources: Wikipedia  and

  • Digital Underground – “Sex Packets” (1990)



Ooh! Wee!!  Get me a sponge to absorb all of that JUICY funk!  Mix one part old school samples, one part smooth flowing lyrics, and add one outrageous frontman in the Shock G (and alter-ego, Humpty-Hump) and you got D.U.  Word of advice: turn your stereo to “11” and share with neighbors!.

Track Listing:

“The Humpty Dance”,

“The Way We Swing”, “Rhymin’ on the Funk”, “The New Jazz (One)”, “Underwater Rimes (Remix)”, “Gutfest ’89 (Edit)”, “The Danger Zone”, “Freaks of the Industry”, “Doowutchyalike”,

“Packet Prelude”, “Sex Packets”, “Street Scene”, “Packet Man”, “Packet Reprise”

(resources: Wikipedia)

  • Ice Cube – “Death Certificate” (1991)



Former N.W.A member, Ice Cube collaborates with Da Lynch Mob on this album that some say was heavily influenced by the Nation of Islam (“although he has denied being part of the organization“).  And just like Wu-Tang’s “Enter The Wu-Tang”, Ice Cube’s 1991 “Death Certificate” offers up two “album sides”: “The Death Side: a mirror image of where we are today”; “The Life Side: a vision of where we need to go”.  Music with a message delivered in the hardest possible way.

Track Listing:

“The Funeral”, “The Wrong Nigga to Fuck Wit”, “My Summer Vacation”, “Steady Mobbin'”,

“Robin Lench”, “Givin’ Up the Nappy Dug Out”, “Look Who’s Burnin'”, “A Bird in the Hand”, “Man’s Best Friend”, “Alive on Arrival”, “Death”, “The Birth”, “I Wanna Kill Sam”, “Horny Lil’ Devil”, “Black Korea”, “True to the Game”,

“Color Blind”, “Doing Dumb Shit”, “Us”, “No Vaseline”, “How To Survive In South Central”

(resources: Wikipedia  and

  • Redman – “Whut? Thee Album” (1992)



Nevermind Reggie Noble’s success with Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man.  Redman’s solo efforts on this album proves to me his worthiness in making this or any other “top” old-school hip-hop lists.  By far one of my favorite albums from start to finish.  Hard beats intertwined with old school samples, incredibly complex lyrical flow, and excellent (‘90’s) scratch techniques.  I LOVE this album.  And if asked…might have to call this one of my top 3 favorite hip-hop albums.

Track Listing:

“Psycho Ward”, “Time 4 Sum Aksion”,

“Da Funk”, “News Break”, “So Ruff”, “Rated ‘R'”, “Watch Yo Nuggets”, “Psycho Dub”, “Jam 4 U”, “Blow Your Mind”,

“Hardcore”, “Funky Uncles”, “Redman Meets Reggie Noble”, “Tonight’s Da Night”,

“Blow Your Mind” (remix), “I’m a Bad”, “Sessed One Night”, “How to Roll a Blunt”, “Sooper Luver Interview”, “A Day of Sooperman Lover”, “Encore”

(resources: Wikipedia)

There you have it, music fans:  10 Old-school hip-hop albums you simply gotta have.  Coming soon…10 Classic Rock Albums You Should Own.


From → Music

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