When we handed the reigns over to Sean Price to guest-edit HipHopDX for this week, he gave us this list. Truth be told, we didn’t ask for it. But in the age of the Internet list, we wouldn’t argue, especially with Sean P. Plus, we really liked some choices.
Some bonafied Hip Hop classics, some R&B picks, one of his efforts, a soundtrack and even an album that’s less than a year old, here are Sean Price’s all time Top 20 albums (ranked as they came to mind, not in order of preference), as told to HipHopDX Music Editor Kathy Iandoli:
1. The D.O.C. – No One Can Do it Better (1989, Ruthless/Atlantic)
What HipHopDX Says: This Dr. Dre & DJ Yella-produced debut album is the epitome of “your favorite rapper’s favorite rapper.” Sadly, the N.W.A. affiliate’s first was also the only album he made before a car accident that permanently damaged his vocal chords. Dallas, Texas has still never found anybody who can do it better, as far as the raps go.
Must watch/listen: “The Doc & The Doctor”
2. Michael Jackson – Off the Wall (1979, Epic)
What HipHopDX Says: The Michael Jackson album that bridged Disco with what would become the Pop sound of the ’80s. Although it lives in Thriller’s shadow, it’s a classic album from the one-two punch of M.J. and Quincy Jones. Hip Hop deejays still focus on this album, which showed Michael Jackson’s solo genius, apart from his group with his brothers and solo success as a child.
Must watch/listen: “Don’t Stop ‘Til Ya Get Enough”
3. Stevie Wonder – Songs In The Key Of Life (1976, Tamla)
What HipHopDX Says: Often considered Stevie Wonder’s finest hour, this 1976 double-album caught the Motown genius in a period of particular greatness. His 18th overall effort was made in the midst of a block-buster label deal and Wonder’s outspoken views on government during the Gerald Ford presidency. The resulting masterpiece prompted singles such as “Sir Duke,” “Isn’t She Lovely?” and “As.” The #1 effort also featured session plauers near and dear to Hip Hop samplers: Bobbi Humphrey, Dorothy Ashby and George Benson.
Must listen: “Have A Talk With God”
4. N.W.A. – Niggaz4Life (1991, Ruthless/Priority)
What HipHopDX Says: The second of the two official N.W.A. albums, this effort features no Ice Cube. However, MC Ren really stepped into the group’s clutch-hitting spot, while Dr. Dre’s sample-style perfectly set the table for his solo success a year later on The Chronic. This album lacks the controversy and fanfare of Straight Outta Compton, but is a must-own for lovers of hardcore Hip Hop.
Must listen/watch: “Alwayz Into Somethin'”
5. Ice Cube – Amerikkka’s Most Wanted (1990, Priority)
What HipHopDX Says: Ice Cube’s solo debut was a five-mic kick to the face of the industry in early ’90. This and 1991’s Death Certificate are as good a one-two punch as you’ll find in any soloist’s catalog. Having left Dr. Dre & DJ Yella at N.W.A., Cube linked up with The Bomb Squad (of Public Enemy fame) and his C.I.A. teenage collaborator Sir Jinx. The result was a furrowed-brow Cube who was colder than Coor’s Light on Pluto.
Must listen: “The Nigga Ya Love To Hate”
6. Ice Cube – Kill At Will (1990, Priority)
What HipHopDX Says: Less than two months after Amerikkka’s Most Wanted, Cube hit fans with a seven-song EP that soon hit gold status. Produced by Sir Jinx, that album was a nice bridge between Amerikkka’s Most and Death Certificate. The same time as Boyz N’ The Hood was filming, Ice Cube was a golden-god. He didn’t pull any punches, and Cube set a bully-rap precedent that would influence Tupac, 50 Cent and Game.
Must watch/listen: “Jackin’ For Beats”
7. A Tribe Called Quest – Peoples’ Instinctive Travels And The Paths of Rhythm (1990, Jive/RCA)
What HipHopDX Says: This album introduced one of the most important Hip Hop groups of all-time in A Tribe Called Quest. The quarter of Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed and Jarobi were about telling stories, rocking crowds, and abstractions, all expressed over mosiac productions that made history.
Must watch/listen: “Can I Kick It?”
8. A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory (1991, Jive/RCA)
What Sean Price Says: “The best album, ever.”
Must watch/listen: “Buggin’ Out”
9. De La Soul – 3 Feet High and Rising (1989, Tommy Boy)
What Sean Price Says: “I blame [De La Soul] for all the pastels. They’re the reason- they was one of the first Kanye Wests.”
Must watch/listen: “Potholes In My Lawn”
10. Jungle Brothers – Straight Out The Jungle (1988, Warlock)
What HipHopDX Says: An often overlooked but integral album to the Native Tongues story. This five-mic earner by the Jungle Brothers is a colorful statement on racial pride, African imagery, bridging 1970s Hip Hop with the new generation, and of course, safe sex. The recorded introduction of Q-Tip is also a benchmark in the Hip-House movement that’s resurging in some of today’s Rap records.
Must listen/watch: “Straight Out The Jungle”
11. Black Moon – Enta Da Stage (1993, Nervous)
What HipHopDX Says: This is the album that paved the Brooklyn roads for the Boot Camp Clik, incuding Sean Price. Buckshot and 5FT kicked concrete “gun-in-the-backpack” rhymes while DJ Evil Dee and Mr. Walt filtered samples in a way that made an album that sounded just as fuzzy and elevated as the men who made it.
Must listen: “Buck ‘Em Down”
12. Mary J. Blige – Share My World (1997, MCA)
What Sean Price Says: “The story behind that one is: I was learning how to drive, and that tape was stuck in the car. It wouldn’t come out. So by the third hour I was just singing Mary J. Blige records like I know the whole album, verbatim.”
Must listen/watch: “I Can Love You” featuring Lil’ Kim
13. Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth – Mecca & The Soul Brother (1992, Elektra)
What HipHopDX Says: This is a 20-year old classic album from the Mount Vernon, New York duo, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth. The pair’s first full-length was is an amazing blend of knocking bass and introspective lyrics. Although the group had earned notoriety throughout the early ’90s, this effort defined them, and elevated them to legends. Sadly, only one more LP followed. Both artists remain active today, still touring together on occassion.
Must listen/watch: “T.R.O.Y. (They Reminisce Over You)”
14. Main Source – Breaking Atoms (1991, Wild Pitch)
What HipHopDX Says: One of the greatest Hip Hop albums ever made. Large Professor stole the show with honest rhymes that veered between street commentary, police criticism and a benchmark break-up song. Extra P also produced some of the most heralded beats of all-time, while Sir Scratch and K-Cut (of Toronto, Ontario) both shared turntable duties. Within two years, Large Pro jetted from Main Source to pursue a solo career still burning strong today.
Must listen/watch: “Looking At The Front Door”
15. KA – Grief Pedigree (2012, Iron Works)
What HipHopDX Says: Like Sean Price, KA is a Brownsville, Brooklyn spitter. This has been one of the most slept-on albums of the year, tearing up our staff lists as we enter Year-End territory. KA comes from Natural Elements fame, and teamed with an emcee he has a lot of stylistic things in common with, Roc Marciano on this one. Last year’s Iron Works LP is nothing to miss out on either.
Must listen/watch: “Decisions”
16. Roc Marciano – Marcberg (2010, Fat Beats)
What HipHopDX Says: This was a staff favorite of the crew in 2010. Flipmode Squad/The U.N.’s Roc Marciano made an epic comeback by going solo. The Hempstead, Long Island native self-produced this emcee allegedly during his homeboy Q-Tip’s The Renaissance sessions. The result was the one of the grimiest, sparse views of New York, pimping, hustling and the world at large heard in ages. We’re still hung up on the realness…
Must listen: “Snow”
17. Random Axe – Random Axe – (2011, Duck Down)
What HipHopDX Says: One of our albums of 2011, this collaborative effort between Sean Price, Black Milk and Guilty Simpson highlighted the Brooklyn-Detroit connection that’s been looming for sometime. A carry-over between Jesus Price and Mic Tyson, this album was a benchmark moment in Sean Price’s lyricism, and found him in the company of some of the best production he’s had in his career.
Must watch/listen: “Chewbacca” featuring Roc Marciano
18. Curtis Mayfield – Short Eyes Soundtrack (1977, Curtom)
What Sean Price Says: “That’s a movie about this guy- it’s a jail movie, with a white guy in there [jail] for touching little black and Spanish girls, right? And when he get to jail, they come to find out that this one girl he got charged with, he didn’t do. But when he’s in jail, he admitted to the people that he do it to mad niggas and spics, so they fucked him in the ass and killed him.”
Must listen: “Do Do Wap Is Strong In Here”
19. Redman – Muddy Waters (1996, Def Jam)
What HipHopDX Says: Often considered Redman’s best solo album, this effort was a careful bridge between the darker subject matter and boom-bap heard on his first two solos, and a more charismatic listen. The videos here made Redman approachable, and he became a Def Jam juggernaut for the next 15 years.
Must listen/watch: “It’s Like That (My Big Brother”) featuring K-Solo
20. Ghostface Killah – Supreme Clientele (2000, Epic/Sony/Razor Sharp)
What HipHopDX Says: One of the best albums of the ’00s, as we’ve previously noted. This was a critical album to Ghostface Killah’s classic catalog. RZA shared the duties on this effort with the likes of Beatnuts, Allah Mathematics and Carlos Bess, and 12 years later, nobody complained.
Must listen: “Mighty Healthy”