Grantland recently ran an article listing various editors' favorite second albums from hiphop acts. I don't have a problem with any of the selections, mainly because Steve Hyden had the good sense to include The Low End Theory--any such list without this album would be suspect. I do, however, think they missed a number of obvious choices, and so does Mark. So here are our thoughts on this completely unimportant matter.
Public Enemy, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back
A seminal album in hiphop. I've never heard anyone say it's overrated. If you like music and have broad musical tastes, you probably already own this CD.
Jungle Brothers, Done by the Forces of Nature
One of my all-time personal favorites. I've never heard anyone say it's overrated, mainly because most people have never listened to it. You should. It's fantastic. The Jungle Brothers were sort of a proto-De La Soul/Tribe group, founding members of the Native Tongues posse.
Boogie Down Productions, By All Means Necessary
BDP invented gangsta rap with their first album Criminal Minded. They then pivoted to the then-burgeoning "conscious rap" genre with By All Means Necessary. KRS-ONE's verses are almost 20 years old yet they're still culturally relevant. This is also Scott LaRock's last album; he was killed before it was completed.
Ghostface Killah, Supreme Clientele
GFK's second solo album, although he appeared on multiple albums with the entire Wu-Tang Clan and as a guest on other WTC members' solo albums. I can't say enough good things about Supreme Clientele, and I've said plenty about it here already.
You could make the case that Outkast are the greatest group in hip hop history. In fact, I would make that case if this were a different post. After the success of their debut, "Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik", Outkast reemerged three years later a much different duo from when we saw them last. Somewhat older, much wiser and no long content to simply opine on the drugs, guns, women and violence they encountered in their Southwest Atlanta neighborhood. The sound of Oukast would continually evolve in the coming years but ATLiens was the our first clue as to where they were headed. The video from the first single, "Elevators" left no choice but to take notice of the beginning of this evolution.
Redman, Dare iz a Darkside
New Jersey's Reggie Noble followed up his gold debut album, "Whut? Thee Album" with this effort. Though once again largely produced by mentor Erick Sermon, this album was more driven by Redman's unique personality and gave listeners a deeper look into his strange, smoked out mind. Certain songs like "Cosmic Slop" and "Can't Wait" are highlights, but the whole album holds up well to this day and reminds listeners of what a lyrical force Redman was before he began making movies and hanging out with Method Man.
Beastie Boys, Paul's Boutique
I got back to college headed into sophomore year (Coincidentally.) I moved into the fraternity house suite. I went upstairs to find Dave and Rob's room, already messy. One of the very first things out of Dave's mouth in that conversation was, "Hey, the Beastie Boys have a new album. I have the CD." I had loved LTI in high school, but like everybody else, I wondered what came next.
We put it on and listened to it, and again and again. The three bad brothers you know so well (this time Dave, Rob, and myself) got a bunch of Mickey's Big Mouths, cut ourselves opening them, and listened to Paul's Boutique on repeat. We read and learned the lyrics. We picked favorite tracks (mine: "Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun"). We heard Dave get philosophical about the omnipresence of dairy foods and wax on the record. These songs weren't quite like anything we had heard, and I had taken in a lot of rap from ages 13-18. Unlike many, many other albums, it never got old. Ever.
Dave's high school hoodlum buddies came down to Williamsburg, and we drank cheap swill and bugged out to Paul's Boutique. We introduced other fratres to it; some passed on it, others like Fitz caught the bug. It dominated our music soundscape for quite a while. A few years later someone in the house had a copy of Spin magazine (crap). It had a list of top 10 Underrated Albums. Paul's Boutique was on it, as was Sandinista! -- I thought to myself, huh, those two were most of my listening sophomore year. We never realized Paul's Boutique was underrated and a commercial disappointment because we lived in a total and utter vacuum in college. To us, it was the greatest, and everybody knew it. 25 years later, everyone does.