These are the albums which have outlined hip-hop historical past — from Run-DMC to Playboi Carti, from G-funk to drill, from the Bronx to Houston, and past
200 appears like an nearly luxuriantly expansive quantity once you’re making an albums checklist, and in another style, perhaps it will be. However the historical past of rap LPs is so wealthy and diverse, we have been compelled to make some painful selections — there are such a lot of iconic artists with deep catalogs, so many always evolving sounds and regional scenes. That’s one motive we restricted our scope to English language hip-hop. Relatedly, an inventory of hip-hop-adjacent albums from the worlds of dancehall or reggaeton or grime could be enjoyable and engaging, and one thing for us to revisit down the street.
When confronted with a alternative between the third (or fourth or fifth) file by a traditional artist (Outkast, as an example, or A Tribe Known as Quest) and an album from an artist who would make the checklist extra attention-grabbing (The Jacka or Saba or Camp Lo), we tended to go together with the latter possibility. The consequence was an inventory that touches on each vital second within the style’s evolution — from compilations that honor the music’s paleo old-school days, to its inventive flourishing within the late Eighties and early Nineties with Public Enemy, De La Soul, Eric B. and Rakim and others, by way of the gangsta period, the rise of the South, the ascendance of larger-than-life aughts superstars like Jay-Z and Kanye West and Nicki Minaj, and on and on into more moderen moments like blog-rap, emo-rap, and drill, from New York to L.A. to Houston to Chicago, and past.
As we dug and listened, we discovered ourselves rather less swayed by “golden age” mystique than we’d’ve been had we finished this checklist 10 or 15 years in the past. One of many unbelievable issues about hip-hop is that it evolves and expands quicker than another style in music historical past. To a fan developing within the period of Cardi or Tyler or Polo G or Playboi Carti, the golden age is now.