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"I'm e-mailing because I need some advice. I was in a discussion with a friend and I mentioned that I liked Hip Hop and he said it was some of the worst music ever. I had to remind him that the stuff he sees on Yo MTV Raps and the Source "Hip Hop" Awards aren't accurate representations of real Hip Hop. So he asked me what he should be listening to that could change his opinion. I told him that I would make a small playlist for him, some essential albums he should get. But I know that my library isn't that big (yet) and I have mostly Scratch DJ and Turntablist material. I wanted some advice on essential albums to get in order to set someone straight on real Hip Hop. If you have a minute or two can you give me a list of albums to get, not only for my friend, but for myself as well." - Noe

Dear Noe,
There are so many albums that we split the rap lists into A and B. List A are must have's and list B are albums you should get after you have all the ones on list A. The list below is compiled so far by David P., Nicole A., Jeff H., DJ Pone, Chase, Jimmy Taco, Eric. R., Skinny Fresh, Nick, DoodlebugV2, Bps, T-Rock, Maurice J., Spence Dookey, Mike Nice, Mike P., Gert, Pej, Vincent V., Corey N., DJ Toast, M. Bull.

David Paul (bomb hip-hop)

DOC - No One Can Do It Better
Ultramagnetic MC's - Critical Beatdown
Lord Finesse - Funky Technician
Alkaholiks - 21 & Over
Masta Ace - Slaughta House
Del - I Wish My Brother George Was Here
Main Source - Breaking Atoms
KRS One - Criminal Minded
Diamond and the Psychotic Neurotics - Stunts, Blunts, & Hip-Hop
Fugees - The Score
Black Sheep - A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
Gang Starr - Step In the Arena
Geto Boys - self titled
Run DMC - Raising Hell
Eazy E - Eazy Duz It
Dr. Dre - The Chronic
Pharcyde - Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo - Wanted : Dead or Alive
Organized Konfusion - self titled
Mantronix - The Album
Wu-tang - 36 Chambers
Nas - Illmatic
Cypress Hill - self titled
Ice Cube - Amerikkka's Most Wanted
Biz Markie - Goin' Off
L.L. Cool J - Radio
NWA - Straight Outta Compton
Digital Underground - Sex Packets
EPMD - Unfinished Business
De La Soul - 3 Feet High And Rising
De La Soul - De La Soul Is Dead
Public Enemy - Yo! Bum Rush The Show
Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back
A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory
3rd Bass - Cactus Album
Beastie Boys - Licensed To Ill
Beastie Boys - Pauls Boutique
Eric B & Rakim - Paid In Full
Jungle Bros. - Done By the Forces of Nature
BDP - By All Means Necessary
JVC Force - Doin Damage
D-Nice - Call me D-Nice
Big Daddy Kane - Long Live the Kane

Common Sense - Resurrection
Pete Rock & CL Smooth - Mecca & the Soul Brother
GZA - Liquid Swords
Ice T - O.G.
Slick Rick - Adventures of...
Nice & Smooth - self titled
3rd Bass - Derelicts of Dialect
A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Mauraders
A Tribe Called Quest - People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
Jungle Brothers - Straight Out The Jungle
Paris - The Devil Made Me Do It
Brand Nubian - One For All
UMC's - Fruits of Nature
Big L - The Big Picture
Jurassic 5 - Quality Control
Aceyalone - All Balls Don't Bounce
Freestyle Fellowship - Inner City Griots
Outkast - Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik
Leaders of the New School - A Future Without a Past
Run D.M.C. - self titled
T La Rock - Lyrical King
MC Shan - Down By Law
D-Nice - Call me D-Nice
X-Clan - To The East Backwards
Organised Konfusion - Stress
Hijack - The Horns Of Jerico
King Tee - At Your Own Risk
Low Profile - We're In This Together
Alkaholiks - Coast 2 Coast
Kurious - A Constipated Monkey
Beatnuts - Street Level
Eric B. & Rakim - Follow The Leader
Big Daddy Kane - Looks Like a Job For...
Souls of Mischief - 93 Til...
Jeru - The Sun Rises In The East
Redman - Whut the album
Blackalicious - Melodica ep
Stetsasonic - On Fire
King Sun - Righteous But Ruthless
Chill Rob G - Ride the Rhythm
Too Short - Life Is...
Black Moon - Enter Da Stage
EPMD - Strictly Business
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo - Road to the Riches

The Bomb DJ's - Return of the DJ Volume I
The Bomb DJ's - Return of the DJ Volume II
Qbert - Wave Twisters
DJ Shadow - Entroducing

A few notes from DJ Pone. A beginning hip hop listener should pay attention to a few things;

1) lyrics - sometimes it's bragging, sometimes it's violence, etc. sometimes you have to realize the context of it - like Straight Outta Compton may seem to embody all that is bad in rapping, but if you realize that it was meant to be the uncompromising expression of someone who grew up in the gang/crime/drug ridden environment, and that it was one of the first albums to do so in the way it did, then you can look past the negativity of the lyrics to the artistry/significance of the album. And it also helps to note a couple of other things 1) that hip hop came from the ghetto, and much of it reflects the everyday experiences of people from there and 2) that 10+ years ago, hip hop music was felt to be a much stronger forum for politics than it is today (e.g. Public Enemy).

2) hip-hop production - again, sometimes you have to look past the lyrical content of songs, and see the creativity/innovation in its production - like the artistry of the sample collages of Dr. Dre in Straight Outta Compton. And you have to realize that it's harder and harder to produce albums like these in today's times with sample clearance, etc. and also, comes the issue of the art of sampling, and the issue of "artistic theft". To the beginner, it may be uncreative theft, Puff Daddy-like, for example. One has to appreciate what's done, digging, breaks, etc. to see past this objection to sampling creativity.