Hip-hop started as the rebellion of the African-American youth against the mainstream WASP culture. The Godfather Part II, the Jaws, M*A*S*H, Star Wars, etc. marked the cultural revolution of a new generation of White America on the West Coast, and the black and brown America was ready for their own revolution. Thus came the Sugar Hill Gang with Rapper’s Delight, and changed the world.
OK, it will take few years until 1984 for hip-hop to start conquering the minds and souls of the rebellious youth around the globe. In the meantime, evolving from party music, it became a vehicle for expressing the brutal reality of the life of African Americans living in the urban neighborhoods invisible for Nixon’s Silent Majority and their “fellow Americans”.
These are the five hip-hop vinyl LPs you must have in your collection. Lets get it on with counting them in no particular order.
ENTER WU-TANG (36CHAMBERS) – Wu-Tang Clan
It was 1993 and RZA, Method Man, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, U-God, GZA, Ghostface Killah, and Masta Killa have released their debut album. At first, this album had very little success until the innovation, intensity, and introspectiveness of individual songs just hit it with people. It defined the Wu-Tang Clan as a group and each individual member through the rest of their solo careers.
You must have it for the simple reason that this is the best hip-hop album, ever.
ILLMATIC – Nas
Nas’s debut album wasn’t either a huge commercial success. But poetry rarely is commercially viable, and the only word that can describe songs such as The World is Yours, N.Y. State of Mind, or It Ain’t Hard to Tell; poetry. Nas’s rhythm and pictures will just hit you and keep on hitting you on this semi-autobiographical musical story about New York.
IT TAKES A NATION OF MILLIONS TO HOLD US BACK – Public Enemy
In 1988 came out It Takes a Nation and told us Don’t Believe the Hype, but we are still falling down the good old rabbit holes. Chuck D’s rhymes sit on the layers of samples by the Bomb Squad, like buttercream on a moist layer cake. And the millions were listening to it and the vitriolic barbs coming from Flavor Flav and Terminator X.
An album such as this one today couldn’t be made, if for no other reason than for the “sampling laws” and how expensive it would be.
THE CHRONIC – Dr Dre
Before Andre Young started making Beats, he was throwing rhymes about the lifestyle of debauchery, gang violence, and deeply ingrained racial brutality of the police. If you can get around the confrontational tone and controversial subjects of this album, you will find a musical masterpiece of its era, that paved Dr Dre’s road to stardom.
PAUL’S BOUTIQUE – Beastie Boys
The three white boys from Brookly and their second studio album are the dirty secret of many stars of hip-hop. Chuck D, Public Enemy, Jay-Z, and many others will tell you that one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time is Paul’s Boutique.
The album that pretty much has remained quintessential hip-hop record till these days was rather a disappointment for the fans of Beastie Boys, but quickly became a guilty pleasure of other artists. Only in recent years, they are starting to admit how large an influence it had on their music.
Hip-hop today is a legitimate art form, but every now and then we need to remind ourselves of its root in the youth rebellion against the oppressive system. The revolt against the society for which the lives of many are invisible. And also of the musical genius of some of the people from the often maligned “inner-cities”. These five albums are just that.