One of my favorite years in hip-hop has got to be 1996! As we get closer to our 100th episode, we celebrate all the great releases done every year up until the 2000’s, and this Sunday will exclusively feature many of the great albums that were dropped in ‘96. You probably still rock to many of these tracks….at home parties, at the bar, in your own personal time in your car, feeling like a G, swervin’… so let me take you back to some of my favorite albums.
1. 2pac – All Eyez On Me
You can’t even date this album! It’s in my number one spot for many reasons, but let me just keep this to a minmum. 1. It completely re-defined what westcoast hip hop was about, on so many different levels. Released on February 13, 1996 under Death Row Records it was certified 5x Platinum after just two months. The project has then been certified one of the most influential albums of the 90’s. 2. This album is filled with two whole discs, 27 songs of singles. Producers include Suge Knight, Dj Quik, and DJ Pooh helping the album reach #1 on US Billboard 200 in 1996. 3. “All About U”. Every single time this song is played I can’t help but start singing. A smooth chorus sung by Nate Dogg, a feature from Outlawz and a some realness coming from Snoop at the end made this song one of my favorites.
“I’m still tipsy from last night/ Bumpin these walls as I pause, addicted to the fast life”
2. Jay – Z – Reasonable Doubt
Lyrical production on the album by the commercial artist is untouchable. Many of the lyrics painted listeners a picture of hustler ambitions matched with material obsessions. This is one of my favorites because of the hard work put into the album, influenced by the lifestyle Jay had to go through before he completed the project. Hova is still one of my favorite rappers to date, but this album holds a special place in my heart.
“Maintainin puttin myself in a position most of these rappers ain’t in/
I’m livin the ill streets blues got you hunger painin/
Nothin to gain and a whole lot to lose you still singin-fool”
3. Outkast – ATLiens
The second album by Outkast, mainly recorded in the city of Atlanta, was a shot for the duo to produce some of the songs themselves. This is in my top three albums of 1996 because the album also gave the duo a chance to re-invent themselves from the roudy party-ers illustrated in their first album. It also sets Outkast apart from the East and the West, it’s a gem in the South. Funky beats and fast word play paint us a picture of community addresses in the South, like poverty, and education. I love this album because of that, the listener can really hear the evolution of Outkast, while getting educated about what’s really happening in the south.
“And I replied that I had been goin through tha same thing that he had/ True I got more fans than the average man but not enough loot to last me to the end of the wee/ I live by the beat like you live check to check”
Even though those were my top 3, there are also a lot of many great releases in ‘96:
Fugees – The Score
The Roots – Illadelph Halflife
Nas – It was Written
Ghostface Killah – Ironman
De La Soul – Stakes is High
Redman – Muddy Waters
UGK – Ridin’ Dirty
Rass Kass – Soul on Ice
A Tribe Called Quest – Beats, Ryhmes and Life
Mobb Deep – Hell on Earth
It was a pivotal year in rap; many artists were redefining their movements and many artists were marking their influences. I also think this was the year that defined East, West, and the South as far as sounds. A lot of artists were marking their territory in their lyrics to uphold the image they were creating for each region. Take a listen, maybe you’ll find the influences of some of your current favorite rappers.
by Amalia Monroy