My top ten most slept on rap albums (89-2000)

It’s a snow day in NYC. For real, it’s not even that bad out but the city is shut down so , for what it’s worth, I’m snowed in. Anyway, a few days ago someone tweeted me about my top ten albums. I’m not a fan of decisive lists like that but I figured I would meet him halfway and list ten albums from back in the days that I consider to be very slept on. These are in no particular order and it’s all over the place but I hope you guys can find something on here you might have missed that will tickle your fancy. If not, hey, blow me! These are all in the realm of personal classics to me.

1)Bushwackass- How reall israel? (1994)
There are layers to this album for me. Personal layers.
When I was 15, I used to help this dude write rhymes and give him samples so his producer could make beats. He was older and was pretty much my mentor with this rap shit. One time, he invited me to come to the studio with him and his friends to watch them record. I was super excited cause this would be my first foray into any such thing. So, I went to a part of brooklyn I had never even heard of at the time (BK in the early 90’s was a VERY different beast than it is now) and pretty much just posted up on a couch with a 40 while these dudes made a song. At one point, a crew of other guys showed up. They were a lot more thugged out than the guys I knew and not exactly welcoming to my 15 year old white ass.
Anyway, the made the song and then all the guys who were there wanted to cypher in the booth. They took turns and it got to one of the thugged out dudes and he basically spit a whole verse damning the white man while looking directly at me. Hmm…cool. About a week later, I would learn those guys were the Bushwackass and that guy went by the name Fish b. one. You would think that would make me not want to listen to them but…nope! Not only did I listen to the album, I fucking loved it. Fast paced thugged out rhymes over a selection of beats I still hold up to anything else from that era.
A year or two later, when I went to college and discovered the internet, I was on a hip hop newsgroup. I ended up chatting with this dude who turned out to be one of the producers of some of the songs on this album (Sam ewing). He was super friendly and actually gave me a ton of tips on how to make beats that were eventually very helpful. Who knew?
Did I mention they were black israelites? There’s that too. Shalom!!
My favorite cuts:

2)Grand Daddy IU-Smooth assassin (1991)
When this album came out, Cold chillin’ records was pretty much as good as it got. In my eyes, they didn’t put out wack shit. So, without knowing anything about who Grand Daddy IU was, I copped this on sight. Looking back, it’s easy to write off IU as a try hard mix between Big Daddy Kane and Rakim. His booming low voice and tendency to rap for the ladies definitely stunk of Kane but his word play and flow were more like Rakim. Regardless, if you’re gonna sound like anyone, those are two guys I would recommend. Especially in 91.
Here’s the thing though, I think this album hold up. It’s got classic beats and loops all over it and Grand Daddy IU can definitely rap. He went with a more jazzy mood than either Kane or Rakim every did. In my eyes, it set them apart enough to be judged on his own merit.
My Favorite cuts:

3)Da Lench Mob- Guerillas in tha mist (1992)
Inside the cover for Ice Cube’s classic album “Amerikka’s most wanted” , there was a list of names. Those were the people in his crew known as Da Lench mob. At the time, I didn’t think anything of it. People big upped their crews all the time and nothing came of it. A few years passed whole new Ice cube album came out before a word of the Lench mob had been spoken. They were featured on the song “Color blind”, off that album. Another year passed and, finally, a video popped up for “Guerillas in tha mist”. It’s was angry. It was heavy. It was simple. The Lench mob consisted of a few rappers. Mostly Jay-dee. He was the main guy. But shorty and T-bone chimed in on occasion as well. Ice cube also made his presence felt on this album , guesting on a bunch of cuts as well as executive producing the entire album (Much like he did on Del’s debut “I wish my brother Georgie was here”).
As an album, it is packed with dope songs. Great beats that balance between classic muggs beats, to P-funk influenced tracks to some even jazzy sounding stuff. The rapping, while not exactly brilliant, works for me cause it was so intense. These guys had a message.
My favorite cuts:

4)Hard Knocks- School or hard knocks (1992)
Back in the day, The Source was a bible for all hip hop heads. I’d get turned on to local stuff via radio shows and video shows but, in general, being in the source was the best promotion for any rapper. Often, they would review albums well before they were released which, depending on the review, might build some serious anticipation for an album. Nas’ “Illmatic” is an example of that. Another example , for me at least, was this album. Bronx duo “Hard Knocks” came out of nowhere…and , honestly, vanished just as quickly. I first heard them on a compilation the source gave away to magazine subscribers. The song “Nigga for hire” jumped out at me. The beat was great but the rapper is what caught me. He was clearly angry but he rapped in a monotone, mellow voice. I had never heard anyone do that before. I couldn’t even tell if I liked it but I was definitely intrigued by it.
When the album came out, I copped it and was very happy with my purchase. Great beats all over this album. Dynamic and varied. I can’t say the guy was a lyrical genius or even that great a rapper but he rapped in a very distinct style that was unusual and interesting. I recall the source comparing him to Guru and I can definitely see that. But , like, if Guru was angry about everything. I have no clue what ever happened to these guys but it’s too bad. They were onto something.
My favorite cuts:

5)LL cool J- Walking with a panther (1989)
You’re probably thinking “What the fuck is LL cool J doing on a slept on album list?”. I feel you. This album probably sold a million copies but, to me, it’s still slept on immensely. Hear me out…
When people talk about LL Cool J’s legacy, they talk about his first two albums and “mama said knock you out”, which was considered a “comeback” album on the heels of this album. People HATED this album. In every review, they spoke of LL cool J’s ego spiraling out of control and how he had gone to far. This album was certainly LL at his most hedonistic. But, to me, that’s what makes it so great. He’s talking THE MOST shit on this album. Coupled with him being at the pinnacle of his rapping career, I’d say this an undeniable classic in braggadocia rapping. Problem is…it had some REALLY bad songs on it. I think that’s were the kick back came from. The album has 18 cuts on it.about 12 of those are fucking awesome. There are a few meh joints but…man, there are 4 or 5 truly awful songs. Love songs. Ballads. Just despicable music. I get that backlash…but people went way overboard and missed out on what I consider to be LL’s best work ever. In my eyes, this was not the album where he fell off, it was the album where he went balls to the wall (probably very coked up at the time) and not everything landed. But when it did? It was amazing.
My favorite cuts:

6)Young Bleed- My own (1999)
Prior to Young Bleed, I had a rocky relationship with southern rap. It was the late 90’s. Master P and Cash money had pretty much offended my obnoxious purist rap soul. I loved older stuff from the south but the new wave just didn’t sit right with me. I don’t think my ears were ready for beats with no samples. Also, a good deal of it was actually really bad. That said, I definitely was quick to dismiss it when I should have listened closer. Well, this album was a turning point for me. I first learned of Young Bleed while watching Rap City. They played a video of his that fascinated me. It was just so fucking cheap. Like , literally shot on camcorder in the era of million dollar music videos. It caught my eye. The more it came on, the more I listened. The more I listened, the more I realized “hmm…this guy is kinda dope”. Then, randomly, this kid I used to trade music with sent me his whole album. I didn’t even ask for it. I put it on and , right away, knew this album was special. Bleed’s rapping style was similar to 50 cent. Mellow and reserved but somehow ferocious at the same time. But so very very southern. Like I could imagine the whole thing being recorded in an outhouse. What made this album for me, though, was the production. Bleed’s earlier albums definitely had great songs on them but I didn’t love the beats. On this, his producers melded that southern bounce with great samples and really tasteful synth stuff. To this day, it’s easily one of my favorite albums ever to come out of the south.
My favorite cuts:

7)Positive K- Skills dat pay da bills
Positive K was always one of those rappers I never understood why he didn’t see more success. His music was tailor made to succeed in that era. He had dope beats, a great personality and he could rap. Sure, “I gotta man” was a huge hit off this album but it almost seemed to make him into a novelty rap act. Gimmicks giveth and taketh away I suppose.
I first heard Positive K when he was on “I’m not havin’ it” with MC Lyte. Didn’t think much of him but then he was featured on Brand Nubians debut album and my curiosity was peaked. About a year after that, he released the song and video for “Nightshift” , which is pretty much one of the greatest rap songs of it’s era. It’s perfect. The beat, the rhymes and big daddy kane popping pimp shit on the hooks.
When this album dropped, I was all over it. He showed far more versatility than I expected and an ear for really good beats. Like many albums from that era, one of it’s downsides was it’s length. People didn’t know how to self edit back then, I guess. But, all things considered, it’s a great album that pretty much no one ever brings up when talking about great albums from the early 90’s. Well, motherfucker, I am!
My favorite cuts:

8)Field Mob: Ashy To classy (2000)
Here’s one that I can entirely thank Rap city for. In NYC, we weren’t privy to new southern rap. All we would see or hear was on tv. The video for “Project Dreamz” popped on one day and I was mesmerized. In particular, the second rapper Shawn Jay. I was blown away. Even listening to it now that verse still gets me. He found a way to balance an almost cartoonish voice with a crazy flow and actual great lyrical content.His partner, Smoke, was even more cartoonish but still a great addition when put next to Jay.
The album is a nice mix of bragging, stories and basic shit talking over Southern beats that didn’t sound cheap or flimsy.
My favorite cuts:

9)Da King and I- Contemporary Jeep music (1993)
da king & I
This is the one album on the list that might be a little dated if you listen to it now. There was an era of rap where people were obsessed with styling. Using their voices in odd ways to set themselves apart from the pack. Trendz of culture did it, Akinyele did it, Das Efx did it. It was a thing. I , personally, loved it all at the time but I’d be lying if I said those style choices have aged well.
In the case of Da King and I, MC Izzy Ice, danced on that line. Yes, he was very animated but he still retained enough of that late 80’s/early 90’s straight forward rapping style that it saved this album for me, upon revisiting it. In fact, Izzy had a great voice and lot of character on the mic. Beat wise, this was a product of it’s era. Tons of jazz samples, filtered basslines and hard drums. That shit is forever in my book so it’s not like it will play out. Sure, doing those kinda beats in 2015 is lame but, for that era, this was a really well produced album.
My favorite cuts:

10)Willie D- I’m Goin out like a soldier (1992)
God, do I love this album. So much. Willie D is probably my favorite rapper of all time. Not to be confused with the “best rapper”. He’s just as entertaining as it gets and this album is pure, unfiltered Willie D at his best. He’s talking shit about everything and everyone. He throws shots at NWA, Rodney King, and Paula Abdul cause, you know, why the fuck not?
Granted , this album in not a front to back banger. There are some definite misses. But, overall? It’s the best collection of concentrated Willie D you will ever find. “Trenchcoats n gangsta hats” is seemingly his life’s manifesto and it’s got like 7 verses. I would marry this album.
My favorite cuts:

Song of the day 11/30/10

Who’s Whylin’? By The Bushwackass
The Bushwackass are one of those groups that kinda slid between the cracks when they dropped. The put an album out on a little known label called Pallas records called “How real Isreal?”. Yes. It’s a jewish pun. The album was full of violent raps with a black jew edge to them over seriously dope beats by relatively unknown producers. After that, they dropped the single “Caught up in the game” , which may have been their most popular song, even though it never led to another full length.
I always felt they were much more skilled than they were given credit for. Especially in an era when lots of east coast gangster rap wasn’t coming from a particularly “Lyrical” angle. These guys were basically the guys who would go to the Lyricist Lounge and rob the cypher.
I can’t lie, the rhyme from this song
“Cold blooded retribution is my solution
Mayhem into the AM , my revolver is my problem solver”
goes through my head more than I’d like to admit…and I’m a total pussy. Pretty effective stuff, right there.