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Best Hip Hop Albums Of All Time – The Genre Has Evolved

/ November 8, 2018

Hip hop has had many “moments” since its origins in the 1970’s Bronx underground music scene. The music has evolved – subgroups have formed, and new styles have been introduced – but the original architecture of the music remains.

In this article, we will examine some of the best hip hop albums of all time.

How We Choose Our Ratings

Honesty, transparency and accuracy is very important to use. We select our ratings based off a range of research methods – from consumer to professional reviews, as well as the general reputation of the album.

5 of the Best Hip Hop Albums of All Time

All Eyez On Me [Explicit]
  • Death Row Records
  • MP3 Music

Tupac Amaru Shakur, 2Pac, Makaveli – whatever you’d like to call him – is hands down one of the most influential rappers that has existed thus far.

All Eyez on Me was released in February 1996 and was succeeded by only one more album titled The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory prior to 2Pac’s death in September of that same year. The album features some of 2Pac’s most memorable songs like “California Love” and “Only God Can Judge Me.”

Pac brought together Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Method Man of Wu-Tang Clan, and an entire cast of other accompanying rappers and singers.

The album was certified diamond in the U.S. in 2014 after having sold over 10 million copies.

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The College Dropout [Vinyl]
  • Disc 1
  • Side 1
  • 1. We Don't Care

Kanye West’s debut studio album, The College Dropout, is renowned by many as an incredible album. West began recording the album in 1999 and over a period of four years recorded iconic tracks like “Through the Wire” and “The New Workout Plan.” West eventually released the album in 2004 through Roc-A-Fella Records and Def Jam Recordings.

Production and writing of the album was completed by artists including Jay-Z, Lauryn Hill, Aretha Franklin, and even Marvin Gaye. It’s no wonder the quality of writing and production is so high – so high that it has been named as one of the best hip hop albums of all time by Time and Rolling Stone and even won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Album in 2005.

The College Dropout has sold over 3.5 million copies in the U.S. and over 4 million copies worldwide and is West’s best-selling album.

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Run-d.m.c.
  • RUN D.M.C., Run-d.m.c.
  • Get on Down
  • Vinyl

Run-D.M.C. released their self-titled album in 1984 and that same year it went gold – the first rap album to do so. In a lot of ways, the album was revolutionary and broke all the rules of music that were understood prior to its release. The album was Run-D.M.C.’s first studio album.

Run-D.M.C. was the first hip hop group to have a music video featured on MTV, with the track from this album titled “Rockbox.” At first, disc jockeys were hesitant to play Run-D.M.C. on the radio station, but after a few in NYC took a chance, other urban radio stations followed suit. The album has now sold enough copies to be certified gold.

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DAMN. [Explicit]
  • Top Dawg Entertainment/Aftermath Records/ Interscope Records
  • MP3 Music

Damn is Kendrick Lamar’s fourth studio album and it has brought him wild success. Released in April 2017, the album has broken ground for the modern world of hip hop music. In July, around 3 months after its release, Damn was certified double platinum with around 4 million units in sales equivalency.

In April of 2018, the album garnered Lamar a Pulitzer Prize. Lamar is the first person to win a Pulitzer for any music that isn’t classical or jazz.

Popular tracks from the album include “Humble” and “Loyalty.” Lamar features three very different musical acts on the album: Rihanna, Zacari, and U2.

The album has performed incredibly well worldwide as well and is certified as gold or higher in 10 countries.

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The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
  • Ruffhouse/Columbia
  • MP3 Music

Lauryn Hill broke the first-week sales record for a female artist with The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – her debut solo album. 422,624 copies of the album sold during its first week but the album has now been certified 8x platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for having sold over 8 million copies in the U.S. alone and over 14 million copies worldwide.

The influence that the album had on the world of hip hop undoubtedly marks this album as one of the best hip hop albums of all time.

Popular tracks from the album include “Doo Wop (That Thing)” and “Ex-Factor.”

A New York Time’s music reviewer wrote of the album in 1998 saying,

“The saga that inspires Ms. Hill even surpasses the details of black American life that fill her work….Her gaze reaches farther, to what she considers the Greatest Story Ever Told: that of a black spiritual legacy grounded in Christianity but constantly adapting to the world outside the church, the buried lifeline of the African diaspora’s social movements and its arts, foremost among them the music that ‘Miseducation’ renews.”

Keywords: best hip hop albums of all time

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All Eyez On Me [Explicit]
The College Dropout [Vinyl]
Run-d.m.c.
DAMN. [Explicit]
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill