Some of the most iconic and dopest Hip Hop albums were released back in 1991. Groups like Organized Konfusion, Del, Digital Underground, Leaders of the New School and Naughty By Nature released debut classic albums, while Nice & Smooth and the Geto Boys released their second studio albums. The following 10 albums are the Top 10 albums that were released 25 years ago that changed the game forever and left us in awe till this day. You may not agree with the order of this list or the omissions, but every album on this list is a certified banger!
10. Ice T – Original Gangster
This album is Ice T’s finest effort and had us hooked from the opening track. Tracks like “The Tower” “Midnight” and “Mind Over Matter” had us captivated by the storytelling and subject matter while “New Jack Hustler” and “Original Gangster” was just some street G sh*t!
9. Gang Starr – Step In The Arena
Gang Starr released their second studio album “Step In The Arena” and left us wishing for more thanks to some crazy dope beats from DJ Premier and the smooth monotone lyrics by Guru. “Step In The Arena“, “Who’s Gonna Take The Weight?“, “Form of Intellect” and “Check The Technique” had lyrics and beats that blended perfectly like a shredded wheat biscuit. “Love Sick” was a fly love song and “Just To Get A Rep” had us bouncing up and down while listening to a story about “Stick up kids going out to tax“.
8. Main Source – Breaking Atoms
When it comes to debut albums, Main Source doesn’t just make a mark but changes the game forever. Every single beat on this album is near perfection and with tracks like “Watch Roger Do His Thing“, “Friendly Game of Baseball“, “Just Hanging Out” and “Peace Is Not The Word To Play“ make us forget that there is a skip button on the cd player. “Looking At The Front Door” is one of the greatest break-up songs ever while “Live at the BBQ” features a young Nasty Nas that obliterates the competition with his incredible debut verse!
7. Black Sheep – Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing
When we first heard “Flavor of the Month” we wanted to try more flavors offered by Mista Lawgne and Dres had to offer. “U Mean I’m Not” has to be the greatest intro track in Hip Hop history and tracks like “Butt…In the Meantime“, “Have U.N.E. Pull“, and “Strobelite Honey” will have you laughing and bouncing at the same time, but “The Choice Is Yours” was the track that sold this album. When you get to the remix, you’ll want to restart the cd all over again! One unbelievable debut!
6. Scarface – Mr Scarface is Back
What would 1991 be without the 5th Ward gangsta Scarface? He brought some ultra-violent tracks while spitting some of the greatest lyrics put on wax! “Mr Scarface“, “Born Killer“, “Murder by Reason Of Insanity“, “Your Ass Got Took” were as gangster and violent as anything ever spit on wax, while “The Pimp” was triple x rated and made you think you were watching a porno. We also realized that the man we call Brad really enjoys anal sex! “Diary of a Madman” was so violent, it made us think that Scarface was truly, ” legally insane, marked manic depressive”.
5. Cypress Hill- Cypress Hill
Talk about an unbelievable debut! This album oozed originality and introduced us to one of the dopes producers on the west coast, DJ Muggs. Tracks like “Stoned is the Way of the Walk” , “Latin Lingo“, “Real Estate” and “Hand on the Pump” brought the 808 boom and had us bumping this album in the ride 24/7. “Pigs” was their anti-police anthem and the song that put them on the map, “How I Could Just Kill A Man” became one of the biggest hits of 1991. B Real and Sen Dog were the Cheech & Chong of Hip Hop and brought that Latino sound to the masses!
4. N.W.A – Niggaz4Life
One of the most anticipated albums in 1991 was N.W.A’s sophomore album “Niggaz4Life“. Once Ice Cube left, the future of the group was in doubt. The production on this album was 100 times better than their debut (if you can believe that) and they continued putting the streets of Compton on wax. “Real Niggaz Don’t Die, “Appetite for Destruction“, “Niggaz 4 Life” and “Alwayz Into Something” all were classic gangsta joints while “I Rather Fuck You” and “Automobile” brought their style of gangsta humor into the mix.
3. De La Soul – De La Soul Is Dead
When this album first came out, I had thought that De La Soul had changed their sound and was curious what it sounded like. The truth is, nothing changed. Prince Paul was still behind the boards and every track on this album had you mesmerized. “Oodle of O’s“, “Pease Porridge“, “Talkin Bout Hey Love“, and “Afro Connections at a Hi 5” were some of the highlights on this album and believe me this is just a taste. They invite Dres from Black Sheep on “Fanatic of the B Word“, and danced the summer away with the party anthem “Roller Skating Jam Named Saturday“.
2. A Tribe Called Quest – The Low End Theory
This album has to be one of my favorite albums of all time, in any genre. The originality and complexity makes it a definite game changer in Hip Hop. And to think that this album is not their best effort makes you believe that A Tribe Called Quest has a special place not only in Hip Hop but in the hearts of many Hip Hop heads. Once “Excursions” drops, the album flows like “Butter” and has us in a continuous groove until the final “Scenario“. (You see what I did there?) The jazz samples on “Buggin’ Out” and “Jazz” had me believing that any genre of music can be converted into Hip Hop! People to this day believe that this album just might be the greatest Hip Hop album ever.
1. Ice Cube – Death Certificate
How can an artist bring us back to back classics, is beyond belief. How do you top a classic like “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted“? Well, on this album Ice Cube takes us on a journey between the “Death Side” and the “Life Side“. As a storyteller, we get to hear about his plans to leave South Central and move to Missouri to slang dope on “My Summer Vacation” and tell his girlfriend’s dad that his daughter is “Giving Up The Nappy Dugout“. He also got social-political on tracks like “Us” and “True To The Game” and brought the album to a thunderous close with one of the greatest diss tracks ever, “No Vaseline“. What more can you ask for? Every track could’ve been a single and there is not one weak track or skit! Not lyrically or sonically! The album was as vivid as a movie and even the album cover was classic! This in my opinion, is the greatest album of 1991. What’s your Top 10?