The Usual Suspects

BlackStar

The lone collaboratory album from Mos Def and Talib Kweli:

A hip-hop classic (though not according to The Source)

The most important part of hip-hop is the artist. The genre's significant events are primarily the release of milestone albums and without the music, there would be no hip-hop. The following are resources that give excellent background on the most important artists, including interviews with the greats themselves.

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Profiles and, more importantly, interviews with the majority of rap’s heavyweights (including a young 2Pac). Candid quotes from other sources are also included to help round out each character. “Hip Hop Topic” features appear throughout. Experts, such as John Shecter (editor of The Source) and Ted Demme (future filmmaker and then exec producer of Yo! MTV Raps) give their top 10 rap albums or videos. Afrika Bambaataa provides a chronological list of Major Hip-Hop Moments. Also, a short hip-hop dictionary is included (interesting to compare the 1992 list with the more current dictionaries).

Flava Flav's picture on the cover gives away this text's holdings. Lists more obscure artists than most sources, such as Bynoe's Encyclopedia of Rap and Hip-Hop Culture. Good number of vintage photos and anecdotal essays sprinkled throughout, such as a “Survivors” section and a focus on Rap & Islam.

Insight into the making of the “biggest” songs, arranged alphabetically by artist. (Few are actually the artists’ biggest hits and many were not even singles). Provides excellent biographical information, but song information possibly for the more obscurity-loving fans. Excellent full-page color photos.

A collection of essays about rap’s most respected albums, often including multiple albums from esteemed artists. Essays often cover an artist’s entire career while focusing on a particular work. Good analyses of important albums, but not far-reaching.

A collection of famous (and some not-so-famous) hip-hop album and singles covers as selected by Emery through 2002. Art influences are also included, such as Young Black Teenagers’ self titled 1991 album paying homage to With The Beatles. An excellent visual representation with some history and behind-the-scenes information thrown in.

The Source reviews albums with mics (microphones) instead of stars, going in increasing order of quality from 1-5. A 5 Mic album is considered within the hip-hop community to hold "classic" status and therefore ranks among the all-time bests. Many of the greats have made this list, but do not take advice solely from one source, even if it is The Source. Since beginning in 1988 as the first hip-hop magazine, The Source has given only 42 albums 5 Mics and none have achieved that status since Scarface's The Fix in 2002.

PA2

My Recommended Lyricists and Links to Their Best Lyrics

Canibus

Nas

Andre 3000 (of OutKast)

Talib Kweli

Mos Def

Black Thought (of The Roots)

Eminem

Big Boi (of OutKast)

Jadakiss (of The LOX)

Last Emperor

Common

The Notorious B.I.G.

Lauryn Hill (of the Fugees)

2Pac

Chuck D (of Public Enemy)

Ice Cube

Jay-Z

Kanye West

Tonedeff

Phonte (of Little Brother)

Rakim

KRS-ONE

Soup (of Jurassic 5)

Immortal Technique

Ghostface Killah (of Wu-Tang Clan)

Method Man (of Wu-Tang Clan)

Raekwan the Chef (of Wu-Tang Clan)

Malice (of Clipse)

Busta Rhymes

The Game

Lil' Wayne

Vinnie Paz (of Jedi Mind Tricks)

Pharoahe Monch

 

My Recommended Producers (and Artists With Whom They Have Worked)

Dr. Dre

(Eminem, Snoop Dogg, N.W.A., Busta Rhymes, Ice Cube)

9th Wonder

(Little Brother, Jay-Z, Memphis Bleek, Jean Grae)

Kanye West

(Jay-Z, Common, Talib Kweli, Nas, Lupe Fiasco)

The RZA

(Wu-Tang Clan)

DJ Premier

(The Notorious B.I.G., Nas, Rakim, Mos Def, Common)

Stoupe the Enemy of Mankind

(Jedi Mind Tricks, Canibus)

Swizz Beatz

(DMX, The LOX, Eve, Busta Rhymes, T.I.)

DJ Hi-Tek

(Talib Kweli, Common, The Game)

The Neptunes

(Clipse, Busta Rhymes, Common)

Kno

(Cunninlynguists, Tonedeff, Wordsworth)

Elite

(Jadakiss, Tonedeff)

Timbaland

(Jay-Z, Missy Elliot, Bubba Sparxxx)

Scott Storch

(Nas, The Roots, Method Man, The Game)

Havoc (of Mobb Deep)

(Nas, Method Man, The Notorious B.I.G., Jadakiss)

Salaam Remi

(Fugees, Nas)

Wyclef Jean

(Fugees, Canibus)

?uestlove

(The Roots)

will.i.am

(Common, Nas, Busta Rhymes)