The Top 20 NYC Rap Albums of All Time: 10 - 1

Categories: Hip-Hop, Lists

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Any list of the Greatest New York Rap Albums of All Time is, essentially, a list of simply the Greatest Rap Albums of All Time. The genre was invented here, after all, and over the years -- from early days to Golden Age and onward-- the city's hip-hop history has been an embarrassment of riches. Fashioning this list, then, was no easy task, and though some of the albums on it are of the "DUH" variety, a couple may surprise you. Here now, our list of the Top 20 NYC Rap Albums of All Time, 10 - 1.

See also: The Top 20 NYC Rap Albums of All Time: 20 - 11

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10. GZA
Liquid Swords (1995)
GZA's always had a way with words, and on 36 Chambers his wit and slurred, somewhat-muted delivery made him stand a bit taller than the other MCs in his Clan. That album served as an amuse bouche for Liquid Swords, GZA's deft main course, which revealed in one fell swoop that most other rappers, comparatively, had lyrics as weak as clock radio speakers. How good is the album? So good it might even convince you that skits between songs don't suck. Of course, it helps when said skits include Shoguns being decapitated and a Samurai imparting knowledge to his son while still an infant. ("Chooooose the ball...") Add to them the unforgettable cover art--DC-Milestone Comics chief Denys Cowan packing every Wu-cliche (martial arts, chess, neck protecting and the lack thereof) into one stunning and brutal illo -- and GZA's always impeccable rhymes, and what you have is an instant classic, one the MC is now paid real American dollars to play live in its entirety. "Liquid Swords," "Duel of the Iron Mic," "Living in the World Today," "Labels," "Cold World": The album seldom misses (we could do without "B.I.B.L.E."), and when it hits, it kills. -- Brian McManus

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9. Jay Z

The Blueprint (2001)
Stuffed with swagger from the very second you hit Play, The Blueprint was a statement to anybody who might have been paying attention that the God MC did indeed run this rap shit on every tip, be it artistic or commercial, absolutely destroying his competition ("Takeover"), going confessional ("Song Cry,"), commercial ("Izzo"), or playful ("Girls, Girls, Girls"). The Blueprint offered a Jay-Z at the height of his powers, hitting a stride that never really went away. -- Drew Millard

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8. Cam'ron
Purple Haze (2004)
After almost a year of delayed release dates, Purple Haze finally saw the light of day at the end of 2004. Though often written off as eccentric with an ego too massive to impart any noteworthy lyrics about self reflection and moments of vulnerability, Cam'ron does muster up some humility here and there (check "SDE" if you're doubtful). It's just enough to keep from appearing completely amoral, but still it feels genuine. It makes you realize that Cam's smirking dexterity comes from actually being great at what he does. And though Purple Haze may be one of his more unapologetic and ostentatious works, it was also his least dark. Choosing to rely on the tried and true soul sampled Dip Set sound, he went with more upbeat fodder for loops and interpolations like "More Reasons" and "Soap Opera." The content was still about flipping birds and getting fly, but Cam's eye for detail is unquestionable, a trait only matched by Ghostface. On Haze Cam dropped the infectious "Get 'Em Girls" and "Shake" to rock clubs all through the Midwest, plus "The Dope Man" for his California constituents. The lump sum of all those records left a New York City classic in it's wake at a time when few New York rappers were finding it difficult to maintain any consistent relevance. -- J. Pablo



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20 comments
irongalaxy1
irongalaxy1

Where is 3 feet High and Rising?? (skip skip)

Milon
Milon

Except for the inexplicable absence of BDP's Criminal Minded and Mobb Deep's Infamous, and the even more inexplicable inclusion of Cam'ron (I actually like the guy, but c'mon, you rank him higher than GZA?) -- except for that, this list is pretty legit. Kudos.


But seriously, Infamous could easily be in the top 5 here.

Sun Diamond
Sun Diamond

It's all good except the Cam'ron addition. I'm thinking someone snuck that one in when the rest of the crew wasn't looking. Lol. Good job!

chiliface
chiliface

choose  the ball was from shogun assassin and is not a kung fu master, it is a samurai talking to his son. 


JohnnyDeep
JohnnyDeep

Reading 20 thru 11 I was like "How are these records rated so low?!?!?"....but this Top 10 is absolutely perfect. 

And I'd forgot about "Purple Haze".....how did that happen? great album.

Michael H. Smith
Michael H. Smith

#1 comes as no surprise. the omission of black star is a crime though.

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