The Top 20 NYC Rap Albums of All Time: The Complete List

_jay1.jpg
13. Jay Z
Reasonable Doubt (1996)
Jay-Z's debut album could have very well been ripped from the minds of Scorsese or De Palma with its gangster bravado and illicit chaos. As much a protégé of Biggie as he was his contemporary, Jay-Z had an uncanny ability to breathe dimension into gritty rhymes with his quick wit and lyrical dexterity. But real Gs move in silence and unlike his peers, Jay was markedly the quiet hustler, never quite removing the veil even on introspective tracks like "Regrets" and "Can I Live" ("It gets tedious / So I keep one eye open like, C-B-S/ Ya see me stressed right? Can I live?"). Amid a remarkably prolific career that has spanned nearly two decades, Reasonable Doubt is still considered Jay-Z's magnum opus (and not even bringing the Nets to Brooklyn can top that). -- Sowmya Krishnamurthy

_beastieboys.jpg
12. Beastie Boys
Paul's Boutique (1989)
While the Beastie Boys' critically-lauded sophomore album Paul's Boutique was recorded almost entirely in Los Angeles, the trio's transplant into the City of Angels managed to flush out exactly what made them such definitively New York artists. The Boys' abilities as MCs has been somewhat underrated in hip-hop circles. While they've never been the "lyrically lyrical spiritual miracle"-types, their styles fully took shape and excelled on Paul's Boutique as an industrial-strength pop-culture web of every media they'd ever experienced, immaculately complimenting a similarly-minded groundbreaking sample-hodgepodge of a production. This newfound niche captured how New York-influenced they truly were, down to naming the album after a lower east side Manhattan clothing store. With all of its multi-textual references and obscenely layered production, Paul's Boutique is the rare album that feels like its actually alive, pulsating with a vibrant energy whose relationship with the listener reveals something new with each listen. -- Chaz Kangas

_ghostfacekillah.jpg
11. Ghostface Killah
Supreme Clientele (2000)
Conventional wisdom states that Supreme Clientele is far and above the gem of the second wave of Wu-Tang solo albums. And sometimes, conventional wisdom is such for a reason. Supreme Clientele indeed occupies a very specific space in the Wu-Tang discography. The album is front-to-back amazing and as bizarre as you could hope, from Ghost cutting the best song on the thing ("Saturday Nite") off halfway through, to him copping to fucking his own fans on "Mighty Healthy" to RZA's beat on "Stroke of Death," which centers around a single ominous scratch being run continually back. Written largely during an extended trip to Africa by Ghost and Executive Producer RZA, the album was a lyrical turning point for Ghostface, menacing at times, silly and downright psychedelic at others. It was one of last battle cries from a dying empire, proving that even late in the game Wu-Tang still had one undefeated champion. -- By Drew Millard

My Voice Nation Help
107 comments
Flowalition
Flowalition

Capitol Punishment - BIG PUN im done here lol

3rdwrld
3rdwrld

Hey What about Enta Da Stage!!!

Ces1ne
Ces1ne

Very well written.....highlight was the EPMD write up!!

-obviously lists like this are opinions, but CNNs "The War Report" not being on a NY list is a criminal act. That album IS NY in the 90s.

heaterz
heaterz

Purple haze was dope maybe not as dope as listed... pretty good list though mobb deep and krs one and mos def should have made it though

davey
davey

Cool list and all, but  RE: Liquid Swords -- movie samples aren't skits.

barack.osama56
barack.osama56

Mobb Deep - The Infamous

It must be included. That is not debatable!

Donn
Donn

black star should be on this list. i mean how do you have purple haze and no black star.

Donn
Donn

black star should be on this list. i mean how do you have purple haze and no black star.

Donn
Donn

black star should be on this list. i mean how do you have purple haze and no black star.

nickleby
nickleby

i'd say Black Star fits all the criteria to be somewhere on this list. it's very NY, near flawless production and absolutely flawless lyricism by two of NY's greatest emcees.

wallyk3
wallyk3

i realized this list wasn't serious once they said Enter the 36 Chambers had "10" emcees

bunkerking86
bunkerking86

If the slim shady lp or marshall mathers album isnt up there then this list is fucked .......

alisonshabes
alisonshabes

lacking artists outside of NY, bullshit 

alisonshabes
alisonshabes

lacking artists outside of NY, bullshit 

chrissavvy
chrissavvy

@AnnakinSlayd cam'ron at 8..one of the peep makin list musta banged some chick to that album so he thinks its up there..

SamuriApocalysp
SamuriApocalysp

@bruthadub Camron better than Liquid Swords ??? Hahahaha No KRS no G Rap the Wrong Beasties the wrong De la no Midnight Marauders ??? FOH

TianHerstel
TianHerstel

@GerbenKor Dat ik ze bijna allemaal ken is gelet op mijn leeftijd geen goed teken voor de stand van de rap-scene...

kpoetic
kpoetic

No Kool G Rap.....are you serious?!?!? One of the best if not THE best street rapper....a story teller who has a gift of flow..... No Kane another flowsmith.....No KRS who is the greatest because of his ability to flow street AND education.......not having the aforementioned is a joke of the highest order, c'mon!!!

John Robert Hector
John Robert Hector

Flav & Rev Buzzy ! Hehehee! We was Bad in Bronx back when! Woe! Fun was cheap...& friends were4 keeps back n them houses then!

Jay Lane
Jay Lane

That list was pretty good, but omitting KRS ONE and BDP is an unforgivable crime. You should correct that "by any means necessary" Perhaps a little less love for the Beastie Boys, Jay Z, and Wu Tang Clan would allow for further diversity on what is a fairly solid list. What about Big Daddy Kane and the rest of the Juice Crew? Ultramagnetic MCs? Grandmaster Flash? And no female artists whatsoever? I just feel like you could have spread the love around better, that's all.

lyrical_gangsta
lyrical_gangsta

go on & throw popcorn at me ;-) but i was hoping 4 Black Sheep, Das Efx or Fushnikens ... but i'll take De La, Bboys, Run DMC & Tribe. Nice & Smooth had a really gr8 record back in the day, too. Digital Underground!!! I miss when hiphop was fun. i'm old ;-(

dezlax1
dezlax1

@mdunbar3rd only built for Cuban links was my favorite album growing up. As was illmatic. Great list. Not to sure about Purple Haze though

mdunbar3rd
mdunbar3rd

@dezlax1 right...never loved Cam'ron. Always loved Low End Theory..great list.

Now Trending

From the Vault

 

New York Event Tickets
Loading...