A bit of background before we dive in. I intern at WKCR, Columbia University’s radio station. A few months ago, host Sucio Smash was removed from the station’s only Hip-Hop show, then Squeeze Radio (the successor to Stretch and Bobbito’s legendary Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show). The show was put in the hands of my man Willie. In addition to never sleeping and really liking Flying Lotus, Willie is also an ace talent scout. A recruited me and a few other fanatics to sit up in WKCR’s studio and provide the show with our iPods and banter.
Last week we got into a little discussion off air that I’d like to bring to the net. It goes like this: pick a solo rapper who has released three consecutive classic/incredible albums (“consecutive” meaning, regardless of time between albums, they had to be released one after another; “classic” and “incredible” are really hard terms to define, but the burden of inclusion was that everyone in studio had to agree on the three albums). The list we devised has some predictable inclusions but also has a few unexpected entries. We may be missing a few (as happens when you come up with contrived lists at 3 in the morning in a caffeine and cheese-driven haze), so please feel free to add on.
The List (we agreed on)
- Amerikkka’s Most Wanted (1990)
- Death Certificate (1991)
- The Predator (1992)
- The Coming (1996)
- When Disaster Strikes (1997)
- Extinction Level Event (1998)
- The Slim Shady LP (1999)
- The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
- The Eminem Show (2002)
- Operation Doomsday (1999)
- MM Food… (2004)
- Born Like This (2009)
Doom complicated things because of his many aliases, but the streak still holds even if you switch Born for Vaudeville Villain (2003), released under his Viktor Vaughn alias. Ghostface (Ironman + Supreme Clienetele + Bulletproof Wallets) was on the outskirts, but we couldn’t agree on Bulletproof Wallets and I made the point that it’s hard to include an album whose best songs (“The Watch” and “The Sun”) were ultimately left off because of clearance issues. Masta Ace was also up for consideration, but we couldn’t agree on which three albums to include. In fact, it’s possible that Ace is secretly the only artist to have released 4 and even 5 incredible albums consecutively (Take A Look Around + Slaughtahouse + Sittin on Chrome + Disposable Arts + A Long Hot Summer…which is his entire discography). I’m not a huge fan of Take or Summer, so my picks were the middle three.
There were also rumblings throughout the studio that Busta’s fourth and fifth albums (Anarchy and Genesis) are also pretty great, but Anarchy is only about half of an excellent album. That half is stellar though.
Redman didn’t come up, but now that my head is out of a coffee cloud, I’d argue that he deserves inclusion on the list as well (Whut? Thee Album + Dare Iz a Darkside + Muddy Waters). I’d also throw Killer Mike on the list (Monster + I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind + I Pledge Allegiance to the Grind, vol. 2, Ghetto Extraordinary unfortunately doesn’t count because it was never properly released, but these three work just fine). We may also have forgotten DMX, Too Short, and E-40.
A lot of artists (Biggie, Pac, Nas, Jay, KRS-One, Del, Aceyalone, Dr. Dre, Kool G. Rap, to name a few) have strings of two classics, but we were hard pressed to agree on trios in any case (and in some cases only two proper albums exist).
Again, we’re probably missing stuff (the south, in particular is woefully underrepresented here), so, as I said, please submit any artists you can think of. This is an important list. I promise.