The Time of Rhymes
I don’t remember how or why, but at one point last weekend I made a very bold statement to my wife. I told her she’s “the reason why I don’t listen to Biggie Smalls anymore.”
I love all types of music and, depending on my mood, I blast just about anything through my speakers. After years of listening to rap music, I have paid very little attention to the genre over the past few years or so leaving me to ask the question: what happened while I wasn’t paying attention? Is it simply a case of “they don’t make them like they used to anymore” or am I just not getting it? Drake, Kanye and Lil’ Wayne? That’s all you got?
So here are a few classic gems I will be listening to this holiday season while I try to find something out there with hints of intelligent rhymes and real beats.

  • A Tribe Called Quest Beats, Rhymes and Life — The group’s fourth album focused on the issues at hand; East Coast vs. West Coast beef and an internal tension that was ripping the group apart. Q-Tip and Phife Dawg shine on tracks like “Get A Hold”, “The Hop”, “Phony Rappers” and “Keep It Moving”. The album hit No. 1 on the charts and would later go on to reach platinum.
  • Wu-Tang Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) — The Wu-Tang Clan formed like Voltron and created one of the greatest debut albums of all time. The success of Enter the Wu-Tang cemented the group’s success model and gave them the opportunity for future solo records to be released. Although the solo runs never really captured Chamber’s magic, GZA, RZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Raekwon, U-God, Method Man, and Ghostface Killah made a huge impact in the music world with their debut, a feat that their later records (Wu Tang Forever, The W, Iron Flag and 8 Diagrams) haven’t quite matched. A new Wu-tang record is reportedly in the works, but members have admitted they are not yet all on the same page.
  • The Notorious B.I.G. Ready to Die — The Notorious B.I.G.’s debut album takes listeners for a stroll down memory lane; a memory lane full of guns, violence and old school huslin’. Standout tracks include “Juicy”, “Gimme the Loot” and “Big Poppa”. I haven’t listed to this in years and still know a good amount of the words.
  • Beastie Boys Paul’s Boutique — Rolling Stone would describe the album as “the Pet Sounds/The Dark Side of the Moon of hip hop.” It didn’t match the sales of Licensed to Ill, but the Beasties took a massive step forward with their sample symphony. “The Sounds of Science” and “Looking Down the Barrel of a Gun” is all you need, but the entire record is unreal
  • Run DMC Raising Hell Featuring “Walk This Way” with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith — Raising Hell is the complete package. Rock hooks, insane rhymes and tracks like “You Be Illin’”, “Peter Piper and “It’s Tricky” are all you need to drown out the Subaru next to you playing Hall & Oates.

Honorable mention goes to Dr. Dre The Chronic, Jay-Z Vol. 2 Hard Knock Life, Public Enemy It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back and NWA Straight Outta Compton. Word is bond.

Here’s what’s in my headphones this week: The Notorious B.I.G. Ready to Die (Bad Boy) 1994

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