After seeing some other lists of favorite albums, favorite hip-hop albums, and favorite albums of 2005, I decided to make a list of my favorite hip hop albums of all time. One thing I should note before writing my picks. I am a product of the new school. I started to listen to rap in the early ’90s, so that is when my picks will start. While I recognize the fact that many hip hop classic dropped and paved the way for future classics, I can’t really judge those as if I listened when they first came out. Eric B and Rakim’s Paid in Full is a great album. Definitely a classic. The problem arises when I compare it to the music I grew up on. The beats were old and the content of the lyrics derives from the ’80s. Remember, I was born in 1983, so I can’t even begin to relate to many 80’s classics. I recognize the impact of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five or Slick Rick, I just experienced them much later than I should have. To put this in context, let’s look at the movies Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. People who were wise to Reservoir Dogs usually think that is the better Tarantino movie. Those who saw Pulp Fiction before Reservoir Dogs don’t quite grasp the genius of Reservoir Dogs that made Pulp Fiction so great. That is my dilemma here. My hip-hop experience is like watching Pulp Fiction first and then Reservoir Dogs, not realizing that everything that Pulp Fiction is credits back to Reservoir Dogs and thinking that RD is the inferior movie. (I do realize this, but it makes my explanation simpler). So now, on with the list. (these aren’t in order)

    • Binary Star- Masters of the Universe– This album is considered a classic by many underground fans. The group, comprised of Senim Silla and OneBeLo (or onemanarmy, or any of the other names he goes by). This album brings socially-concious rap with great beats. They talk about the state of hip hop in New Hip Hop and the act of defiance to stereotypes in Binary Shuffle. The classic song, Honest Expression discusses that is what hip hop is, and not the pop music and thug glorifying you hear on the radio. The group is no longer together, and many hip hop know-it-alls would even say this wasn’t supposed to be an album and is not really Binary Star, but a collection of tracks put out by their indie label that was trying to capitalize on the group’s underground popularity. If this is the case, they put these tracks together to make a classic.
    • CunninLynguists- A Piece of Strange– Many of you have heard me talk about this album and how genius it is. Kno, famous for his other CL works, as well as his Jay-Z remix album The White Albulum, delivers beats that are near perfection on this album. I wouldn’t even consider these beats, but more like compositions. While he does sample all throughout the album, the sampling that he creates is more than just a beat. They really are pieces of art. Deacon the Villain shines as a soulful singer, while still maintaining his excellent rapping skills, and new-comer Natti brings that southern flavor in his raps that the world has come to love from other Southern artists. The only difference is that his lyrics actually mean something. The whole album, a concept album, is a story from the first track to the last. CL tell this story with such grace that if you want to listen to just a track or two, you won’t feel left out of the story. This is the group to watch for in the future. Check out the unofficial-official companion site: What is A Piece of Strange?
    • Tech N9ne- Anghellic– This is another concept album, this time from Kansas City’s Tech N9ne. The album, similar to CL’s A Piece of Strange, deals with Heaven and Hell. The album is Tech N9ne’s most personal album. He starts off in hell, rapping about how he is tormented, sinister, and living a life he shouldn’t be. He talks about how he a “real killa” meaning not that he is a thug, but that the choices he has made (abortions) have made him a killer. He also raps about committing suicide in the song Suicide Letters. Telling his wife, kids, and fans what he has done wrong. He later struggles with fame and married life in the song This Ring. The songs are deep and hearfelt. Tech is another artist that you should look out for. Rumor has it, Everready:The New Religion, his upcoming album, is going to take us deeper into the Tech N9ne psyche.
    • Bone Thugs ~n~ Harmony- E. 1999, Eternal– This is a midwest classic. This Grammy-winning album propelled the careers of Bone and led them to sell 30 million albums world-wide. This album takes us to the streets of Cleveland, Ohio. The rapid-fire delivery of the members, all while maintaining the harmony, was often imitated but never duplicated with such style that Bone expressed. The group has had their ups and downs over the past few years, experiencing lackluster sales, the loss of a group member, and record label fall-out, but no matter what they put out, nothing can tarnish E.1999, Eternal.
    • Dogg Pound- Dogg Food– While this album does not feature socially-conscious lyrics and uplifting messages, it is music that you can enjoy just for the sake of it being music. Released in 1994, at the height of the “G-Funk Era,” Dogg Food introduces us to the amazing beat skills of Daz Dillinger, along with the great flow of an early Kurupt. This Death Row Records release helped propel the label and group to super-star status. Unfortunately, the success didn’t last long for the label or the group. Death Row lost it’s 3 most popular artists in Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Tupac, and the group never did release another album before breaking up. Daz and Kurupt recently reunited, but I don’t think they will ever be able to top this classic.
    • 2pac- Me Against the World– This album featured a slew of hits that made Tupac Shakur, the rising musical and screen star, a force to be reckoned with. The album, which debuted at number 1 on the charts while he was in prison, showed us a more sensitive side of Tupac, one that we would soon forget with the release of his first Death Row release, All Eyez on Me. The album shows a more contemplative Tupac, with songs like Me Against the World and So Many Tears. One of his most famous tracks, Dear Mama, shows that self-proclaimed thugs can even express feelings and admiration towards one’s mother. Tupac is an artist that will never die, be it because the mystery surrounding his death, the impact of his music and movies while he was alive, or the never-ending music releases after his death.
    • The Roots- Things Fall Apart– This Grammy-nominated album by hip-hop’s most famous band is definitely one of my favorite albums. Many Okayplayers will disagree when I say this is their best album, and instead tell me that Illadelph Halflife is their better album, but I disagree. I don’t think their cohesion as a group and band seen in this album has been matched before or since. The songs are classic, as well as the music composed by the group. The only Roots album that can come close to this one, is the live album The Roots Come Alive.

Well, that’s it for now. I know I can add more, but I’ll leave it at that for now. Make sure you check out the following albums, as they are also some of my favorites:

  • Jurassic 5-Quality Control
  • Dr. Dre- The Chronic
  • Tonedeff-Archetype
  • Beastie Boys- Licensed to Ill
  • Deltron-Deltron3030
  • Kanye West-College Dropout and Late Registration
  • Masta Ace- Disposable Arts and A Long Hot Summer

I bought a while back. After not doing anything with it for a long time, I decided to do something. People in #wordpress suggested I make a mock web 2.0 site and have it link back to (which I also own) and have that link back to I was trying to think of something cool to do this but came up a blank. I moved on with no ideas and was looking for a cool sand game that Podz suggested. I couldn’t find the link anywhere and Podz was nowhere to be found. Finally, I remembered I took a screenshot to show Podz. It was when Podz finally came back around that he recommended I run scuttle for all the bookmarks that I don’t want clogging up Firefox or my links on my blog. So, in about 10 minutes, I had Scuttle up and running on Anyone can register and dump those cool links that they can always have access to. Sign up and start linking! I’ve listed a few already.

A good friend from #wordpress, Podz, has been chronicling his switch from Windows to Ubuntu Linux, and now back to windows on his blog. His latest post about the switch explains why he made his choice. I must say, Podz must have infinite patience, as he stuck with Ubuntu for a bit of time. I, however, couldn’t even last a day with it being my primary OS. Ubuntu markets itself as Linux for Human Beings, and yes, it was more user-friendly than other Linux systems I have tried (gentoo is not for the faint of heart), but if Linux ever wants to make it to a wider audience, it has to make it so Joe Schmo can install it and use it with ease. I realize that the reason we find Linux hard is because, as Linux groupies would say, we’ve been trained to do things the wrong way with Windows our entire lives. While this may be true, that’s not going to help them get any converts. The #ubuntu support channel was helpful when I installed it, but the learning curve was steep enough that I gave up, and returned to XP. Knowing that uber-genius Podz did the same, I no longer feel like such a dolt. So, if you really do want an alternative to Windows but don’t want to learn Linux and suffer the trials and tribulations that Podz and many others have suffered, maybe you should, I can’t believe I’m saying this, get a Mac.

I find this quite interesting. It seems as each week goes by, science is closer and closer to having another major breakthrough. The next few years will no-doubt bring a huge revelation in the field of science and the organization and formation of the universe.

The one-way journey from the heart of a galaxy into the oblivion of a black hole probably takes about 200,000 years, astronomers said on Monday.

By tracking the death spiral of cosmic gas at the center of a galaxy called NGC1097, scientists figured that material moving at 110,000 miles an hour would still take eons to cross into a black hole.

Black holes are drains in space that have gravitational pull so strong that nothing, not even light, can escape. Huge ones are believed to lurk at the centers of many galaxies including the Milky Way, which contains the sun.

“It would take 200,000 years for gas to travel the last leg of its one-way journey,” Kambiz Fathi of Rochester Institute of Technology told reporters at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.

No one has ever seen a black hole, but astronomers study the way matter and energy behave around them.

An international team led by Fathi studied the black hole at the middle of NGC1097, a behemoth with 100 million times the mass of the sun.

The team managed to observe behavior 10 times closer to the black hole than ever before, Fathi said, seeing clouds of material within 10 light-years of the galactic core, where the black hole is believed to reside.

Previous research has detected gas clouds from 100 to 1,000 light-years from the galaxy’s heart.

A light-year is about 6 trillion miles, the distance light travels in a year. The galaxy is about 47 million light-years away from Earth, relatively close in cosmic terms. Yahoo! News

Lately I’ve been on a Masta Ace kick. I can’t get enough of his music. It’s probably because I’ve been listening to CunninLynguists’ A Piece of Strange a lot lately. APOS is 16 tracks that make up a story. Listening to the album from beginning until end, it’s an amazing story. The tracks hold their own if you just want to listen to some tracks too. You won’t feel you missed out on something. How is that related to Masta Ace? Well, Masta Ace has done albums like this in the past. The album Disposable Arts is the story of Ace getting out of prison and turning his life around by enrolling in school. This isn’t an ordinary school, it is a school where you learn to tag, dj, and even rap. There are some great skits featuring Ace’s roommate, MC Paul Barman. What makes the album so great is that it too tells a story and the tracks are also able to be played independently. The latest album by Ace, A Long Hot Summer tells the story of how Ace wound up in jail. It’s almost a prequel to Disposable Arts. The story involves Ace writing and preparing to go on tour. He brings along a neighborhood friend, Fats Belvedere, a local Italian sounding hustler with money making schemes. It turns out that Ace was pretty much in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people, and the album discusses how he got caught up in it. It’s another fantastic album. More rappers should be creative and do these things with their music. This is the type of hip hop that should be on the airwaves. Sadly, it’s not. I suggest you all check out the albums mentioned in this post if you are looking for something different. And the first time you listen, really listen, and pay attention, as if you were watching a movie or reading a book. There is some great story telling there.