Top Rap Records of the 2000s

Rap has firmly entered our European culture in the period from the late 90s to the early 2000s. In the previous two decades, of course, something came to us, but it was not easy to come face to face with the world of American rappers. It wasn’t until the advent of MTV that the great American rap hits finally made their way into European pop culture. Let’s think about hits like EminemMy name is, The real Slim Shady), Outcast (Miss Jackson), 50 cents (In club), Jay-Z (99 problems), Kanye West (Through the wire) just to mention the singles of some of the artists that we have selected for this ranking of the top 10 rap albums of the first decade of the new millennium.

The beauty of ratings is that they drive those who make them, and above all those who read them, crazy. No classification will ever suit anyone, sometimes even the one who makes them does not suit, because I dream of the daughters of a series of compromises. For hip-hop’s 50th anniversary (to which we’ve dedicated a digital cover), we’re continuing the impossible task of ranking decades of rap history (here you can read one about the 80s, and here about the 90s). .

The rules are always the same: the chart is in purely chronological order and no artist can have two solo albums on the chart (sorry Jay-Z). Here is our selection.

Marshall Mathers LP



No rapper has caused as much buzz in pop culture as the first Eminem. After a huge success Slim Shady LPthe first album under the patronage of Dr. Dre, who immediately releases it beyond national borders, Marshall Mathers LP this is Eminem’s final dedication as the most important white rapper of all time. Continuing the line of the previous work, this is an extremely provocative album that challenges the establishment, as well as the hip-hop scene itself and a whole range of habits and characteristics of American society. Eminem manages to balance between pop and horrorcore, between chart refrains and hardcore rap, with his unique way of doing something between the serious and the satirical, bringing onto the stage a series of scathing rhymes that fish the big hands out of his personal life (his relationship with his mother, his ex-wife Kim, to whom he dedicates an amazing song of the same name, and the success seen in Stan). A record that would be impossible to record today, but which at one time managed to go down in history.

Produced by Earthtone III (a production team formed by Outkast themselves along with Mr. DJ) and the solidarity organization Organized Noize – or the most important members of the Dungeon Family, the Atlanta collective that revolved around Dungeon, Rico Wade’s studio – stankonia this is the record that takes Outkast outside of America (already beaten with previous ATLiens AND Akemini) thanks to the huge success of the single Miss Jackson. The song and album bring Andre 3000 and Big Boi two Grammy awards, confirming that they are one of the most interesting projects in the field of sonic experiments. Songs like humble mumbling with Erika Badu So fresh, so clean, Gasoline dreams with Khujo BOB it’s just a small sample of the duo’s artistic diversity, at least a decade ahead of the rest of the scene.

original pirated material



You might be wondering what a record made by a white boy in Brixton’s bedroom is doing among the heavyweights of overseas rap. But if that besotted and haggard kid is Mike Skinner, don’t worry, we’re talking about someone who just revolutionized British made rap. original pirated material – his debut album – eschews European attempts to imitate the States and takes root in British garage and nvlla two-step, two genres that were at the time the coolest subculture in England, over which Skinner’s ironic pen amuses, overturning clichés (above all The irony of it all and his brilliant video). The result was a rap record that transcended any canon of the time, with rhythms that still sound fresh today. Singles Has it come to this?, The weak become heroes, Don’t rob yourself demonstrate a wide sound spectrum of the work.

Get rich or die trying’

50 cents


Look of 50 Cent upside down and shirtless from the music video In club it is one of the most representative images of the first decade of the new millennium, so much so that today, twenty years later, it has almost two billion views on YouTube. This is the image that encodes the rapper-G (it’s no coincidence that the band 50 Cent with Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks will take the name G-Unit), which Fifty excels in representing with street cred, obtained with nine shots of a pistol, which is incredible that they will not be able to deprive his life in 2000. Downloaded from his label, it is rediscovered by Eminem and Dr. Dre, who, in addition to serving as producers and featured on the album, sign it with their respective labels. , Shady Records and Aftermath Records. The debut of pure gangsta rap, which would become the best selling album of 2003.

Billed at the time as Jay-Z’s eighth and final album after a string of phenomenal releases that began in 1996 with Reasonable Doubt, black album this is the high point in the history of what we can define as “classic rap”, which from now on will begin a (not too) slow decay. Jay appears from the first two chapters Plan and is in better shape than ever in flow and rhymes. With him are the best producers at the moment (Neptunes, Timbaland, Eminem, Just Blaze, Rick Rubin) and the result is a series of evergreen singles for the rap scene such as 99 problems, Dirt off your shoulders, bis AND change clothes with Pharrell Williams. Fortunately, this was not Jay Z’s last album.

Neptunes Represent… The Clones



The only studio effort by the Neptunes, a duo formed by Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo, is a collection that highlights the importance of the Neptunes sound in the American hip hop scene. Inside we find the best rap artists of the moment: Jay-Z, Clipse, Snoop Dogg, Busta Rhymes, as well as Farrell himself and NERD, a project created by the two Neptunes with Shay Haley. Neptune’s beats are always weird, on edge, in some cases almost illogical compared to what we’ve been used to up to this point. Think of works like It wasn’t us, Hot or Set your ass on fire (a prelude to what would become a minimalist sound jesus Kanye West). Too determined to stay outside this ten.

Diplomatic immunity



For a collective like Diplomats (also called Dipset), the idea of ​​starting with something simple was not in the plans. The area must be marked. And here is a 27-track double album full of skips born from the ashes of the attack on the Twin Towers (“Follow me through the rubble of these towers,” reads Juelz Santana in ground zero), in which Cam’ron, Juelz Santana, Freaky Ziki, and Jimmy Jones forcibly put their neighborhood of Harlem back on the map. Diplomatic immunity appears after Cam’ron’s third studio album confirming his mic and Santana skills, making him prominent with a sound marked by exhilarating high pitched vocal samples (“little voices”) often signed by production duo Heatmakerz according to Who am I, More than music, Dipset Anthemthe best parts of the disc along with Hey Ma (Remix) AND I really mean it.

College Dropout

Kanye West


Narrative around Kanye West’s debut recording has reached a new level since the documentary Gene Yus: The Kanye Trilogy. To imagine that no label saw Kanye as a rapper now, twenty years later, brings a smile almost as tender when you see how this young man from Chicago is trying in every possible way to convince Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella to release this work to him. generally reluctant. But Ye’s determination is now well known, and it’s no surprise that this album won a Grammy for Best Rap Album of 2004. Inside is everything we’ll see from Kanye in the future: hallucinatory beats, divine visions, reckless rhymes. Kanye dropping out of college was one of the best things that has ever happened to music.

crazy people



Put together one of the most cultured producers in the scene, Madlib, and one of the most solid rappers of all time, Mf Doom, and I have Madvillain and, even better, madness, a brilliant alternative rap album. There is little to say: madness this is a cult record. So he became almost immediately in the American underground, but with the death of Mf Doom, his cult has stepped far beyond the ocean. An album layered between subtle beats and impeccable flow, the two have nothing but pleasure on 22 tracks, in which they also appear under a number of aliases such as Quasimoto (Madlib) and Victor Vaughn (Mf Doom). It can be a cool background, but also an entry that needs to be pushed into the system. Almost perfect.

Donuts was released on February 7, 2006, J Dilla’s 32nd birthday and three years before his untimely death. Recorded in the hospital (where Dilla was admitted with a terminal blood disease) Donuts was produced through the sole use of a turntable and a sampler. An instrumental album (“too much for rappers,” JD himself said in his latest interview) that could take hip-hop to another sonic dimension, to jump into the future of sound. 31 songs (like J Dilla’s years at the time of recording) are short, very short (average running time is just over a minute), capable of forever changing the idea of ​​rap beats.

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