Timlaska’s Top Ten-est Albums of All Time #1

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Before we get started lets recap and see how we got here:

Number 10

Number 9

Number 8

Number 7

Number 6

Number 5

Number 4

Number 3

Number 2

Honorable Mentions

The other day someone on the boards, I think it was Thun, said something along the lines that I should own up to being just another 30 something boom bap dinosaur. Which of course I am, I am in my 30s and I do feel that hip hop’s best years have come and gone. I don’t long so much for a return to the sound as I do for a return the ethics and creativity of the day. I miss the spirit of originality that was brought to the table by the artists we still love and admire some 20 plus years after the fact.

I get that the music of our youth is always going to resonate more and that there will always be ebbs and flows with the quality of a genre. The problem is that we are now pushing 15 years of the same album, style, video, and albums. The music is horribly stagnant from a creative and artistic point of view.

It is a giant game of follow the follower, where everyone is hanging on to some ideal that they think the music is all about whether it is the underground artist who wants you to believe it has always been about the art and that materialism is a new phenomenon or the newest pop sensation that thinks they are paying homage to the old school ideals by being the hyper success of the week and being hot in the streets. And you know what both of those points of view are fine, they are limiting and wrong but they are fine. Hip Hop has moved to a place where the idea of fitting a prototype is more important than the idea of being unique and therefore fresh. The creative spirit, the idea that the art is a manifestation of the artist’s personality, beliefs, and experience is seriously lacking in today’s music. Where other genres got fat and hit a lull, causing a groundswell of outsiders to reclaim the music in their image and ideals, rap has remained the same entity for the past decade and a half. The saddest part is that now you got 40 year olds trying to appeal to 15 year old girls. There is something incredibly creepy and sad about it.

That was really the point of this exercise, it was not to say “Hey Paid in Full is a classic because it has some classic songs” or “Straight Outta Compton is a classic because of its impact” or even “Ready to Die matters because it changed the game” no, the goal was to look at the album as an artistic expression both in itself and of the artists.

nation_millions

So I guess it is no surprise that Public Enemy’s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back is our number one album. Not only is it an artistic masterpiece, but it is single most important album of the past 30 years. I don’t think I am speaking hyperbolically here. The impact it had on the culture as a whole is undeniable. But like I said I am not here to argue the impact the album had but the artistic merit.

The combination of Chuck D and Flavor Flav is a brilliant pairing that has been discussed ad nauseam and I have no desire to force that on you again. We get it, the combo worked. I want to talk about the Bomb Squad. I feel they just have not gotten their due. The production work on this album has yet to be touched by any producer or production team in the 22 years since it’s release. You can take your Premo’s, Dre’s, Large Professor’s, Pete Rock’s, Rza’s, etc and they are all production midgets when compared to the work on this album. Not only did they set the mood for the bombast that was Chuck D, they built a sonic canvas that is pure genius.

To this day, with the right set of headphones I am still picking up on things I haven’t heard, and I have been listening to this record for 22 years. It is a maddening jenga puzzle of production, if there was one false move the whole project would crumble, but they didn’t miss a beat. The Bomb Squad is the most ahead of their time visionaries in the history of hip hop. I know sample laws have changed and an album like this could never be created today, but I think that is bullshit. The samples while helpful were only tools that helped them build a wall of sound that defined Public Enemy and eventually early Ice Cube. I think they would have done it no matter the tools they had. It was in them and of them. And it is because of them that Nation of Millions is Timlaska’s Top album of all time.

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  141. Kace says:

    Great review Alaska and great pick too, this is my fav album of all time as well.
    And yes, the Bomb Squad production’s unrivaled to this day indeed..

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  143. Ryan says:

    You’re absolutely right. This album is a booming sonic masterpiece that that paved the way for a complete hip-hop renaissance.

  144. ESEUNO says:

    I couldn’t agree more. The pieces that were Chuck, Flav, The Bomb Squad, X, even Griff ALL FIT BEAUTIFULLY. Right on my Brother.

  145. alaska says:

    If you read all the recaps you see that I didn’t dismiss all of the music post 96. I just think shit like mannie fresh and timbo don’t have legs. I think organized noise is amazing. As is the work neptunes did with the clipse. The roots have made some fantastik shit. Lots of good underground shit but I wanted to steer away from that. If you read the intro in the number 10 you will see the ground rules I laid down.

    The biggest problem is that there isn’t vision now for the full length album. Timbo has made some ill beats but its the very idea of the super producers ruined that by getting a timbo beat, a dre beat, a mannie fresh beat etc. It just becomes essentially making the same song and same album over and over again. The common theme with all the records, sans illmatic, is that it is primarily one producer giving the albums a vision focus and theme. As opposed to a gang of songs.

  146. scjoha says:

    And Timbo is probably the greatest innovator of hiphop sound since the Bomb Squad, the legitimate heir of Hank Shocklee (1998 – 2004 Timbo that is). And I’m not even a Timbo stan. I’m just listening to the music.

  147. scjoha says:

    @ Alaska: Well, you can dismiss everything after 1996 as not being great or timeless (as well as most of released music before 1996!), but surely not as stagnant. I wanted to know what exactly you mean by “stagnant”. That’s what I want you to explain a little further.

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  149. alaska says:

    oh one last thing, that link you posted? the beat sucks.

  150. alaska says:

    Oh and the criteria for dismissing it was that it aged horribly other than the few albums I have mentioned in this countdown from that era. There was plenty of good but not much that was great and/or timeless

  151. alaska says:

    For the most part it has been. Timberland is a r&b producer rappers went to for their generic club jam

  152. scjoha says:

    “The music is horribly stagnant from a creative and artistic point of view. ” Please elaborate on your creative and artistic point of view. What are your criteria for art, how to determine whether one song is art, the other is not?
    I think, the sound of hiphop music changed a lot and is “anything but stagnant” (to quote Noz: http://www.cocaineblunts.com/blunts/?p=5558).

    Didn’t Timbaland single-handedly change the sound of hiphop? Organized Noize, Pimp C, Mannie Fresh defined new sounds in the mid-90’s. And there was/is so much more. What criterion for artistic value allows you to ignore or dismiss all the developments, changes and yes, creativity, since the mid-nineties, to make a statement saying that the sound of hiphop is stagnant for the last 15 years?

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  154. Kimani17 says:

    Nice article, thanks Alaksa.

  155. steadybloggin says:

    great wrap-up (gloss)

  156. Chaz says:

    Great read. I’d even go as far as to say this album was better than Ice Cube’s “The Predator!”

    But seriously, this was a fun eleven week journey. Props.

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