The Year In Hip Hop: 2002

Intro By @TrueGodImmortal
-Ah, 2002. The year that Ying Yang Twins told the ladies they want to give them a tongue bath. The year that Trick Daddy was blowing the dro in the wind. The year that Puffy kept reminding us that he needed a girl. The year that Missy taught you how to work it. The year that Khia told you about her neck, her back, her pussy and her crack. Wait, those don't necessarily sound like the best memories, I suspect right? While I love Missy and Trick Daddy has some great songs, the highlights of 2002 are rooted in the legends. Nas and his God's Son album along with The Lost Tapes, Scarface and The Fix album, Jay and Blueprint 2, AZ and Aziatic, and many more. Today, the team gathers to discuss the year, the releases and the impact. Let's get into it.

2002 was a weird year, as hip hop lost 2 very valuable people.  This was the year that Left Eye and Run-DMC’s Jam Master Jay passed away. Both deaths being as sudden and unexpected as they were caused the hip hop community to really feel the loss and devastation. On the album release side of things, it was a quantitatively rich year, quality-wise not so much, that’s not to say there weren’t some great albums because there definitely was, but what I find interesting this year is, it was the year of “twos”. A few of my favorite rappers each released two albums this year so let's take a look at those in particular.

Let me start with Hov. This was the year we saw “The Best of Both Worlds” and “The Blueprint 2: The Gift and the Curse” come out. Seeing as though R.Kelly and Jay were both fantastic at the time, the expectations were set pretty high for this album, but unfortunately it came up short. It wasn’t the greatest collaboration effort, it seemed rushed and as if both these artists lost interest halfway through. However, Jay-Z being as dope as he is releases “The Gift and The Curse”. This album has everything, amazing production, bangers and one of my favorite hi phop songs “A Dream”. Faith being on this track, sampling BIG and the first verse narrating Jay’s dream about BIG makes everything about it great! It doesn’t stop there as Jay features Lenny Kravitz, Pharrell, Rakim, Dre, Beyonce, Big Boi, Twista, etc... this album is very entertaining, very fun and filled with variation. Jay killed it and earns recognition for one of the best releases of the year IMO!

KRS One, another artist with 2 releases this year. I truly believe this man can do no wrong and as usual, I can't ever do KRS justice but I'll try. His studio album "Spiritual Minded" drops at the beginning of the year, and this would be an album truly showcasing the "teacher" in him. This is widely considered a "gospel" album as it is heavily rooted in Christian teachings and references, but as usual KRS does it in true and pure hip hop form with an intelligent and elevated delivery. In "Take Your Tyme", he addresses young women regarding the issues around pre-marital sex and then he incorporates an element of upliftment in tracks like "Take It To God" and "Lord Live Within My Heart". I know KRS gets a lot of shit for being "preachy", but he utilizes his vocal platform to educate and I absolutely love that. Even as a non-Christian, I still appreciate this album.
The other release from KRS is definitely an interesting one,  "Prophets and Profits: The Mixtape", why do I love this one so much? Nelly of all people decided to beef with KRS on the "Nellyville" album (also released this year), so of course KRS' "claps back" and releases this short, sweet and to the point "album" essentially. The intended point was to get his thoughts and opinions out there, which he did well! The track "Ova Here" is the retaliation, the rest of the tracks are just more expressed thought. What sets KRS apart from other rappers is the manner in which he "beefs", as he addresses Nelly in a dignified and classy way and I thoroughly appreciate that. Both albums were great and definitely served their intended purpose. With every release, KRS sets out to teach, educate and elevate the standards of Hiphop and these albums were no different. I think he did it flawlessly!

Another set of 2 album releases from none other than Nas! This was the year of "the Lost Tapes" and "God's Son". I have an immense and infinite appreciation for Nas and all of his albums in some way. Although I know he gets a lot of critiquing because no album "will ever be Illmatic" or whatever other album is your favorite, but with that said, Nas brings brilliance, wisdom, storytelling and his personality to both of these albums. I don't think either of these are his best, but I do believe they are necessary for his catalog. At the time of creating "God's Son", Nas was going through a ton of stuff personally so essentially this album is his emotional release. He lost his mother, he was dealing with failed relationships, and if that wasn't enough, still dealing with the aftermath of his feud with Jay. For that reason I'm a little forgiving, as I definitely think he could have done better but the final product is understandable. I won't list off all the tracks but my favorite is easily "Made You Look". This is also the album that gave us the acoustic version of 'Pac's "Thugz Mansion" and he even collaborates with one of my favorite ladies of R&B, Alicia Keys on "Warrior Song". Definitely a solid track list. What I do want to say however is, "Last Real N***a Alive" doesn't sit well with me, as I don't like that he calls out BIG, The Wu and references everyone else out of New York. With all that said, I'm thankful for this album and I'm glad Nas had an outlet and let us in and gave us raw emotion. Always a gem!!

The releases don't stop there, like I said, 2002 had many many albums, the other ones worth mentioning are AZ, Cam'ron, Eminem, Onyx, Jean Grae, Eve, Busta, Common, and The Roots, which I definitely also appreciate! Looking back on the year, it was definitely an emotional one in hip hop, but through that we got some gems and that is never a bad thing.

2002 was a decent year in Hip Hop. A couple albums standout, but in my opinion, it wasn’t a big year for music. A dope meaning in "God’s Son" by Nas. It’s his sixth album and I like this album a lot. It’s a personal work by Nas and to like this album, you have to listen to it more than once. Themes such as religion, violence, and probing into of one of the greatest experiences is present in this album. He showcases a mature sound with technical wordplay that sounds a bit better than his previous work in my opinion. Driving beats in “Warrior Song” by Alicia Keys with that smooth flow blended in the beat is one of my favorite tracks off the album. In the track “Made You Look”, Nas continues with his pedigree with an old-school beat with a bass-guitar vibe sampled in the background. “I Can” also is a great song which sounds focused towards the children as a motivational song and that call and response in the chorus is heartwarming. Jay-Z’s “The Blueprint 2” also dropped and it’s not my favorite Jay-Z album. I don’t mind the mix of mainstream and dark street vocals provided in the album at points. I just didn’t like the overall vibe I received from it. It did have great songs such as “Bonnie and Clyde” and “The Bounce”, but it didn’t convince me enough. Also, the album is tiresome because of its length.

Eminem arrives to the scene for the year with “The Eminem Show”. I personally did like this album and listened to it when I was younger. Eminem is notorious for his dark lyrics about his past and this album is great. It’s not a classic album to me as his previous work was. Each song has a different story and Eminem always had a great knack at storytelling in his rap. “White America” shows Em’s perspective on the country from the eyes of the 313. “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” is a great song that describes his childhood experiences and his rocky relationships with his mother. “Till I Collapse” is an excellent song by Eminem, even his haters know it. “Without Me” is the most surprising track as the album production is dark beats, and this song is focused in an upbeat pop mood. Eminem’s lyricism propelled him to the grand stage and that’s why he’s a fantastic rapper. Although his stans put him as one of the greatest, I disagree. He’s not up there in my opinion and his recent work isn’t the same as this. As far as other albums, DJ Jazzy Jeff’s “The Magnificent” is great. Those funky beats in his previous work get a tuneup, as they stay wavy and laid back. Even though it’s not like him and Fresh Prince, overall I do like this album. No contagious replay value but all together it’s solid.

I'ma keep it real with you guys. I am not a fan of 2002 for the most part. Most of the albums released that year to me weren't good. But there were some positives. Let's start with the CLASSIC Come Home With Me by the legend Cam'Ron. That album was pure excellence. It had a smash hit, "Oh Boy", and a ton of other pretty good songs, like "Hey Ma", "Losing Weight Pt. 2" etc. Another album I enjoyed was God's Son by Nasir Jones himself. At this point, Nas had just come off a comeback album, Stillmatic, and with this one, he felt he still had something to prove (that he isn't washed up, which was believed in 1999-2000 due to Nastradamus being an actual released album). So he went off. His beat selection wasn't as great as Stillmatic's, but his fantastic lyricism helped get rid of that negative. From "Made You Look" to "Pussy Killz" to "Heaven", this album was full of heat and something for all fans to enjoy. The last and final album I enjoyed released in 2002 was the compilation album by Nas, 'The Lost Tapes'. This album was full of records recorded between the years 1997-1999 mostly. It was material supposed to be on I Am & Nastradamus, as at the time, Nas was planning on releasing a Double-Disc CD set, but due to leaking songs, he scratched the idea. Anyways, this album was perfection from beginning to end. My personal favorite songs on that album is "U Gotta Love It" & "Purple". It is truly a classic album. The other important album of 2002 was Nellyville. Some of you guys know I'm not a fan of Nelly, but there were some catchy songs on that album, as it went on to sell 6 million copies. So yeah, 2002 wasn't a memorable year, but let's not act like it didn't have a handful of good albums.

2002 to me was a decent year in hip hop. If we're being real, this year belonged to Eminem. There was his album The Eminem Show, Nelly dropped one, Nas had a couple released, Jay-Z, Cam, Ja Rule's ass dropped an album. Tupac even had an album this year. But honestly, the only one I still listen to since it released is The Eminem Show.  The album after the MMLP was just as good, if not better than MMLP. The lyrics, his meaning behind them, the beats, and just his delivery, everything was outstanding. Eminem is one of my favorites because I relate to so much of his music and one of my favorite songs ever is on this album is "Sing For The Moment".  This song hits deep that last verse when he says,

"That's why we, sing for these kids who don't have a thing/
Except for a dream and a fucking rap magazine/
Who post pin-up pictures on they walls all day long/ 
Idolize their favorite rappers and know all their songs/ 
Or for anyone who's ever been through shit in they lives/
So they sit and they cry at night wishing they'd die/
Til they throw on a rap record and they sit and they vibe/
We're nothing to you, but we're the fucking shit in they eyes/"

Sorry for the long quote, but this verse hits home for myself and I'm sure a lot of other people. This is my biggest memory of 2002 honestly.

Outro by @TrueGodImmortal
-For me, 2002 was a really good year. I enjoyed Nas and his music the most, but still think AZ has a contender for album of the year. The Lost Tapes is a classic and God's Son is extremely slept on, thus making 2002 the year of Nas IMO, as he also carried momentum of his December 2001 release Stillmatic over into the year. Talib Kweli put out his best album Quality, Common released the slept on Electric Circus, and The Roots released a lowkey classic in Phrenology. Another great album from the year would be the official debut from Clipse, Lord Willin as the production of the Neptunes was truly the sound at the time. Another classic was Scarface's the Fix, his best album as well. Eminem released what to me is his best album, The Eminem Show, Nelly dropped Nellyville, Cormega dropped an album, DJ Quik, Devin the Dude, and who could forget the slept on group Nappy Roots debuting. One of my personal favorite releases this year had to be the Large Professor album, which is underrated. There's many albums from that year that will be remembered whether mainstream or underground. 2002 was a really dope year in hip hop to me. Maybe not one of the greatest years, but slept on for sure.



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