DAR Hip Hop: The 10 Greatest Albums From Death Row Records

By @TrueGodImmortal

Death Row Records. One of the most iconic labels in hip hop history. Over the years, this label has gained a reputation for their endeavors and incidents in their prime, but musically, there aren't too many labels that could rival their success. Through the 90s, Death Row gave the world a number of classic albums, some great soundtracks, some slept on gems, and today we are here to discuss those and rank them. Which projects make the list of the top 10 greatest Death Row albums? Let's get into it and find out.

10. Daz Dillinger- Revenge, Retaliation, and Get Back (1998)

-Released at a time when Death Row really wasn't on the radar and on the decline due to the incarceration of Suge, Daz hit the world with an album that tends to go underappreciated for the most part. The last real release off the label, Daz delivered on an album that captured the essence of prime Death Row G-Funk, and features appearances from Kurupt, 2Pac, The Outlawz, Soopafly, Too Short, B-Legit, MC Eiht, WC, and even Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg. This album is in a way its own Dogg Pound version of The Chronic, and it works well. Tracks like "The Ultimate Come Up", "Initiated", and "Gang Bangin Ass Criminal" made this album one of the more solid projects to come from the label, earning a spot on the list.

9. Snoop Doggy Dogg- Tha Doggfather (1996)

-Many people don't like this album. I think it is a bit slept on. After Dr. Dre decided to leave Death Row, Snoop would have to follow up on his classic Doggystyle without the producer who guided him through the first album, but he was up to the challenge. After beating his case, Snoop teamed with DJ Pooh, LT Hutton, Daz, and more to create the sound of the production. Guest appearances included Charlie Wilson, Kurupt, Too Short, Nate Dogg, Warren G, and more, while standout songs on this album like "Blueberry", "Groupie", "You Thought", and "Gold Rush" helped to round out a solid album that just paled in comparison to his debut.

8. Gridlock'd Soundtrack (1997)

-If there was one thing that Death Row did surprisingly well, it was soundtracks. There was  something special about the way they put their soundtracks together and this project was honestly no different. Shortly after the unfortunate death of Pac, this movie and accompanying soundtrack was released to much fanfare and even hit the no. 1 spot on the charts. The biggest song from this project was the Pac and Snoop collaboration "Wanted Dead Or Alive", but there were more gems on this one from another underrated Pac classic in "Never Had A Friend Like Me", the Nate Dogg track "Why", and a dope posse track featuring Tray Dee, Snoop, 2Pac, and others on "Out The Moon (Boom Boom Boom)". All in all, this was a very solid soundtrack with a lot of dope music on it.

7. Murder Was The Case Soundtrack (1994)

-When Snoop hit the world with his debut, things were never the same again. He followed up that debut with a legendary soundtrack, accompanied by a short film that was honestly more interesting than anything. Without getting too much into that, I will say that the soundtrack was just a great collection of music from an era that really can't be rivaled in many ways. With appearances from DJ Quik, Ice Cube, Jodeci, and more, the project had the names to make people pay attention, but it had great music as well, making it an easy listen throughout the duration of the project. Tracks like the Dr. Dre and Ice Cube reunion "Natural Born Killaz", the Snoop Dogg led "21 Jumpstreet", and a personal favorite, the Jodeci and Dogg Pound classic "Come Into My Room" helped to round out a very solid soundtrack and one of the best Death Row albums.

6. Above The Rim Soundtrack (1994)

-One of the most popular hip hop soundtracks of all time has to make the list. Similar to Murder Was The Case, Above The Rim was focused on mostly hip hop music with a street edge, which fit the film and the aura of it. There was a bit of R&B here, as both SWV and H-Town respectively delivered hit songs, but tracks like Tha Dogg Pound gem "Big Pimpin", "Pour Out A Little Liquor" by Pac, and the iconic "Afro Puffs" by The Lady Of Rage showcased the dominant theme of hip hop on the album, and it all flowed together perfectly. I still think this is a top 5 hip hop soundtrack of all time and the fact remains, Death Row is the best label in terms of soundtracks.

5. Tha Dogg Pound- Dogg Food (1995)

-I still have no idea how this album isn't mentioned regularly in the short discussion of greatest West Coast album. The production for the most part is flawless, the rhymes are intriguing, and the cohesion is very much in place and important. Aside from that, the album came with some controversy based around the video for "New York, New York", but that didn't distract from the fact that the Pound meant business on this project. From songs like "Respect", to smooth style classics like "Let's Play House" and the legendary "Some Bomb Azz Pussy", Dogg Pound gave us an album that not only could stand the test of time, but is one of the most classic albums to ever come from the West. 

4. 2Pac- The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996)

-The final official album from Pac is one of his best, and though it doesn't carry the same legacy overall that his previous Death Row does in terms of sales or importance, it's an overall better album. Pac is in rare form here on this album, as he directs his ire and anger towards his enemies on tracks like "Against All Odds" and "Bomb First", but still gives us anthems like "To Live and Die In LA" and "Hail Mary", provides a conceptual song on "Me And My Girlfriend", manages to address the ladies in different manners on "Toss It Up" and "Just Like Daddy", addresses more serious issues on "Blasphemy" and "White Man'z World", while engaging listeners on tracks like "Krazy" and "Hold Ya Head". This is the most well rounded and complete Pac album in his catalog I believe, as it covers just about every spectrum of him musically.

3. Snoop Dogg- Doggystyle (1993)

-After his work on the classic Dr. Dre debut, The Chronic, Snoop would come back and hit the world with an album that changed his entire career. With Dr. Dre behind the boards producing for Snoop, there was a concise vision in the music and it showed in this classic album. With the G-Funk sound in tact, and booming production throughout, Doggystyle instantly turned Snoop into a mega star in his own right. Tracks like the iconic "Gin and Juice", the classic posse track (Nate Dogg killed it) "Ain't No Fun", the banging "Pump Pump", and many more help to take this album over the top. Doggystyle is a hip hop classic.

2. 2Pac- All Eyez On Me (1996)

-I put this album above Snoop's debut for two reasons: impact and sales. It's the highest selling album on Death Row, and it changed the dichotomy of hip hop. It was the album everyone was waiting on. It's the most important Pac album, though not the best one. The 7 Day Theory is a better album musically, but when we look at the other elements that make an album legendary, All Eyez On Me literally has every other album on the label beat. It was the first double album in hip hop officially, it took Pac to a new level of stardom, and it made Death Row an even more feared label. It was now the force to be reckoned with in music. As for the actual music itself, Pac delivered on tracks like "Can't C Me", "Holla At Me", "Ambitionz Az A Ridah", "I Ain't Mad At Cha", and many more. The album could have used a trim of maybe 5 or 6 songs, but overall, it's a great listen that took Pac and Death Row to uncharted territory and earned a diamond plaque for over 11 million records sold.

1. Dr. Dre- The Chronic (1992)

-You might be shocked to see this album at the top spot, but in actuality, it's the importance that elevates this project over the others without question. There is no Death Row without The Chronic. There is no Dogg Pound, no Snoop, no Suge dominance, no huge Pac signing without The Chronic. Dr. Dre set the foundation for the label, and with this album, he pioneered the way for the era of G-Funk, and this album brought in the smooth yet gangsta sounds. With a mega supporting cast that includes The Lady Of Rage, Snoop Dogg, Tha Dogg Pound, RBX, and many more, Dre gave us the new soundtrack for the West Coast. The singles were legendary from "Nuthin But A G Thang", "Let Me Ride" to "Fuck With Dre Day", and the album also supplied bangers such as "The Day The Niggaz Took Over", "Lyrical Gangbang", and more. From top to bottom, the most important and the greatest album in Death Row history is The Chronic.



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