DAR Hip Hop: 11 Classic Southern Hip Hop Albums From The 90's

By @TrueGodImmortal

The 90's are regarded as the best decade ever. We've covered this before, but for the first time on the site, we will take a look at the south in the 90's. The South in the 90's showcased true talent, grit, and with labels like Cash Money, No Limit, and many others, there was never a shortage of good music in the dirty South. Today, I wanted to talk about a few of the legendary albums that came in the 90's from Atlanta, New Orleans, Memphis, and more. Which albums make my list of 11? Read on and find out.

*Juvenile- 400 Degreez (1998)

-This is one of my favorite albums of all time and rightfully so. Juve was at the top of his game when this album released and it led to the level of superstardom that very few have ever achieved. Backed by Mannie Fresh and his production prowess, Juve delivered with an album that has nothing but good music throughout and is a southern classic without a doubt. The 1998 album still sounds great nearly 20 years later, and allows Juve to display his underrated storytelling, humorous yet concise lyricism, and his knack for crafting catchy hooks and anthems. Literally every song here is an anthem in its own right, from the first single "Ha" to the booming "Gone Ride With Me" to the timeless "Back That Azz Up" to the title track, as well as my personal favorite "Juvenile On Fire". Juvenile essentially gave us an album full of hits and anthems, and for that reason, 400 Degreez remains a classic that will never get old. This album took Cash Money worldwide and they haven't looked back since. It is not only a pivotal album for southern hip hop, it is a pivotal moment in hip hop culture PERIOD.

*Goodie Mob- Soul Food (1995)

-There are some groups that are amazing, yet they don't receive the credit they probably should. Goodie Mob is one of those groups. As part of the Dungeon Family, they came into the game with support behind them, and they made sure to deliver right out of the gate. Stacking this album with original and candid production from Organized Noize alongside their raw, honest, and socially conscious lyricism, Goodie came with a formula that just couldn't miss. I've always seen Goodie Mob as a slept on group, as they don't get mentioned enough in the conversation of greatest hip hop groups, but they deserve to be in the rankings off of this album alone. It was a top 5 album in 1995, the year it was released, and it remains one of my favorite albums of the 90's in general, a heavy feat when you consider that the decade is seen as the greatest era of music. For me, my favorite tracks here are the classics like "Thought Process" with Andre 3000, the amazing "Cell Therapy", the Big Boi and Cool Breeze assisted "Dirty South", and "Live At The O.M.N.I.", among others. Overall, this album is as close to flawless as one could get and for that, it has to be on every Southern hip hop album list. This is a true classic.

*Scarface- The Diary (1994)

-One of the greatest rappers to ever do it, Scarface, would release his best album of the 90's and one of the best albums of the decade in The Diary. I remember when I first heard this album, I was honestly surprised. The one thing that stuck out about this album to me is that Scarface seemed even more poised as an artist than on prior albums and even with the Geto Boys. Boasting production for his longtime collaborators N.O. Joe and Mike Dean, Face gives us the most cohesive album of his career in many ways. There are minimal features here, with only Ice Cube and Devin The Dude being featured together on one track, so Face has to hold down the album on his own, which works to perfection. Lyrically, Scarface has always been vivid, and if you need a shining example of his vivid and poignant lyricism, look no further than tracks on this album like "I Seen A Man Die", "Goin' Down", "No Tears", and "Jesse James", among others. The Diary is one of those rare albums where you won't really need to skip a track and because of that, it deserves a mention on any southern hip hop album list. Better yet, any other hip hop album list period.

*Outkast- ATLiens (1996)

-If I had to pick one of these albums as the best, this album would be the one. ATLiens is honestly a top 3 album of all time for me and it's my favorite Outkast album. I wanted to include SPCM on this list, but to remove my Outkast bias slightly, I only included the two greatest works they released. Simply put, this album raised the bar in lyricism in a number of ways, as Big Boi exhibited his creative imagery throughout, and Andre provided the most intricate lyricism of his career with straightforward honesty laced with a small bit of optimism. The production was a bit darker than expected, but that's what makes this album so special to me. It is a complete contrast and growth from their debut, showcasing more of their inner thoughts, their realities, and it was executed flawlessly. For me, Andre was the true MVP of the album, as I would place his lyrical output on this album above just about any other MC in history. That might sound crazy, but one listen to his verses on the title track, "Jazzy Belle", "Wailin", "Mainstream", and so many others would explain it clearly. Big Boi wasn't a slouch either on this album, as his verses stole the show on "Decatur Psalm", "Babylon", and "Millennium" delivered as well. Honestly, this is my personal favorite hip hop album ever, so if I were to rank the albums on this list, it would easily be no. 1 honestly. ATLiens is a true classic, and it is without a doubt, one of the greatest hip hop albums ever, not just of the 90's and the South.

*UGK- Ridin Dirty (1996)

-Legendary hip hop duos were definitely vital in the south during the 90's. Perhaps no other duo was as polarizing as this Texas tandem, as they blended two different styles together to make a fluid sound. Pimp C was all about dropping jewels, gems and truth in his verses with a simple and clear flow, while Bun B seemed to be more focused on crafting intricate verses with vivid poetics. Despite these minor differences in style, these two blend together seamlessly to create some classic music and there is no album in their catalog quite like Ridin' Dirty. For some, this is the breakthrough UGK album, as it really showed their artistry at the highest level possible. One thing about this album that sticks out is the production. The production is courtesy of Pimp C and N.O. Joe mostly, and it is a nice mix of bass knocking beats and smooth soulful rhythms that allows Pimp C to harmonize on the hool. Tracks like "One Day", "Murder", "Diamonds And Wood", "Fuck My Car", and "Hi Life" all help complete this great listen, and this is the pinnacle of the UGK listening experience.

*8Ball and MJG- Comin' Out Hard (1993)

-In terms of duos that have power in the south, Ball and G are near the top of that list easily. They have a number of great projects together that I could reference, but I had to mention their magnum opus and debut, Comin' Out Hard. It was an album that took many by storm, and it boasted a short but sweet tracklist. Released on the legendary Suave House, the production was hard hitting and handled by Tony Draper, the mind of Suave House. Ball and G would deliver on tracks that displayed the game and everything within it from "Pimps" to the title track to "Pimps In The House" to "Armed Robbery", this Memphis duo would gives us the reality of their surroundings through music, and it never sounded so good. I debated putting another one of their albums on here over this one, but when revisiting their catalog, Comin' Out Hard is still their best work and a true classic.

*Master P- Ghetto D (1997)

-I wanted to pick an album from No Limit and of all the albums in the history, I personally think Ghetto D is the most important. It's the album that truly introduced a young True to the Tank and Master P. After changing the initial controversial cover, this album would take off and spark the No Limit revolution for the masses. P had seen some success prior to this, but Ghetto D would end up taking the world by storm and pushing him to receive the first ever triple platinum album on No Limit. The music is extremely catchy and full of features to make up for P and his rapping shortcomings, but that was the No Limit way. Every song has a feature, most of them have multiple features, and despite this, the album still flows so well. The production is handled by the underrated legends Beats By The Pound, and they outdo themselves here. This is probably the overall best produced album from the label, and with tracks like "I Miss My Homies", "Throw Em Up", "Let's Get Em", and of course "Make Em Say Uhh", there's no way you can deny this album. They could probably have cut a few songs off the tracklist, but for the most part, there aren't any tracks you want to skip.

*Three 6 Mafia- Chapter 2: World Domination (1997)

-When we look back at the history of Memphis, and the artists that came out of that town, there is no denying that Three 6 Mafia deserve immense credit for their work. Of all the albums they released, I think personally that my favorite project would have to be this one. It was the project that really made me a Three 6 fan, and this was one of their last albums that embraced a darker sound before they changed course going into a slightly more mainstream appealing sound. The production honestly drives every Three 6 album and this one definitely benefits from that, as the beats for tracks like "Motivated", "I Ain't Cha Friend", and more allow the Memphis collective to spit the hardest lyrics they can. My personal favorites here are "Tear Da Club 97", "Body Parts 2", "Land Of The Lost", and the inclusion of my favorite Three 6 track ever, "Late Night Tip". All in all, Three 6 delivered on this album and it has to be mentioned when talking classic albums of the south in the 90's. It's a must.

*Outkast- Aquemini (1998)

-If you know me, you know that Outkast is my favorite and with that being said, it was impossible to have a list like this without mentioning the two best albums from the Atlanta duo. I mentioned ATLiens earlier and explained that it was my favorite album on the list, and Aquemini is probably my 2nd or 3rd favorite here. It's full of creativity, eccentricities, and true lyricism from two of the greatest minds this genre has ever seen. This album features production that ranges from jazzy to funky to even rock and roll tinged, and it all blends together very well. I think Big Boi and Andre were as equal as they had ever been on this album for the most part, as they both brought their unique styles to the table for what would end up as a true classic. From the sounds of "Liberation" to the "Return Of The G" to a ride through "West Savannah" or even experiencing the sounds of "Rosa Parks", this is one of the most well rounded albums in hip hop history and is often regarded as the best Outkast album. While I'm still partial to ATLiens, this album is too far behind at all. It is truly a timeless piece of music that cemented Outkast as the greatest duo ever to me.

*The Geto Boys- We Can't Be Stopped (1991)

-Scarface is one of the greatest artists in the genre, but we all recognize his beginning as a Geto Boy. With lyricism teetering on sadistic and damn near horrorcore at times, the Geto Boys were honestly true progenitors of southern gangsta rap, and pioneers for the sound that shaped the artistry. This album is the true testament of their in your face style, along with real elements of feeling oppressed in a number of ways. Captured in this album would be the angst and response to Queen Latifah's classic "Ladies First" track with the hilarious "I'm Not A Gentleman", the booming title track, the honest and still relevant "Fuck A War", and the iconic "Mind Playing Tricks On Me". Simply put, this is one of the best Geto Boys albums and my personal favorite from them, as they lashed out at all the critics and spoke freely with an even more creative twist than usual throughout.

*Hot Boys- Guerrilla Warfare (1999)

-Cash Money took over for the 99 and the 2000, and when they did, everything fell in place for them album wise. There are a few other albums I could have personally placed on this list, but for me, this Hot Boys project is the best of the best to me, right on pace with 400 Degreez. I think this album showcased the best of each member of the group, with Juvenile exhibiting his storytelling ability and humor, B.G. bringing his reality raps, and Wayne and Turk providing youthful experiences in the music. Mannie Fresh of course provides the production and he hits the group with some of his best work, like the sinister "Respect My Mind", the fast paced "We On Fire", and the booming "I Need A Hot Girl". As for my favorite songs, I was a big fan of "Too Hot", "Shoot 1st", "Tuesday & Thursday", and "Get Out Tha Way", along with the other tracks mentioned before. Overall, this might actually be the best Cash Money album, even ahead of 400 Degreez. Guerrilla Warfare, much like the other albums here, are just southern hip hop classics, but hip hop classics period.



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