DAR Hip Hop: The 10 Best Albums From The Dungeon Family

By @TrueGodImmortal

Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, The Dungeon Family is the best musical collective from the south in general IMO. The collective is the most ecletic group of individuals to come along and make an impact in the game. They weren't just a group of artists who were focused on making music, they were a tight knit group who remained close regardless of music or not. With that being said, when they were making music, they were damn near unstoppable together and separately and today, that's what I wanted to discuss. The Dungeon Family and their music. Albums to be exact. Let's take a look at the 10 best albums to come from the Dungeon Family. I've attempted to not only included Outkast and Goodie Mob albums here (and I've personally left out the Big Boi solo albums), but that was a bit tougher to do. These are the 10 best albums from the Dungeon Family.

10. Sleepy Brown- Mr. Brown (2006)

-I had to put this on the list, because for the most part, it's really slept on. Sleepy Brown is right up there with Nate Dogg as one of the greatest hook singers of all time, and honestly, with his Society Of Soul group album, he showed that his vocals could carry a project. He would release his first solo project in 1998, the nearly impossible to find Sleepy's Theme: The Vinyl Room, which is a very very hidden gem in music. That's why it was a shock to see that it took until 2006 for him to release another album after the hard to find 1998 debut solo. The truth is, if I could find that album, it would likely have been on this list as well, because it's forgotten by many. Still, with his second solo project released on Big Boi's Purple Ribbon label, Sleepy coasts over smooth production from The Neptunes and of course, Organized Noize, crafting an album that is perfect for a car ride, a late night party, or even the bedroom if that's your style. With only appearances from Outkast, Joi, and Pharrell, the album allows us into the mind of Sleepy and as a result, we get tracks like the classic "I Can't Wait", "I'm Soul", "Me, My Baby, and My Cadillac", and "Sunday Morning". This album isn't a classic, but it is a welcome listen and a really good project that shows the power of Dungeon Family talent.

9. Cool Breeze- East Point's Greatest Hit (1999)

-I wasn't really aware of this album when it first dropped, as I only heard the first single. I didn't want to check for the album itself, but when I did a few years later, I was surprised. Cool Breeze has never been the best rapper or even a top lyricist in Dungeon Family, but his style was engaging enough to draw in listeners. With the album produced entirely by Organized Noize, the sound of this project was that classic Dungeon Family sound, and with tracks like "Watch For The Hook" featuring the Dungeon Family, "We Get It Crunk" featuring Kurupt, "Hit Man" featuring Witchdoctor and Backbone, and "Tennpoint" featuring 8Ball, this album flows very well. Is this a classic or a top tier album? No, not at all, but it is very solid and a surprisingly good listen with a lot of flair and style.

8. Slimm Calhoun- The Skinny (2001)

-As far as the Dungeon Family goes, the most underrated member of the collective might have been Slimm Calhoun. He would come to prominence during the height of their popularity, and after an appearance on Stankonia, the 4X platinum selling album from Outkast, it was time for Slimm to step up and have his own go at it. The result would be the mostly Earthtone III (with a contribution  from Organized Noize and Carl Mo) produced project that featured appearances from Killer Mike, Backbone, Andre 3000, The Calhouns, and Big Boi. This was very much an album with Dungeon Family written all over it, and with songs like "It's OK", "All Da Hustlers", "The Cut Song", and "Dirt Work", this album definitely delivered.

7. Dungeon Family- Even In Darkness (2001)

-I can remember this album dropping like it was yesterday. There were a number of reasons why I felt this would be a disappointment, the first of which was the fact that I didn't expect Outkast to have a huge presence on it. I was right and wrong in a way, as we got a lot of appearances from both Andre 3000 and Big Boi, though Big Boi would appear slightly more. I also felt that perhaps all these different sounds combining together would be a bit of a mess, but I was wrong there as well and pleasantly surprised. This album is a very solid listen, as the group managed to hit the listeners with tracks like the hilarious "Crooked Booty", the very smooth "Rollin", the single "Trans DF Express", and my personal favorite "Follow The Light". All in all, the group balances the sound and the verses, and it provides the listeners with more than enough of their favorite Dungeon Family members, making this album a definite success in that regard. Even In Darkness isn't a classic, but it is very close to being one due to the production, the lyrics, and the overall sound/feel.

6. Outkast- Stankonia (2000)

-I still love this album. When I look back at the Outkast catalog, there are no bad projects, but some mean more than others. While this isn't my favorite Outkast album by far, I still love this project and feel like it is one of those albums that had a significant impact that many people slept on at the time of release. Outkast tested the limits of hip hop multiple times, but with this album, things were different. They would push themselves creatively and craft an album that highlights both of their styles to the fullest. Mostly produced by their own production trio Earthtone III, this album ranges from being soulfully funky to melodic to electric in its own right from a sound perspective. Whether it's the smooth "Slum Beautiful", the clearly Prince inspired "Toilet Tisha" and "Stanklove", the booming "We Luv Deez Hoes", the mega hits "So Fresh, So Clean" and "Ms. Jackson", or even the slow riding vibe of "Gangsta Shit", the duo manages to deliver in multiple ways with their music here. Stankonia might not be the greatest Outkast album, but in all honesty, it might be their most well rounded project, which says a whole lot.

5. Goodie Mob- Still Standing (1998)

-When we look back at the legacy of Goodie Mob, most people seem to only recognize Soul Food as a great album from them. Of course, that is not accurate. While World Party would be a disappointing project their album before that would be something special just like their classic debut. They would test their limits creatively as the Family was known to do here, even flirting with rock music on "Just About Over", which was nothing like what they had made before. Organized Noize handles most of the production here again, while features are kept at a minimum, allowing us to focus on the group themselves. My favorite songs here are the Outkast featured "Black Ice (Sky High)", which is an all time classic, "Fly High", the Cool Breeze assisted "The Damm", and "Beautiful Skin". All in all, while this album isn't better than Soul Food, it is pretty damn close.

4. Outkast- SouthernPlaylisticadlliacmusik (1994)

-The debut from the greatest duo of all time. I think when we talk about Outkast, SPCM sometimes gets lost in the sauce of ATLiens, Aquemini, and even Stankonia, but the fact is, their debut is a classic in its own right. The youth within both of their voices and verses is unmatched and looking back at this album, it was honestly before its time. With the production handled by Organized Noize, this album would help put the south on the map even more in the mainstream. It was a breakthrough. With a sound that is somewhere in between funk and smooth soul, this album gives you a taste of what these two artists had to offer and what was to come. My favorite songs from this album? Honestly, I love the entire album, but I would point to "Ain't No Thang", "Player's Ball", the title track, "Claiming True", "Funky Ride", "Hootie Hoo", and "Crumblin' Erb" as the highlights here. The arrival of Outkast changed the game and this album is easily a top 5 Dungeon Family release.

3. Goodie Mob- Soul Food (1995)

-I've maintained my position that Goodie Mob is the most underrated group in southern hip hop and that will likely never change. The collective of Cee-Lo, Big Gipp, Khujo, and T-Mo all combine to make a diverse group of artists with differing styles that seamlessly blend together. If that sounds a bit compounded, then it's merely because that's exactly what Goodie Mob is. Their debut would be special, as it would garner rave reviews and critical acclaim, and end up going gold, making the introduction to the group a success. Dedicated to the memory of Cee-Lo's late mother, this album has everything you would want from a hip hop release and then some. With Organized Noize producing the bulk of the album, the group utilizes the signature sound of The Dungeon and everything works perfectly. Whether it was the Cool Breeze and Big Boi assisted "Dirty South", the Andre 3000 featured classic "Thought Process", "Cell Therapy", or the title track, Goodie Mob delivered on this classic album that definitely ranks up high on the hip hop debut list.

2. Outkast- ATLiens (1996)

-This is my favorite Outkast album. With production from Organized Noize included alongside Big Boi and Andre attempting to handle some of those duties as well, Outkast would create their most bare album, from a lyrical and musical standpoint. ATLiens showcases the natural talent of both artists, and it does so with a darker tone than their classic debut. I would crown Andre as the MVP of the album, as he showed immense growth as a lyricist here, adding more multi-syllable rhymes to his repertoire, and improving his storytelling ability, as evidenced on tracks like "Jazzy Belle", "Elevators", and "Babylon". Big Boi would do what he does best, but to a higher degree, as we saw on tracks like "Decatur Psalm", "Wailin", and "Ova Da Wudz". Simply put, this is a flawless album that put Outkast in that upper echelon discussion and helped to inspire many artists going forward, including this writer here. ATLiens is a true classic and honestly could have been no. 1 on my list, but my choice for no. 1 is solely based on this article and topic alone. Still, no one can deny ATLiens as being a vital album.

1. Outkast- Aquemini (1998)

-I will be honest. ATLiens would be my personal no. 1, but for this list, when I look back at the albums that really solidified the Dungeon Family, this is the most important and the most classic. The eclectic sound that shaped the collective can be heard on every release, but it really reaches the apex on Aquemini. This 1998 release would showcase growth in both men, with Big Boi displayed a bit more intricacy in his lyricism, while Andre expanded his style and changed his flow even more. The result would bring us classics like "Return Of The G", "Liberation", "Chonkyfire", and of course, the jamming sound of "Rosa Parks". This album would explore so many different topics, garnering a lot of critical acclaim and being given the distinction by many of the best Outkast album. When we reflect back on Aquemini, the consensus is that this album is a pure classic, but most of it, it embodies the spirit of the Dungeon Family. From beginning to finish, this album captivates the listener and for that, Aquemini takes the no. 1 spot on this list.



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