DAR Hip Hop: 8 Great Albums From Philadelphia

By @TrueGodImmortal

One of the most underrated cities for hip hop remains Philadelphia. With some of the best lyricists in the game coming from the city of Brotherly Love, the truth is, Philadelphia is responsible for some huge moments in the hip hop game. With that being said, we wanted to take a look at some albums that made an impact from Philly on the genre. These are albums that are either classics from Philly artists or near classics that have made noise in hip hop. What albums make this list? Let's take a look.

*Beanie Sigel- The B. Coming (2005)

-This is my personal favorite album from Beans and it is a true hip hop classic IMO. Released after the fall of The Roc, this album is Beans at his most vulnerable and honest. Released through the Dame Dash Music Group, the album would have a somber tone to it considering the fact that it was recorded during the time Beans was preparing for a jail sentence, and as a result, the album showed you a look inside the mind of Beans. The result was priceless. Beans would craft some of his most poignant verses over mostly soulful production, as Heavy D, Buckwild, DJ Scratch, Just Blaze, The Neptunes, and many more provide the soundscape for this album. The one knock against this project is that it has a lot of guest features from Jay-Z to Bun B to Grand Puba to Redman to Snoop to Twista and more, but each guest complements the songs they are featured in. As a result, songs like "I Can't Go On This Way", "Purple Rain", "Lord Have Mercy", and the classic single "Feel It In The Air" all mesh together well in the tracklist over an album that might be a true legendary project when it's all said and done.

*The Roots- Things Fall Apart (1999)

-As expected, there will be two albums from The Roots on this list. This one is not a surprise at all, as it seen by most as their best album. Whether or not you think this is their best album, one could admit that this is definitely at the top of the list and a hip hop classic for sure. Released during the influx of the Neo-Soul hip hop movement where MCs like Common, Mos Def, and more were gaining attention for their work, The Roots would go a step further, earning mainstream success through their first single "You Got Me" with Eve and Erykah Badu as it would become a hit and push the album to gold status. With guest appearances from DJ Jazzy Jeff, Mos Def, and many more, The Roots would craft classics like "(Act Too)The Love Of My Life", "Double Trouble", "Adrenaline", among others on the road to create a truly classic album. The fluidity is a great in an album like this, and it honestly just flows and the result is magnificent.  

*Bahamadia- Kollage (1996)

-I discussed this album briefly before when discussing classic albums by women, and I have to discuss it once again. This is probably my favorite female hip hop album from Philly, and I have always felt Bahamadia was one of the most underrated female lyricists. Her rugged yet smooth style flows well on this album alongside the boom bap production of DJ Premier, Guru, and Da Beatminerz. With minimal features, you get to hear more of her unfiltered rhymes on tracks like "Total Wreck", "I Confess", "Da Jawn" and many more. Bahamadia crafted an underground classic with this one and I had to mention it with the best of the best from Philly.

*Young Gunz- Tough Luv (2004)

-There were other albums I could have picked for this spot... but honestly, I fondly remember this album and it was pretty damn good. The Young Gunz were exactly what their namesake suggested, so you shouldn't expect a lot of depth or introspection, yet the album had a bit of it. Backed by some really good production courtesy of Chad West, Just Blaze, Bink!, and Kanye West, who were the usual Roc producers, Young Gunz would deliver an enjoyable album from start to finish. The guest appearances would be limited to the Roc family, as they would have Jay-Z, Beans, Juelz Santana, Freeway, and Cam'ron contribute to the tracks. Songs like "Never Take Me Alive", the title track, "North Of Death", "Look In Your Eyes", as well as "$$$ Girlz" and the hit single "No Better Love" are all highlights on an album that seems slightly underrated and slept on. The Young Gunz delivers on their debut and the result is an album that deserves to be here on the list. 

*Eve- Let There Be Eve... Ruff Ryders First Lady (1999)

-Of course, the debut from Eve deserves some discussion. As you see, Schoolly D and The Fresh Prince are missing from this list, along with Meek Mill and his album, but the fact remains, Philly has a lot of talent. On the female side of music, they have some solid singers and rappers, and I was compelled to include the first release from Eve over her other albums. This is her most successful album and with good reason. It was at the height of the success of the Ruff Ryders crew, as Eve would work alongside DMX, The Lox, and others to craft her gems. This album features production by Swizz Beatz (mostly) and DJ Shok along with features from her Ruff Ryders family, Faith Evans, Missy Elliott, and fellow Philly native Beanie Sigel. Tracks like her hit singles "Gotta Man" ans "Love Is Blind", along with bangers like "Scenario 2000", "Let's Talk About", and more help complete an album that could be considered a classic depending on who you ask. I did enjoy this album and thought it was a great introduction to the pitbull in a skirt, as Eve was affectionately known.

*Beanie Sigel- The Truth (2000)

-After hearing Beanie on the other albums released by The Roc, I was anxious to see how well he could hold down an album alone. Luckily, he didn't disappoint one bit with this near classic debut that brought back memories of the likes of Ice Cube and other lyricists who were in your face and aggressive in style. This album features production from the soulful likes of Just Blaze and Kanye West, the aggressive sounds of Rockwilder and Buckwild, and has guest features from Jay-Z, Scarface, Eve, Memphis Bleek, and Amil, but the star of the album is always Beans. With tracks like the poignant "What Ya Life Like", the reflective "Remember Them Days", and the hard hitting "Die", Beans delivers on just about every single song, and while this isn't my favorite Beans album, it is a close second and a near classic for sure. 

*The Roots- Illadelph Halflife (1996)

-A classic that was released in the greatest year of hip hop, The Roots would come to more prominence as a group with the release of this album. After the more traditional live band sound on previous projects, The Roots hit hard with this album, which is essentially a tougher sound than before. It has a boom bap element to the album, with Black Thought using the bass heavy production to spit some of the greatest verses of his career. The music is a reflection of where the band was at the time and it doesn't disappoint. Of course they handle their own production, but the album features guest appearances from Common, Dice Raw, Q-Tip, D'Angelo, and of course, Raphael Saadiq, in addition to a verse from Bahamadia. Songs like "What They Do", "The Hypnotic", "No Great Pretender", and "Universe at War" help paint a vivid picture that the legendary Roots crew wanted to tell, and it works perfectly. This is arguably the best Roots album, and if it isn't the best, it's undisputed top 3. Illadelph HalfLife is a classic.

*Freeway- Philadelphia Freeway (2003)

-While his 2007 release Free At Last was slightly better production wise, I have to be real. Of all the albums from Philly, this is quite possibly one of the most well done projects I've ever heard. Freeway was nothing like the other famous rappers from his city, as he would have his own distinct style that separate him from Black Thought and Beans, the two most prominent names from Philly at the time. Free etched his own lane, and with his debut, he would utilize soulful production from Just Blaze, Bink!, and of course, Kanye West. The result would be a near flawless album that showcases lyrical dexterity, booming rhythms, and a star studded guest appearance list with Nate Dogg, Faith Evans, Beans, Jay-Z, Snoop Dogg, Nelly, and even Mariah Carey. With tracks like the iconic "What We Do", the classic "Flipside", the anthem like "All My Life", as well as other tracks, this project might be the most complete album on the list. Freeway doesn't miss on this amazing debut album, which closes out our list. Philly hip hop is top notch, and each album on this list shows you why.



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