DAR Hip Hop: 8 Important So So Def Albums

By @TrueGodImmortal

Years ago, So So Def was a huge part of the hip hop scene, with Jermaine Dupri leading the charge. He was the man behind the movement that got his claim to fame by writing and producing the Kris Kross albums that took the world by storm. Following the Kris Kross debut, he would bring the world Xscape, a R&B group that would end up seeing instant success behind Dupri's vision. After the release of Xscape, So So Def would be truly born. Recently, Dupri mentioned how important his impact was on hip hop culture, and that led me to think about his legendary status and most of all, the legendary label he helped to lead. I wanted to look back at the 8 most important hip hop albums to be released by the label. Let's take a look.

*Da Brat- Funkdafied (1994)

-I've spoken about this album at length on this site, so I won't go too much into detail, but we all remember the arrival of Da Brat and what it meant for the female hip hop movement. She was raw, aggressive, but most of all, lyrically talented in her own right, and it just all flowed perfectly for her debut. The album ranged in sound from G-Funk to southern boom bap, and I think the production is top notch overall. Brat coasts over the Dupri productions and gives us classics like the title track, "May Da Funk Be With Ya", and "Fire It Up". If I had to rank these albums in terms of importance, Funkdafied would be right at the top, because there is no other album in the history of So So Def as vital to the growth of the label and movement.

*Jermaine Dupri- Life In 1472 (1998)

-So, we all know Dupri wasn't necessarily a great rapper, or even a good one for that matter, but he would still take on the role similar to Puffy, as he was the mogul and a lead artist on So So Def. This debut album from him features some high powered production, and a ton of huge guest appearances like Nas, DMX, Mariah Carey, Mase, Too Short, Jay-Z, and so many more. This doesn't feel like an actual Dupri album, but more so in the style of a Dr. Dre Chronic styled album, where the guests are just as important to the project as the name on the cover. Still, tracks like "Money Ain't A Thang", "Fresh", "Jazzy Hoes", and others make this album somewhat enjoyable, but the fact remains, it's definitely one of the most important So So Def projects.

*Harlem World- The Movement (1999)

-I was very confused at one point about this album. For one, you couldn't have convinced me that Harlem World was on So So Def, because they should have been on Bad Boy. However, one look and you'll see that Harlem World released their album through the So So Def brand. This project is actually pretty slept on, but it represents a bit of branching out for the label. In 1999, the list of producers on this album didn't really catch your attention, but now, it's a star studded list. With Just Blaze, Dupri, Kanye West, Trackmasters, The Neptunes, The Hitmen, and Dame Grease, this album had the production aspect down perfectly. The features were also solid, as Nas, Carl Thomas, Kelly Price, and Mase (who was more so leader of the movement than a part of the group) all were featured. This album would spawn singles like "Cali Chronic", "I Really Like It", and tracks like "You Made Me", showcasing that Harlem World had something, but it never reached the full potential. Still, make no mistake about it, despite this album being slept on some, it has major importance to So So Def.

*Da Brat- Unrestricted (2000)

-After her second album flopped, Da Brat went back to the drawing board, and honestly, it all worked out for the best. Armed with a sexy look, Brat would come out of the gate firing with singles like "That's What I'm Looking For", and honestly, while that track wasn't my favorite, it was exactly what she needed to bring her back full circle. With features from Ja Rule, Kelly Price, and Mystikal, the album is mostly Brat showcasing what she does best. My favorite song? Well, honestly, it's the unintentionally hilarious second single "What'chu Like" featuring Tyrese, who delivers what I consider to be the greatest (not really) hook of all time. All in all, Unrestricted showed that Brat still had what it takes to entice the listener, even if the album fell a bit flat in some aspects.

*Lil Bow Wow- Beware Of Dog (2000)

-Shad Moss be damned, back in the day, Bow Wow was a superstar. Years ago, when he first arrived on the scene, there was no one more popular with the younger crowd than Bow Wow. As much as it sounds funny saying that, it is 100% accurate. Bow Wow would strike gold with this debut album (more like triple platinum), and take over the radio airwaves instantly. It's a testament to the ability of Dupri and his marketing that Bow Wow became so popular instantly, but let's be clear, the music was extremely catchy as well surprisingly. Whether it was the first single "Bounce With Me" featuring Xscape, the Snoop Dogg featured and inspired "Bow Wow (That's My Name)", the Jagged Edge featured "Puppy Love", or of course, "Ghetto Girls", every song from this album was popular at the time of release. So So Def found new life in the 2000s and it all started with Bow Wow. Those are the facts.

*Lil Bow Wow- Doggy Bag (2001)

-As Bow Wow got older, things began changing in music and with So So Def, but make no mistake about it, his second album was important to the label because it was the only release that really made impact in 2001. Released at the end of the year, Doggy Bag wouldn't carry the same amount of hits as his debut, but it was still a substantial release. As far as the content of the songs, you know not to expect much from a teenager, but the fact remains that this album also had a few songs that caught your ear. The first single "Thank You", the Neptunes produced banger "Take Ya Home", and "Crazy" were all solid tracks that helped Bow Wow score yet another platinum plaque and keep the So So Def name buzzing in music.

*YoungBloodz- Drankin Patnas (2003)

-This album got the So So Def stamp on it because I believe Dupri saw the vision and the success that was set for this duo. While this album itself wasn't anything special, like most of the releases from So So Def, what you could expect from this album, you got it 100%, and that's hits and anthems. If So So Def has a knock against them for lack of classics in their arsenal, it's totally fine, because they knew how to make hits and the YoungBloodz joined in on the fun with their sophomore release, fueled by the monster Lil Jon featured and produced hit "DAMN!". They would also have other solid tracks here like "Lane To Lane" and "Lean Low", earning a gold plaque in the process and giving So So Def another hip hop presence that was a bit unexpected.

*Bone Crusher- AttenCHUN (2003)

-So many folks forgot about Bone Crusher, but he was a force for a little while and another So So Def artist that brought a bit of legitimacy to the label. I chose this album because it came out of nowhere to most people, and it managed to hit hard instantly. The biggest hit from this album is the classic "Never Scared", but the album has a ton of guest appearances that will entice the average listener, as T.I., Killer Mike, David Banner, and Goodie Mob provide the assist on tracks for Bone Crusher. While this debut album wasn't a classic or a top tier release in general, for So So Def, it represented yet another artist that could bring some hip hop to the label and do it authentically.



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