DAR Hip Hop: 8 Classic 90's Hip Hop Albums From Queens, New York

By @TrueGodImmortal

New York has given us so much in terms of the hip hop that it is impossible to sum up their contributions in one article. With that being said, one has to break down the impact and the important of New York in hip hop by the boroughs. We covered Brooklyn already, and many crown Brooklyn as the best borough in New York in terms of artists and lyricism. To me? I would have to look back at the borough of Queens and crown them the best for a number of reasons. From Jamaica to Hollis to Queensbridge and more, the borough is responsible for many classic albums. Today, I wanted to take a look at a few of those albums, 8 of them to be exact from the greatest decade in hip hop, the 90's. Let's get into it.

*LL Cool J- Mama Said Knock You Out (1990)

-If this was about the 80's, LL would have another project listed and I would still include this album just out of respect. LL held Queens down alongside Run DMC, and this is his biggest album from this era and his biggest of all time really. Seen by many as his comeback album and easily my favorite album in his catalog, LL would utilize the excellent production of Marley Marl to make something special. From the title track to the iconic "The Boomin' System" and of course the all time classic "Around The Way Girl", LL doesn't disappoint at all on this album and this was quite possibly the best way for the decade to kick off for Queens.

*A Tribe Called Quest- The Low End Theory (1991)

-This group that originated in St. Albans was sure to make the list and there were two possible choices, but I would have to go with their sophomore album as my choice. It is an essential album in the hip hop scene and one of the biggest pieces of the jazz rap genre, bringing smooth production and playful yet solid lyricism to the table. With tracks like the classic "Scenario", "Check The Rhime", "Buggin Out", "Verses From The Abstract", and many more, Tribe crosses over into a whole new stratosphere with this album, and there is no doubt that this is an all time hip hop classic.

*Onyx- Bacdafuckup (1993)

-This Queens group was a part of the hardcore movement that came along and made NY hip hop more rugged and rough than it felt before. With Fredro Starr and Sticky Fingaz eventually becoming household names following the success of this group, this album is important to their lineage and history. With booming beats and aggression throughout, the group delivers on this album with songs such as the huge single "Slam", "Throw Ya Gunz", "Nigga Bridges", "Blac Vagina Finda", and many more. This is one of the true gangsta hardcore rap albums of the time and as Wu-Tang took their place as the true hardcore kings, Onyx arrived to take their own personalized throne for aggressive content.

*Nas- Illmatic (1994)

-Of course this was an album on the list. Nas is the greatest MC from Queens so there will be two of his projects for sure on this list. Of course, Illmatic is one of the greatest albums ever so it has to get a mention without question. Seen by many as one of the greatest debut albums if not the greatest, Nas arrived on the scene with profound lyricism and flow, backed by production from legends like Pete Rock, Large Professor, and DJ Premier, among others. With only AZ and Q-Tip as the featured artists on tracks here, Nas gives you 10 tracks of his story and the result brings us classics like "Life's A Bitch", "It Ain't Hard To Tell", "The World Is Yours", and my personal favorite "Memory Lane". Illmatic is a special moment in hip hop and it might be the best albums to come out of Queens honestly.

*Mobb Deep- The Infamous (1995)

-When Mobb Deep arrived on the scene, many people didn't enjoy their debut. Juvenile Hell wasn't a huge success, but their sophomore album would solidify their legacy and put them on the map. The Infamous was top tier gangsta hip hop and it showcased Prodigy as one of the best in the game with Havoc not too far behind him. With features from Nas, Raekwon, Q-Tip, and Ghostface Killah, Mobb would have a solid supporting cast on the album and the production was solid from beginning to end. Listeners couldn't deny the numerous classics here like "Survival Of The Fittest", "Eye For An Eye", "Temperature's Rising", "Trife Life", and of course "Shook Ones". This was a game changer in hip hop and brought Mobb Deep to a different level.

*Lost Boyz- Legal Drug Money (1996)

-Of all the albums here, you might be surprised to see this one here. However, this album is a true classic and one of those unsung albums from the decade that doesn't get enough credit. The debut album from this Queens group hit hard in the streets and even on the radio with a number of hits and just all around solid songs. With production from Pete Rock, Easy Mo Bee, and others, the sound here is top notch, and the group manages to  bring their best on tracks like the all time classic "Renee", the popular "Music Makes Me High", "Lifestyles Of The Rich and Shameless", and of course, "Jeeps, Lex, Coups, Bimaz & Benz", one of the biggest songs in the group's career. Lost Boyz wouldn't be able to replicate their success on later albums, but this album was nearly flawless and made them well known names in hip hop. Word to Jamaica, Queens.

*Nas- It Was Written (1996)

-Of course, how could I forget my favorite Nas album? There was no way. It Was Written to me was always the evolution of Nas from the street wise kid on Illmatic to a more vivid MC with tales and vision beyond his years. It Was Written production wise comes with an entirely different sound from his debut, and it works well. There is life within the production that is mostly handled by Trackmasters with assistance from Dr. Dre, DJ Premier, and Havoc. The result brings us some of the greatest songs in his entire career, as Nas delivers tracks like "The Message", "I Gave You Power", "Watch Dem Niggas", "Take It In Blood", and many more. It Was Written is a classic that isn't completely flawless, but it's so close to being perfect that it somehow feels that way upon repeat listens. This is my favorite hip hop album from Queens ever and of course, as I said, this is my favorite Nas album.

*Capone-N-Noreaga- The War Report (1997)

-One of the more underrated duos in New York history, CNN came with something special out the gate. The duo would stake their claim as one of the loudest voices in the Queens hip hop arena and this debut album is a great introduction to two different rap personalities. This album had a distinct underground and hardcore vibe to it, abandoning the usual approach of commercial music attempts and giving the streets what they wanted. Capone and Noreaga were two completely different MCs, but they worked very well together. With production from Buckwild, Lord Finesse, Havoc, and Marley Marl along with guest features from Mobb Deep and Busta Rhymes, CNN managed to deliver tracks like "Stick You", "Bloody Money", "LA, LA", "T.O.N.Y.", and many more, giving us a hip hop classic that still resonates with the sound of Queens today.



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