DAR Hip Hop: Pros And Cons Of 5 Albums From 2000

By @TrueGodImmortal

The year 2000 was major in the hip hop genre. Many artists would end up releasing albums during this turning point as a new decade would begin with artists like Mystikal, Ludacris, and Ja Rule having much success commercially. Today, I want to take a look back at few of the albums that were released in 2000 and list their pros and cons. Keep in mind, Ludacris, Ja Rule, and Mystikal were three example of successful artists, but none of their albums are featured in this article. No, today, we take a look at albums from Outkast, Eminem, Jay-Z, Nelly, and Ghostface Killah, all of which were important albums during the year. Let's get into it.

*Outkast- Stankonia

-The most creatively daring album from Outkast is one that still receives mixed reviews from listeners, though most of the opinions are favorable, the album is definitely tougher to digest for newer fans of the group. For those of us who were fans from the first album, a project like Stankonia is merely another example of Outkast testing their creative limits and experimenting. This album feels more like a blend of the directions that Andre 3000 and Big Boi were separately going in, as they would bring forth their visions for something special. Stankonia would become important for the legacy of Outkast, with the name itself lasting just as long as the adulation for the album has. So, what were the positives and negatives of this vital Outkast album? Let's take a look.

Pros: There was so much to discuss on the positive side for this album. Big Boi was entering his musical prime and Andre 3000 was entering what I like to call his creative prime, where he was blending his soul and funk ambitions with his hip hop prowess. Production wise, this album is all over the place, as the music ranges from smooth to dizzying to slow and it all blends very well. I was taken aback by how fluid an album with so many differing sounds could be, but perhaps that's the beauty of this legendary duo. They can make anything work and this album is proof of that. Andre shines a lot on the album on tracks like "Red Velvet", "Humble Mumble", "Spaghetti Junction", and of course, "Gangsta Shit", while Big Boi shines immensely on "We Luv Deez Hoes", "Slum Beautiful", and others. Simply put, Stankonia is a great blend of both Big and Andre with enough lyricism and combined creativity to make this album a treat to listen to from start to finish.

Cons: There was very little to discuss in the negative sense about the album, except MAYBE wishing the tracklist could have been trimmed slightly. Most of the songs here are solid and enjoyable, and even when some of them are not as enjoyable as others, the music still manages to work mostly. Still, I did find myself skipping a track or two, like the slightly boring "Xplosion" featuring B-Real of Cypress Hill and the short yet unnecessary "?" by Andre. There are moments when I definitely don't want to listen to "Snappin And Trappin" or even "Toilet Tisha", but those are still mostly solid tracks anyways. All in all, Stankonia isn't a classic to me, but it is a game changer and a daring album that deserves many accolades.

*Eminem- The Marshall Mathers LP

-One of the most interesting artists of the 2000s will always be Eminem and when he released his sophomore album, the world would take notice. The Marshall Mathers LP is a landmark moment in hip hop for many reasons, as it would debut with huge numbers for the first week and go on to be one of the biggest selling albums of the entire decade. Eminem was the people's choice, and while that has negative connotations behind it in many ways, he was still extremely talented and gifted lyrically. With his album debuting on the charts and being hugely successful, he would become one of the biggest stars in the entire world. While the Slim Shady LP was a huge success, it would be The Marshall Mathers LP that made him a household name. So, with that being said, how does the trademark Eminem album hold up after all these years? What are the pros and cons? Well, let's take a look.

Pros: When Eminem is at his best, he is outspoken, brash, mostly aggressive and honest. For a majority of the Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem is just that, taking on any challenger and going at everyone who was in his path. Now, when I say in his path, of course, that only entails a few pop stars who he was not too fond of, but regardless, Eminem attacks every target with the same vigor. Aside from his attacks on pop stars and essentially white America at differing times, Eminem allows himself moments to talk about things that truly affect him and his life, in his own special way. With tracks like the classic "The Way I Am", as well as the disturbing but somehow epic "Kim", Em does what he does best on this album when he is angry. Whether putting up a middle finger to convention on tracks like "I'm Back", "Marshall Mathers", or even the sinister "Remember Me" with RBX and Sticky Fingaz, or lighter tracks like the booming "Bitch Please II" with Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Dr. Dre, and Xzibit, or even the first single "The Real Slim Shady", Eminem is essentially in his comfort zone here and as a result, this album sounds like his best work. Is it? That's debatable, but it is his highest selling album and his most infamous project, which cannot be ignored.

Cons: There aren't many things to say bad about this album, and the very few gripes I do have with the album are minimal. While I was never the biggest Eminem fan, I recognize this album as his biggest work and many people felt that it was his best. I do think that the tracklist could have benefited from cutting a few tracks off, perhaps some of the unnecessary skits. The songs themselves were mostly solid, though I wasn't the biggest fan of "Under The Influence" with D-12 and even years later I cannot get into "The Real Slim Shady", as I feel it was cheesy and a bit corny in retrospect. Regardless, despite my aversion to listening to Eminem's music in current times, The Marshall Mathers LP is one of the few Em albums that managed to age decently, which should put it in high esteem in terms of his catalog, and it is.

*Nelly- Country Grammar

-Once upon a time, no one knew anything about Nelly. He was an unknown artist from St. Louis, trying to make a name for himself. I first found out about Nelly reading The Source and decided to give his album a listen just because. When I heard the first single, I was skeptical, as it was lyrically nothing special and just slightly catchy, but regardless, I would purchase the Country Grammar album at the same time that I purchased the Busta Rhymes album Anarchy. Was Nelly due to be a star? If so, I couldn't initially tell, but he did have hit singles and that was important, at least at the time. So, with that being said, how does the actual album stack up? Let's take a look.

Pros: The biggest positive about this album is the fact that Nelly has a knack for great rhythm and songwriting. Initially, I had no idea what to expect when I first took a listen to this album, but I would pretty much understand the type of artist that Nelly was early on in the album. If I was looking for mind blowing lyrical displays or concise storytelling, Nelly wasn't the artist for me. If I need solid tracks and commercially viable singles, then Nelly was the guy for the job. He doesn't disappoint with tracks like "E.I.", "Ride With Me", and the title track, but he does manage to make other catchy tracks and solid album cuts like "Greed, Hate, Envy", "Steal The Show", "Thicky Thick Girl", and the surprisingly smooth "Luven Me". While there are no tracks that really stick out in terms of being elite, all the aforementioned tracks are extremely catchy and good listens, meaning Nelly found his lane and rode with it, leading to successful results. 

Cons: There are many, but then not so many. Nelly was never the artist I would think could show any depth or versatility outside of what he does, but he has some good music here. However, aside from the good music on the album is the dreaded filler that can come from any artist who has a tracklist longer than 12-13 songs. At 17 songs, the filler is minimal so to speak, but there are still some songs that fall short of the mark that the other tracks set. Tracks like "Utha Side" and "Tho Dem Wrappas" are not bad songs necessarily, they just pale in comparison to the other tracks that made the album a lot of fun to listen to. Aside from that, the album is surprisingly solid, but far from anything special, however that didn't seem to matter to the near 10 million people that purchased it. Country Grammar might be a classic, but it is more so that for the moment in time and the sales rather than the actual music.

*Jay-Z- The Dynasty: Roc La Familia

-When Jay finished up his three album Volume series, many wondered what would be next. Apparently, a compilation was due for the entire Roc family, but somewhere during this creation period, Jay decided to turn it into an official Jay-Z album, even if it was a glorified solo album with a lot of guest appearances. Still, it worked well, as the album debuted with huge first week numbers before eventually going almost triple platinum, racking up yet another successful album release for Jigga. With that being said, what were the pros and cons of The Dynasty album? Was it underrated? A classic? A bad album? How does The Dynasty fare after all these years? Let's take a look.

Pros: So the good things. The first thing that sticks out to me is that Jay is much more introspective in certain spots on this album. He is the highlight of the album as he should be, but his introspection and the way he puts those verses together are undefeated. Who could deny the amazing sound of "This Can't Be Life" as Jay crafted one of his most heartwrenching verses alongside Beans and Scarface? Who could deny the anguish in the voices of both Jay and Beans on "Where Have You Been", or even the honesty that Jay provided on "Soon You'll Understand with Just Blaze on the production. The beginning of the growth of Jay was an amazing part of this album, but the secondary star here was Beanie Sigel. Beans would steal the show on a number of tracks and hold his own as always with Jay, and that makes this album a much easier listen. Even Bleek has a few moments where he shines as well, but only a few. The Dynasty isn't a classic, but it is a solid album that deserves more credit for sure.

Cons: Perhaps the worst part about this album is that there is more Roc-A-Fella featured than Jay. Well, not so much more than Jay, but equally as much. Some songs just fall short, like the Memphis Bleek solo "Holla" and the Amil verse on "You, Me, Him, Her", but for the most part, I actually like the album a lot. I personally could do without the Jay and R. Kelly collab "Gulity Until Proven Innocent", but other than that, there isn't a lot to dislike on this album, which makes it honestly shocking that a lot of people don't like this album. Regardless, The Dynasty could use more Jigga and less Bleek, but all in all, it is still a solid listen throughout with minimal flaws.

*Ghostface Killah- Supreme Clientele

-The Wu is a symbol of greatness in hip hop. The group has been one of the most infamous movements in the history of hip hop, making their names known through amazing music and high powered albums, and Ghostface continues this trend with his second solo album Supreme Clientele. In many instances, the solo albums fall short of the expectations, but a select few albums have lived up to the hype. For Ghostface, he managed to exceed the hype and craft a classic album that I still think is the best solo release besides OB4CL (and it has a case of being better than that too) in the Wu catalog. So with that said, what are the pros and cons of this classic album? Are there any cons? Let's take a look.

Pros: I could go on and on about this album, but I won't. It is simple. The production is perfect. The vibe is perfect. The sound is perfect. This is a near perfect album honestly. Ghostface was definitely in his prime in this era and he was lyrically coasting over some of the best instrumentals he had rapped over in his career. Whether it was the excellent "Nutmeg", the amazing "One", the high powered single "Cherchez La Ghost", or even the classic "Mighty Healthy", essentially Ghost could do no wrong on this album. I listened to this album a few times before this article yet again and I still couldn't find much wrong with it. Thus, the cons.....

Cons: Surprise, surprise. The only issue I had with this album was really the skits, but even they served a purpose on the album. Ghost was really smooth in executing this album and it really has minimal flaws overall. I would maybe cut the tracklist down a little bit, but even that was fine. One of those rare albums that had great songs on a lengthy tracklist, and didn't have a break in quality. If you ask me, the best album of 2000 is Supreme Clientele by far.



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