DAR Hip Hop: The 8 Greatest Albums Of 1994

By @TrueGodImmortal

1994 was a pivotal year in hip hop. Artists were working towards their legacy being built, some were just debuting, but most of all, they were all creating excellent songs and albums for the most part. Each artist carried a style that was unique to their own experiences and the authenticity made 1994 such an amazing year overall in music, but the impact felt in the hip hop genre cannot be stated enough. Today, I wanted to go back some years to look at 8 of the best albums from that year. What album ranks no. 1? Let's take a look.

8. Warren G- Regulate... The G Funk Era 

-West Coast hip hop was at the pinnacle during this time period and perhaps the greatest example of this came in the form of Warren G and his 1994 album, which is a true hip hop classic. I would listen to all of the Death Row artists, and while Warren G wasn't one of them, he was still a special artist for the Coast and a pivotal piece of the West movement. Of course, the title track on this album is what drove it to platinum heights and beyond, but the album features other solid tracks like "Do You See", "This D.J.", "So Many Ways", and more. Regulate is a crucial West Coast album and Warren G delivers from start to finish. This might be the most pivotal West Coast album of the year.

7. Organized Konfusion- Stress: The Extinction Agenda

-Pharoahe Monch is a legend. That much should be known in the hip hop community, and his solo work is equal to his work in this group, which made waves with this release. Their second album, this project features the production of Rockwilder and Buckwild alongside the group themselves, and it is some of the best music of the year bar none. Highlights on this album include the title track "Stress", the other title track "The Extinction Agenda", with other gems like "Black Sunday" and "Let's Organize". Simply put, this album was a great listen from start to finish and a big highlight on the year.

6. Gangstarr- Hard To Earn

-I was never the biggest fan of Gangstarr, but I always respected their work and what they did. Premo and Guru together was like a match made in heaven, as the two meshed perfectly, with some of the best rhymes coming from Guru and the top tier production from the legendary Premo. It would be their fourth release and it would feature some of their greatest work as a collective from "Mass Appeal" to "DWYCK" to "Code Of The Streets" to "Brainstorm" and other gems on the album. Many have labeled this project as the best Gangstarr album, and while that is certainly up for debate, this album definitely has a case for it. Hard To Earn is easily one of the best albums of 1994 and it JUST misses the top 5 which should let you know just how stacked this year was.

5. Common- Resurrection

-I'll be honest. Common is one of the most underrated legends in the game and he has classics under his belt. In many ways, this album is his breakthrough, as he manages to buck the sophomore curse and deliver one of the better albums of the year. This is probably a top 3 album in his discography, as it introduces Common to a larger group of fans, after his uneven debut failed to ignite audiences. For me, the biggest thing that drove this album was the jazzy production and the true to life lyricism that Common always delivers on. With No I.D. handling the production, Common delivers on songs like the title track, the iconic "I Used To Love H.E.R.", "Book Of Life", and more. We knew Common was a dope MC based on his first project, but this showed us that he was a talented artist capable of crafting a classic album.

4. Scarface- The Diary

-One of the greatest MCs of all time, Scarface finally came of age as a solo artist on this legendary project. Many view this album as his best or second best album and I agree. Scarface is simply at his best on this record, with more vivid rhymes and honest moments than his first few projects. He works with producers Mike Dean and N.O. Joe for most of the album's sound, which of course has dark undertones throughout the project, and most of the album follows a darker theme. The highlights here include "I Seen A Man Die", "One", "Hand Of The Dead Body", and "Jesse James", but from start to finish, this album features the best of Scarface, even if in the worst way.

3. Outkast- SouthernPlaylistiCadillacMuzik

-If this was about the albums I listen to the most from this year, this would likely be no. 1 because there aren't too many albums that truly get as much play in my headphones as the classic debut from the GOAT duo. With production from their Dungeon Family cohorts Organized Noize and a focus on introducing the world to their southern style, Outkast crafts an album that is both groundbreaking and flawless. I really can't find an issue with the album itself, and the only knock could be that both of the MCs weren't fully at their highest level talent wise, but that youthful hunger in the album makes it even more special. Tracks like "Crumblin' Erb", the title track, "Call Of The Wild", "Funky Ride", "Hootie Hoo", "Claimin' True", and more showcase the talent level of both Big and Dre, as well as their knack for making classic records, which is in full force here. This album was pivotal to me as a listener and an artist!

2. The Notorious B.I.G.- Ready To Die

-It was a three album race honestly between the obvious for the no. 1 spot. Biggie would take no. 1 on a few other lists, while Nas would of course take the top spot on other lists as well. Regardless, this debut album from Biggie is flawless and his greatest work. What makes it so special is that there was never another MC quite like Big in this era, and his flow here is sharp and full of hunger. The production here was rugged and dusty in the best way possible, giving off a much more grimy feel than his later Bad Boy work and other artists on the label. With production from Lord Finesse, DJ Premier, Easy Mo Bee, and others, Biggie would drop gems and classics like "Unbelievable", "Big Poppa", "Juicy", "Machine Gun Funk", "Warning", "Gimme The Loot", and more. Ready To Die is a seminal moment in hip hop and the arrival of one of the greatest ever.

1. Nas- Illmatic

-You might disagree with this selection. That's fine. You're wrong, but that's fine. Regardless, the fact is, Nas came into the game and made an impact on his own accord, infusing some of the best production in the game with some of the most legendart lyricism ever and this album remains a big favorite for me, and is perhaps the greatest debut album of all time. Nas was in rare form here, tackling every beat from Pete Rock, Large Professor, and DJ Premier with a hunger and fire that lacks from the new artists today. Nas would give us gems like "It Ain't Hard To Tell", "Life's A Bitch", "The World Is Yours", "Memory Lane", and more, putting together one of the most seamless tracklists in hip hop history. Make no mistake about it, Illmatic is not only a classic, but it is the best album of 1994 and the arrival of a man who many feel is the greatest of all time, or at least one of the greatest.



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