DAR Hip Hop: 10 Best Albums Of 1997

By @TrueGodImmortal

1997 was 21 years ago. It sounds crazy when you think about it, doesn't it? Legends were made, legends passed away unfortunately, classic albums were made, and so much more. Today, I wanted to continue the yearly album ranking series and list the 10 best albums of a pivotal year in the hip hop genre. What albums rank in my 10 best of 1997? Read on and find out.

10. Capone-N-Noreaga- The War Report

-CNN was seen as a top tier hip hop duo at one point and rightfully so. They were the yin and yang so to speak. Capone was the more straight forward rapper, while Noreaga was more so the fun loving, charismatic rapper, but together they worked very well. This album, their debut as a duo is a very popular album from 1997 and features some great production from Carlos Broady, Marley Marl, Lord Finesse, and many more, leading us to great tracks such as "Bloody Money", "T.O.N.Y.", "Illegal Life", the iconic "L.A., L.A.", and more. The War Report is a near classic and one of the more enjoyable albums of 1997.

9. Busta Rhymes- When Disaster Strikes

-I loved the Busta album, as it was probably my favorite album in his discography overall, but in 1997, it wasn't enough to crack the top 5 for me personally. Busta was animated, outlandish, but most of all, he was focused on his concepts for his albums, which sometimes works against him, but here, it doesn't really take away from the quality. With production from The Ummah, DJ Scratch, Easy Mo Bee, and more, Busta has a great sound backing him, leading us to some of the gems of the album like "Dangerous", "Put Your Hands Where My Eyes Could See", "Survival Hungry", "Turn It Up", and "So Hardcore". Busta fights off a sophomore jinx and delivers an album better than his first.

8. Ma$e- Harlem World

-This was one of the greatest albums to come from Bad Boy during their heyday, even though this album hasn't aged nearly as well as it could have. Ma$e in his prime was a top tier rhymer and he would exhibit that ability on this album as well as his ability to make hit records. Backed by the solid production of the in house Bad Boy names along with Dame Grease and The Neptunes, along with support from the classic guest appearances like Jay-Z, DMX, The LOX, Busta Rhymes, and more, Ma$e crafts an album that is slightly too long, but potent all the way through with great tracks like "24 Hrs To Live", "Feel So Good", "Niggaz Wanna Act", and more. Harlem World is a Bad Boy classic and a definite top 10 album this year.

7. Missy Elliott- Supa Dupa Fly

-It was well known that Timbaland and Missy were on a winning streak and it wasn't about to come to an end on the first album from Missy, her solo debut. After the work with Ginuwine and Aaliyah, Missy would have her turn at bat and she would knock it all the way out of the park for sure. The Timbaland production was of course amazing, along with Missy bringing some really good guests such as Da Brat, Lil' Kim, Busta Rhymes, Ginuwine, Aaliyah, and more. The highlights on the album include "Sock It 2 Me", "Beep Me 911", "The Rain", and "Pass Da Blunt". This album would truly put Missy on the map as a superstar.

6. Puff Daddy and The Family- No Way Out

-So, it is pretty obvious that Diddy was never an actual rapper right? While Puffy had the business sense and the eye for talent, he was never the artist or the writer. He could hear the sounds, he knew what lyrics worked well, but he was never the artist..... until this project. This album would change the image of Puffy in so many ways, making him a million dollar name as an artist on top of being the mogul he was. Released after the tough loss of Biggie, this album features some very good music and frequent guest appearances by Bad Boy artists throughout. The highlights here are "Young G's", "Victory", "Is This The End", "What You Gonna Do", and "Been Around The World", all of which make this album an enjoyable listen and a near classic.

5. Jay-Z- In My Lifetime Vol. 1

-Of course, Jay-Z is one of those names that anytime he releases something, you want to listen and enjoy. With that being said, after his classic debut Reasonable Doubt, Jay had a lot to live up to on his next record. While his next album wouldn't be quite the classic his debut was, this album would be a top 5 album on the year IMO and outside of two or three songs, this might be a true classic overall. Aside from those songs, Jay is in rare form on gems like the iconic "Imaginary Player", "You Must Love Me", "Lucky Me", "Where I'm From", and more. Vol. 1 wasn't a better album than Reasonable Doubt, but it was damn sure a suitable follow-up to it. 

4. Camp Lo- Uptown Saturday Night
-I spoke about this album briefly the other week on a separate article, but this is a perfect time to revisit this one. This album was a classic and still sounds pretty smooth to this very day. The duo made sure to keep a very soulful and funky theme go their music, which definitely went a long way in making their replay value go up honestly. This would bring us the gems that we know and love such as the classic single "Luchini (This Is It)", "Park Joint", "Sparkle", and "Black Connection", among others. Camp Lo didn't have much success outside of this album, but this project is etched in hip hop history forever.

3. Common- One Day It'll Make Sense

-One of the better rappers of our time and one of the most gifted lyricists from the Midwest went through a name change slightly and as a result, his career continued to go higher and higher. This album would see his progression as an artist continue, as Common would begin working with artists like Black Thought, Questlove, Q-Tip, Lauryn Hill, Erkyah Badu, and more, leading to an album that boasts gems like "Retrospect For Life", "Invocation", "Hungry", "My City", and more. Common was finding his footing as an artist in growth and a person in growth, and this album showcases why he is one of Chicago's most talented.

2. Wu-Tang Clan- Wu-Tang Forever

-One of my favorite all time double albums has to get a mention on this list in the top 3 for sure. Both of my top 2 choices are double albums and were either classics or near classics IMO. With this album, the Wu made sure to keep the lineup fresh and the order in which the MCs spit fresh as well and it works. Production is amazing as expected and at times the sound is much more polished than what you would expect and the MCs all show up with their best rhymes on highlights such as "Heaterz", "Reunited", "Triumph", "Older Gods", and more. This would be the most successful Wu group album, moving 4 million copies and making them even bigger to the world.

1. The Notorious B.I.G.- Life After Death

-So, the two best albums of the year were double albums. If I was forced to pick one album that embodies what 1997 was all about in some ways, it might have to be Wu-Tang Forever to an extent. However, the best overall album of the year? It would easily be Life After Death. Sure, the album would receive a major amount of hype due to the fact that he was murdered shortly before the release, but Biggie made an album that would have been loved no matter what. With great production, great guest appearances (The LOX, Jay-Z, 112, Too Short, etc), and amazing songs that ranged from the smooth ("Fuck You Tonight") to the excess ("I Love The Dough") to the paranoid ("Somebody's Gotta Die") to the rawest form of the craft ("Kick In The Door"), Biggie makes sure to hit every corner on his album and the rest is the best album of 1997 by far. Life After Death is no. 1.



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