20 Albums That Define The 90s Hip-Hop Culture

  Hip-hop as a music genre started way back in the late 80s with the likes of Slick Rick making it an art worthy of emulation. And commercialization. With the advent of hip-hop as a mainstream genre in the 90s (’95 was a pivotal year for the art), black culture was pushed beyond borders with the likes (and craft) of Pac, Biggie, Dre, Diddy, Queen Latifah, LL Cool J, Rakim, Eazy-E and a host of other talents too numerous to mention. In a sense, hip-hop moved the black culture and its attendant struggles from the inner city streets into the faces of white America with a host of topics ranging from politically charged raps to ghetto living. For this, their stars were revered and received an almost god-like status with their people.
  So, what does that mean to someone on the other side of the world being born right about then? Growing up as a “90s baby“, I never really understood what the hip-hop was all about because I had the most protective parents anyone would wish for. There was this perception right around that time about hip-hop being written by and for the uneducated and morally decadent folks in society. A slightly myopic view but hey, it’s not their fault after the well-publicized murders of Biggie and Pac due to a perceived rivalry and the borderline misogynistic and violence filled lyrics of some artistes.
  But with the advent of technology (thank God for the Internet and cloud storage), one can transport himself/herself back in time, so to speak, to listen to and understand the music that shaped the ever-changing hip-hop scene we know now back in the day when hip-hop was an aesthetic, every bit as serious and worth cherishing.
  Here’s a list of classics from the early 90s to 2000s I listened to that helped shape my understanding and appreciation of hip-hop, not just as a craft but an intricate form of art:

1. A Tribe Called Quest: People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990)
2. A Tribe Called Quest’s ’91 classic The Low End Theory
3. Dr. Dre’s The Chronic released in 1992
4. Wu-Tang Clan’s 1993 benchmark debut Enter The Wu-Tang [36 Chambers]
5. Snoop Doggy Dogg: Doggystyle (1993)
6. 1994’s Illmatic by Nas
7. Resurrection (1994) by Common Sense [now known as Common]
8. The Notorious B.I.G.: Ready To Die (1994)
9. 2Pac: Me Against The World (1995)
10. Fugees: The Score (1996)
11. Jay-Z’s 1996 Reasonable Doubt
12. Liquid Swords by Genius/GZA, released in ’95
13. Nas’s 1996 It Was Written
14. OutKast: ATLiens (1996)
15. Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)
16. DMX: It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot (1998)
17. 2001, an album by Dr. Dre released in 1999
18. Mos Def: Black On Both Sides (1999)
19. Eminem: The Slim Shady LP (1999)
20. Eminem’s 2000 Marshall Mathers LP

What are your top hip-hop albums of the 90s? Feel free to add yours in the “Comments”.


The Anti-Depression Playlist

In our short stay on Earth (which I think should have been aptly named Water), we all go through different phases in our tough existence; phases that can be broadly classified into two: ups and downs. But most times, the low moments are more commonplace and frequent than the highs.
Being sentient beings, consciousness has been man’s plague since time immemorial so it’s perfectly normal to feel sad, down or irritable every now and then. Insane stuff happens that brings you down from your “Unfuckwithable” level to something similar to emotional/mental groveling: people let you down, things go wrong (failing your Finals or flunking the interview to your dream job. Again.), losing those you hold most dear (do I need to vividly describe how horrible death or heartbreak is?) or seeing dreams and plans you huffed and puffed to nurture into maturity just bite the dust. These are but a few instances, we’ve all had similar moments and it’s absolutely normal. At times like this, facing the world each morning can be difficult and simple everyday tasks seem daunting.
We all get down sometimes but fortunately there are a lot of things that can help. Many times in the past year and a few times in past months, I’ve felt like I was at an all-time low (yes, this is a Jon Bellion reference) and music was all I had to beat the stressful and unpredictable rollercoaster ride of depression. Although music can’t cure depression (wouldn’t that be something?), it’s been proven to reduce stress and even depressive symptoms. Hers’a list of songs, a playlist of sorts, to help you turn the light of encouragement and inspiration on and dissolve the monster of depression and its other demons. Enjoy.

Tomorrowland (All Fall Down) by Leon Else
People Like Us by Kelly Clarkson
Collide by Howie Day
Shake It Out by Florence & The Machine
Let It Go by Demi Lovato
Maybe IDK by Jon Bellion
Intentional by Travis Greene
That’s Life by Frank Sinatra

Love Yourz by J. Cole
Fight Song by Rachel Platten
Rise by Katy Perry
Three Little Birds by Bob Marley
I Believe I Can Fly by R. Kelly
Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield
Swim by Jack’s Mannequin
Now Is The Start by A Fine Frenzy
I Choose by India Arie
Make It Happen by Mariah Carey
We All Fall Down by Bon Jovi
Today Is Your Day by Shania Twain

We Are The Champions by Queen
Firework by Katy Perry
Alive by Sia
I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor
What Doesn’t Kill You [Stronger] by Kelly Clarkson
Titanium by David Guetta (featuring Sia)
Masterpiece by Jessie J
I Won’t Back Down by Tom Petty
We Don’t Run by Bon Jovi
Spread Your Wings by Queen
We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister
Never Been by Logic