There are some albums that made history by influencing the direction and style of music for years to come. We call these albums ground breaking albums. And then every once in a while you get an album that is so good it’s full of hit songs from beginning to end. If you were to look back on your best albums of all-time which ones would top your list?
Never Too Much is the debut solo album by American R&B/soul singer Luther Vandross, released in 1981 (see 1981 in music). It peaked at number nineteen on the Billboard 200 (then known as Pop Albums), peaked at #1 on the R&B Albums chart, and went double platinum by the RIAA. The album earned Vandross two Grammy Award nominations in 1982—”Best New Artist” and “Best R&B Vocal Performance, Male”.
The album’s title track topped the Black Singles chart for two weeks. Also, his rendition of Dionne Warwick’s 1964 “A House Is Not a Home” became one his signature songs, while it received attention for its transformation into an “epic” since its duration was extended to seven minutes.
Marvin Gaye” What’s going on” 1971 was the 11th studio album for Gaye. The album was a thematic approach towards social and political concerns told from the point of view of a Vietnam war Veteran returning home. The album stayed on the charts for nearly a year starting with ” What’s going on ” then “Mercy mercy me “then the inner city blues (make me wanna holla).
Prince ” Controversy ” 1981 was his 4th studio album and the first album for Prince with clothes on. Before this time Prince was known mainly for going to jail for performing with only speedos and a trench coat. The album spun off 4 songs that charted “Controversy ” , ” Let’s work ” , “Do me baby ” the soft ballad where Prince simulated making love, ” Sexuality ” Private Joy ” and ” Ronnie” in which he pleaded for the president Ronald Reagan to talk to Russia to avoid the cold war.
NWA ” Straight out of Compton” 1988, the most controversial rap album ever and the world’s introduction to gangsta rap. The album focused on the life and times of gang bangers and street hustlers. On the cover , Ice Cube is pointing a gun at the photographer. NWA ( Niggas with attitude)was led by Easy E(who would later died of AIDS).The group also included notable members Dr. Dre and Yella. This style of music would change the content of hip-hop music for years to come.
Anita Baker ” Rapture ” 1986 the breakout album for Baker that sold more than 8 million copies worldwide. 7 of the 8 songs on the album charted , “Sweet love “, ” Same ole love “, ” You bring me Joy ” , ” Been so long ” , ” Caught up in the rapture ” ” No one in the world ” and ” Watch your step”
Jay Z ” Reasonable Doubt ” 1996 Released from the trunk of his car but later redistributed by a major label but with Jay Z holding ownership to his imprint ( Rockafella records) which was unheard of before this time for a debut artist. ” Can’t knock the hustle” & ” Aint no nigga ” was the breakout hits however the entire album has been heralded by music writers as a lyrical and production masterpiece.
Lauryn Hill ” Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 1998, mostly known for being a member of the rap trio The Fugees, Her debut solo album produced four hit songs ” Doo Wop “(that thing) , “Ex-Factor “, ” Everything ” and ” Nothing even matters ” featuring D’Angelo. The album is a neo soul album inspired by the novel by Carter G. Woodson the “Mis-education of the of the negro ”
RUN DMC ” King of rock ” 1985 With “King of rock,” Run DMC pushed rap into mainstream America featuring heavy distorted guitar riffs with street beats and lyrical raps, giving rap an audience beyond what was(up until this album) strictly urban.
2Pac ” All Eyez on me ” 1996 Putting together one of the greatest rappers of all time 2pac (lyrical genius) and one of the greatest rap producers Dr. Dre. ” California Love ” , How do you want it “, I aint mad at cha ” & “2 of Amerika’s most wanted ” featuring Snoop Dog all are classics in the hip hop catalogue. The album glorified the “thug life ” that would influence future rappers.
50 cents ” Get rich or die trying ” 2003 , When 50 cents came out with ” In da club ” and the famous line ” I love you like a fat kid loves cake..” you just knew that 50 was on his way. A prodigy of Eminem and Dr. Dre his debut album went 8x platinum making it the 4th best-selling rap album ever. “21 questions ” and P.I.M.P. were other popular songs from this album.
Eric B & Rakim ” Paid in full ” 1987, When it comes to listening to a full Hip-Hop album, this album is on everybody’s short list,( a pure hip hop masterpiece). “Thinking of a master plan cuz aint nothing but sweat inside my hand… & the closing line: (“and we out…Peace..”) are lyrics that are some of the most recognized lyrics in hip-hop history.
Miles Davis ” Kind of Blue ” 1959 Before the “Kind of Blue” album, jazz was mostly a rapid series of chord changes that didn’t sound as lyrical. Miles Davis slowed down the harmony to bring out the melodies in instrumentals. The whole smooth jazz scene is based on Davis’s treatment of the melody and chord changes in Kind of Blue creating the single best-selling Jazz album of all time.
The Supremes ” Where did our love go? ” 1964 was the year of Motown and right front and center was the beautiful trio from Detroit featuring Diana Ross. This group would start a frenzy of other girl group trying to match their success.
The Jackson Five ” ABC ” 1970 They took the cute reason and ran with it. Also it helps when you really got talent and a production team behind you like the Motown hit factory. This album can still be heard today at children birthday parties 43 years after it was recorded.
Michael Jackson ” Thriller ” 1983 This one has been well documented as the all-time greatest album but why? Mainly because of the elaborate music videos such as “Thriller” , “Billy Jean” and ” Beat it ” which shows off Michael Jackson’s incredible dance moves. It is said to be the most complete album with production from super producer Quincy Jones. This album’s success between 51 and 65 million copies sold worldwide may never be duplicated. Every single song on this album has spent some time on the charts, crossing many barriers in music genres , ages and cultures. Without a doubt its songs are the most popular in the world, which means hands down everyone should know every single track on this album (By memory).
Dr. Dre ” The Chronic ” 2001 the long-awaited debut solo album by hip-hop pioneer Dr.Dre brought gangsta rap to new highs. His works focused on mid tempo heavy bass funk beats that became the norm in proceeding hip-hop albums. This album has been on many critic’s short list as being one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all-time. ” Nothing but a G thang ” which feature’s the young unknown Snoop Dog is a gangsta rap anthem even today.
Parliament ” Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome 1977. George Clinton was on to something when he wrote” Flashlight ” and “One Nation Under a Groove ” or” Knee Deep” and tagged like “The roof the roof the roof is on fire, we don’t need no water let the mutha fuq’er burn” (something about the music it always make me dance)” this album brought in the very low,very heavy electric bass and heavy base drum sound which would forever change the way “WE want the funk! gotta have that funk”. A masterpiece for the innovators of the sound today we call funk.
Public Enemy 1988 Yea booi! Don’t believe the hype! When this group came out people didn’t know whether to listen or just run. However now Flavor Flav’s giant clock chain he wore since 1987 as an early inventor of the role of the” Hype man” for MC Chuck D when they told us all to “ Fight the POWER” and “Don’t believe the hype”. Now his famous giant clock sits in a glass cabinet in the Rock and Roll Hall of fame. Public Enemy is known for their politically charged lyrics and criticism of American media ignoring the frustrations and concerns of the African-American community.
The Temptations ” My Girl ” 1965 The very first boy band. This group made grown men dressing alike and dancing on step as a group real cool. So cool that they are the standard to aspire to for boy bands.
The Sugar Hill Gang ” Rapper’s Delight ” 1979. The very first famous hip -hop song. What more can I say? It all started when a DJ asked the people at a party to ” Clap yo hands like this yall, Just clap yo hands like this yall now scream the party went bananas. This M Ceeing became very popular first in urban New York then across the world. Everybody wanted a party with a DJ/MC to hype the party and encourage party goers to have fun.
Eddie Murphy ” Delirious ” 1983 The first best-selling comedy album of all-time. Although delirious was not the first urban adult comedy album ,Richard Pryor , Rudy Ray Moore and Redd Foxx all had urban adult albums, however Delirious was the first urban adult album that sold over a million copies. Although Eddie Murphy was a regular cast member of Saturday Night Live, it was the work in Delirious that make Murphy a household name. Murphy was raw, he used the word Fu*k 230 times and Sh*t 171 times. The routine was infamous for his famous imitations of stars Mr.T , James Brown , Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Murphy Delirious impact on urban comedy meant that all urban comics now had to release urban adult albums.
Notorious BIG ” Ready to die ” 1994 Before this album R&B was Hip-Hop was not merged together. This was the first album that did this. The album was released at a time when West coast hip-hop was prominent in the U.S charts according to Rolling stone ,almost single-handedly shifted the focus back to east coast rap. Ready to die with the singles ” One more chance ” ,” Juicy/Unbelievable ” ,” Big Poppa” went 4x’s platinum and begin a career of one of Hip-Hop’s premiere Lyricist.
D’Angelo ” Brown Sugar ” Brought in the neo soul movement that is so prevalent today. Production , instrumentation , arrangements and songwriting were primarily handled by D’Angelo who some would say in parts of the album sounded a lot like prince. D’Angelo brought in real instruments into R & B once again. Before this album the movement was toward sequencers and samplers to produce albums. The album produced 4 hit singles ” Brown sugar ” , ” Lady ” , ” Me and those dreaming eyes ” and ” Cruisin ” a cover of the 1979 Smokey Robison hit. The most notable song that was not released as a single because of the profanity laced hook however showed the genius of D’Angelo’s song writing ability was “Sh*t , Damn , Motherf*cker ” a story of infidelity and rage.
Category: urban music