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100 Greatest Hip Hop Albums of the 1990s

The 100 greatest hip hop albums of the 1990s

Buffalo shoes, tattoo necklaces or bell-bottoms – everyone associates one or the other trend with the 90s, no matter how embarrassing it may have been. The 1990s were a very formative time for the young people of the time. Without question, music, and especially hip-hop, played a very big role. Although hip-hop and rap celebrated their birth in the 80s, they had their heyday only a decade later. During this time, some of the most successful rap albums of all time appeared. In the following, the 100 best and most successful will be presented.

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The 100 Best Rap Albums of the 90s:

01. Nas, Illmatic (1994)

Nas, Album Illmatic (1994)

Illmatic was the debut album by US rapper Nas. To this day, it is one of the best and most successful hip-hop albums of all time and enjoys great popularity among fans from all over the world due to its timelessness. Even today, countless rappers are influenced by Nas’ lyrics when writing their music. With ten tracks and just under 40 minutes of running time, the album comes across as short and crisp. Although Illmatic initially fell short of expectations, more than three million copies of the album have been sold worldwide to date. Without a doubt, Illmatic is a milestone of the 1990s.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

02. A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory (1991)

A Tribe Called Quest, The Low End Theory (1991)

After A Tribe Called Quest had already caused a stir a year earlier with their debut album, they finally established themselves in the rap game with “The Low End Theory” in 1991. On this album, the quartet perfected the mixture of bass-heavy hip-hop beats and their jazz influences. At the time of its release, “The Low End Theory” already enjoyed instant cult status among critics and fans alike. In the U.S., the album has sold more than a million copies to date. Even today, it is regularly mentioned when talking about the best rap albums of the 1990s.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

03. Dr. Dre, The Chronic (1992)

Dr. Dre, The Chronic (1992)

What is the best rap album of the 1990s? Many hip hop fans would answer this question with “The Chronic” by Dr. Dre, because to this day the album is one of the most popular rap albums of the 90s. The Chronic was the debut album of West Coast rapper Dr. Dre and featured some guest appearances by his buddy Snoop Dogg, who was able to boost his own career with it due to the album’s huge success. With “The Chronic”, Dr. Dre founded the genre of G-Funk and influenced numerous artists with it. To date, about six million copies have been sold in the US. This makes “The Chronic” Dr. Dre’s most successful album.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

04. The Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die (1994)

The Notorious B.I.G., Ready to Die (1994)

After Biggie’s debut single “Party and Bullshit” was already a big success, both fans and critics could hardly wait for the release of his debut “Ready to Die”. The then 22-year-old was able to live up to expectations and impressed with insightful lyrics and strong beats. The released singles “Juicy” and “Big Poppa” still can’t be missed at any hip hop party today and are among the most popular tracks of the 1990s. Due to its commercial success, “Ready to Die” was awarded quadruple platinum.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

05. Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (1993)

Wu-Tang Clan, Enter the Wu-Tang (1993)

If you had to determine the one rap album of the 90s that every hip-hop fan has certainly heard at least once, “Enter the Wu-Tang” would be a hot candidate. With their debut, the nine MC’s of the Wu-Tang Clan were able to establish themselves immediately in the rap scene and are still among the most influential artists today. “Enter the Wu-Tang” includes tracks like “C.R.E.A.M.” and “Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing ta Fuck Wit,” which are household names to any hip-hop fan. “Enter the Wu-Tang” is without a doubt one of the best and most successful rap albums of all time.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

06. Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle (1993)

Snoop Dogg, Doggystyle (1993)

Another milestone of West Coast rap is Snoop Dogg’s “Doggystyle”. Hardly any debut album was more eagerly awaited in the 1990s than Snoop Dogg’s, as the young MC had already caused a stir on Dr. Dre’s debut album. This was confirmed by the fact that the album entered at number 1 on the Billboard Top 200 charts – a success that was granted to only a few hip-hop artists of the 90s. Due to its continuing success, “Doggystyle” is one of the most popular albums of the 1990s.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

07. MF Doom, Operation Doomsday (1999)

MF Doom, Operation Doomsday (1999)

Of course, MF Doom, one of the most famous rappers of the 90s, should not be missing from this list. “Operation Doomsday” is his debut as a solo artist, after the death of his brother and the resulting dissolution of the combo KMD threw him off track for a few years. However, with “Operation Doomsday” he was fully back on track and delivered probably his strongest record. Although it was not particularly successful commercially, it was reissued in 2011.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

08. 2Pac, All Eyez On Me (1996)

2Pac, All Eyez On Me (1996)

The most successful rapper of the 90s is without question 2Pac. All Eyez On Me may not be his best album, but it is without question his most popular. Two singles from the album, “California Love” and “How Do U Want It” reached the top of the US Billboard charts. In the first week after its release, “All Eyez On Me” sold more than half a million copies. Although even hardcore fans of the rapper admit that the running time of the double album with more than two hours is a bit too long, it is still one of the most popular works of 2Pac.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

09. Ice-T, Original Gangster (1991)

Ice-T, Original Gangster (1991)

Ice-T’s “Original Gangster” is one of the few rap albums that still sounds as fresh today as the day it was released. Despite its 24 tracks and more than 72 minutes of running time, Ice T’s fourth album is considered his best by critics after its release. Although it only reached number 15 in the US Billboard charts and was therefore not one of the most successful albums of the 90s, it still enjoys cult status, not only among fans of the rapper, and is considered Ice-T’s most popular album.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

10. Outkast, Aquemini (1998)

Outkast, Aquemini (1998)

Outkast’s third studio album is still considered one of the best hip-hop albums of the 90s. Although many fans agree that the group’s best track, namely “Ms. Jackson,” can be found on another album, “Aquemini” is often referred to as the group’s best album because of its vibe and flow. Although “Aquemini” was not the duo’s most commercially successful album, it is considered very influential due to its offbeat lyrical themes. Nevertheless, it managed to reach number 2 in the US Billboard charts, making it one of the most successful rap albums of the 90s.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

11. Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet (1990)

Public Enemy, Fear of a Black Planet (1990)

Although the predecessor “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” is probably Public Enemy’s most popular album, the follow-up “Fear of a Black Planet” is no less bad. With this album, they finally established themselves as one of the most important hip-hop groups in the world in the early 90s. Although “Fear of a Black Planet” is nowhere near as accessible as its predecessor, the album is equally important for rap in the 90s. The single “Fight the Power” included on it is one of the group’s most famous tracks.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

12. Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… (1995)

Raekwon, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx… (1995)

The best solo album by a Wu-Tang Clan rapper? Quite a few fans would answer this question with “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” by Raekwon. Perhaps precisely because all members of the clan have worked directly or indirectly on one or the other track. In addition, the album presents one of the strongest guest appearances of all time in the track “Verbal Intercourse” – by none other than Nas. “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…” entered the US Billboard charts at #4 and sold more than a million copies in the US.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

13. Ice Cube, AmeriKKKas Most Wanted (1990)

Ice Cube, AmeriKKKas Most Wanted (1990)

After perhaps the most popular member of N.W.A., Ice Cube, left the group, he began working as a solo artist without hesitation. With his debut album “AmeriKKKas Most Wanted” he set a benchmark in musical terms that he was not to reach thereafter. In just under 50 minutes, Ice Cube dismantled the entire hip-hop scene in the USA and is one of the most influential albums of the 90s. Although “AmeriKKKas Most Wanted” is not Ice Cube’s most successful record, many fans would call it his best.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

14. GZA, Liquid Swords (1995)

GZA, Liquid Swords (1995)

Another Wu-Tang solo album – another milestone in the 1990s. Many fans would call “Liquid Swords” the best solo album by an artist of the Clan. So for this honor, the disc competes with Raekwon’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…”. Without any doubt, this album underpins GZA’s status as the group’s best lyricist – rarely have his lyrics come across as thoughtfully as on “Liquid Swords”. Only the high number of intros and skits will piss off many listeners. Nevertheless, Liquid Swords is one of the best rap albums of the 90s.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

15. Gang Starr, Step in the Arena (1991)

Gang Starr, Step in the Arena (1991)

The second album of the Gang Starr combo, consisting of the rapper Guru and DJ Premier, is considered by connoisseurs to be one of the best hip-hop albums of all time and therefore cannot be omitted from this ranking. With their second album, the two finally found their distinctive sound and delighted their fans. Although it was not particularly successful commercially and only landed at number 119 on the US Billboard charts, it still enjoys great popularity among fans today.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

16. Black Star, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star (1998)

Black Star, Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star (1998)

Mos Def and Talib Kweli are among the best-known rappers in the USA, and the joint album that the two released under the name Black Star hit like a bomb. The two MCs harmonize perfectly with each other on the record and made “Mos Def & Talib Kweli Are Black Star” one of the most popular rap albums of the 1990s. Unfortunately, this album remained the only joint project of the two exceptional artists.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

17. Mobb Deep, The Infamous (1995)

Mobb Deep, The Infamous (1995)

Hardly any other album divides the hip-hop community as much as Mobb Deep’s “The Infamous”. While some celebrate it as the best hip-hop album of all time, others reject it completely because it seems too inaccessible to them. Without question, however, the album is one of the most influential rap albums of the 90s. The single “Shook Ones Pt. II” released from it is one of the most famous hip-hop tracks of all time. In addition, “The Infamous” was a great commercial success for Mobb Deep in that it reached number 18 on the US Billboard charts.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

18. The Fugees, The Score (1996)

The Fugees, The Score (1996)

The Fugees’ second and last studio album was also their most successful. With its wide range of samples and instrumentals, it was to have a significant influence on the 1990s. The single “Ready or Not” contained on it is still pumped in many different versions in the clubs of this world. In addition, the album paved the way for the incomparable solo career of Lauryn Hill. The Fugees also won the Grammy for best rap album for “The Score” in 1996.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

19. Mos Def, Black on Both Sides(1999)

Mos Def, Black on Both Sides(1999)

Despite his distinctive flow and sophisticated lyrics, Mos Def is one of the most unknown hip-hop artists of the 90s. His disc “Black on Both Sides” is nevertheless one of the best albums of this decade and is without question his personal magnum opus. On “Black on Both Sides” he shows not only his incomparable humor but also his awareness of social issues. With his debut he reached number 25 in the US Billboard Charts and was thus also commercially successful.

Listen on: Amazon Music*

20. Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt (1996)

Jay-Z, Reasonable Doubt (1996)

Without question, Jay-Z is one of the most successful artists in the hip-hop genre today. Although many of his other albums sold far more copies, “Reasonable Doubt” is considered the artist’s best work by die-hard fans of the rapper. The singles “Ain’t No Nigga” and “Can’t Knock the Hustle”, which were released from the record, are still among the most popular rap songs of the 90s. With his debut, Jay-Z put a first exclamation mark and laid the foundation for an almost incomparable career.

Purchase on: Amazon Music*

Places 21 – 100:

Place: Album: Artist: Listen: Year:
21. Life After Death The Notorious B.I.G. Listen on Amazon 1997
22. Me Against the World 2Pac Listen on Amazon 1995
23. The Slim Shady LP Eminem Listen on Amazon 1999
24. It Was Written Nas Listen on Amazon 1996
25. The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill Lauryn Hill Listen on Amazon 1998
26. Iron Man Ghostface Killah Listen on Amazon 1996
27. Take A Look Around Master Ace Listen on Amazon 1990
28. Mama Said Knock You Out LL Cool J Listen on Amazon 1990
29. Holy Intellect Poor Righteous Teachers Listen on Amazon 1990
30. Ironman Ghostface Killah Listen on Amazon 1996
31. Soul On Ice Ras Kass Listen on Amazon 1996
32. Doe Or Die AZ Listen on Amazon 1995
33. Death Certificate Ice Cube Listen on Amazon 1991
34. Music To Driveby Compton’s Most Wanted Listen on Amazon 1992
35. Funky Technician Lord Finesse Listen on Amazon 1990
36. The Don Killuminati The Seven Day Theory Makaveli Listen on Amazon 1996
37. The Diary Scarface Listen on Amazon 1994
38. Edutainment Boogie Down Productions Listen on Amazon 1990
39. Resurrection Common Listen on Amazon 1994
40. Midnight Marauders A Tribe Called Quest Listen on Amazon 1993
41. Moment Of Truth Gang Starr Listen on Amazon 1998
42. E. 1999 Eternal Bone Thugs-N-Harmony Listen on Amazon 1995
43. Daily Operation Gang Starr Listen on Amazon 1992
44. Dah Shinin Smif N Wessun Listen on Amazon 1995
45. Soul Food Goodie Mob Listen on Amazon 1995
46. Illadelph Halflife The Roots Listen on Amazon 1996
47. Labcabincalifornia The Pharcyde Listen on Amazon 1995
48. Buhloone Mindstate De La Soul Listen on Amazon 1993
49. A Prince Among Thieves Prince Paul Listen on Amazon 1999
50. The Beatnuts: Street Level The Beatnuts Listen on Amazon 1994
51. Lifestyles Ov Da Poor & Dangerous Big L Listen on Amazon 1995
52. The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory Makaveli Listen on Amazon 1996
53. Capital Punishment Big Pun Listen on Amazon 1998
54. The War Report Capone-N-Noreaga Listen on Amazon 1997
55. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik OutKast Listen on Amazon 1994
56. Word…Life O.C. Listen on Amazon 1994
57. Breaking Atoms Main Source Listen on Amazon 1991
58. A Book Of Human Language Aceyalone Listen on Amazon 1998
59. It's Dark and Hell is Hot DMX Listen on Amazon 1998
60. Innercity Griots Freestyle Fellowship Listen on Amazon 1993
61. Hard to Earn Gang Starr Listen on Amazon 1994
62. Runaway Slave Showbiz & AG Listen on Amazon 1992
63. Check Your Head Beastie Boys Listen on Amazon 1992
64. Business As Usual EPMD Listen on Amazon 1990
65. Muddy Waters Redman Listen on Amazon 1996
66. Nia Blackalicious Listen on Amazon 1999
67. One for All Brand Nubian Listen on Amazon 1990
68. One Day It’ll All Make Sense Common Listen on Amazon 1997
69. A Wolf in Sheep's Clothing Black Sheep Listen on Amazon 1991
70. Daily Operation Gang Starr Listen on Amazon 1992
71. Wu Tang Forever Wu Tang Clan Listen on Amazon 1997
72. Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde The Pharcyde Listen on Amazon 1992
73. 93 'til Infinity Souls of Mischief Listen on Amazon 1993
74. Peoples Instinctive Travels On The Paths Of Rhythm A Tribe Called Quest Listen on Amazon 1990
75. Efil4zaggin N.W.A Listen on Amazon 1991
76. Dah Shinin' Smif-N-Wessun Listen on Amazon 1995
77. ATLiens OutKast Listen on Amazon 1996
78. We Can't Be Stopped Geto Boys Listen on Amazon 1991
79. Sex Packets Digital Underground Listen on Amazon 1990
80. Things Fall Apart The Roots Listen on Amazon 1999
81. Still Standing Goodie Mob Listen on Amazon 1998
82. In a Major Way E-40 Listen on Amazon 1995
83. The Devil Made Me Do It Paris Listen on Amazon 1990
84. Mecca And The Soul Brother Pete Rock & CL Smooth Listen on Amazon 1992
85. 2001 Dr. Dre Listen on Amazon 1999
86. Return To The 36 Chambers Ol’ Dirty Bastard Listen on Amazon 1995
87. Blowout Comb Digable Planets Listen on Amazon 1994
88. In God We Trust Brand Nubian Listen on Amazon 1993
89. Return Of The Boom Bap KRS One Listen on Amazon 1993
90. Short Dog’s In The House Too Short Listen on Amazon 1990
91. The Sun Rises In The East Jeru The Damaja Listen on Amazon 1994
92. Black’s Magic Salt N Pepa Listen on Amazon 1990
93. Ridin' Dirty UGK Listen on Amazon 1996
94. Uptown Saturday Night Camp Lo Listen on Amazon 1997
95. Only Built For Cuban Linx... Raekwon Listen on Amazon 1995
96. The Next Step People Under The Stairs Listen on Amazon 1998
97. One For All Brand Nubian Listen on Amazon 1990
98. Dr Octagonecologyst Dr Octagon Listen on Amazon 1996
99. Dogg Food Tha Dogg Pound Listen on Amazon 1995
100. Apocalypse 91… Public Enemy Listen on Amazon 1991

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