Ten essential gangsta-rap albums

ice cube live.jpg
Eric Gruneisen

Many hip-hop fans, those who love rap -- hell, even some rappers -- have an aversion to gangsta rap for its objectionable content. Common named the rise of gangsta rap as one of the many steps in hip-hop's downfall in "I Used to Love H.E.R." -- a sentiment that, of course, began a contentious relationship between him and Ice Cube. But whatever your take on the morality of the genre, it's hard to argue how insightful the music has been, or that each of these albums has impacted the landscape of hip-hop forever. Keep reading for a list of the ten essential gangsta-rap albums.

See also:
- Ten essential jazz albums if you know squat about jazz
- Ten essential albums of the 1960s
- KS Classic: Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube at Comfort Dental, with Bone Thugs and E-40, 8/24/12

Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous Front.jpg

Street Struck by Big L on Grooveshark

10. Big L -- Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous
One in a long line of talented rappers whose lives have been tragically cut short by violent crime, Big L is the heavy hitter most often neglected. With a remarkable flair for storytelling, sharp yet unassuming punchlines and pitch-black humor, Big L is one of the most entertaining MCs in recent memory. With underwhelming production, despite contributions from standout producers Lord Finesse and Buckwild, and a short supply of radio- or television-friendly singles, the album was a commercial failure, but that does not take away from its status as a gangsta-rap staple. Though L matured both as a lyricist and a songwriter for his second studio album, The Big Picture, released posthumously, it was not as gritty or as raw as his debut.

My Voice Nation Help
51 comments
Jamie Nershi
Jamie Nershi

Not mr coors light slash are we there yet

Stan Salazar
Stan Salazar

The one who died first. Easy E exempt because he died from aids.

Lee Edward Miller
Lee Edward Miller

Where the hell is Body Count. They got a nationwide ban for what they spit.

Eli Baca
Eli Baca

Raekwon!! son no doubt and the entire clan

Sterling Meeks
Sterling Meeks

Exactly. It's proto-BLipster garbage masquerading as "underground hip hop."

dmc_1976
dmc_1976

Um how about Ice-T, Schooly-D, or Too $hort?

Christian Anthony Martinez
Christian Anthony Martinez

I agree no BDP and the list should have included Spice 1. Also could have 2nd 2 None or Compton's Most Wanted but hey it is Denver Westword

Sean Dolan
Sean Dolan

Geto Boys just cause it's so dammed funny

David Dinsmore
David Dinsmore

BDP is not gangsta rap. Great list otherwise, thanks.

Brendan Flynn
Brendan Flynn

when are you going to get over your rap obsession and do a list of essential death metal albums or somethin? tired of rap

Jm Martinez
Jm Martinez

Death certificate need to be in too three!

Tyler Wood
Tyler Wood

thanks for your educated opinion on gangster rap, Denver alternative weekly newspaper Denver Westword

Dana Trujillo
Dana Trujillo

I do t know I'd 2 live crew was considered gangsta rap, it was definitely during the NWA era right. And any Cypress Hill was great.

oleinikgleb7
oleinikgleb7

"There will probably never be another rapper who can paint such violent and downright offensive material with such cartoonish charisma as Eazy-E" couldn't have said it better. The writer knows his shit. Great list!

Resse3
Resse3

Finally a Westword Hip-Hop writer that has good taste in music!! AND is knowledgeable! Damn.. it's been a long time coming!

virgil1
virgil1

I'd say that Boogie Down Productions wasn't a gangsta rap album. I'd say that you are missing DJ Quik "Quik is the Name". And before you put Scarface on there, you should have put Geto Boys. other honorable mentions include Notorious BIG, Too $hort, Warren G, and you have to mention the D.O.C. as he wrote a lot of the best gangsta rap songs out there. 

dmc_1976
dmc_1976

Bro... listen to '6 in tha Mornin' and wake up.

Now Trending

Denver Concert Tickets

From the Vault

 

Loading...