Saturday, 10 September 2011
50 Rap Worst Albums
Complex has compiled a list of 50 worst rap albums and stated why, brace yourselves for a shock with some albums on the list.
50. Jay-Z, Kingdom Come (2006)
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam Records
Worst Song: "Hollywood" f/ Beyoncé
We knew Jay wasn't really going to retire after 2003's The Black Album. Mostly because he never really went away. Despite getting a job as the President of Def Jam he still manged to put out an album with R. Kelly, an album with Linkin Park, and did a gang of guest spots for other artists. So it was clear that, at some point, Jay was going to make a comeback. We just wish he hadn't done it like this.
There were some gems on Kingdom Come—including the Just Blaze-produced title track or "Oh My God"—but there were also a whole bunch of duds that made Hov sound old (which is bad) and content (which is much worse). Jay seemingly gave up on actively seeking new producers (something he did so masterfully on previous efforts) and instead relied on familiar sounds from past collaborators.
The songs themselves were a bad mix of forgettable (“Anything,” “I Made It”), weak (“Show Me What You Got,” “Dig A Hole”), and downright embarrassing (“30 Something,” “Hollywood”). So, yeah, he was back. But he definitely wasn't better than ever.
49. Eric B. & Rakim, Don't Sweat The Technique (1992)
Label: MCA Records
Worst Song: "What's On Your Mind"
We know, we know. How can we include an album that produced tracks like "Know The Ledge" and "Don't Sweat The Technique" on this list? Well, first of all "Know The Ledge" was on the Juice Soundtrack and then tacked on to this LP. Second, call us crazy—or maybe just spoiled—but after 1987's Paid In Full, 1988's Follow The Leader, and 1990's Let The Rhythm Hit 'Em, this album fell just short of living up to the duo's usual standard. For the first time in his career, Rakim sounded like he was struggling to keep up with the crowd and the album's subject matter—the War in Iraq on "Casualties of War"?—wasn't on par with what we'd come to expect. No surprise that shortly after the release of this album, the duo split up.
48. Lil Jon, Crunk Rock (2010)
Label: BME/Universal Republic
Worst Song: "Killas" f/ Game, Elephant Man & Whole Wheat Bread
By 2004, Lil Jon was riding high. He and the East Side Boyz dropped the wildly successful Crunk Juice, his sound became dominant on commercial radio as he produced smash singles for Usher (“Yeah”), Ciara (“Goodies”), and Petey Pablo ("Freek-A-Leek"), and he became a cultural phenomenon thanks to the hilarious “A Moment in the Life of Lil Jon” skits on Chappelle's Show.
When Lil Jon announced that he was recording his first official solo album—sans the East Side Boyz—all the way back in 2005, we were excited. Sure, we were skeptical of another rock/rap hybird album but adding rock to Jon's brand of crunk made sense. Five years and five promotional singles later, it finally dropped. By that time, the absolute last thing anyone wanted to hear was anything with the word "crunk" attached to it. Half a decade is a long time for anything, but in rap it's basically a million years.
47. LL Cool J, Walking With A Panther (1989)
Label: Def Jam/Columbia/CBS Records
Worst Song: "You're My Heart"
In 1989, times were changing and Afrocentrism and Black Power were the prevailing themes in rap. It looked like LL was adapting to the times by putting a black panther (get it?) on the cover of his third album but none of the songs on the actual album followed that pattern. LL was left looking super out of touch in hip-hop's new conscious climate. The album did have a few minor hits, but there's a reason why the lead single of his following album, Mama Said Knock You Out, opened with the line, "Don't call it a comeback," even though it was.
46. Leaders Of The New School, T.I.M.E. (The Inner Mind's Eye) (1993)
Label: Elektra Records
Worst Song: "The Difference"
Behind the scenes, LONS members Charlie Brown and Busta Rhymes were bickering over who was the real leader of the Leaders. And that didn't bode particularly well for their sophomore album, T.I.M.E. After enjoying modest success with their 1991 debut, A Future Without A Past..., T.I.M.E. was a bizarre, self-produced effort that eventually caused so much tension amongst the group that they broke up on camera during a Yo! MTV Raps interview in 1993.
45. Bone-Thugs-N-Harmony, BTNHResurrection (2000)
Label: Ruthless Records
Worst Song: "Change The World"
Despite going pop with "The Crossroads," Bone Thugs were actually best known as the kings of smoked-out murder rap during their mid-'90s heyday. But after taking three years off to pursue a number of underwhelming solo projects, the Cleveland crew reunited in 2000 to rekindle their melodic magic.
The reunion album, BTNHResurrection, certainly has its moments, but it also showed a softer, gentler Bone who was intent on recapturing its "Crossroads" success. Instead of straight gangster music, the focus fell on R&B-flavored tracks, an ecstasy anthem, and introspective "Crossroads" imitations like "Change The World." Sadly, the disappointment turned Bone from one of the most dominant crews in the rap game to a forgotten "I Love The '90s" punchline.
Brand Nubian, Everything Is Everything (1994)
Label: Elektra Records
Worst Song: "Hold On"
Brand Nubian scored gold in 1990 with their conscious rap classic, All For One. The duo of Sadat X and Lord Jamar then shocked the world when they stepped up after lead rapper Grand Puba departed from the group and slapped fans in the face with cold brick of 5 Percenter knowledge that was their incredible and rugged sophomore LP, In God We Trust. But when they returned in 1994 with Everything Is Everything, everything was everything...except all good.
The barely mediocre disc had a few passable moments, but nothing could hide the fact that the album was a bizarre attempt by the duo to reinvent themselves as gangster rappers and adopt a West Coast sound that was popular at the time. And the Nubs blatant jack of Simply Red's soft "I Keep Holding Back The Years" on "Hold On" was deemed an unforgivable move by fans. The Godz must've been crazy, indeed.
43. Mystikal, Tarantula (2001)
Label: Jive Records
Worst Song: "Pussy Crook"
Although he was always No Limit's most talented spitter, no one expected Mystikal to become a crossover star when he left the label. But 2000's "Let's Get Ready" was a surprise smash, debuting at #1 on the pop charts and spawning two massive singles ("Shake Ya Ass" and "Danger (Been So Long)") that put the Neptunes on the map and had hyperbolic journalists calling him hip-hop's James Brown.
With all eyes on the rapid-fire spitter, Mystikal seriously dropped the ball with Tarantula, his phoned-in follow-up that dropped only one year later. Even with reliable collaborators like The Neptunes, Scott Storch, and KLC, every song on the LP felt like a half-baked imitation of his previous work. Tarantula debuted at #25, his worst showing since his pre-No Limit days. Oh, and in light of his career-killing sexual assault conviction in 2003, the song "Pussy Crook" is seriously creepy.
42. Das EFX, Straight Up Sewaside (1993)
Label: EastWest Records
Worst Song: "It'z Lik Dat"
By the time people caught up to DAS EFX's lightning-fast delivery on their 1992 debut, Dead Serious, Skoob and Dray were already switching up their flow for their sophomore album and toning down the "iggedy" style that they'd perfected on their first offering. So while Sewaside still spawned several hits, including "Freakit" and "Baknaffek," it didn't have as big of an impact as Dead Serious and ultimately left them on the outside looking in by the time they dropped their third album, Hold It Down, in 1995. Career Sewaside, indeed.
41. Lil B, I'm Gay (I'm Happy) (2011)
Label: Amalgam Digital
Worst Song: "Trapped In Prison"
THIS ALBUM IS NOT ON THIS LIST BECAUSE OF ITS TITLE. In fact, when Lil B first announced his album would be titled I'm Gay, we thought it was a bold statement and a genius marketing plan. The part that disappointed us was actually the “I'm Happy” subtitle, which was the biggest sellout since the time Nas changed his album.
Initially, we wholeheartedly supported Lil B's music because even if his songs were nonsensical, they were bizarrely entertaining. But on the album, Lil B abandoned his schtick and instead tried to rap about serious social issues. We applaud his effort but his execution was awful because he sucks at rapping (and if we wanted to hear someone rap about social issues and do it well, there's always Lupe Fiasco, Talib Kweli, and a gang of other).
Finally, without ever announcing a release date, Lil B released his album on iTunes on June 29. He then went and tweeted a free download link to the album. Although both moves garnered considerable buzz, they didn't garner considerable sales. The album only sold a meager 1,700 copies in its first week, an embarrassing total even in this day and age.
40. Juvenile, Project English (2001)
Label: Cash Money/UTP Records
Worst Song: "HB Headbusta"
There's no denying that Juvenile and Cash Money both played a huge part in helping put Southern rap on the map. But by 2001, the writing was on the wall for Juvie, who had clearly overstayed his welcome on The Label That The Williams Brothers Built. He released one more album—and landed one the charts one more time with the club hit, "Mamma Got Ass"—but the rest of Project English was a phoned-in, forgettable affair that signaled the end of Cash Money's Midas Touch and the end of the Hot Boys era. It would be years before the label got their footing back, thanks to Lil Wayne's eventual artistic awakening.
39. Kris Kross, Da Bomb (1993)
Label: Ruffhouse/Columbia/SME Records
Worst Song: "Sound Of My Hood"
Switching up your whole style on your second album is just about never a good idea. Yet, that's exactly what Jermaine Dupri tried to do to Kris Kross just a year after they dropped their debut, Totally Krossed Over. The guys turned their clothes around, took on a more hardcore image, and promptly blew up their careers with this dud. The album did sell a million copies, but back in 1993, that really wasn't anything to brag about.
38. Mobb Deep, Blood Money (2006)
Label: G-Unit/Interscope/Universal Records
Worst Song: "Have A Party" f/ 50 Cent & Nate Dogg
It was a little surprising to see Havoc and Prodigy sign a deal with G-Unit Records in 2005, especially after 50 Cent had thrown a shot in their direction on his diss track, "Piggy Bank." But most Mobb fans were glad to see the group land on a label that would promote their music properly. Unfortunately, that feeling was short-lived. Outside of "Pearly Gates" and "Put'em In They Place"—Blood Money was a little too polished for a Mobb record—a clear indication that Fif had pushed Hav and P in the wrong direction, at least as far as Mobb fans were concerned. Not surprisingly, the album was Mobb's first and last G-Unit release.
37. MC Serch, Return Of The Product (1992) / Prime Minster Pete Nice, Dust To Dust (1993)
Label: Def Jam Records/Def Jam Records
Worst Song: "Can You Dig It?"
"3 Blind Mice" f/ Kurious Jorge & Benz
36. Hammer, The Funky Headhunter (1994)
Label: Reprise/Warner Bros. Records
Worst Song: "Pumps And A Bump"
In 1994, Hammer was four years removed from the biggest song of his career and three years removed from releasing any new material. So he needed to reinvent himself on his fifth album. The problem: He chose to do that by hanging up his Hammer pants and going gangsta. And even with Teddy Riley handling a bunch of production and Suge Knight lending his support to the project, it didn't work. Just one year later, the old Hammer with the squeaky-clean image was back.
35. Master P, Only God Can Judge Me (1999)
Label: No Limit Records
Worst Song: "Ghetto In The Sky"
A year after "retiring" from the rap game in the wake of his 1998 album MP Da Lost Don—the most commercially successful album of his career—P decided to make a comeback. Which would have been all well and good if he hadn't decided to switch up his whole style in the process. Rather than assume the grimy gangster persona that had made him so popular throughout the '90s, P had a change of heart.
Instead of minimalist dope boy anthems, Only God Can Judge Me was filled with an endless slew of corny, overblown introspective tracks that took P's 2Pac nut-hugging to an absurd level. This album is widely regarded as the beginning of the end for No Limit's dominance—even God gave it two thumbs down!
34. Main Source, Fuck What You Think (1994)
Label: Wild Pitch/EMI Records
Worst Song: "What You Need"
You know what you don't do when the guy that wrote and performed all the raps and made all the beats for your group leaves? Especially if you're two Canadian DJs with no discernible talent? Release another album. Yet, that's exactly what Sir Scratch and K-Cut tried to do. Large Professor left the group after he single-handedly made their entire classic debut, Breaking Atoms, but they still decided to try and release a sophomore album under the Main Source name with New Music Seminar battle champ Mikey D. 'Bout the best thing you could say about the album was that it featured a guest spot from The Lox (then the Warlocks). Fuck what you think, guys. That was not a smart move.
33. Three 6 Mafia, Last 2 Walk (2008)
Label: Hypnotize Minds/Columbia/Sony BMG Records
Worst Song: "Lolli Lolli (Pop That Body)" f/ Project Pat, Young D & Superpower
Thanks to the success of their 2005 album, Most Known Unknown, their MTV reality show, Adventures in Hollyhood, and, of course, their Oscar Award-winning 2005 track, "It's Hard Out Here For A Pimp," Last 2 Walk was supposed to be a long-awaited "We finally made it!" celebration for the Memphis rappers. Instead, they produced a big-budget effort that got pushed back (and back and back!) a number of times before Sony finally decided to just put the project out. It was uneven, a little too polished for a Three 6 album, and ultimately, a commercial disappointment. Not surprisingly, they haven't released anything since.
32. Boogie Down Productions, Sex and Violence (1992)
Label: Jive/BMG Records
Worst Song: "13 and Good"
From their classic 1987 debut, Criminally Minded, to their fifth and final album, Sex and Violence, KRS-One and BDP always had a message in their music. Unfortunately, that message eventually got more and more diluted to the point that a lot of the songs on Sex and Violence sounded like they'd already been done—and, frankly, done better—by the group in the past. As a result, KRS-One eventually parted ways with BDP and launched his own successful solo career shortly after this album dropped.
31. DMX, Year Of The Dog...Again (2006)
Label: Ruff Ryders/Sony Urban/Columbia Records
Worst Song: "Walk These Dogs"
By the time X released his sixth solo album, his bark was much worse than his bite. He tried to deliver the same brand of aggressive lyrics on Year of the Dog as he had on his previous efforts but it was clear that he wasn't the same artist when he first came into the game. Maybe it was the BET reality TV show he was starring in at the time or the label change from Def Jam to Sony or simply fatigue, but for the first time in his career, X sounded more like a caricature of himself than the real thing. You can't teach an old dog new tricks—and this proved it.
30. Public Enemy, Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age (1994)
Label: Def Jam/Columbia Records
Worst Song: "Aintnuttin Buttersong"
Old. That's how Chuck D & Co. were starting to sound by the time they put their fifth album out into the world. It didn't pack the same punch that 1988's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, 1990's Fear of a Black Planet, or even 1991's Apocalypse 91...The Enemy Strikes Back did. For the first time, PE's message got lost somewhere in the music with an album that was just as the poorly-constructed as the title seemed to suggest.
29. Mase, Welcome Back (2004)
Label: Bad Boy Records
Worst Song: "My Harlem Lullaby"
Truth be told, Ma$e quit rapping long before he actually took his talents to the pulpit. His 1999 sophomore album, Double Up, very nearly earned a spot on this list. But it was his "comeback" album, the squeaky-clean Welcome Back, that proved to us that Ma$e had caught lightning in a bottle back when he struck platinum with 1997's Harlem World. His career took another bizarre turn years later when he would hook up with 50 Cent and G-Unit and try and bring back his Murda Ma$e persona. Thankfully, that deal never worked out because this album was all the proof we needed to know Ma$e was never coming back—no matter how much he prayed for it.
28. Eazy-E, It's On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa (1993)
Label: Ruthless/Relativity/Epic Records
Worst Song: "Down 2 The Last Roach"
At the time it was released, Eazy-E's EP was a project intended to show his disdain for former collaborator Dr. Dre, who had taken shot after shot (after motherfuckin' shot!) at Eazy on his debut, The Chronic. Unfortunately, given Eazy's relatively limited discography—and the fact he never really released a proper sophomore album after his impressive 1988 debut, Eazy-Duz-It—this album didn't even come close to measuring up to the ether Dre was dishing up on his project. We don't want to disrespect the dead or anything, but...yeah, this most definitely wasn't the right move for your career, Eazy.
27. Shyne, Godfather Buried Alive (2004)
Label: Gangland/Def Jam Records
Worst Song: "Jimmy Choo" f/ Ashanti
Shyne was serving a 10-year prison sentence when Def Jam decided to sign him to a seven-figure recording contract in 2004. Honestly, Shyne should have gotten another five years for highway robbery after he signed that deal. GBA was a publicity stunt that worked for a minute—it peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 chart—but was ultimately a record made up of leftover songs recorded prior to Shyne's jail stint.
At the time we figured Shyne's deal was the worst million dollars that Def Jam had ever spent. That is, until last year when Shyne got out of prison, released some of the worst music we've ever heard, and then signed another multi-million dollar deal with Def Jam. Yo L.A. Reid, WTF?!
26. Erick Sermon, No Pressure (1993) / Parrish Smith, Shade Business (1994)
Label: Def Jam Records/RCA Records
Worst Song: "Female Species"
"I'll Wait" f/ Zone 7
Business was definitely not "as usual" when they two split up in January 1993. After going their separate ways after Parrish accused Erick of sending men to rob his house and Erick accused Parrish of stealing money from him, EPMD decided to put out solo albums and, not surprisingly, neither of them was as good as anything that they'd put out as a group. Sermon tried too hard to prove he didn't need Parrish to be successful, and Parrish tried to prove that the end of EPMD wouldn't be the end of his career. In the end, neither Erick or Parish continued Making Dollars.
25. Mos Def, The New Danger (2004)
Label: Rawkus/Geffen Records
Worst Song: "Zimzallabim"
So, this is what we waited five years to get our hands on? Mos Def's 1999 debut, Black On Both Sides, was a cohesive album that featured production from 88-Keys, Ayatollah, DJ Premier and more. But his follow-up was basically a clusterfuck of alllllll the different things Mos wanted to try. Mos also let his rock ambitions get the best of him as songs featured him just wailing commands ("Let's go!") rather than his introspective lyrics. So it should come as no surprise that it sounded so scattershot that we still have trouble listening to it from start to finish without wondering why Mos didn't see the danger in taking that approach.
24. Black Sheep, Non-Fiction (1994)
Label: Mercury/PolyGram Records
Worst Song: "Let's Get Cozy"
It'd be easy to label Dres and Mista Lawnge one-hit wonders since "The Choice Is Yours" is still bringing in checks for the duo (word to those dancing hamsters!). But the truth is that their debut, A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing, was a classic album in 1991 thanks to their impeccable beat selection and their playful chemistry on the mic. But Black Sheep decided to take three years off before releasing their follow-up in December 1994.
And during that hiatus two things happened. Hip-hop went through a complete reinvention headlined by Dr. Dre's The Chronic and Snoop Doggy Dogg's Doggystle and then Nas' Illmatic and The Notorious B.I.G.'s Ready To Die, signaling a changed tenor and completely changed production techniques, as chopped samples replaced simple loops. On top of that the once whimsical Dres and Mista Lawnge's became self-consciously mature and disillusioned from their teenaged success. When it dropped their lifeless, self-serious sophomore release disappointed their few remaining fans, and sidelined the group for nearly a decade.
23. Ice Cube, Lethal Injection (1993)
Label: Priority Records
Worst Song: "When I Get To Heaven"
After shocking the shit out of the world with 1990's AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted, 1990's Kill At Will, 1991's Death Certificate, and even 1992's The Predator, Cube's fourth album was a bit of an unwelcome departure for the former N.W.A. rapper. Cube seemed more focused on catering to the growing gangsta rap trend and recording hit singles than dealing with social issues like he had in the past. It's kinda hard to blame the guy for putting his career on cruise control and toning things down a bit, especially since he was trying to jump-start an acting career, but it doesn't excuse him for putting out a project that was D.O.A. for many of his loyal fans.
22. Run-DMC, Back From Hell (1990)
Label: Profile Records
Worst Song: "Faces"
We understand just how important the first few Run-DMC albums were to rap. Without them, hip-hop music as a whole wouldn't have had the opportunity to grow into what it was in the early '90s. However, Run-DMC was actually one of the first casualties of the changing sound of the genre. By 1990, their rock 'n roll-infused brand of hip-hop was starting to sound dated. So they tried to make Back From Hell a little less rock-tinged and, predictably, it just didn't sound right. Fortunately, they got back to business on their 1993 album, Down with the King, but Back From Hell was the beginning of the end of their reign as one of the most respected hip-hop groups out.
21. Souls of Mischief, No Man's Land (1995)
Label: Jive Records
Worst Song: "Secret Service"
Souls of Mischief's 1993 debut, 93 'til Infinity, was a fun, lighthearted effort from rappers A-Plus, Opio, Phesto, and Tajai that was quickly embraced by underground hip-hop heads who appreciated the youthfulness in SOM's beats and lyrics. So you can imagine their surprise where they picked up No Man's Land and heard the exact opposite. From SOM's jaded perspective to the darker themes and accompanying production efforts, it definitely wasn't what SOM fans were expecting from the group. Should've stuck to the script, fellas.
20. Noreaga, Melvin Flynt—Da Hustler (1999)
Label: Penalty Records
Worst Song: "Wethuggedout" f/ Missy Elliott
After CNN's classic 1997 debut, The War Report, and Noreaga's solid debut solo album, N.O.R.E., Victor Santiago dropped this dud that featured cheap in-house producers (save for a couple of contributions from The Neptunes) and Nore adopting a super lazy flow that made him sound like he wasn't into the idea of recording an album in the first place. On Capone-N-Noreaga's second album, The Reunion, in 2000, Nore confirmed his disinterest in the album by rhyming: "Melvin Flynt drop, my whole collasso stop/I can't believe I fucked up and made a half-ass album/My excuse is, my pops just died/And I ain't wanna make music, my pops just died." Yeah, that sounds about right.
19. Goodie Mob, World Party (1999)
Label: LaFace Records
Worst Song: "What It Ain't (Ghetto Enuff)" f/ TLC
Unlike Goodie Mob's 1995 debut, Soul Food, and their 1998 sophomore album, Still Standing, World Party was curiously devoid of any social messages or conscious undertones. Rather, it was—as the title suggests—one big party at the height of the jiggy era. The problem? That's not what their fans wanted them to do and, ultimately, they ended up upsetting their core fan base. Eventually, Goodie Mob got dropped by their label and split up shortly after dropping the album. Sounds like one shitty party, eh?
18. Boot Camp Clik, For The People (1997)
Label: Duck Down Records
Worst Song: "Last Time" f/ BJ Swan & F.L.O.W.
Where the fuck are Da Beatminerz? That's what just about every BCC fan wondered when they pressed play on the Clik's first collective album back in '97. Rather than utilize their production crew, the BCC instead chose to mess up their winning formula by using a ton of live instrumentation. So while the gritty lyrics of the NYC-based clique were still intact, the production was a bit of a mess. And it definitely wasn't for the people who'd come to love what the BCC had brought to the table in the past on their other projects.
17. LL Cool J, 14 Shots To The Dome (1993)
Label: Def Jam/Columbia/Sony Records
Worst Song: "Pink Cookies In a Plastic Bag Getting Crushed by Buildings"
LL Cool J is many things. One thing he never was? A gangsta. Tough guy, maybe. But gangsta? Never that. So when Cool James tried to remain relevant in a post-Chronic world by adopting a faux West Coast sound and a faux gangsta personality on his fifth album, 14 Shots To The Dome, the shit was....*RZA voice* fuckin' ridiculous. Compound that with absolutely silly titled single "Pink Cookies In A Plastic Bag (Getting Crushed By Buildings)" and you had LL's second (but not final) fall from grace. Don't call it a comeback, indeed.
16. Common, Electric Circus (2002)
Label: MCA Records
Worst Song: "Jimi Was A Rock Star" f/ Erykah Badu
It was recently revealed that after Common's debut album Can I Borrow A Dollar? sold a mere 2,000 copies, Com actually considered quitting rap altogether. Thankfully, he didn't quit and instead went on to make his masterpiece Resurrection and the excellent One Day It'll All Make Sense and Like Water For Chocolate. But he threw away all of his momentum with his fifth album, Electric Circus.
There are a lot of words you could use to describe Electric Circus. Ambitious, brave, adventurous, and risky are just a few that come to mind. But there's one word that most definitely doesn't come to mind: Good. We're not sure if Common just got tired of conventional rap or if he spent too much time kicking it with Erykah Badu, but an album that features multiple production efforts from ?uestlove, J Dilla, and The Neptunes should not sound like this. It just shouldn't. To make matters worse, this album was released only a month after The Roots had dropped Phrenology which was a bolder, fully realized vision of what experimental hip-hop could be.
15. Big Daddy Kane, A Taste of Chocolate (1990)
Label: Cold Chillin'/Reprise/Warner Bros. Records
Worst Song: "All Of Me" f/ Barry White
Aside from having one of the most pauseworthy album titles and covers in hip-hop history—seriously, WTF?—Kane's third album was far removed from anything we'd come to expect from him at this point in his career. Instead of gritty and grimy, Kane gave us grown and sexy and completely alienated his male fanbase in the process. It's also worth noting that it was around this time that he jumped on the cover of Playgirl and made an appearance in Madonna's coffee table book, Sex—both fails in their own right. Just a taste of this album was more than enough.
14. T.I., No Mercy (2010)
Label: Grand Hustle/Atlantic Records
Worst Song: "Castle Walls" f/ Christina Aguilera
At one time, Tip was running around telling folks that No Mercy—then titled King Uncaged—was an album that was going to be recognized as being just as important as 2Pac's post-prison opus, All Eyez On Me. Like Pac, T.I. was coming off a highly-publicized jail stint and looking to regain his place at the top of the game. But, of course, he ran into more legal troubles shortly before the album was set to be released, forcing Atlantic Records to piece together an album filled with awkward collaborations that wasn't cohesive at all. The only thing that album succeeded in doing was having absolutely no mercy on our ears.
13. A Tribe Called Quest, Beats, Rhymes, & Life (1996)
Label: Jive/BMG Records
Worst Song: "Stressed Out" f/ Faith Evans
We gotta start by saying, hindsight being 20/20, this album is actually pretty good. However, that doesn't negate the fact that at the time of it's release B, R, & L was a massive let down for fans of ATCQ. After dropping three classic albums—1990's People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, 1991's The Low End Theory, and 1993's Midnight Marauders—the stakes were at an all-time high. Could they continue to outdo themselves? Unfortunately, no. It seems that internal tensions that had been brewing for years boiled over, and the cracks became evident to the public as Q-Tip appeared, from the outside, to almost have replaced Phife and Ali with his cousin Consequence and the then up and coming Detroit producer Jay Dee.
The result was a complete departure, sonically, as the three moved from infectious sample collages that defined their first three efforts to the spacey and sublime sound of the Ummah (the name of Tip & Jay's collective productions). Combine that with more R&B hooks than on any previous Tribe album, and a third MC in Cons who jockeyed for attention while Phife passive-aggressively phoned in his verses, and you had the record that signaled, although we didn't know it yet, the end of ATCQ
12. Jay-Z & R. Kelly, The Best Of Both Worlds (2002)
Label: Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam Records
Worst Song: N/A
After two successful collaborations, “Guilty Until Proven Innocent“ and “Fiesta (Remix),” and a hot streak in both their careers (Jay-Z had just released The Blueprint and R. Kelly was coming off TP-2.com) this album seemed like a great idea. The album was basically 14 tracks that were guaranteed to become staples at the club, on the radio, and, most importantly, on your chick's iPod. Sounds good right?
But everything about the roll-out of this album was a fail. First, the record leaked months prior. More importantly, just before the record's release, controversy rose after a video of Kellz allegedly having sex with an under-aged female surfaced. Due to his legal troubles, Jigga refused to appear anywhere with Kelly so no videos were shot in promotion for the album and a planned tour was cancelled.
The worst part? For whatever reason someone thought it would be a good idea to release Unfinished Business, a second album by the duo that was basically a bunch of leftovers from their original studio sessions. The record felt like nothing more than a cheap cash-in by all parties involved. Although Kelly's career recovered from the sex scandal, when Jay and Kellz tried their tour again in 2004 tensions between the two rose. During the tour, the partnership came to a permanent end after Hov's close friend Tyran "Ty Ty" Smith allegedly pepper-sprayed R. Kelly backstage at Madison Square Garden.
11. Wyclef Jean, The Ecleftic: 2 Sides II A Book (2000)
Label: Sony Music/Columbia Records
Worst Song: "Kenny Rogers - Pharoah Monch Dub Plate"
After dropping a respectable debut album in 1994, Blunted On Reality, The Fugees returned in with their classic The Score—arguably the best rap album of 1996. When Wyclef Jean went solo we wondered if he could survive without Pras and the insanely talented Lauryn Hill but he surprised us all with his 1997 debut, The Carnival—a surprisingly solid record that was ambitious and genre bending. We were excited to see what he'd do next until we got wind of what he'd cooked up on his second album.
Outside of the Mary J. Blige featuring hit, "911," The Ecleftic (horrible title, BTW) was a helter-skelter effort that featured 'Clef trying to save the world, dance the night away, fall in love, AND give Kenny Rogers some shine (WTF?) all at the same time. Did we mention that the first single featured the motherfucking Rock and his signature catchphrase “It Doesn't Matter!”?!?!!? Although Clef went on to release many more albums and have a successful international career, he was never taken seriously in rap again after this album.
10. Raekwon, Immobilarity (1999)
Label: Loud/Columbia/SME Records
Worst Song: "All I Got Is You Pt. 2" f/ Big Bub
For whatever reason, Raekwon The Chef decided to cook up his sophomore album using a recipe for disaster. His 1995 debut Only Built 4 Cuban Linx... still stands as one of the greatest rap recordings ever released so of course his sophomore album was highly anticipated. He waited four years to release it but Immobilarity simply wasn't worth the wait and it didn't spawn the kind of classic material we were so accustomed to hearing from him.
The main problem was Rae failed to ask his partner-in-rhyme Ghostface Killah to spits a single verse on the album and, even worse, he got production efforts from everyone but RZA—both of whom contributed heavily to the success of OB4CL. Besides the failure of the music, the album also marked the decline of the entire Wu-Tang Clan as many of the members dealt with commercial and artistic struggles throughout the 2000s. Rae's third album didn't fare much better than his second and he didn't return to prominence until 2009 when he released a worthy sequel to his debut, Only Built 4 Cuban Linx 2...
9. Snoop Dogg, Tha Doggfather (1996)
Label: Death Row/Interscope Records
Worst Song: "Freestyle Conversation"
2Pac was dead. Dr. Dre had left Death Row. And gangsta rap—and the West Coast as a whole—was on the decline. The only thing keeping it afloat? The idea that Snoop could somehow manage to match the energy of his 1993 debut, Doggystyle, without the help of the good Doctor. Wishful thinking. Snoop could clearly still rap his ass off, but Doggfather was a complete mess soncially and didn't even come close to matching the success of Doggystyle. Snoop eventually bounced from his label Death Row and ended up at No Limit and eventually, years later, he was able to bounce back.
8. Ja Rule, Blood In My Eye (2003)
Label: Murda Inc./Def Jam Records
Worst Song: "The I.N.C. Is Back" f/ Black Child & Shadow
In 2001, Ja Rule was essentially hip-hop's version of the King of Pop. From "I'm Real" to "Always On Time" to "Livin' It Up," just about every song he released that year soared to the top of the charts. That is, until 50 Cent started gunning for his spot and called him out for singing on records, Ja tried to ignore 50 at first. Eventually, Ja played right into 50's hands and started creating songs that were the exact opposite of what he'd come to expect from him. The result: This glorified mixtape that ultimately led to Ja Rule's self-destruction. You fell for the trap, son!
7. The Firm, The Album (1997)
Label: Aftermath/Interscope Records
Worst Song: "Fuck Somebody Else"
After the success of the posse cut “Affirmative Action” off Nas' It Was Written, the idea of forming the The Firm crew made a lot of sense. On paper, it was a win. Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Cormega would rhyme over beats provided by Dr. Dre and the Trackmasters and create a classic collaborative album that would highlight some of the best rappers that New York had to offer at the time. But it only worked on paper.
In reality, this thing was a train wreck from the start. Cormega was replaced by Nature shortly after the group began recording because of creative differences between him and Nas. Furthermore, the album eventually took on a pop-oriented sound that did not fit the mafioso theme the group was going for. Finally, Nas and Foxy Brown (both beloved New York rappers at that time) were in short order here—each appearing on only six of the 18 tracks. What a fucking fiasco.
6. Puff Daddy, Forever (1999)
Label: Bad Boy Entertainment
Worst Song: "Best Friend"
Even though his ghostwriters and The Hitmen deserve most of the credit, Puff's 1997 debut, No Way Out, was filled with hits. His sophomore effort? Not so much. Even the songs that did take over the charts were mostly trash ("Satisy You"? Ugh!) and while the guest list was plentiful just like it was on No Way Out, most of the featured artists sounded like they had decided to collect their check and run rather than contribute a solid verse for Puff.
Chris Rock would later crack wise about Puff during his monologue at the 1999 MTV VMAs saying, “Puffy got a new album called Forever. Forever? What you trying to say Puff? Forever? You know if the album don't sell the next one gonna be called, How about three more months? Come on!” Seven years later, Puff released another solo project.
5. Lauryn Hill, MTV Unplugged No. 2.0 (2002)
Label: Columbia Records
Worst Song: "Mystery of Iniquity"
Traditionally, artists appear on Unplugged to perform tracks that fans are familiar with. Not so with Lauryn. In her case, she chose to perform a handful of half-baked songs that didn't even have proper titles at the time, which resulted in a very uneven sophomore project that was fucking awful. On the record she even uttered the words, "I used to be a performer but I don't really consider myself a performer any more," but the whole album was a live performance!
Lauryn wasn't even in top shape when she performed the songs (her voice was noticeably raspy). The album was needlessly a double disk. Every song had seemingly endless skits in-between them where Ms. Hill ranted about everything from God to God knows what. Or as 50 Cent once put it, "I used to listen to Lauryn Hill and tap my feet/Then the bitch put out a CD, it didn't have no beats!" Truer words were never spoken.
4. Lil Wayne, Rebirth (2010)
Label: Young Money/Cash Money/Universal Motown
Worst Song: "American Star"
"Hey, Lil Wayne: You just released the biggest album of your life, you're widely considered the best rapper alive, and you could literally sell a million blank CDs if you put your name on them and put them into stores next week. So, what are you going to do next? Hold on...you're going to do WHAT!?!?!" That had to be the conversation that went down in the Cash Money offices when Weezy decided he was going to put together a rock album—something no one wanted to hear and he had no business making.
It sounded like a bad idea then, it sounded like a bad idea when it leaked months ahead of time thanks to an Amazon shipping error, and it sounded like a bad idea when we actually heard it. We're just glad Wayne's done with that phase in his life...wait, you are done with that phase, right, Wayne?
3. Dr. Dre, Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath (1996)
Label: Aftermath/Interscope Records
Worst Song: "No Second Chance" f/ Whoz Who
The title of this album was deceiving. Though Dr. Dre was "presenting" a number of artists from his label, he didn't actually appear on most of the album to do it. Aside from the lead single, "Been There, Done That," he lent his voice to just one other song and he co-produced less than half of the album as a whole. And as the cover art suggests, it blew up in his face and resulted in a shitty album featuring a bunch of artists we never heard from again.
2. Canibus, Can-I-Bus (1998)
Label: Universal Records
Worst Song: "Rip Rock"
Back in '98, Canibus was hip-hop's answer to the shiny suit era—a spitfire MC who made a name for himself by releasing one of the most scatching diss records of all-time ("2nd Round Knockout") and taking shots at LL Cool J. Bottom line: Dude could rap.
Unfortunately, he couldn't make a song to save his life and that became apparent on his debut—a poorly-produced project that made him look more like a first-round bust than rap's Rookie of the Year. On his second album, Canibus would later place the blame squarely on the album's producer, Wyclef Jean, by rhyming, "You mad at the last album, I apologise for it/Yo I can't call it, motherfucking Wyclef spoiled it."
1. Nas, Nastradamus (1999)
Label: Ill Will/Columbia Records
Worst Song: "Big Girl"
In 1994, Nas released one of the most revered rap albums in the genre's history, Illmatic. In 1996, Nas did the impossible—he actually made a worthy sequel to his landmark debut, It Was Written. By 1999, some of Nas' reverence in rap circles had wavered but no matter—the shortcomings of his third album I Am... could be blamed on a notorious leak which forced Nas' to reformat the album on the fly. However, the wheels fell off when he dropped his fourth album, Nastradamus.
What can we say about this album that hasn't already been said in the past? Nastradamus is the epitome of what a rap album fail is. From the piss-poor beat selection to the scatter-brained concepts to the obvious commercial attempts to straight up terrible rhyming, Nastradamus was Nas at his worst. We're willing to bet if Nas had never made Nastradamus, Jay-Z would have never had the balls to diss him on “Takeover.” It's just too bad Nas couldn't have predicted this album would suck—and live as an ugly stain on his track record—before he put it out.
Posted by Hustle at 12:19