Here is a list of 10 rap albums that have impacted my life.
1. Tha Carter 3 / Lil Wayne – This album rightfully takes the number one spot of albums that have impacted my life. Tha Carter 3 got me into rap music. It was the first rap album I had ever heard in full when it was released, and it opened the door for me to explore a whole universe of rap music. I can confidently say I would not be the same person I am now if I hadn’t listened to this album when I was 10 years old. Whether you think this is a classic in terms of all-time rap albums is another debate up to you for another time. It’s not a perfect album but any means, it does have the odd forgettable track, but it does have the all elements that made me fall in love with Lil Wayne and rap music in general, swagger, clever lyrics, electric charisma that forces you to keep your eyes on him without blinking whenever he is on screen, banging beats and overall fun and excitement in music that evokes any number of positive vibes and feelings.
2. Yeezus / Kanye West – Even though Yeezus is my favourite album of all time, it takes the number two spot on this list. Yeezus impacted my life because not only do I clearly remember going out into Manchester and purchasing the CD, but at the time I was going through a tough time, and at that time in my life, Yeezus was the perfect thing that I needed to get through those times. Even after that part of my life is in the past, there have been moments where listening to Yeezus has been the perfect antidote. This may sound strange and I don’t know if anyone can relate to this, but the frustration and angriness throughout Yeezus just matched my own frustrations at these times, that it ends up actually calming me down. I know that is like a polar opposite but it’s strange how it impacted me like that. For an album that has impacted my life so much, the story behind how I got it was almost fate. One day in summer 2013, I took a trip into Manchester with £10 in my pocket but without an idea of what to spend it on. I walked around town for a while and still drawing blanks as to what to buy. I almost gave up and started walking back to catch a ride back to my house. Then I remembered: there’s a new Kanye West album out now! So, I went into the music shop in town and saw it at the top of the shelf. With a see-through box and a clear disc, it stood out to me and with no idea what to expect, I bought it. It then quickly became my favourite ever album that I still listen to today with the same feelings I felt in 2013.
3. Good Kid Maad City / Kendrick Lamar – I don’t remember buying this album, but I definitely remember having it on repeat all the time when I was in college and being blow away by it. The only experience I had of Kendrick Lamar was his verse of A$AP Rocky’s ‘Problems’ track. I was impressed by that, so I had to check out his debut studio album Good Kid, Maad City. I don’t really need to drag on about why this album is so great because everyone knows by now. But what I will say is that I don’t think that I have experienced a full rap album that had such a storytelling prowess as this album does. I’ve never envisaged a full narrative with characters and an emotional punch that this album has in between such incredible songs. This album impacted my life because it showed me the full potential of what a rap album can be, and also placed Kendrick Lamar as one of my favourite artists.
4. Tha Carter 4 / Lil Wayne – Another album in this list where I clearly remember purchasing and listening to for the very first time. As I was raised as such a huge Lil Wayne fan and my obvious love for Tha Carter 3, the release of Tha Carter 4 was such a big thing for me at the time. This album is probably the first album that I was very excited about dropping. Even today after 7 years, although my opinions on this album, while mainly positive, they can change very quickly. There are times when I hear this album and think its excellent. Then there’s some days where I think it’s a bit shit. But although there are some excellent songs alongside some crap songs, the impact this album had on me leading up to its release has not gone away. Similar to Yeezus, this was an album I went to during a tough time in the year this album dropped.
5. Take Care / Drake – Drake’s best album is in this list because it is my ultimate throwback album that automatically reminds me of my high school day. High school was a mixed time for me, it had some good times and there were some bad times in equal measure. Take Care and Drake’s first studio album Thank Me Later are both albums that were so huge that you just couldn’t escape them or Drake’s rise to the top. I’ve chosen to pick Take Care for this list in particular because I listened to it more than Thank Me Later. Even though I don’t like Drake now as much as I used to, Take Care is still to this day a cracking album that really defines Drake, and in my opinion is his best album and hasn’t really come close to matching it.
6. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy / Kanye West – There’s no real personal story behind this album as to why it has impacted my life. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy impacted my life, simply due to the fact that it is a brilliant album. I don’t remember first buying it or my first listen, and for that reason, if I could, I would love nothing more than to go back in time and listen to this album for the first time again. It not a 10/10 but its damn close.
7. Watch the Throne / JAY Z & Kanye West – Two of my favourite artists joing forces to create the Holy Grail of joint albums? Of course this album impacted my life and deserves a place on this list. I also think this album deserves a lot more respect and recognition in the hip hop community. I remember my first listen to this album and being blown away by the first few seconds of opener No Church in The Wild, even before a word was spoken, the beat on that song blew me away. Although the rest of the album is fantastic and consistently strong, No Church in The Wild is still my favourite track. This album impacted my life because, unless I am mistaken, this was the first joint album from two huge rappers that I had listened to.
8. Rodeo / Travis Scott – After becoming obsessed with Travis’ mixtape Days Before Rodeo, I was counting down the days for full length studio album Rodeo to be released. On the day it dropped in stores, I took a trip into Manchester and bought the physical CD, which I very rarely do. I remember clear as day listening to Rodeo for the first time and being very impressed from the opening track Pornography. The rest of the album made the trip to buy it completely worth it. This album impacted my life and confirmed Travis Scott as one of my favourite artists. Also, Rodeo is Travis’ best project and will never be topped imo.
9. Curtain Call / Eminem – I wouldn’t have been able to do this list if I did not include Eminem somewhere in it. There isn’t really a specific Em album that springs to mind as one that impacted my life on its own, so I have chosen Em’s compilation album Curtain Call that includes some of his biggest hits. Eminem has indeed impacted my life so that why I have added this album to my list. I think the first Em song I heard was My Name Is in the early 2000’s, after that I pretty much heard every Em single he released, I also started to discover the albums and just listened to them all consistently. This made me discover just how special of an artist Eminem is. I know Em has received a lot of hate recently and some of it is fair, because he has released some trash music. BUT, I don’t think these trash albums take away from how incredible some of his early work is. The Slim Shady LP and The Marshall Mathers LP are close to perfection and should be remembered as such.
10. Days Before Rodeo / Travis Scott – This mixtape impacted my life because it is the very first full-length project I heard from one of my favourite artists. After hearing 3500 when it dropped, I immediately fell in love with it and made me desperate to listen to any other Travis songs I could find. This frantic research led to me finding Travis’ second mixtape Days Before Rodeo. This mixtape contains some of my all-time favourite Travis Scott songs, mainly Mamacita, The Prayer, Drugs You Should Try and Skyfall. Constantly listening to this mixtape over and over again only just raised my excitement levels for Travis’ full-length studio debut Rodeo to drop. Days Before Rodeo is hands down my favourite mixtape of all time and takes its rightful place on this list.