November 9th 1993: Quite possibly the greatest album release date in hip hop history.
2 of my top 5 hip hop albums of all-time from 2 of the most influential groups of all-time dropped on this day.
Album 1: a group on their 3rd project and coming off of a certified classic. So how do you come back from a classic? Make another classic, of course.
“A, E, I, O, U. And sometimes Y.”
A Minnie Ripperton-infused loop that still puts a smile on my face. One 3 word hook that was simply the artist known as Busta screaming “OMG” before there was texting. Another hook that took us years to figure out what was actually being said (I’m still not 100% convinced we have it right – Relax yourself, girl and do whaaaat?). The lead emcee’s thoughts on a historically negative word and his flip on it. And of course, the lead single.
As a collective piece of work from start to finish, it doesn’t get much better than this. Not to mention, possibly the dopest album cover ever.
Q-Tip, Ali-Shaheed Muhammad and Phife Dawg (shout out to Jarobi). A Tribe Called Quest.
Album 2: 9 men who combined to change music history with their recording contracts, their approach and their music.
Each individual had a compelling story of his own, but first they brought us the whole undeniable package. This was before the solo albums. Before the fame. Before the world tours. Before the numerous acts to enter the game as a part of their collective. This was the first time we heard from most of these cats, but definitely not the last.
As soon as the music starts, you automatically have to make the ugly face. The listener is transported from wherever they are to a dark, dingy NYC street…just like that. From the jump, they bring the ruckus. Warning; protect ya neck. The epitome of the word gritty. 9 dudes though? I mean…who had ever heard of 9 dudes where everybody gets their moment(s) to shine?
The mastermind behind it all was a 24 year old producer/emcee who brought together some of the most talented individuals he knew of, and boom…a classic was born. Offbeat rhyme patterns and beats like nothing ever heard before. You could play this album straight through or put it on random and it still had the same effect.
From singles (“Method Man” or “C.R.E.A.M.”) to the dirtiest album cuts (“Shame on a N****” or “Da Mystery of Chessboxin”) to the crazy skits (“…and keep feeding you and feeding you and feeding you and feeding you”); there was a purpose to everything and everything had its purpose.
Add to that, they were on point with the business side. The first to ink a group deal on one label and still everyone was allowed to pursue solo deals with other labels.
In case you don’t know yet; it’s the Rza, the Gza, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon the Chef, Masta Killa, U-God, Old Dirty Bastard, Method Man and Inspectah Deck aka Wu-Tang Clan.
Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)
24 years ago? Wow.
They don’t make albums like they used to.