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CD’s So Nice This Man Needed Them Twice (and sometimes even more)
By Clayton Ruley

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“I let my tape rock till my tape popped”
- The Notorious B.I.G.

That line tells so much although not too many people use tapes these days. We all have albums played so much the tape broke or the CD is unreadable.

Or the CD that was so hot your friends borrowed it and never seemed to give it back, so you gave up and bought another copy.

Maybe those albums got you through some tough times. Or they have that song that used to drive you. Maybe it reminds you of that special someone. Whatever the case music is meant to inspire. It got some of the best through the worst and greatest. Whether talking about politics and the way we live, bragging about neighborhoods, hearing a new type of sound, or opening your mind to new ideas. Music can fill your mind with a myriad of experiences and sounds.

The best part is now with technology you can get your favorites from more sources than ever.

Here are my top 10 victims, not my absolute best of all time but albums I just couldn’t put down till I had to throw some more money down!

Blackstar – Mos Def and Talib Kweli are Blackstar

I got it in college and fell in love with the two artists. While political they could battle with anyone and that has been concreted with their future successes. Talib, with his historical punch lines and Mos withso many creative ways to tell the state of Hip-Hop (Children’s Story). Songs like “Respiration” with Common lets you reflect on what its like living in the city, the sites you see on the daily and how it’s hard to live right in midst of the madness. “Twice Inna Lifetime” ask the talented downtrodden to stop “hiding your face” and shine your light. “Brown Skin Lady” gives props to the beautiful black women in the world and lets them know they are appreciated.

The Count: Three copies and counting!


Nas – Illmatic

My first experience with Nas came with the song “The World Is Yours”. The song had me in disbelief, as I never heard a MC with such poignant lyrics. I remember learning the first two verses in homeroom by playing the tape back and forth. It would be prophetical. I didn’t get Illmatic when it first came out; a brother was broke those days and had to choose wisely. When I did pick it off the shelves

I listen to that album everyday for about three months. This wasn’t some oldhead talking about going to work or getting the job done (peace to Big Daddy Kane and Kool Moe Dee) this was a young man from the Pjs talking about the New York State of Mind, bringing punch lines and stories together was nothing to him as proven in “One Love”, and “One Time”. AZ killed “Life’s a Bitch” and Nas’s pop, Olu Dara, topped off the song with a vibrant trumpet screaming. “Represent” sounded like a nursery tune with grown up street slang. Virtually alone on the album Nas jumped on the scene with a classic that goes against the standard album complete with dancing hooks, crazy skits and 16 tracks. His formula: 10 and bounce. Its will never be forgotten.

The Count: I had to cop this one twice.


The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready To Die

My Cousin told me of this guy Biggie Smalls who was ripping the mixtape scene up. Going to work I saw his debut LP and grabbed it up. After hearing “Juicy”, the first single I wasn’t expecting too much, but when I got in my room and let the system quake my ears wanted more and more. The interlude got me interested from jump and “Back In The Day” let me know about this brown bomber. Tracks like “Gimme The Loot” showed Big at his grimiest and “Everyday Struggle” showed his trials as a father. “Me and My Bitch” gave me perspective (“You look so good, I suck on your daddy’s d**k”, I’ve never seen that). “The What” was when Method Man was at his peek name-wise and the two rappers came together beautifully. DJ Premier was introduced to many via “Unbelievable”-my favorite track, and “Suicidal Thoughts” gave me an even darker side of this man with so much talent but so much turmoil in his life. Till this day there isn’t a verse on that LP I can’t remember. Besides being an album with depth and creative songs, it also showed his ability to hit people’s ears and hearts. He was one of the best and that foundation was laid on this album.

The Count: Two times!


Redman – Muddy Waters

After Red’s second album Dare Iz A Darkside, good but not What Thee Album I hoped Redman was coming out of the ground and into the forefront as one of the best rappers out. This album is the proof! Packed with crazy skits like the time he sticks up the bus and the singing dude with the cola in his hand, and songs like “Whateva Man” and “It’s Like That “(with K-Solo) it is a treat to listen to. Erick Sermon does his best work on the beats and Redman’s verbiage is at its best.

The Count: I still have the album on tape and on CD.

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