Everybody always debate about the greatest rap albums of all time, but I always wonder what are the best 4-consecutive rap album runs. The only guidelines are: no live albums, no greatest hits/collections, and of course they have to be 4 in a row by the same artist. Here’s my “Mount Rushmore” of the artists in no particular order that had the best 4-consecutive rap albums run in hip-hop history.
A Tribe Called Quest put out four consecutive hip-hop classic albums. The Source magazine gave the group’s debut album, People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, a rating of ‘five mics’, the first time the magazine gave out this rating. The Low End Theory, the second studio album by A Tribe Called Quest, is widely regarded as one of the greatest hip hop albums of all time because of its heavily influence of hip-hop, jazz and R&B. Midnight Marauders, their third rap album, has acquired acclamation from within the hip-hop community for its production, chemistry and influence, with many fans regarding it as their best work. Finally, Beats, Rhymes and Life, the group’s fourth album, is regarded as their darkest album in content. The album was recorded during the turbulent East Coast-West Coast rap rivalry. The production was solid and The Source awarded it 4 out of 5 mics and called The Ummah “the most proficient in the rap game at using samples as instruments in themselves”. Overall, A Tribe Called Quest had arguably the greatest 4-album run in hip-hop history.
Kanye West arguably had the best 4-album run in hip-hop history for a solo rap artist. His first three studio rap albums The College Dropout (2004), Late Registration (2005) and Graduation (2007) received many awards, widespread critical and commercial success due to his masterful meshing of soulful samples, melody and innovative hip-hop beats. His fourth studio rap album, 808s & Heartbreak (2008), Kanye West experimented with singing through an Auto-Tune vocal processor on electronic sound, which changed radio. The album has since been cited as a prominent influence on subsequent hip hop, R&B, and pop music, as a new wave of rappers, singers, and producers came to adopt aspects of its style and thematic content. Hands down, Kanye West proved that not only is he a musical genius, but also one of the greatest artists of his generation.
Jay-Z not only had the best run in hip-hop history, but he also released four consecutive rap albums that made him the face of the culture. His debut studio album, Reasonable Doubt (1996), is viewed as Jay-Z’s best work and a hip-hop classic. His follow-up In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 (1997) had both pop and street appeal that made him a star. However, Jay-Z’s third straight album, Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, made him a superstar and the new king of hip-hop. He took the game over from a commercial standpoint selling over 5 million copies in the United States. On his fourth rap album, Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter, Jay-Z proved that he was still at the top of his game. The music was filled with catchy hooks, rump-shaking beats, which were perfect for the clubs, and Jay-Z’s flow and lyrics were impressive. The album was a must have for all Jay-Z fans.