The Pharcyde - Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde (released November 24, 1992)
I feel like I might be off base on this one, but I feel in my gut that this is still a pretty underrated album, and influential in it's own right. When it came out there was virtually nothing else out there like it, especially on the West Coast. I mean this was still a time when "gangsta" rap was still dominant out there, and I think to a certain subset found it to be refreshing because of it's jazzy production and it's sense of humor. Along with I Wish My Brother George Was Here by Del Tha Funkee Homosapien and Freestyle Fellowship's To Whom It May Concern.... started a new movement of (I hate this term but for lack of a better one) "alternative" hip hop on the West Coast with crews like Jurassic 5, Hieroglyphics, The Coup, and Lootpack coming up in their footsteps. Although, I guess I never realized that this album went Gold back in the day, largely on the strength of it's second single, "Passing You By"
A couple others that showcase their sense of humor:
Oh Shit. (This is a banger)
And hey, Kanye West recently said that this was his favorite album. And I am really not sure where people stand on it now. I feel like it is sort of a lost classic. Definitely worth it to revisit.
Digable Planets-Blowout Comb (released October 18, 1994)
It definitely wasn't until the 2000's when someone hepped me to the fact that I should check this album out. And to be honest, at the time when people pointed me in it's direction, I might not have even been sure that Digable Planets HAD a second album. This is one that had definitely been lost to the mists of time. Of course their first album Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space) has been big largely because of the single Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) was such a big hit (while we're on that subject that albums also worth listening to for the deeper non-famous single cuts) But I am getting away from myself, basically Blowout Comb builds on where Reachin' started, with their heads somewhere in the Black Power movement of the sixties, with some absolutely amazing production. For whatever reason, people don't seem to be going back to this sophomore effort like they eventually did with Paul's Boutique and Pinkerton. Maybe that's because they never properly made anything after they made this, I'm not sure. But it's well worth your time to go back and revisit it. It's a great album for to walk around to on a beautiful day.
This is a weird side story, but my favorite song of this album is one called Black Ego. When I first started REALLY listening to this album it was back sometime in 2004, and I had recently been dumped, and I remember putting on this album and just listening to this song over and over. When you hear it you might wonder why, and really it's a mystery to me, but something about it just grabbed and in an odd way helped me out at that time. Who knows how these things work? It might be the beat in and of itself and check when the drums kick in around 1:12 or so. It's so good.
Heltah Skeltah-Nocturnal (released June 18, 1996)
So this would fit firmly on the more, shall we say, grimy side of the aisle. This is the debut album featuring Ruck and Rock (which is short for one of the best rap names: Rockness Monster) who, obviously, make up Heltah Skeltah. (BTW, Matt, at least according to what I was reading that definitely is a Beatlres reference, their crew before was even called The Fab 5) They themselves were a part of a larger Brooklyn supergroup called The Boot Camp Clik. And this might just be a wikipedia thing, but they refer to this as 90's underground classic, but to me, yes I do feel like it is a forgotten classic, but I feel like people don't remember it as well as they should. It seems to be me like it has sort of gotten unfairly lost in the shuffle. But, again, that's just me and I could be wrong. So what did I think was so great here? Well, it was simple, their lyrical ability and the dark, (here's this word again) grimy beats from Da Beatminerz. Plus, Rock's voice sounds like it is just this side of Chali 2na's, which, I mean, is awesome.