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The 50 Greatest Debut Albums in Hip-Hop History

33. Redman, Whut? Thee Album

Label: Def Jam
Release Date: 9/22/1992

Just when Slick Rick, Public Enemy, and the original wave of Def Jam personalities were fading into the distance, an unhinged voice from New Jersey swooped in to inaugurate a new era for the foundational label. Hailing proudly from the less-than-lovely streets of Newark, Redman was perfectly positioned between two generations of hip-hop innovation. He embodied the unapologetic goofiness of Biz Markie and the party-rocking ethos of Big Daddy Kane (to Redman, MC still meant "move the crowd), and at the same time he pushed rap culture towards a rambunctiousness that would soon align him with Wu-Tang Clan.

Whut? Thee Album was entirely self-produced by Redman in collaboration with Erick Sermon (with a little help from Pete Rock on "How To Roll A Blunt"). Redman knew exactly what beats would bring out his inner wild man.

Though he would become one of the most beloved of East Coast MCs, Whut? Thee Album is instilled with West Coast blood. The samples continually return to Zapp and Parliament, and there are vocal snippets from Cypress Hill, Ice Cube, and N.W.A. His inter-coast credentials proved that Redman was entirely his own man, hewing only to his individualized interpretation of the hip-hop tradition.

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