1. TRU, Tru 2 Da Game (1997)
Best Songs: "No Limit Soldiers," "I Always Feel Like," "There Dey Go," "FEDz," "Smoking Green," "Swamp Niggas," "Freak Hoes"
While many believe Ghetto D to be No Limit’s crown jewel, TRU 2 Da Game was actually the tipping point that pushed No Limit to global domination. The double-disc project was adventurous at a time when 2Pac and Biggie were the only two rappers on planet earth who had enough cred (and gall) to attempt such a feat. TRU 2 Da Game even predates the Wu-Tang Forever double disc (the only other faction in rap who could justify a double album) by five months.
So it was extremely bold for a relatively obscure Southern rapper (with Bay Area roots), with no major radio or video airplay, to drop a double album alongside his two lesser-known little brothers (And on a small independent label at that—this wasn’t Death Row or Bad Boy). It was huge gamble, but P rose to the top by playing by his own rules, not falling in line with everyone else’s. The album featured a leaner and meaner lineup, scaling back from six TRU members to only three, all of which shared the Miller surname. Former members Calli G and King George were left in California when the Tank departed for New Orleans, and while Big Ed was an O.G. TRU member, he now sat on the No Limit roster as a solo artist.
Former members weren’t the only thing P left on the West Coast, as his sound evolved from Cali-tinged g-funk to thicker New Orleans bounce. The entire swing was different. P’s voice, delivery, and cadence also changed, as he sounded more confident and comfortable on the mic. We’d heard his younger siblings on previous releases (Silkk’s debut dropped a few months earlier), but both Silkk and C-Murder’s mic time more than tripled on this release. And while P’s nepotism was apparent, the release proved blood was thicker than water, and that these three had a bright future ahead of them—like it or not. Sometimes-member Mia X was back and better than ever, with her razor sharp lyrics and brash delivery serving as the perfect set-up for her breakthrough sophomore album, which immediately followed.
While the double disc might have been a bit daunting for the casual No Limit fan, the project created a whole new legion of fans who immediately enlisted in P’s army and could rap “No Limit Soldiers” word for word. Tracks like “I Always Feel Like,” “FEDZ,” “Swamp Nigga,” “Smoking Green,” and “Freak Hoes” were all regional hits in their own right, and P’s gamble paid off, as TRU 2 Da Game became a huge success, selling over two million copies.