Greatest hits albums are a relic of a bygone era. Back in the day, most major artists were expected to have a greatest hits album. Not just because they served as easy to digest intros to an artist with a large catalog, but because they were commercially viable too. Perfect example, The Eagle’s greatest hits compilation, Their Greatest Hits (1971–1975), has sold 42 million copies in total, making it the second best selling album of all time behind only Michael Jackson’s Thriller. The trend extended to rap as well: 2Pac’s Greatest Hits is the sixth best selling rap album ever, having sold 10 million copies (it was a double album). But like all CD sales, greatest hits albums have lost their popularity—mostly because if you just want the big hits, you might as well download them.
Yet that overlooks the unique value of greatest hits albums. When you focus on someone’s Billboard hits, it offers a skewed view on their careers, often rendering some of their best songs as obsolete and some of their worst material as vital pieces in their catalog. But the good and bad are all part of the narrative and need to be accounted for. Take for example, Eminem’s 2005 compilation, Curtain Call: The Hits, which featured hits like "Shake That," "Just Lose It," and “My Name Is”—songs Em didn’t even perform when he played NYC last week. That’s why a greatest hits album can be more interesting than you might think: Comparing what gets left out and put in to create an incomplete portrait of an artist is a reflection on how Billboard hits can’t accurately represent an artist’s output, only their popularity.
In order to carry on tradition and get our imaginary A&R on, we decided to make some Spotify playlists of the greatest hits for some rappers who really need one. However, we tried to impose some strict rules on ourselves which go as follows:
- This is not a Best of compilation. We have enough Best of Lists for various artists on this list. It’s a hits compilation, so if a song is a hit we have to include it, even if we don’t really like it. And if a song is great but not a hit, then it can't make it.
- We tried to keep all the playlists at 13 tracks. Keyword: Tried.
- No guest features. Despite the fact that guest features are a huge part of rap music, we didn’t count them or else we’d never be able to stick to Rule 2.
- Albums are important. Each album in an artist's discography represents an era in their music. So it's imporant to try and touch on every album than it is to overload on one album.
- When all else fails, forget the rules and just make some #NewRules. Hey it works for Jay Z!
Written by Insanul Ahmed (@Incilin)