Last month, we put together a list of 50 albums that were unfairly hated on. We also heard your feedback, took it into consideration, and rounded up 40 more albums that have fallen victim to the same unjust contempt.
Many of the records in the following pages are of the "hindsight is 20/20" variety, meaning that the overwhelmingly negative reactions they received were steeped in feelings at a very specific time. Additionally, some of those were lumped into the sophomore slump crowd because the artist or band couldn't live up to enormous (and unrealistic) expectations following their debut. Others just got strong doses of vitriol for branching out and experimenting.
To make this as clear as possible, we're not saying these 40 albums are classics or anywhere near perfect. But they are still worth your time and not worthy of the disses they've received over the years. In no particular, here are 40 More Albums That Were Unfairly Hated On.
Run-DMC Tougher Than Leather (1988)
With their third album, 1986's Raising Hell, Run-DMC found both the audience and critical acclaim they were looking for and deserved. They also proved to many that hip-hop was here to stay and not some fading trend. As such, the cards were stacked against the trio more than ever, especially when they revealed that they were toying with a new sound.
Tougher Than Leather found Run-DMC and their producers toying with sample-heavy production, which some argued was a paltry attempt to keep up with the times. Whether that was true or not, this album was still a commercial success for the three-piece, who sounded just as fresh over dusty breakbeats as they did snarling guitars.
Masta Ace Incorporated Sittin' on Chrome (1995)
Nas It Was Written (1996)
The hate for It Was Written, when it comes to writers and people who have stayed with Nas, has mostly subsided. Just ask Rolling Stone magazine, as they changed their rating of the album from two to four stars 18 years later. But for every new listener that finds Illmatic and loses their shit over it, Nas' sophomore album gets hate spewed its way. That also goes for every subsequent record he's dropped.
You know why? Because those albums aren't Illmatic. And that's really about it. It Was Written is a classic in its own right-especially among the Mafioso rap heads-and most longtime Nas fans will tell you that. Hell, some will even argue that it's better than its predecessor, but we won't go down that road.
Mase Harlem World (1997)
How anyone can feel salty about Ma$e's debut, Harlem World, is beyond us, but that mentality surely exists. Some are quick to point out the Harlem rapper's flaws and how he's not as influential as some, notably Kanye West, believe. Others will point to the lengthy tracklisting and 65-minute running-time as an easy way to bring the project down.
But then and now, Harlem World stands as a solid first statement from Ma$e and one of the better records of the whole late-'90s Bad Boy movement.
The Firm The Album (1997)
The Firm's one and only album is so archetypal that if you're given the track titles and the line-up-Nas, AZ, Foxy Brown, and Nature-you already know what you're getting into. You can look at the cover and practically predict what each song sounds like. The concept of gritty, Mob glorified and influenced raps already seemed played out by the time this album dropped in '97 and to some, the project was the final blow to a trend that was overstaying its welcome.
Yet here we are, 15 years later, and rappers still can't get enough of the Mob. It's clear that hip-hop has an inherent fascination with organized crime that goes far beyond a phase. While plenty of rappers have mastered the art of Mafia rhymes, few had an all-star lineup, production from Dr. Dre and Trackmasters, and the audacity to make an entire concept album out of it. Rap's obsession with the Mob still shows today on some of the most popular hip-hop, and whenever it does, we can't help but think of The Firm.
Will Smith Big Willie Style (1997)
For many, Big Willie Style was the impetus for the so-called "Jiggy" era. You can blame gigantic single "Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It" for that, as it propelled the wearing of shiny suits, style over substance, and the like. Blaming a single dude for starting a whole "mess" is one thing, but to toss aside Will Smith's solo debut as the cause for hip-hop's downfall is another. Yes, "Gettin' Jiggy Wit' It" and "Miami" are pretty much insufferable to this day, but that's because they were such masterful pop tracks that they've been played to death.
"Y'all Know" remains a feel-good, boom-bappy jam and "Yes Yes Y'all" with Camp Lo was decent, too. "Don't Say Nothin'" still hits with its fuck-off-haters honesty while the album's other singles, "Just the Two of Us" and "Men in Black" are undeniably catchy.
A Tribe Called Quest Beats, Rhymes and Life (1998)
Plenty of changes arrived when A Tribe Called Quest released their fourth album, Beats, Rhymes and Life, in July 1996. For one, Q-Tip's cousin, Consequence, became involved on the lyrical side of things, showing up with rhymes on four of the 15 songs. Additionally, this was their first record produced by the newly-founded Ummah crew, which featured Tribe's Q-Tip and Ali Shaheed Muhammad working with a then-unknown Jay Dee (aka J Dilla). Additionally, they would forego any collaborations with outside MCs, some of whom had helped shape standout cuts on previous albums.
The resulting product was the group's darkest release to date. This was ever-present in the production shaped by Jay Dee's approach, which was jazz-indebted but more liquid and free-flowing. This also lent itself to less instantly gratifying singles, though you can't deny the pure awesomeness of "1nce Again," "Stressed Out," and "What Really Goes On." They might have been faulted for their changes at the time but, if nothing else, Tribe helped shape the style of one of hip-hop's finest producers.
Canibus Can-I-Bus (1998)
Heads began hating on Canibus' Can-I-Bus when they expected something other than a display of pure rhyming skill and battle raps. That's what the NYC-repping spitter does best and what he's continued to do, sometimes to his own embarrassment. But in 1998, he showcased exactly why he could get away with dissing a giant like LL Cool J.
There might be some duds, particularly in the punchline department, but Canibus' abilities cannot be called into question and neither can the throat-chopping cuts on Can-I-Bus. Kick rocks if you feel otherwise.
Method Man Tical 2000: Judgement Day (1998)
Oh, Method Man. He really set himself up for this one. Not only is Tical 2000 his second release-we all know avoiding the sophomore slump isn't easy-but it's also the "sequel" to his widely heralded debut. If that wasn't enough, it's a double-album housing a total of 28 (!) tracks. Is it bloated? Sure, but should it get hated on? No, not at all. It has all the making of a solid Wu project, from the producers to the guest MCs, but it's just too long.
These days, people would be praising the album on some, "I'll just delete the lukewarm tracks and keep the greatness." Maybe the digital age isn't so bad after all.
Juvenile Tha G-Code (1999)
How does a rapper follow up a classic like 400 Degreez? For Juvenile and Mannie Fresh, a return to the well was a refinement of the formula they'd begun on the previous record. Juvenile was more reflective, fleshing out bigger ideas and going deeper; witness his verses on "Tha Man," a track that strikes at the heart of Juvenile's growing maturation. He seems most interested in using his experiences to enlighten his listeners.
It's hard not to feel moved by "Take Them 5," where Juvie is primarily concerned with dropping knowledge and hard-earned philosophies. For Mannie's part "Da Magnolia" and single "U Understand" proved he was still capable of producing unique beats that managed to be both subtle and visceral.
Ja Rule Rule 3:36 (2000)
The most impressive thing about Ja Rule has to be the contrast between his gruff, aggressive delivery and his knack for melodic, catchy hooks. One listen to Venni Vetti Vecci is convincing enough, but Ja took it to the next level with Rule 3:36, fully embracing his sometimes conflicting appeals.
He actually pulls off a radio-friendly sing-along pop tune on which he raps about wiping a crying girl's tears with "Put It On Me" before diving into a murderous track called "6 Feet Underground," complete with frantic strings and laser sound effects. Rule 3:36 may come across as slightly bipolar, but it was proof that Ja was more complex than his debut let on. When you look at some of hip-hop's most widely-appealing contemporary acts, you've got to give a nod to Ja Rule for realizing early on that a rapper with a sensitive side could go a long way.
Big Pun Yeahhh Baby (2000)
It's impossible to separate Big Pun's sophomore album, Yeeeah Baby, from the fact that it arrived two months after his tragic passing. Because of that, heads were bound to shower the record with heaps of postmortem praise...and hate. Where was the more hardcore sound of his 1998 debut, Capital Punishment? Why was Pun rapping on bouncy, radio-ready tracks like "It's So Hard" and "100%"? Well, maybe it's because that was his vision with Yeeeah Baby, an album he wanted to use as a means of breaking through to a bigger audience.
Aside from that, it's just as tough as its predecessor; you just have to wade through some shinier moments to realize that.
D12 Devil's Night (2001)
Anyone showing disdain for the debut album from Eminem's group, D12, was just on some holier-than-thou type shit. Yes, it's got its goofball moments and yes, it was heavily dependent on Eminem's rhymes, but what's wrong with that? People are really going to fault an album for relying on a then-legend in the making? That's just shortsighted and unfounded, especially when other members in the crew, particularly Kuniva, Proof, and former member Kon Artis, also had their fair share of quotables.
Also, don't act like you didn't throw at least a few Devil's Night bangers on your driving, workout, and get-hype-as-possible playlists. "Fight Music," anyone?
Michael Jackson Invincible (2001)
People will have always inappropriately high expectations if you're an artist who has dropped one or two killer albums, never mind several.That was never more present than when Michael Jackson's 2001 album, Invincible, arrived.
To be fair to the haters, it was a comeback of sorts for MJ, whose previous effort, HIStory, dropped six years prior. But one listen to Invincible removed from that very specific space and time reveals another solid record for MJ and his unquestionable influence. "Heartbreaker" is still ahead of the curve.
Jay-Z & R. Kelly The Best of Both Worlds (2002)
Rightfully so, expectations were stupid-high for The Best of Both Worlds, the collaborative debut from monster artists Jay-Z and R. Kelly. In addition to having two huge talents on board, it arrived the year after Hov released his one of his classics, The Blueprint. And as you likely know, critics and listeners alike rained down hate upon The Best of Both Worlds.
Many faulted Jay-Z for half-assing his part, as Kells went above the call of duty and even helped produce many tracks. Call it a disjointed misfire if you want, but don't act like the album's singles, most notably "Get This Money," aren't infectious to this day. And if nothing else, it set the duo up to drop a far more respected second album together.
Common Electric Circus (2002)
In 2002, it was that time for Common. Following a string of widely heralded and commercially successful albums, he went completely left field with Electric Circus. When fans heard the follow-up to Like Water for Chocolate they were met with a blend of damn near every genre imaginable. Unfortunately, that includes even guitar-heavy rock, which occurs on the remarkably awkward "Electric Wire Hustle Flower."
But dude is still spitting on here, especially on the bluesy and tough "I Got a Right Ta," "Soul Power" and its stomping drums, and late-night jam "Come Close." It's not a perfect album, but it's also not the worst album in Com's discography. That would be the hyper-sexual Universal Mind Control.
REALTED: The Making of Common's Resurrection
Jay-Z Blueprint 2: The Gift & the Curse (2002)
For most, sequel is a dirty word. Whether it's a movie or an album, you can more often than not file the follow-up under "massive disappointment." As such, we (that's the universal we) are overwhelmingly harsh on sequels, like Jay-Z's second Blueprint album. It didn't help its own case when Jay-Z released the thing as a double album, either, as more than one disc is a sure-fire sign of fluff. Hell, Hov must have known what he was doing giving the album the subtitle of "The Gift & The Curse."
While it's certainly not worthy of classic status by any means, it's got plenty of certified jams on it. "Excuse Me Miss"? Check. "'03 Bonnie & Clyde"? Check. That goddamn fight-someone-in-the-parking-lot "U Don't Know" remix by Just Blaze? Check. We could go on and on
Blink-182 Blink-182 (2003)
Blink-182's self-titled LP was supposed to be their last. They, of course, made a proper comeback last year with Neighborhoods to the delight of pop-punk kids (and adults) everywhere. And back in 2003, expectations were different for the three-piece. You see, this was two years after the release of their No.1, platinum-selling Take Off Your Pants and Jacket. This was also after they had only merely flirted with more serious themes.
With Blink-182 the trio embraced their more melancholy sides and then some on tracks like "I Miss You," "I'm Lost Without You," andthe Robert Smith-featured "All of This." There were still some poppier cuts, including "Feeling This" and "Go" especially. But as it always goes, when you build a fanbase with one sound and suddenly jump to something different, you're bound to gain some haters.
Eminem Encore (2004)
Before he went on hiatus for five years, Eminem dropped Encore. After three massive successes with The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP, and The Eminem Show, he sounded uninspired. It seemed like maybe he was getting complacent and writer's block had finally snuck in and gotten the best of him once and for all. The "poo poo" and "bunghole" raps just came across as a final effort to grasp onto the kind of in-your-face, childishly offensive rap that had shocked people previously, and his attempts at being inspirational felt forced and watered down. It simply didn't work.
The main reason that hating on this album is unfair is because during the making of it, Eminem was desperately consumed by a pill addiction. It would be five years until he returned to the scene without all the drugs flowing through his system, but we give him credit-even when he was mentally checked out, physically falling apart, and dealing with a heavy burden mostly hidden from the world, he still managed to rap better than most rappers could ever hope to. The content may not have been up to par, but listen to the intricately woven flow of "Rain Man" or the energy of "Never Enough" and you have to appreciate that a debilitated Eminem was pulling this off while going through one of the darkest times of his life.
N.E.R.D Fly or Die (2004)
N.E.R.D. took genre-bending to new levels in with their debut album, In Search Of.... They set the bar high, and they also set themselves up for a difficult sophomore release. The hate was plentiful when Fly or Die dropped in 2004, and the biggest complaint seemed to be that these guys were jumping way outside their skill set, indulging in some jumbled rock star dream that they weren't built for.
The beautiful thing about this album, though, is that N.E.R.D. really was living out their rock star dreams. By this point, they were comfortable enough to do whatever they wanted. They were playing their own instruments, and they weren't held back by the all-too-familiar "know your role" attitude that so many eclectic acts get tossed at them. For N.E.R.D., there has never been a role, and that's why we liked them in the first place.
Fabolous Real Talk (2004)
Every project Fabolous releases comes with the same tired arguments. In particular, there's the one about his inability to make a cohesive statement. While that might be true in terms of putting out a well-rounded album, there's no denying the fact that when he's on, he's on. And across Street Talk, Fabo displayed exactly why we continue to anticipate his albums and mixtapes. He's consistently witty and just flat-out fun to listen to.
Also, how can anyone not feel some kind of way after listening to "Breathe"?
Terror Squad True Story (2004)
These days, selling 90,000 copies of an album in its first week of release is respectable. When Fat Joe and his Terror Squad goons released their second crew LP to those same figures, it was considered an insurmountable flop. This was compounded by the fact that "Lean Back" was such a massive hit.
The thing is, True Story is a good album, no matter how you perceive its sales. Fat Joe blacked on "Nothing's Gonna Stop Me," Remy Ma established her presence on "Hum Drum," and Tony Sunshine sang on "Streets of NY" and it wasn't annoying. Plus, the production was top-notch. Calling this album a poor effort is a gross exaggeration.
50 Cent The Massacre (2005)
After debuting with Get Rich or Die Tryin', expectations for 50 Cent's sophomore set were unrealistically high. Despite this, he seemed on pace to meet them. "Candy Shop" went straight to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Diss record "Piggy Bank" and beef with Jadakiss and Fat Joe kept him popping in the streets. That dual relevance worked, and The Massacre sold more first-week copies than its predecessor, in less time.
Regardless, there was an air of disappointment that loomed over the record. It was good, but certainly not a classic like Get Rich or Die Tryin'. However, what most people don't know is that hit records 50 Cent wrote for Game's The Documentary ("How We Do," "Hate It or Love It," and a reported four others) were originally intended for The Massacre. Perhaps 50's generosity cost him another classic? For that reason alone, the album's inability to live up to Get Rich or Die Tryin' deserves some slack.
Cam'ron Killa Season (2006)
Killa Cam was on a hot streak for the first half of the Aughts. His solo albums Come Home With Me and Purple Haze achieved cult classic status, as did his Diplomats crew's effort, Diplomatic Immunity. Cam'ron was exerting an unbelievable amount of influence of the rap game, and Killa Season (complete with a low-budget, so-bad-it's-good film of the same name) was supposed to keep that going. But it didn't...according to the music press.
Critics dismissed the record as a clunky, bloated affair with too much unnecessary filler. Stellar singles like "Wet Wipes" and "Touch It or Not" owned the streets and the club, but did little to sway an overall negative reception when the consensus of the full-length effort came in. Yes, some of the album lags, but "Killa Cam," "He Tried to Play Me," "Triple Up," and "Girls, Cash, Cars" rank among the best records Cam'ron has done. Perhaps reviewers were distracted by his canker sore of a feud with Jay-Z at the time.
Diddy Press Play (2006)
Only Diddy could get away with a project like this. He doesn't need talent; he buys it. Or more accurately, his talent is his taste, his ability to pick the right artists and find out where their talents are most ideally suited. And Press Play was perhaps one of his weirdest, most interesting releases for this reason. One moment, he's rapping the lyrics of Pharoahe Monch. The next he's spitting over a Rich Harrison retro-production alongside Mary J. Blige, or harmonizing with Keyshia Cole over a Mario Winans-produced Prince-style drum break.
There's a certain chutzpah required to get Brandy to sing over Drum N Bass, but he tends to, at the very least, trust the instincts of his collaborators for a record as curated as it is created.
The Killers Sam's Town (2006)
Like so many other acts of their ilk, the Killers received some animosity-fueled reactions to their sophomore album. In their case, it was the intense sound shift that took place following their break-out debut, the synth-heavy, Brit-poppy Hot Fuss. But after that, frontman Brandon Flowers wanted to take his band in a different direction.
Sam's Town is a Springsteen-indebted trip through guitars, Americana, and raw vocals. And because it was such a huge left turn, many were left shaking their heads and wondering where the magic of Hot Fuss had gone. The thing is, it never left, it just manifested itself differently.
Nas Hip-Hop Is Dead (2006)
It really doesn't matter how talented you are: You are absolutely asking for hate if you drop an album with a title like Hip-Hop Is Dead and it's not universally seen as a classic. Yes, a majority critics thoroughly enjoyed and, in some cases, loved Nas' eighth record. But that wasn't the overwhelming opinion of the general rap-loving public, who were primarily just pissed off that he tried to say their culture was dead.
As a result, most of them listened to the album with preconceived notions and were quick to toss it aside. You also have those certain Illmatic stans (that term might not be strong enough) who will dismiss anything that isn't, well, Illmatic. In doing that, they're obviously missing out on one of the more storied and unjustifiably hated-on discographies in hip-hop.
So go ahead, fire up Hip-Hop Is Dead in whatever player you use these days and give it a fair listen removed from all the hype and hoopla. Oh, and also ignore the fact that you already heard that Iron Butterfly an album earlier, and you'll be left with some damn-fine listening for the next 63 minutes.
RELATED: The 100 Best Nas Songs
50 Cent Curtis (2007)
Curtis never stood a chance at being judged fairly. It was released alongside and in competition with what is arguably Kanye West's best album, Graduation. Plus, aside from "I Get Money," all of its singles stalled. But that doesn't mean they weren't good. "I'll Still Kill" harkened back to 50's hardcore content, but added Akon for an actually enjoyable pop sheen. The Justin Timberlake-assisted "Ayo Technology" was an electronic banger, but 'Ye's approach to the style ("Stronger") connected better at the time.
Beyond singles, album cuts like "Man Down" and "Movin' On Up" were fire, and came the closest to 50's former, more celebrated styles. Curtis wasn't perfect, but it had high points that were unfortunately overlooked.
Death Cab for Cutie Narrow Stairs (2008)
By the time Death Cab For Cutie got to their sixth studio album, they were in a weird place. As former indie darlings, they had attained enough mainstream success to be that band that every hipster hated to admit they used to love. The group was coming off the release off their highly accessible 2005 album, Plans and it started to seem like Ben Gibbard and company had little experimentation left in them. That wasn't the case.
Narrow Stairs contained some of Death Cab's darkest, heaviest work ever, and the album version of the first single, "I Will Possess Your Heart," was over eight minutes long. Fans who wanted that warm, straightforward, comforting indie were left scratching their heads, but with this album, Death Cab cemented their spot as one of the few long-lasting indie bands who never got too comfortable to think outside the box they had built for themselves.
Eminem Relapse (2009)
Even Eminem himself hated on Relapse when he rapped, "Let's be honest, that last Relapse CD was eh" on "I'm Not Afraid." It was a playful jab at his own work, but it was funny because to a lot of people, it was true. But a lot of people were being a little hard on the maturing rapper. By this point in his life, Marshall had been through a lot, including a drug overdose that acted as a wake-up call, and by the time this project was released in 2009, he was sober. Em may have been clean, but he had one last thing to get out of his system, and that thing was Relapse.
The album is dark and over-the-top in an almost cartoonish way, but on it, the 36-year-old confronted his demons without holding anything back. The result wasn't what most people wanted to hear from his comeback album, but without the purging that took place here, he may have never been able to really move forward with his career and his recovery. If nothing else, the album was proof that Eminem's sharp delivery and command over the language was as strong as ever. Listen to "Stay Wide Awake" and "Underground" again if you don't believe us.
Ghostface Killah Ghostdini: Wizard of Poetry in Emerald City (2009)
Here's Ghostface Killah, recording the album we pretty much expected him to, yet people still hated on it. The absurdly titled Ghostdini: Wizard Of Poetry in Emerald City is the R&B/hip-hop experiment GFK flirted with on damn near every album. While his previous ventures into the sound weren't always perfect, they weren't garbage either. And neither is Wizard of Poetry.
There might be some recycled production ("Guest House") and beyond-graphic lyrics ("Stapleton Sex"), but what should we expect? This is honesty in the form of gaudy, uber-sexual songs dedicated to intercourse, unrequited love, and the BS that can come with relationships.
Lil Wayne Rebirth (2010)
Critics of Rebirth say that Lil Wayne is a rapper, not a rock star, and that he should stick to rapping. It's funny, because not giving a fuck what critics are saying is one of the things that makes Lil Wayne more of a rock star than most guitar-slinging musicians these days. He may not have the guitar skills, and his Autotune-heavy, hybrid version rock/rap is never going to sit well with some people who are still waiting for the reinvention of blues, but Lil Wayne brought an attitude to Rebirth that's been missing in mainstream rock for years.
Think about how many real rock stars we have in popular music these days, then think about why that number is so low. Once rockers get popular, they usually end up getting complacent and safe. With Rebirth, Tunechi took a huge risk simply because he wanted to, and when you revisit tracks like "Ground Zero," "Drop The World," and "Knockout," you might even realize that he stumbled upon some great moments while he did it.
MGMT Congratulations (2010)
If you went into MGMT's sophomore album, Congratulations, expecting another batch of tripped-out pop songs, chances are you were infuriated. The band went into recording this project with the intent of delivering something different, fresh, and entirely new, which they most certainly did. But as we noted, turns like this aren't going to met with open arms.
A few critics might have embraced the album, but fans were more reluctant to do so, leading MGMT's Ben Goldwasser to even come out and apologize for lead single "Flash Delirium."
Diddy – Dirty Money Last Train to Paris (2010)
If there is any justice in the world, Last Train to Paris will be remembered as one of the most underrated records of its time. The album was a significant step forward from Press Play, sacrificing the latter's loose experimentalism in order to harness a very well-defined sound, incorporating the svelte, lush, expensive and expansive.
Twin singers Dawn Richards and Kalenna Harper gave the entire record a consistent feel, with gorgeous vocals and an icily smooth style that really did epitomize Diddy's most representative lyric: "Smoke weed, listening to Sade." That's to say nothing of the louche swagger of "Shades," the propulsive "Hello Good Morning," the spiritual transcendence of "Angels," the lite-reggae lilt of "Someone to Love Me," or the graceful loneliness of "I Hate That You Love Me." It's a record where each album track feels like a more potent highlight than the last. Last Train to Paris tells a cohesive story without sacrificing each song's unique feel.
Lil Wayne I Am Not A Human Being (2010)
Lil Wayne's I Am Not a Human Being had the odds stacked against it in more ways than one. Weezy was incarcerated at the time of its release, he had just released his oft-dissed Rebirth, and his fans were still waiting on Tha Carter IV. So if anyone thought Human Being was going to be fairly received, they were sorely mistaken.
This was, however, another case where the reviews were mostly favorable and it did debut at No. 1 on the charts. But when the majority is expecting you to drop greatness instead of a for-the-fans release, you have to know you're in for some hate. And that's true even if your album has some strong cuts like "I'm Single," "Gonorrhea," and "Right Above It."
Lupe Fiasco Lasers (2011)
Lupe Fiasco's Lasers had everything going against it that you could imagine. That includes album delays, a slew of leaks, and Lu himself even telling us in an interview that he both loved and hated the project, prior to its release. So it was somewhat understandable when people went in with low expectations, heard the poppy moments, and wrote it off.
But amidst the glossy soundscapes and huge synths, Lupe is still, well, Lupe on here. "Words I Never Said" is huge and bombast, but it's also pure honesty. The same goes for "All Black Everything," which stands as one of his finest socio-political cuts to date.
RELATED: Lupe Fiasco's 10 Realest Moments
Lil Wayne Tha Carter IV (2011)
Lil Wayne's had some good luck with his Tha Carter releases, which, to many, peaked when the third dropped in 2008. With that as his pinnacle, Weezy has often received misguided hate for subsequent releases, including last year's highly anticipated Tha Carter IV. When it finally arrived after a nearly endless stream of delays, the reactions were...mixed.
Some loved it and plenty hated it, primarily because it was too difficult to separate it from what we had heard from Weezy in the past. For those ready to travel with him wherever, it was a rewarding listen with choice guests and stellar singles like "She Will," "John," and even "A Milli" retread, "6 Foot 7 Foot."
WZRD WZRD (2012)
Ah yes, the artist's foray into another genre or style all for their love for said genre or style. In this case, it was the duo of Kid Cudi and producer/longtime collaborator Dot Da Genius, who together operated under the name WZRD and released a self-titled album. Much of the hard feelings for this project were steeped in the fact that, well, people wanted to hear Cudder rap and not embrace a straight-up rocker croon. But let's be honest, who wasn't prepared for something like this from dude?
He successfully flirted with smoked-out rock-leaning joints (no pun) on previous album cuts like "Mr. Rager," "REVOFEV," and "Up Up & Away." And those tracks are what gave way to WZRD and Cudi fully embracing his raspy, throaty singing style more than ever before. Truth be told, he embarked on one of the better modern "artistic experiments" with this album. "Teleport 2 Me, Jamie," in particular, still has legs.
RELATED: Kid Cudi's 25 Favorite Albums
Nicki Minaj Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012)
The main criticism of anything Nicki Minaj releases is that it's either too poppy or not hip-hop enough. Her detractors were likely fair-weather fans who only loved her verse on Kanye West's "Monster" or look back to her early material and whine, "Why Nicki? WHY?" Answer: Because she wants to and she obviously doesn't give much of a fuck what those people think.
Not only that, but when you forget about the fact you want to just hear her rap-which she does extremely well on Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded, anyway-you'll finally enjoy some of the best pop records of 2012. No bullshit. Listen again, let your predetermined feelings subside, and give the album the fair shake it deserves.
2 Chainz Based on a T.R.U. Story (2012)
2 Chainz' solo debut, Based On A T.R.U. Story, arrived at the height of the rapper's career resurgence that's taken place over the past two years or so. And you know what that meant: ridiculously high anticipation following a series of successful and critically acclaimed mixtapes and standout guest appearances. That alone meant that folks were going to be harsh on BOATS despite it being exactly what you'd want from a Chainz album.
There is booming, excellent production from the likes of Mike Will Made It, Southside, Bangladesh, and Sonny Digital, songs about strippers, wanting a big booty on your birthday, being rich, and some choice guest features. Oh, and it has one of the year's best singles, "No Lie." Yeah, these are the things we all happen to overlook in this insatiable time we live in. If an album's not a classic, we too often dismiss it and label it a disappointment.
RELATED: 2 Chainz' 25 Favorite Albums