Hip Hop & Rap recommendations for Taters

There is a rather heated thread that is fairly universally bashing rap & hip hop here in the music section of the Audiogon forums.  This is a thread to search for the best that the genre has.  Please recommend artists, albums, and songs that you feel are the best that hip hop & rap have to offer.  What tracks would you recommend to someone who enjoys music, but is quite far outside of the usual listening audience for hip hop and rap?

Here is the thread that inspired this post:

So, to start it off, I'll offer up a few of my favorites.  I'll surely come up with a few more, but for now, this is where I would start.  I hope you enjoy this challenge!

- Mark


A Tribe Called Quest
People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm
Bonita Applebum

Mos Def
Black On Both Sides
Hip Hop

Mos Def
Black On Both Sides
Ms. Fat Booty

Us 3
Hand On The Torch
It's Like That

Like Water For Chocolate
The Light

Kanye West
The College Drop Out
All Falls Down

Digable Planets
Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space)
Where I'm From

2 Pac
All Eyez On Me
Only God Can Judge Me

Tupac, I ain't mad at cha, California, If I die tonight, and pretty much anything from the "Me against the World" album!
Thanks for this marktomaras great to see a discussion of actual music and artists. I don't listen to much rap or hip-hop myself, but one of my favorite bands, Galactic, incorporates rap extensively in their fantastic album "From the Corner to the Block" highly recommended.
 Oh boy, here come the haters. That didn't take too long! As this is a thread dedicated to recomeding quality in a genre, I hope those who don't have anything positive to add, would mind not adding anything at all.  Thanks!
Eric B & Rakim
Paid In Full
Paid In Full (Coldcut Remix)

Digable Planets
Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space)
Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)

Bone Thugs-n-Harmony
E. 1999 Eternal
Tha Crossroads

Mos Def
Travelin' Man (DJ Honda Remix)

A Tribe Called Quest
The Low End Theory

Eric B & Rakim
Don't Sweat the Technique 
Don't Sweat the Technique

I have been going to Audiophile meetings for 15 years. We usually go to a different dealer every month and listen to a system that is set up for the meeting. Sometimes they will have a guest speaker from one of the audio companies come and talk to us and answer any questions we may have. In all these years No one has requested to play a rap or hip hop song. After the meetings we usually have lunch and talk about equipment and music. Not once in all these years has anyone talked about rap or hip hop music.

I have also been going to Audiophile shows since the late 80's and I have never heard them demo gear with hip hop or rap. At the shows they are happy to demo the music you bring with you and not once has anyone asked to play a rap or a hip hop song.

When I wrote the original thread I was being really serious when I said "Why do you need a high end system to listen to rap or hip hop.
The statement had nothing to do with racism or any other stereotype they have been trying to lay on me. I also said I thought rap or Hip Hop would sound better on a mid-fi system. Personally I think rap or hip hop would sound the best on a high powered car audio system with sub-woofers.

For me the only reason to have a high-end system is to listen to Jazz, Classical or the blues. If I didn't listen to that type of music I would not bother with owning a high-end system. The equipment is very expensive and the maintenance of changing tubes and phono cartridges cost a nice chunk of change.

I will give the op credit by trying to have a civilized discussion about rap music or hip hop without without making me the bad guy. I do appreciate your effort in starting this thread. Unfortunately I have heard rap and hip hop music since it's inception and I have never liked it from day one. It's just not my thing. I saw a show about Soul Train on one of the cable channels and they talked to Don Cornelius who was the originator of the show. He said when the rap music and hip hop became popular he turned the show over to someone else to host it. He said he was old school and could not relate to that genre. Well I am just like Mr. Cornelius. I am also old school. I love the soul music from the 60's and 70's.

I don't expect young people to like Jazz or Frank Sinatra. Most of them didn't grow up with it and can't relate to it. I know there are a minority of young people that do like that kind of music. A man once told me that most people like the kind of music they grew up on. I think for the most part he is correct. Of course they are always exceptions to the rule.


Here are your quotes:

"For me the only reason to have a high-end system is to listen to Jazz, Classical or the blues. If I didn’t listen to that type of music I would not bother with owning a high-end system."

"Personally I think rap or hip hop would sound the best on a high powered car audio system with sub-woofers."

I’m a music lover period and have tried to build a system that plays most everything with dynamic musicality and hi fidelity. Everything from the most current R&B, hip hop, indy rock, 80 rock and pop, 70’s classic rock on vinyl, classical CD’s and vinyl from all eras, and 1950’s and 60’s Jazz on vinyl and the excellent Frank Sinatra /Riddle capitol recordings. I have several original Sinatra records from the 50’s.

I have an open musical heart and make no assumptions of good and bad and what systems I need to have to play a certain type of music on...Just sayin... Even when people here try to help you end up digging a deeper hole for yourself.

Its a new day and the young at heart will hopefully love great sound regardless of your views

Excellent Response jetrexpro.

Taters, it looks like you didn't take my point to heart from the other thread that led to this thread.  I only suggested that you open your mind, and stop bashing stuff.  To suggest that a fan of a particular style of music shouldn't bother with a hi-fi system is plain silly.  Who only listens to one genre?  And who's to say that a particular style of music isn't worthy of a good system?  Do you think the recording studios set aside their $50,000 microphones & preamps and instead break out their smart phones to record hip hop?  

I do appreciate what you said above:
 "I will give the op credit by trying to have a civilized discussion about rap music or hip hop without without making me the bad guy. I do appreciate your effort in starting this thread."

I don't want you to be the bad guy, but your determination to bash and generalize is making you sound like a bad guy all on your own.  I am not a hip hop devotee, I really have eclectic tastes and hip hop is only a small percentage of the music I love, but I do love a good chunk of hip hop.

Look, I wanted to do two things here.  I wanted to stop hearing people bash and put things down, as that dumbs down the dialogue.  We all can do much better when we talk about ideas, and look to find the positive, rather than trash talk.  I wanted you to challenge your own notion that this music is garbage by trying to find one bit of it that you may be able to say, ok, that is not my go-to music, but that track or that album has merit.

If you decide this all is for naught, and we are all hip hop brain washees, and we don't know anything about music, that's fine, but I suggest you move on.  Stop thinking about hip hop as it is only making you upset.  Instead, I would hope you find more pleasure and positivity by exploring the genres that you do like, and perhaps looking deeper into the depths of those genres, and expand your music universe in a positive way.  That won't happen bashing genres that you dislike.

In my post on your other thread, I mentioned that I do not like modern mass market country.  Last year, my cousin invited me to go to the Tortuga Fest in Ft. Lauderdale.  This is a festival style concert for none other than modern mass market country, and you know what, I went!  I decided that it would be fun to see what it is all about, to see it in all of its glory, and not hearing it as background music at the stop light from someone else's car.  In the end, my feelings have not changed, but you will never see me starting numerous threads to bash it, or to suggest that the artists have no talent, or that the fans should not disgrace their hi-fi systems with it.

Lastly, if you didn't take a listen to any of the hip hop recommendations, give this one a try:

Us 3
Hand On The Torch
It's Like That

Ask yourself it this is worth a listen, for you or for anyone.  Maybe your son or nephew is into hip hop and never liked jazz.  Us 3 can be a great way to expand his musical tastes (or at least musical appreciations), and your own.   Its a fusion style hip hop that borrows quite a bit from jazz.  Great stuff.

Trash talking is bane, boring, and bullshit!

Life is too short. Look for the good stuff!


I have been getting very tired of this blanket genre and new music bashing and its not just Taters. Some of the recent stuff said about Adele is embarrassing. Her singing moves millions of people including me.

One of the coolest things I have been hearing over the past years is how so many of these current styles like Rap, Hip hop, rock and R&B have been combining in so many wonderful ways.

Kanye, Rick Ross, Justin Bieber, Alabama Shakes, Nicki Minaj  and so many many more are making great music and yes TATERS it happens to sound GREAT on a hifi system. The new Justin Bieber record sounds wonderful! The new David Bowie is a monumental record. Prince has a new one that I have not checked out yet. So much great new music and great sounding to. I think a great way for some of these folks to get into new music is listen to how many current artists are drawing from Soul, Motown, R&B from the 60 and 70's.

With a tool like youtube a music lover has a wonderful resource to find new music he/she might want to buy. Regards Jet

Jet, I like your style.  You seem like a music lover that I could have a few drinks with.  If you're ever in Miami, let me know!

MarkTomaras, ditto. if you get to NYC Brooklyn let me know.

I have been posting and reading threads here on Agon for 4 -5 years and have always kept it light and positive - always about mine and others system, DIY, and the music I thought others might enjoy. I have learned a huge amount. Its only been in the past few months where I started to feel the need to speak up about some of these very negative blanket bashing threads. All I have learned from these threads is what people don’t like and why they don’t like it and why others should not like it. That’s a bunch of Crap.

The young people who might be into good sound and good music may read some of these threads and run away. I don’t want to see that happen. Jet

All I know of this genre is snippets I hear on radio or TV, and I haven't liked what I heard.  So, I appreciate the suggestions by you more knowledgeable fans, which have prompted me to give a listen.  I'm finding that I enjoy some of the underlying music....Us3's "Eleven Long Years" incorporating the well-known Horace Silver/Steely Dan intro as well as the suggested Us3 "It's Like That", particularly nice sax on Us3 "Cruisin" and the first minutes of Kanye West "Touch the Sky", for example.  But I lose contact when the rap begins, which usually is just atonal, staccato musings.  I'm not parochial, but I can't relate to the scatology, drugs, low-brow sex, gang banger anger, etc.  I lived through "Yummy, yummy, yummy, I've got love in my tummy", so I'm used to listening past the lyrics to hear the music, which is probably how I'll approach most rap.  I hope those of you who are rap fans will keep suggesting good examples, though, as there is clearly more going on there than I was aware of.

This is exactly what I was hoping for, to find people who may not find the genre in their play lists, but will have an open mind, and a bit of curiosity.  I agree, a lot of the lyrics in the genre are pretty base and vulgar, but not all.  Mos Def has a style that is fairly intense (and may not be for hip hop beginners), but his lyrics are not about gangsters and prostitutes at all.  His album "Black On Both Sides" is one of my all time favorites, and I recently bough the LP so I could play it on my higher quality analog front end over the digital.  Another group would be Digable Planets.  They focus on society at large, shy away from intense vulgarity, and use a lot of jazz and soul in their hip hop.
77jovian, I have been using YouTube to sift thru the many new releases. For instance, Rick Ross has a very nice song called "Sorry". So what I will do is pull up the full album and listen thru and see if I want to buy that album. Same with Kanye West. He has some great music which you can hear on YouTube. His "Late Registration" album is very cool. Listen thru it and see what grabs you. "Touch the sky" and "Heard em say" are on this record.
Not a perfect place to put stuff about streaming services, but Tidal is a great way to find new music, with no need to buy anything!  I just subscribed to Tidal & Roon.  All I can say is wow.  Great stuff!
Mark glad to hear you like Tidal I am a big fan myself a great place to find music, new and old. And thanks for keeping the tone and tenor of this thread upbeat and positive and about music!
"Kanye, Rick Ross, Justin Bieber, Alabama Shakes, Nicki Minaj and so many many more are making great music and yes Taters it happens to sound great on a hi-fi system"

If this is what you call great music more power to you!

Boy oh boy Taters, you just don't get it.  I tried.  For some reason, you seem to prefer pointing out that other's preferences are poor rather than have any positive or meaningful discussion about music.  But, to each his own.

I found a t-shirt that you may like though!
Click This Link

I would love to have a meaningful discussion about music with you. It is probably one of my favorite topics. The problem is the music you bring up I have no respect for. Let me give you an example. I am a foodie and I love to talk about different restaurants and the food they serve. I am also (time permitting) willing too drive 2 hours to eat at a certain restaurant.

Just since I like food doesn't mean I would want to discuss certain restaurants with you or the food they servre. Meaning we could discuss steakhouses but I would not want to talk about Sizzler or Outback. We could have a discussion about Mexican food but I would not want to talk about Taco Bell or Jack in the Box.

I am sure there are millions of young people that would not want to discuss Cole Porter, Frank Sinatra, Louie Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Ella, etc, etc. (of course there are always exceptions to the rule)

If these young people don't like this kind of music I don't have a problem with them. Like I said in an earlier statement most people like the kind of music they grew up on. (And yes there are always exceptions to this). 

If you ever want to discuss, Classic Rock, Classical, Blues or Jazz I am all in.

Taters you evidently have some kind of problem. Has any Hip Hop artists come to your grand abode asking to be heard? Since they're millionaires, I rather doubt it.

If all of these people are so beneath you, why are you so curious about them? Most people go to "Google" to satisfy their curiosity; why do you clutter up the music forum with all your irrelevant threads about Hip Hop?

Ok, I'l hand it to you, you are being a good sport.  I am doing my best to be nice and even keeled, but that t-shirt recommendation was a tiny bit on the harsh side (though I find that t-shirt hilarious!).

There is a problem with your food analogy though.  With your analogy, you suggest that as a food lover, you are happy to discuss the best a particular cuisine has to offer.  Ruth's Chris is a steakhouse worth discussing; Sizzler is not.  You mention something similar about Mexican food - the best it has to offer is a worthy topic of discussion.  This is precisely what I am suggesting the entire time.  But the fault in your analogy is, that it explains how you are interested in discussing quality within a particular genre.  In the music sphere, especially with the subject at hand, hip hop, you refuse to accept that there is any quality to speak of within the entire genre.

If I were to adjust your food analogy to match what your postings on music are, it would look like this:

Steak houses are worthy of discussion, as are Italian and French restaurants, but Mexican is not worth talking about.  All Mexican food is garbage, and I won't even discuss it.

The millions of young people who don't want to talk about Cole Porter don't matter.  The people who come to this site, we are fans of music of a different level.  We like to discuss and dive deep into music.  We shouldn't say all Mexican food is garbage, even if we can't understand how anyone could appreciate those spice combinations and those god awful refrained beans.  Someone does appreciate it, and that is good enough reason not to belittle their preferences and suggest that the music is not even worthy of a fine sound system!

The other posters are right.  It may be a good idea to stop all the irrelevant posts about hip hop.  The manner of which you ask the questions you ask seems to simply seek support for your own point of view, calling for many to just agree and offer up the same bashing and name calling, not exactly a high brow discussion.

You don't have to like hip hop, but I would hope you can at least see the problem in your logic.  It is better to treat hip hop like a cuisine that you don't care for, but don't forget that many people enjoy that food, and within it, there are top chefs and greasy spoon hacks who make junk.

Good Luck,

I don't want to keep arguing back and forth with you. Like I said there are exceptions to everything. I think Don_c55 summed it up the best when he said"99 percent of Audiophiles agree with Taters"

Mark, carry on with your music thread. Ignore the haters. Raps rhythms permeate through all types of modern music. 

98 percent of Tater's 99 percent are tickled you enjoy the music!

I adore the music of bach. Especially the sacred music.
i adore the operas, piano concerti, string quintets of Mozart. His requiem is monumental.
The lieder of Schubert and Schumann.
the piano music, requiem and symphonies of Brahms. Oh and his string sextets are glorious.
Love richard Strauss, Mahler symphonies, the early works of Arnold Schoenberg. Alban bergs music touches me in a profound way. Bartok is amazing so is Stravinsky. Charlie Parker, coltrain, miles, Chet baker. Frankie Sinatra. Love the drumming of tony Williams. Dig Elvis and the everly brothers. Stevie wonder, Aretha Franklin the Motown sound, muscle shoals sound the Memphis sound the beetles the stones led Zeppelin. Pink Floyd and pop music in general. I think Stevie Ray Von might be the greatest blues guitarist and remember where I was when he died.

And most importantly I believe that there is great music written preformed and recorded in all genres after 1980 and I believe the best is yet to come. I believe in music in musicains in the creation of art. I believe it will never stop. I wake up everyday looking forward to next recording or new music I have not heard and might deeply touch me.

those who don’t are missing out on the fun. Jet

Jet, you rock!  Nailed it again.

Taters, I agree, we shall stop going back and forth.  I have said all I can.  Please stop bashing, even if you don't like something, that will serve you well here in the Audiogon forums, and in the rest of life.

I think this can be a pretty much a case closed on this thread.

Thanks to the contributors, especially to Rzado, I had never listened to Eric B & Rakim before, and the tracks you suggested are great!

Now, on to listen to some classical while I work! 

Take Care All, 

Whoa, I just listened to Eric B & Rakim don't sweat the technique. wow,  that drummer and bass player are laying down some serious groove. Good song. Like the girls asses in the video too.
Taters wrote:
"I am a foodie and I love to talk about different restaurants and the food they serve. I am also (time permitting) willing too (sic) drive 2 hours to eat at a certain restaurant."

In my formative years, I had the good fortune to study with a Tibetan Buddhist monk who knew extreme deprivation until he miraculously managed to escape to the United States.  He once told me that it was better to go hungry than to live with a full stomach and a closed mind.

This "simple" utterance changed my life- I can only strive to live up to this maxim.
PS,  excellent.  Love the Buddhist Monks.

Please have a look at my photography from a philanthropic medical expedition to the remote regions of Tibet:

- Mark
Wow Mark, very beautiful photos. I take it you are a professional. If not you should be. Regards jet
I'm sorry, but I'm going to recommend albums because that's what I prefer to listen to:

J Dilla - Donuts
OutKast - Aquemini
Ka - Honor Killed the Samurai
Nas - Illmatic XX
Kamayih - Got it Made
A Tribe Called Quest - Midnight Mauraders
Gorillaz - Plastic Beach
The Weeknd - Starboy
Missy Elliott - Supa Dupa Fly

And @jetrexpro thanks for the thread. It's a shame how closed minded many of the so-called music lovers in here are. Makes you wonder what the stereo is really for...

There's an infinite amount of new music made every day by people just as talented as the heros of yore. If you're not open minded enough to appreciate it, that's your loss. Sad.