With raps modest beginning in clubs and on the streets, it reached its creative and musical peak in the 90s. Artists like Big Daddy Kane, KRS-One, Eric B and Rakim, and the legendary MC Search paved the way for an incredible group of young ones, who flourished during a time when production and lyricism in rap were at all-time highs. Not like today! From the West to East Coast to the dirty South, rap was, in the 90s, an influential medium of entertainment.
As most fans of rap already know (NOT YOU DRAKE FANS!), there is a good deal of diversity within this musical genre. As a result, geographic distinctions have been used to organize the genre into West-Coast, East-Coast, and Southern rap. Why the segregation? Though still widespread amongst certain fans, these kinds of distinctions have largely and deliberately avoided. But in the 90s, rap feuds—most notably between Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac—made these distinctions significant. Not your typical Meek Mill and Drake beef.
Nonetheless, because of these rigid distinctions in the 90s, this list looks at 5 of the most influential East-Coast rap albums from the 90s. Without these albums, there would not be an artists like Kanye West and Blu and Exile, artists who have been significantly influenced by their antecedents.
LET THE TRUTH BEGIN!
5. The Score (1996)—Fugees
When The Score was released in 1996, it became an instant crossover success, eventually climbing to the number 1 spot atop the Billboard 200. In 2003, Rolling Stone included this album in its list, “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” The group, which consisted of Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, and Pras, largely handles the production of the album, which features several hit singles. The album balances intelligent, thoughtful lyrics with memorably playful lines. Wyclef Jean and Lauryn Hill counterpoise each other’s verses on several songs, and Lauryn Hill shines luminously throughout. Her verse from “Ready or Not” is trenchant and shocking, yet not crass; with her performances on this album, she became one of the most beloved female MCs and paved the way for future females in the genre. In light of Lauryn Hill’s recent legal troubles, this album should remind fans of her former glory.