The Ideal Qobuz Collection comprises original, uncompiled albums that have made a considerable mark on music history or which qualify as essential recordings within each musical genre. By downloading these albums, or streaming them with your subscription, you begin a journey that will shine a light on some of the finest moments in recorded music.

Albums

£7.99

Rap - Released November 13, 2013 | Stones Throw Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
£25.99

Rap - Released September 30, 2013 | Parlophone France

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
£7.99

Rap - Released August 17, 2013 | Stones Throw Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Quasimoto's The Unseen is one of the most imaginative albums of the new West Coast underground, a puzzling, psychedelic jazz-rap gem riddled with warped humor and fractured musical genius. Producer Madlib actually outdoes his inventive work on the Lootpack's debut album, Soundpieces: Da Antidote!, crafting deep, dreamy jazz loops littered with found sounds and wiggy vocal samples. Quasimoto's helium-huffing voice is actually Madlib's, electronically altered for an effect not unlike Prince's abandoned Camille project. It might put some listeners off as gimmicky, and it's really a shame if it does, because it isn't really the focal point of The Unseen's left-field brilliance. It's more of an added textural element for Madlib's off-kilter soundscapes and a vehicle for the cartoonish humor hinted at in his choice of samples. The lyrics are highly free-associative (that is to say, stoned beyond belief), and by turns paranoid, threatening, or hallucinatory. But it all melts into the warm, druggy haze of the music; unlike, say, the Wu-Tang Clan or Dr. Octagon, this dream isn't supposed to be a nightmare. Quas' scattershot flow isn't what you'd call technically accomplished, but that's by design -- he's supposed to be fragmented, not quite all there. The song structures are similarly loose, with rhymes coming from nowhere and disappearing just as quickly; the tracks are short (all under four minutes) and end abruptly, as though Quas is too blunted to think of anything else to say. (Madlib does appear as himself on occasion, and usually sounds just as noncommittal as his "collaborator.") Highlights are plentiful, and include the brilliant singles "Microphone Mathematics" and "Come on Feet," the bizarre trash-talking of "Bad Character" and "Put a Curse on You," and the joy-of-music cuts "Return of the Loop Digga" and "Jazz Cats, Pt. 1," which recount Madlib's obsession with record collecting and name-check his favorites. It takes some time to assimilate, but The Unseen gradually reveals itself as one of the most unique and rewarding albums of its era. ~ Steve Huey
£7.99

Rap - Released August 17, 2013 | Stones Throw

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music
Madvillainy represents the highly anticipated collaboration between Madlib and MF Doom. Recorded throughout 2003 -- a year which, between the two of them (under various aliases), saw more than eight releases featuring their work. When Madvillainy was released in March 2004 it became obvious that the best was saved for last as MF Doom's unpredictable lyrical style fits quite nicely within Madlib's unconventional beat orchestrations. Twenty-two short and blunted tracks bang out mythical stories of villains and urban (anti) heroes trying to make it through with their ganja and wits still intact -- each flows together in a comic book fashion sometimes segued with vignettes sampled from 1940s movies and broadcasts or left-field marjuana-toting skits. Madvillainy's strength lies in its mix between seemingly obtuse beats, samples, MCing, and some straight-up hip-hop bumping. Take "Accordion" for example. A wacky accordion sample loops throughout a slow-paced beat and lazy bassline while Doom flies through almost unaware of the background at times. Or "Raid," which features a beat that seems to be so out of time or step with a traditional hip-hop direction. But Doom sits quite comfortable within its frame and sets up Medaphor for a slick guest appearance. Other guests include the bad character, Lord Quasimoto, on "Americas Most Blunted" and the Sun Ra-inspired "Shadows of Tomorrow"; Wildchild blasts million-miles-an-hour rhymes on "Hardcore Hustle" and Stacy Epps floats through "Eye." Madvillainy gets close to the genius seen on Quasimoto's Unseen, and like that record this one might take a few listens to find it. But once it clicks in, this disc stays in the CD player for days. ~ Sam Samuelson
£7.99

Rap - Released August 17, 2013 | Stones Throw Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The Lootpack's debut album, Soundpieces: Da Antidote!, ushered in a string of excellent releases on Peanut Butter Wolf's Stones Throw label, and helped serve notice that the West Coast underground scene was becoming one of tremendous creative vitality. Much of the album's success is due to fantastic production by Madlib, who takes his place as one of the West Coast's most imaginative trackmasters, underground or otherwise. His style is subtly otherworldly, drawing bits and pieces from countless obscure sources; every listen reveals new, unexpected sounds layered into the mix. With 24 tracks over the course of a full CD, Soundpieces does feel a bit excessive, but most of the tracks are thankfully focused and concise, and a few clock in at around a minute or less. The exception is the multi-sectioned suite "Episodes," an impressive b-boy bouillabaisse that showcases Madlib's fragmented genius. The rapping, by Madlib and Wildchild plus a guest roster of West Coast scenesters, is consistently high-quality, and the album is studded with great singles: "Questions," "Whenimondamic," the eerie-sounding "The Anthem," and "Weededed," the latter an attack on MCs who rely on marijuana to enhance their rhymes (though not on the drug itself). Among the many guests, Dilated Peoples and Lootpack mentors Tha Alkaholiks shine brightest on "Long Awaited" and "Likwit Fusion," respectively. The Lootpack are vulnerable to the same criticism that's been leveled at Dilated Peoples, namely that in returning to hip-hop's basics, they've substantially limited their lyrical content by focusing almost entirely on battle rhymes. They're clever and well-crafted battle rhymes, to be sure, and the group's microphone technique is impressive, but in 1999, it was hard not to want them to pay attention to something besides wack MCs. That's especially true given the imagination of Madlib's subsequent projects (Quasimoto in particular), not to mention his production here. Still, that isn't enough to keep Soundpieces: Da Antidote! from being a resounding success. ~ Steve Huey
£7.99

Rap - Released August 17, 2013 | Stones Throw Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Donuts was made on a hospital bed and in a home studio, on a stripped-down setup with a stack of vinyl. Released on its maker's 32nd birthday, three days before he passed away, the album has a resonance deeper than anyone could've hoped for or even imagined. Some who were close to Dilla have said that there are hidden messages in the samples, the track titles, and who knows where else. It's impossible not to speculate about some things, like the track titled "Don't Cry," the looped "broken and blue" from a version of "Walk on By," the presence of Eddie Kendricks singing "My people, hold on," or the fact that there are 31 tracks, a possible signal that Dilla survived a little longer than he expected. Then again, for every possible message, there are two or three elements that could've been designed to throw any analysis off its trail. After all, if there's one single image that the disc brings to mind, it's that of Dilla goofing off, having fun with some of his favorite records, and messing with some heads in the process. (And you could probably make the album's title out to be a metaphor for the circle of life, but sometimes a donut is just a donut.) Armed with sources that are either known to novice sample spotters or only the most seasoned diggers -- surprisingly, the former greatly outweighs the latter -- Dilla's also just as likely to leave his samples barely touched as he is to render them unrecognizable. It's fitting that Motown echoes, a predominant theme, are often felt, from the use of Dionne Warwick's Holland-Dozier-Holland-written "You're Gonna Need Me" (on "Stop"), to the shifting waves of percussion plucked from Kendricks' "People... Hold On" (on "People"), to the Stevie-like piano licks within Kool & the Gang's "The Fruitman" ("The Diff'rence"). Most of the tracks fall into the 60-90 second range. It's easy to be overwhelmed, or even put off, by the rapid-fire sequence, but it's astounding how so many of the sketches leave an immediate impression. By the third or fourth listen, what initially came across as a haphazard stream of slapped-together fragments begins to take the shape of a 44-minute suite filled with wistful joy. Like everything else Dilla has ever done, Donuts is not defining; in fact, elements of its approach bare the apparent influence of Jaylib collaborator Madlib. His mode has always been too slippery and restlessly progressive to be equated with any one track or album, but Donuts just might be the one release that best reflects his personality. ~ Andy Kellman
£11.56

Rap - Released January 1, 2013 | Interscope

Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music
Hip-hop debuts don't come much more "highly anticipated" than Kendrick Lamar's. A series of killer mixtapes displayed his talent for thought-provoking street lyrics delivered with an attention-grabbing flow, and then there was his membership in the Black Hippy crew with his brethren Ab-Soul, Schoolboy Q, and Jay Rock all issuing solo releases that pleased the "true hip-hop" set, setting the stage for a massive fourth and final. Top it off with a pre-release XXL Magazine cover that he shared with his label boss and all-around legend Dr. Dre, and the "biggest debut since Illmatic" stuff starts to flow, but Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City would be a milestone even without the back-story, offering cool and compelling lyrics, great guests (Drake, Dr. Dre, and MC Eiht) and attractive production (from Pharrell, Just Blaze, Tabu, and others). Here, Kendrick is living his life like status and cash were extra credit. It is what makes this kid so "good" as he navigates his "mad" city (Compton) with experience and wisdom beyond his years (25). He's shamelessly bold about the allure of the trap, contrasting the sickness of his city with the universal feeling of getting homesick, and carrying a Springsteen-sized love for the home team. Course, in his gang-ruled city, N.W.A. was the home team, but as the truly beautiful, steeped-in-soul, biographic key track "The Art of Peer Pressure" finds a reluctant young Kendrick and his friends feeding off the life-force of Young Jeezy's debut album, it's something Clash, Public Enemy, and all other rebel music fans can relate to. Still, when he realizes that hero Jeezy must have risen above the game -- because the real playas are damned and never show their faces -- it spawns a kind of elevated gangsta rap that's as pimp-connectable as the most vicious Eazy-E, and yet poignant enough to blow the dust off any cracked soul. Equally heavy is the cautionary tale of drank dubbed "Swimming Pools," yet that highlight is as hooky and hallucinatory as most Houston drank anthems, and breaks off into one of the chilling, cassette-quality interludes that connect the album, adding to the documentary or eavesdropping quality of it all. Soul children will experience déjà vu when "Poetic Justice" slides by with its Janet Jackson sample -- sounding like it came off his Aunt's VHS copy of the movie it's named after -- while the closing "Compton" is an anthem sure to make the Game jealous, featuring Dre in beast mode, acting pre-Chronic and pre-Death Row. This journey through the concrete jungle of Compton is worth taking because of the artistic richness within, plus the attraction of a whip-smart rapper flying high during his rookie season. Any hesitation about the horror of it all is quickly wiped away by Kendrick's mix of true talk, open heart, open mind, and extended hand. Add it all up and even without the hype, this one is still potent and smart enough to rise to the top of the pile. ~ David Jeffries
£11.56

Rap - Released January 1, 2013 | CAPITOL

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Released only a month after Straight Outta Compton (1988), Eazy-Duz-It was the first N.W.A spin-off album. Years before Ice Cube went solo with Amerikkka's Most Wanted (1990), before Dr. Dre changed the rap game with The Chronic (1992), before MC Ren struggled to establish himself with Shock of the Hour (1993), and before Yella simply fell into obscurity, Eazy-E rose to immediate superstar status with this solo debut. It's no wonder why, for the album plays like a humorous, self-centered twist on Straight Outta Compton with Eazy-E, the most charismatic member of N.W.A, front and center while his associates are busy behind the scenes, producing the beats and writing the songs. In terms of production, Dr. Dre and Yella meld together P-Funk, Def Jam-style hip-hop, and the leftover electro sounds of mid-'80s Los Angeles, creating a dense, funky, and thoroughly unique style of their own. In terms of songwriting, the D.O.C., Ice Cube, and MC Ren are each credited; plus, Ren performs raps of his own on five of the 12 songs. The collaborative nature of the music -- with Dre and Yella producing; the D.O.C., Ice Cube, and MC Ren writing the songs; MC Ren featured as a guest on half of them; and Eazy-E performing -- fortunately makes Eazy-Duz-It more of an N.W.A effort than a true solo album. This is fortunate because as charismatic as he may be, Eazy-E isn't an especially gifted MC. He's at his best here when he's cracking wise and also when he's overshadowed by Dr. Dre's productions, particularly on the four-song sequence of "Eazy Duz It," "We Want Eazy," "Eazy-er Said Than Dunn," and "Radio" -- all heavily produced songs with layers upon layers of samples and beats competing with Eazy-E's rhymes for attention. Straight Outta Compton is no doubt the more revolutionary album, yet Eazy-Duz-It is a great companion, showcasing N.W.A's sense of humor and, despite the often violent subject matter, casting them in a lighter, more humorous mood. When Eazy-E would return with a second solo release, 5150 Home 4 tha Sick, his N.W.A associates would be M.I.A. and the difference would be stark. ~ Jason Birchmeier
£11.56

Rap - Released January 1, 2013 | Universal Music

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music
Everyone professionally involved with the creation of Kanye West's sixth solo effort was sworn to secrecy, and with no preorders allowed, plus the news that producer Rick Rubin was still tinkering with tracks seven days prior to the drop, this instant, no-singles, anti-hype album got pre-release hyped on an Olympic scale. Think of the roll-up as a revolutionary blow against the empire or the supernova ego of West in full effect, and while it's probably a little of both, Yeezus the album is a lot of both, with good taste and bad taste both turned up to 11. This aggro-industrial earthquake with booming bass and minimal synths balances groundbreaking hip-hop lyrics ("New Slaves" is a bizarre, layered concept clash where high fashion, slavery, and "I'd rather be a dick than a swallower" all collide) with punkish, irresponsible blast-femy (during the draggy, trap track "I'm in It," West's melodious and melancholy voice shouts its dreams to the multitude, pleading "Your titties, let 'em out, free at last/Thank God almighty, they free at last" as if civil rights and booty calls were equally noble quests), and it all works in an astonishing, compelling manner. It's as if West spent the last year listening exclusively to Death Grips and Chief Keef and all the political, social, and musical contradictions became his muse, inspiring moments like the Keef and Bon Iver meet-up that fuels the mile-high hangover number "Hold My Liquor." "Blood on the Leaves" is recklessly bold as it uses Nina Simone's performance of "Strange Fruit" under its snide tale of ex-girlfriends, groupies, and date rape drugs; then there's the obviously volatile "I Am a God" ("Hurry up with my damn massage!/Hurry up with my damn ménage!"), which still outdoes its provocative title with a swelled-head manifesto plus an unexpected, Magic-Mike-meets-Aphex-Twin boom production courtesy of Daft Punk. The closing beauty called "Bound 2" finds veteran singer Charlie Wilson reuniting with that Gap Band bassline but in chilly, new wave surroundings, but the most spellbinding juxtaposition on the album comes on first as claustrophobic electro-clasher "On Sight" offers "Black dick all up in your spouse again/And I know she like chocolate men/Got mo' n*ggas off than Cochran" -- stunning because Kanye is family now with the OJ Simpson trial's "Dream Team," seeing as how he's dating Kim of the Kardashian family and the couple welcomed a child three days before the album's release. Coming from the man who jumped on-stage and grabbed Taylor Swift's VMA award, or called the American President a racist during a nationally televised charity event, this angry, cathartic, and concise album (punkishly running 40 minutes), and its unconventional road to release seems like a personal quest for the next provocative, headline-making, and unforgettable fix. That's an unfathomable thing for most and irritating for many, but it's Kanye's unbelievable reality, so complaining about Yeezus being unrelatable is like complaining the sky is untouchable. At least he has decided to indulge his giant hunger with the help of art, and if anything, this is the moment he becomes a swashbuckling Salvador Dali figure, chopping down all that's conventional with highly imaginative work and crass, attention-grabbing attitude. Unlike Dali's separate delivery of the two, Yeezus is an extravagant stunt with the high-art packed in, offering an eccentric, audacious, and gripping experience that's vital and truly unlike anything else. ~ David Jeffries
£11.56

Rap - Released January 1, 2013 | EMI

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
EPMD's blueprint for East Coast rap wasn't startlingly different from many others in rap's golden age, but the results were simply amazing, a killer blend of good groove and laid-back flow, plus a populist sense of sampling that had heads nodding from the first listen (and revealed tastes that, like Prince Paul's, tended toward AOR as much as classic soul and funk). A pair from Long Island, EPMD weren't real-life hardcore rappers -- it's hard to believe the same voice who talks of spraying a crowd on one track could be name-checking the Hardy Boys later on -- but their no-nonsense, monotoned delivery brooked no arguments. With their album debut, Strictly Business, Erick Sermon and Parrish Smith really turned rapping on its head; instead of simple lyrics delivered with a hyped, theatrical tone, they dropped the dopest rhymes as though they spoke them all the time. Their debut single, "You Gots to Chill," was a perfect example of the EPMD revolution; two obvious samples, Zapp's "More Bounce to the Ounce" and Kool & the Gang's "Jungle Boogie," doing battle over a high-rolling beat, with the fluid, collaborative raps of Sermon and Smith tying everything together with a mastery that made it all seem deceptively simple. There was really only one theme at work here -- the brilliancy of EPMD, or the worthlessness of sucker MCs -- but every note of Strictly Business proved their claims. ~ John Bush
£14.03

Rap - Released January 1, 2013 | Republic

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music
After an EP and two albums that firmly established his moody, introspective style and made him a huge star, Drake's third album, Nothing Was the Same, isn't a huge departure but it does take some steps in new directions. Built around sped-up samples and Wu-Tang-inspired, spooky loops, the production retains the same basic style, but is a little deeper and more foreboding. Provided mostly by longtime collaborator Noah "40" Shebib, the backing is suitably melancholic and claustrophobic enough to match Drake's main lyrical themes of angry boasting, dealing with a broken heart, and being disillusioned by the lifestyle his fame has brought him. This time out, Drake adds to his list of family issues, as a couple tracks deal with re-establishing a relationship with his father and worrying about his mom. It's good to hear him reaching out a little and expanding his concerns because his usual topics are wearing thin, especially the boasting. "Started from the Bottom" is the main offender, since the idea of Drake starting from the bottom is a little ridiculous. If growing up well-off, starring in a TV series, and hooking up early with Weezy is the bottom, we should all want to start off there. It's hard to entirely write off this song, and the others that focus on his greatness, since the music is so evocative and because Drake's basic persona is still appealing. "Too Much," in particular, is a brilliant combination of brag rap and quiet storm balladry that features a simply heartbreaking vocal from Sampha. The tracks that work the best on Nothing are the slow-to-the-point-of-being-static ballads like "Own It," "Connect," and "305 to My City," which feel like the late-night emotional outpourings of a truly sad soul; the songs that bubble with raw emotion and are balanced against very dark loops, like "Wu-Tang Forever"; and the one song that has some uptempo punch, the very poppy R&B groover "Hold on, We're Going Home." That last one shows that Drake could make great left-field R&B if he wanted to, and is a nice contrast to all the angry talk and bitter introspection that fill the rest of the record. As impressive as it is that Drake has become a star while making records that are mostly joyless and twisted up by emotions, it might be nice to hear him loosening up and having some fun now and then. As far as this album goes, though, it's not much fun but it is worth exploring if you've been following Drake's progression up till now. Nothing Was the Same doesn't show large amounts of growth, but the small changes to the sound and the slightly wider net his lyrics cast make it worthwhile. Plus, there aren't many other rappers who do gloom as well as Drake and that's something worth supporting, if only because it's something different than the hip-hop norm in 2013. ~ Tim Sendra
£16.76

Rap - Released January 1, 2013 | Concord Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Hip-hop/jazz fusionisters Us3 have forged the most elaborate union between the styles since the early days of Gang Starr and A Tribe Called Quest. Blue Note's vast catalog gives them a huge advantage over several similar groups in terms of source material, and classic sounds by Art Blakey, Horace Silver, and Herbie Hancock provide zest and fiber to their narratives. Indeed, when things falter, it's because the raps aren't always that creative. They are serviceable and sometimes catchy, but too often delivered without the snazzy touches or distinctive skills that make Quest and Gang Starr's material top-notch. But when words and music mesh, as on "Cantaloop" or "The Darkside," Us3 show how effectively hip-hop and jazz can blend. ~ Ron Wynn
£9.59

Rap - Released September 17, 2012 | Wagram Music / Cinq 7 / Derriere Les Planches

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - Victoire de la musique - The Qobuz Ideal Discography
£13.99

Rap - Released May 15, 2012 | Williams Street Records

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music
Steeped in tradition but always looking for a better tomorrow, rapper Killer Mike already had an incredibly strong discography before R.A.P. Music landed, but here he hits harder than any of his fans could have hoped. The album was released by the Adult Swim-associated label Williams Street and was produced by the dirty beatmaker and underground favorite El-P, and even if these bullet points are interesting and exciting, they are not the reason this is a vital piece of work. El-P plays a major part, as his funky, murky work has obviously inspired the stone-cold Killer -- and the shout-out that begins "Jojo's Chillin'" sounds like pure pride in his producer -- but those initials stand for Rebellious African People Music, and Mike seeks to honor "every music that's been born on this continent from a group of people that were brought here in chains." Heavy words, and yet Mike delivers, not by giving a genre history lesson or delivering a linear concept album, but by joining a cause that stretches from Ellington to Nas, where pride isn't squandered and the struggles of your ancestors are always respected. As such, old friends T.I. and Bun B are brought back (remember the "Re-Akshon" remix from 2003?) for the opening monster dubbed "Big Beast" ("we some money hungry wolves and we're down to eat the rich") while "Go!" worships the West Coast and its legacy, all while kicking off with a startling sample that will welcome old-school heads. "Reagan" is pure politics, rallying against the President's legacy, while "Anywhere But Here" loves rolling through Atlanta and Harlem, but the memories there are the extreme definition of bittersweet as Mike relays the sights passing by the window (that's where I grew up, that's where Sean Bell got shot). While the strange, winding siren of "Untitled" is classic, prime El-P, for the rapper, the track is a new, insightful, intelligent high point, plus the first time (John) Gotti and (Salvador) Dali have been rhymed successfully. That last bit can't be stressed enough, and while R.A.P. Music is filled with all the heartbreak, pain, anger, and earnestness praised above, it's also an incredibly fly and fun record, filled with that prime MC/producer chemistry while striking that perfect balance of persuasive and powerful. Revolutionary stuff and absolutely no fluff, R.A.P. Music is outstanding. ~ David Jeffries
£11.99
£7.99

Rap - Released March 5, 2012 | Les disques du manoir

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
After 2010's instrumental offering Spring Tales, French hip-hop outfit Klub des Loosers returned with their first conventional studio effort in eight years, Fin de l'Espèce. Released through their own Les Disques du Manoir label, the long-awaited follow-up to 2004's Vie la Vie sees Versailles masked MC and founding member Fuzati continuing to provide an antidote to the macho posturing usually associated with the Gallic rap scene on 13 socially conscious, humorous, and self-mocking tracks, including the singles "L'Indien" and "Volutes." ~ Jon O'Brien