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Qobuz’s experts gather all the essentials of each genre. These albums have marked music history and become major landmarks.

With the Ideal Discography you (re)discover legendary recordings, all whilst building on your musical knowledge.

Albums

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People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (25th Anniversary Edition)

A Tribe Called Quest

Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 17, 1990 | Jive - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
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To Pimp A Butterfly

Kendrick Lamar

Hip-Hop/Rap - Released March 16, 2015 | Aftermath

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Grammy Awards
Becoming an adult ultimately means accepting one's imperfections, unimportance, and mortality, but that doesn't mean we stop striving for the ideal, a search that's so at the center of our very being that our greatest works of art celebrate it, and often amplify it. Anguish and despair rightfully earn more Grammys, Emmys, Tonys, and Pulitzer Prizes than sweetness and light ever do, but West Coast rapper Kendrick Lamar is already on elevated masterwork number two, so expect his version of the sobering truth to sound like a party at points. He's aware, as Bilal sings here, that "Shit don't change 'til you get up and wash your ass," and don't it feel good? The sentiment is universal, but the viewpoint on his second LP is inner-city and African-American, as radio regulars like the Isley Brothers (sampled to perfection during the key track "I"), George Clinton (who helps make "Wesley's Theory" a cross between "Atomic Dog" and Dante's Inferno), and Dr. Dre (who literally phones his appearance in) put the listener in Lamar's era of Compton, just as well as Lou Reed took us to New York and Brecht took us to Weimar Republic Berlin. These G-funky moments are incredibly seductive, which helps usher the listener through the album's 80-minute runtime, plus its constant mutating (Pharrell productions, spoken word, soul power anthems, and sound collages all fly by, with few tracks ending as they began), much of it influenced, and sometimes assisted by, producer Flying Lotus and his frequent collaborator Thundercat. "u" sounds like an MP3 collection deteriorating, while the broken beat of the brilliant "Momma" will challenge the listener's balance, and yet, Lamar is such a prodigiously talented and seductive artist, his wit, wisdom, and wordplay knock all these stray molecules into place. Survivor's guilt, realizing one's destiny, and a Snoop Dogg performance of Doggystyle caliber are woven among it all; plus, highlights offer that Parliament-Funkadelic-styled subversion, as "The Blacker the Berry" ("The sweeter the juice") offers revolutionary slogans and dips for the hip. Free your mind, and your ass will follow, and at the end of this beautiful black berry, there's a miraculous "talk" between Kendrick and the legendary 2Pac, as the brutalist trailblazer mentors this profound populist. To Pimp a Butterfly is as dark, intense, complicated, and violent as Picasso's Guernica, and should hold the same importance for its genre and the same beauty for its intended audience. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Illmatic XX

Nas

Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 14, 2014 | Columbia - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Hi-Res Audio
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Watch The Throne

Jay-Z

Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 2011 | Roc Nation - RocAFella - IDJ

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks
An audacious spectacle of vacuous pomposity as well as one of tremendous lyrical depth, Watch the Throne is a densely packed amalgamation of what Jay-Z has termed “ignorant shit” and “thought-provoking shit,” with creative productions that are both top of the line and supremely baffling. Its best moments are among the most vital rap music released in 2011. Its worst moments sound like resuscitated discards from Kanye West's My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The lowest point is “Lift Off,” a bombastic mess; West’s stillborn, sung vocal clashes against a triumphant hook from Beyoncé, while the behind-the-scenes cast, including West, Jeff Bhasker, Mike Dean, Q-Tip, Pharrell, Don Jazzy, and the duo LMFAO, overcook a regal and rugged, yet ultimately muddled, production -- one that also features the voices of Seal and Mr. Hudson. All of the highlight tracks come with caveats. On “New Day,” West and Jay-Z address their unborn sons in equally somber and pointed ways, yet there’s a distracting vocal flutter throughout -- to be specific, Nina Simone's version of “Feeling Good” chucked through Auto-Tune. (So much for "D.O.A.") The anthemic “That’s My Bitch” rides on rampaging drums, using two of the most common breaks to fresh effect, and effectively incorporates the wildly dissimilar voices of La Roux's Elly Jackson and Bon Iver/Justin Vernon (the latter of which is made to sound like that of the Gap Band's Charlie Wilson), but the b-word from the mouth of a 41 year-old is as awkward as a throwback on someone of the same age. Kanye’s autobiographical, rise-to-fame verses in the solemn “Made in America” are among his most riveting to date, yet the effect is nearly squashed when he stoops to reference a cartoon that mocked him in 2009. The album contains piles of quotables and some of the fieriest pro-black content in decades. The latter, particularly concentrated during the album’s back half -- where the word “black” is used almost as often as it is in Euripides Smalls’ “I’m Black, Y’all” -- should not be lost amid the album’s ruthless flaunting of material wealth and carte blanche industry resources. © Andy Kellman /TiVo
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Watch The Throne

Jay-Z and Kanye West

Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 2011 | Roc Nation - RocAFella - IDJ

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks
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Stankonia

Outkast

Hip-Hop/Rap - Released October 31, 2000 | Arista - LaFace Records

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Stankonia was OutKast's second straight masterstroke, an album just as ambitious, just as all-over-the-map, and even hookier than its predecessor. With producers Organized Noize playing a diminished role, Stankonia reclaims the duo's futuristic bent. Earthtone III (Andre, Big Boi, Mr. DJ) helms most of the backing tracks, and while the live-performance approach is still present, there's more reliance on programmed percussion, otherworldly synthesizers, and surreal sound effects. Yet the results are surprisingly warm and soulful, a trippy sort of techno-psychedelic funk. Every repeat listen seems to uncover some new element in the mix, but most of the songs have such memorable hooks that it's easy to stay diverted. The immediate dividends include two of 2000's best singles: "B.O.B." is the fastest of several tracks built on jittery drum'n'bass rhythms, but Andre and Big Boi keep up with awe-inspiring effortlessness. "Ms. Jackson," meanwhile, is an anguished plea directed at the mother of the mother of an out-of-wedlock child, tinged with regret, bitterness, and affection. Its sensitivity and social awareness are echoed in varying proportions elsewhere, from the Public Enemy-style rant "Gasoline Dreams" to the heartbreaking suicide tale "Toilet Tisha." But the group also returns to its roots for some of the most testosterone-drenched material since their debut. Then again, OutKast doesn't take its posturing too seriously, which is why they can portray women holding their own, or make bizarre boasts about being "So Fresh, So Clean." Given the variety of moods, it helps that the album is broken up by brief, usually humorous interludes, which serve as a sort of reset button. It takes a few listens to pull everything together, but given the immense scope, it's striking how few weak tracks there are. It's no wonder Stankonia consolidated OutKast's status as critics' darlings, and began attracting broad new audiences: its across-the-board appeal and ambition overshadowed nearly every other pop album released in 2000. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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The Infamous

Mobb Deep

Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 25, 1995 | RCA Records Label

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
One of the cornerstones of the New York hardcore movement, The Infamous is Mobb Deep's masterpiece, a relentlessly bleak song cycle that's been hailed by hardcore rap fans as one of the most realistic gangsta albums ever recorded. Given Mobb Deep's youthful age and art-school background, it's highly unlikely that The Infamous is drawn strictly from real-life experience, yet it's utterly convincing, because it has all the foreboding atmosphere and thematic sweep of an epic crime drama. That's partly because of the cinematic vision behind the duo's detailed narratives, but it's also a tribute to how well the raw, grimy production evokes the world that Mobb Deep is depicting. The group produced the vast majority of the album itself, with help on a few tracks from the Abstract (better known as Q-Tip), and establishes a spare, throbbing, no-frills style indebted to the Wu-Tang Clan. This is hard, underground hip-hop that demands to be met on its own terms, with few melodic hooks to draw the listener in. Similarly, there's little pleasure or relief offered in the picture of the streets Mobb Deep paints here: They inhabit a war zone where crime and paranoia hang constantly in the air. Gangs are bound together by a code of fierce loyalty, relying wholly on one another for survival in a hopeless environment. Hostile forces -- cops, rivals, neighborhood snitches -- are potentially everywhere, and one slip around the wrong person can mean prison or death. There's hardly any mention of women, and the violence is grim, serious business, never hedonistic. Pretty much everything on the album contributes to this picture, but standouts among the consistency include "Survival of the Fittest," "Eye for a Eye," "Temperature's Rising," "Cradle to the Grave," and the classic "Shook Ones, Pt. 2." The product of an uncommon artistic vision, The Infamous stands as an all-time gangsta/hardcore classic. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Illmatic

Nas

Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 19, 1994 | Columbia

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography