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

£16.99

Rap - Released January 25, 2007 | Tommy Boy Music, LLC

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Most of Coolio's hit debut It Takes a Thief was fairly upbeat material, but the appearance of the stark single "Gangsta's Paradise" in the summer of 1995 signaled a change in the rapper's music. Driven by an ominously deep bassline and slashing strings, the creeping, threatening funk of "Gangsta's Paradise" was the most chilling thing Coolio had recorded to date, but the menace didn't come at the expense of his considerable talent for immediate, catchy hooks. Consequently, the single shot to the top of the charts and hovered in the Top Ten for many weeks. The album followed shortly afterwards, and it didn't fail to deliver on the promise of the single. Not only did Coolio expand his sound, but his songwriting skills improved, as Gangsta's Paradise has very few weak moments. Alternating between slow, funky grooves and elastic, party-ready anthems, Gangsta's Paradise is proof that Coolio is one of the most exciting and interesting hip-hop artists of the mid-'90s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
£7.99

Rap - Released September 8, 2017 | Melee - Wild Pitch

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Masterpiece alert! When the first album from the trio Main Source came out at the height of the summer of 1991, the group formed by New York MC Large Professor and Canadian DJs Sir Scratch and K-Cut from Toronto were already very well-respected on the hip hop underground. Written and recorded throughout the previous year, with the legendary E-mu SP-1200 sampler, Breaking Atoms marked a turning point in rap, in particular with its production that held up sturdily against an avalanche of jazz, soul and funk samples. We encounter snatches of song from Donald Byrd, Bob James, Mike Bloomfield, Johnny Taylor, Lou Donaldson, Lyn Collins, MFSB, Kool & The Gang, the Three Sounds, Lou Courtney, S.O.U.L., Funk, Inc. and the Detroit Emeralds. Funky to the point of madness, Large Professor's flow and the subtlety of his punchlines set the album apart from the competition. Breaking Atoms is a major record of golden era hip hop, and also legendary for the début, on Live at the Barbeque, of a young rapper of 17 named Nas… This remaster of Breaking Atoms includes several bonus tracks, like the grandiose single Fakin' the Funk, released in 1992 on the soundtrack to White Men Can't Jump, and carried by its sample of Magic Shoes by The Main Ingredient. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz
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Rap - Released April 14, 2017 | Aftermath

Booklet Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music
To Pimp a Butterfly's proper and oft-biblical follow-up arrived on Good Friday, 13 months after untitled unmastered., an intermediary release that eclipsed the best work of most contemporary artists. If Kendrick Lamar felt pressure to continue living up to his previous output, there's no evidence on DAMN. He's too occupied tracing the spectrum of his mental states, from "boxin' demons" to "flex on swole," questioning and reveling in his affluence, castigating and celebrating his bloodline, humble enough to relate his vulnerabilities, assured enough to proclaim "Ain't none of y'all fuckin' with the flow." Throughout, he intensely examines most of the seven deadly sins, aware all along that his existence is threatened by anyone who objects to the color of his skin or clothes -- or, in the case of the blind stranger who shoots him during the album's opener, nothing that is apparent. Compared to the maximum-capacity, genre-twisting vastness and winding narratives of Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City and To Pimp a Butterfly, DAMN. on the surface seems like a comparatively simple rap album that demands less from the listener. There's relative concision in the track titles and material, and a greater emphasis on commercial sounds -- such as Mike WiLL's lean and piano-laced trap beat for the strong-arming "HUMBLE.," Lamar's first Top Ten pop hit, and a couple productions that are merely functional backdrops lacking distinction. In a way, however, DAMN. is just as lavish and singular as the preceding albums, its quantity and weight of thoughts and connected concepts condensed into a considerably tighter space. It contains some of Lamar's best writing and performances, revealing his evolving complexity and versatility as a soul-baring lyricist and dynamic rapper. Although it's occasionally distorted, stretched, smeared, and reversed to compelling and imagination-fueling effect, his voice is at its most affecting in its many untreated forms. Take "FEAR.," in which he switches between echoing hot-blooded parental threats to enumerating, with a 40-acre stare, various death scenarios. His storytelling hits an astonishing new high on "Duckworth," the album's finale. Over ethereal funk sewn by 9th Wonder, Lamar details a potentially tragic encounter between his father and future Top Dawg CEO Anthony Tiffith -- and the conditions leading to it -- that occurred long before Kung Fu Kenny was known as K. Dot. ~ Andy Kellman
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Rap - Released June 24, 2016 | Epic

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Rap - Released September 13, 1994 | Bad Boy Records

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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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Rap - Released August 12, 2011 | Roc Nation - RocAFella - IDJ

Hi-Res Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Sélection Les Inrocks
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£14.49

Rap - Released November 13, 2015 | Jive - Legacy

Hi-Res Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
One year after De la Soul re-drew the map for alternative rap, fellow Native Tongues brothers A Tribe Called Quest released their debut, the quiet beginning of a revolution in non-commercial hip-hop. People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm floated a few familiar hooks, but it wasn't a sampladelic record. Rappers Q-Tip and Phife Dawg dropped a few clunky rhymes, but their lyrics were packed with ideas, while their flow and interplay were among the most original in hip-hop. From the beginning, Tribe focused on intelligent message tracks but rarely sounded over-serious about them. With "Pubic Enemy," they put a humorous spin on the touchy subject of venereal disease (including a special award for the most inventive use of the classic "scratchin'" sample), and moved right into a love rap, "Bonita Applebum," which alternated a sitar sample with the type of jazzy keys often heard on later Tribe tracks. "Description of a Fool" took to task those with violent tendencies, while "Youthful Expression" spoke wisely of the power yet growing responsibility of teenagers. Next to important message tracks with great productions, A Tribe Called Quest could also be deliciously playful (or frustratingly unserious, depending on your opinion). "I Left My Wallet in El Segundo" describes a vacation gone hilariously wrong, while "Ham 'n' Eggs" may be the oddest topic for a rap track ever heard up to that point ("I don't eat no ham and eggs, cuz they're high in cholesterol"). Contrary to the message in the track titles, the opener "Push It Along" and "Rhythm (Dedicated to the Art of Moving Butts)" were fusions of atmospheric samples with tough beats, special attention being paid to a pair of later Tribe sample favorites, jazz guitar and '70s fusion synth. Restless and ceaselessly imaginative, Tribe perhaps experimented too much on their debut, but they succeeded at much of it, certainly enough to show much promise as a new decade dawned. ~ John Bush
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Rap - Released August 8, 1988 | Priority Records

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Straight Outta Compton wasn't quite the first gangsta rap album, but it was the first one to find a popular audience, and its sensibility virtually defined the genre from its 1988 release on. It established gangsta rap -- and, moreover, West Coast rap in general -- as a commercial force, going platinum with no airplay and crossing over with shock-hungry white teenagers. Unlike Ice-T, there's little social criticism or reflection on the gangsta lifestyle; most of the record is about raising hell -- harassing women, driving drunk, shooting it out with cops and partygoers. All of that directionless rebellion and rage produces some of the most frightening, visceral moments in all of rap, especially the amazing opening trio of songs, which threaten to dwarf everything that follows. Given the album's sheer force, the production is surprisingly spare, even a little low-budget -- mostly DJ scratches and a drum machine, plus a few sampled horn blasts and bits of funk guitar. Although they were as much a reaction against pop-friendly rap, Straight Outta Compton's insistent claims of reality ring a little hollow today, since it hardly ever depicts consequences. But despite all the romanticized invincibility, the force and detail of Ice Cube's writing makes the exaggerations resonate. Although Cube wrote some of his bandmates' raps, including nearly all of Eazy-E's, each member has a distinct delivery and character, and the energy of their individual personalities puts their generic imitators to shame. But although Straight Outta Compton has its own share of posturing, it still sounds refreshingly uncalculated because of its irreverent, gonzo sense of humor, still unfortunately rare in hardcore rap. There are several undistinguished misfires during the second half, but they aren't nearly enough to detract from the overall magnitude. It's impossible to overstate the enduring impact of Straight Outta Compton; as polarizing as its outlook may be, it remains an essential landmark, one of hip-hop's all-time greatest. ~ Steve Huey
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Rap - Released January 1, 1999 | Aftermath

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The Slim Shady LP announced not only Eminem's arrival, but it established that his producer Dr. Dre was anything but passé, thereby raising expectations for 2001, the long-anticipated sequel to The Chronic. It suggested that 2001 wouldn't simply be recycled Chronic, and, musically speaking, that's more or less true. He's pushed himself hard, finding new variations in the formula by adding ominous strings, soulful vocals, and reggae, resulting in fairly interesting recontextualizations. Padded out to 22 tracks, 2001 isn't as consistent or striking as Slim Shady, but the music is always brimming with character. If only the same could be said about the rappers! Why does a producer as original as Dre work with such pedestrian rappers? Perhaps it's to ensure his control over the project, or to mask his own shortcomings as an MC, but the album suffers considerably as a result. Out of all the other rappers on 2001, only Snoop and Eminem -- Dre's two great protégés -- have character and while Eminem's jokiness still is unpredictable, Snoop sounds nearly as tired as the second-rate rappers. The only difference is, there's pleasure in hearing Snoop's style, while the rest sound staid. That's the major problem with 2001: lyrically and thematically, it's nothing but gangsta clichés. Scratch that, it's über-gangsta, blown up so large that it feels like a parody. Song after song, there's a never-ending litany of violence, drugs, pussy, bitches, dope, guns, and gangsters. After a full decade of this, it takes real effort to get outraged at this stuff, so chances are, you'll shut out the words and groove along since, sonically, this is first-rate, straight-up gangsta. Still, no matter how much fun you may have, it's hard not to shake the feeling that this is cheap, not lasting, fun. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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Rap - Released March 19, 2015 | Aftermath III JV

Hi-Res Distinctions 4F de Télérama - The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Music - Grammy Awards
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Rap - Released February 13, 2015 | Jive

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One of hip-hop's great lost masterpieces, 93 'Til Infinity is the best single album to come out of Oakland's Hieroglyphics camp, and ranks as a seminal early classic of the West Coast underground. The Souls of Mischief weren't even out of their teens when they completely redefined the art of lyrical technique for the West Coast, along with fellow standard-bearers Freestyle Fellowship, the Pharcyde, and Hiero founder Del tha Funkee Homosapien. The Souls come off as four brash young MCs who are too smart for their own good, yet they're so full of youthful exuberance that it's impossible to dislike them for it. They're also excellent storytellers, punctuating their tales with a wry wit and clever asides; still, they're able to take on the grittier subjects of violence and death with a worldliness beyond their years. The production -- all by various core Hieroglyphics members -- is just as good as the raps, driven by complex beats, unpredictable basslines, and samples drawn from spacy fusion records and East Coast jazz-rap crews. Main Source and Gang Starr both provide track foundations here, and it's possible to hear the intricately constructed loops of the former and the lean attack of the latter (circa Step in the Arena) in the record's overall style. A better comparison, though, would be to the effortless flow and telepathic trade-offs of A Tribe Called Quest. In fact, 93 'Til Infinity seems to actively aspire to the fluidity of the best Tribe albums; tracks often segue directly into one another without pause -- and the transitions are seamless. Although the title cut is an underappreciated classic, 93 'Til Infinity makes its greatest impression through its stunning consistency, not individual highlights. Put it all together, and you've got one of the most slept-on records of the '90s. ~ Steve Huey
£45.99

Rap - Released November 24, 2014 | WM France

Booklet Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
£14.99

Rap - Released November 24, 2014 | Def Jam Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
£14.99

Rap - Released October 14, 2014 | Def Jam Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography - Pitchfork: Best New Reissue
For many, Public Enemy’s second album is the greatest in rap history. And when it hit music stores in 1988, It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back enshrined Chuck D’s gang as the Rolling Stones of hip hop. An uppercut that changed the course of the genre’s history, Public Enemy remains thanks to this album THE benchmark in terms of ideological AND musical engagement. Offering a black version of CNN stripped of political correctness, examining each corner of American society with (extremely) rich rhymes and layers of literate and often carnivorous samples, Public Enemy impose their words as well as their sound. An aggressive approach to musical production (the Bomb Squad led by producer Hank Schocklee) that produces literal acoustic miracles. An electric and groovy tsunami, light years away from the bling-bling rap that would eventually take control of the genre, which attained its creative Golden Age in 1988. This Deluxe Edition includes a second record featuring thirteen bonuses, including the No Noise version of Bring The Noise, instrumentals for Rebel Without a Pause, Night Of The Living Baseheads and Black Steel In The Hour of Chaos, and the soundtrack version of Fight The Power for Spike Lee’s eponymous film. © MZ/Qobuz
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Rap - Released January 1, 1994 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

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Rap - Released September 16, 2014 | Def Jam Recordings

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Rap - Released January 1, 1989 | Concord Records, Inc.

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A forgotten man in the rise of West Coast rap, Tone-Loc was effectively cut off from his hometown scene in Los Angeles by his unexpected pop success. Paced by the singles "Wild Thing" and "Funky Cold Medina" -- both co-written by a pre-fame Young MC -- and some of the earliest productions by the legendary Dust Brothers, Loc's debut album, Loc-ed After Dark, became the second rap album to top the pop charts, following the Beastie Boys' Licensed to Ill. Loc's distinctively rough, raspy voice and easygoing delivery made him an appealing storyteller, but he was aiming for the streets more than the pop charts. So there's the occasional profanity, the stalker-tinged title track, and "Cheeba Cheeba," which made waves at the time as one of the earliest pro-marijuana raps on record (of course, this was before Cypress Hill, and Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" campaign was still fresh in the public's mind). The minor singles "I Got It Goin' On" and "On Fire" (the latter the first record ever released on Delicious Vinyl) are both pretty good, but some of the album's momentum is wasted on some fairly standard MC boasts (Loc has much more personality than he does lyrical technique). Even if Loc-ed After Dark is erratic, though, it still deserves more respect than it's generally accorded. ~ Steve Huey
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Rap - Released January 1, 1995 | The Bicycle Music Company

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Labcabincalifornia is a more mature record than the Pharcyde's debut. That's not necessarily a good thing, as the Pharcyde's playful attitude and comic raps were much of what made them so irresistible. True, age has enlightened them on "Moment in Time" and the single "Runnin'," the former a salute to the past and the latter a description of their flight from South Central's Pharcyde Manor to the Hollywood Hills. But the music is much of the problem here. Though the raps are solid, tempos never vary from the usual midtempo jam. The keyboard-driven melodies are good -- some better than others -- but a little variety is needed. Three of the last four tracks ("The Hustle," "Devil Music," "The E.N.D.") do evoke the spirit of the debut, but by that time it's too late -- the sophomore jinx has hit. ~ John Bush
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Rap - Released January 1, 2013 | Blue Note Records

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The subtitle of Shades of Blue says it all, Madlib Invades Blue Note. And that’s exactly what this awesome rap producer is doing: taking over the Blue Note catalogue! The Californian specialises in sampling, sculpting sound using stacks of vinyl as his medium. Others – many others even – have done this already of course, but never to this level of musicality and intelligence. On this album from 2003, Madlib picks out golden nuggets from records by Gene Harris, Milt Jackson, Donald Byrd, Ronnie Foster, Bobbi Humphrey, Andrew Hill, Bobby Hutcherson, Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, making them truly his own for the prestigious label established in 1939 by Alfred Lion, Francis Wolff and Max Margulis. In between the many exquisite layers of this musical millefeuille he even slips in a few pieces of his own and plays the drums on some tracks. The result is an instrumental hip-hop and jazz soundtrack (only the rapper M.E.D. added his vocals on the cover of Bobbi Humphrey’s Please Set me at Ease), endless grooving that plays around with these classic tracks in a way that’s respectful and intelligent. © Marc Zisman/Qobuz