Modern day Rock and Roll, Hip-Hop has had an incredible summer with releases by Hip-Hop heavyweights such as Jay-Z & Kanye West (The Throne), Lil Wayne and Game. Collectively they brought heat to the summer with the release of their highly anticipated albums. Excluding albums sales the impact and the quality are the ingredients that equate the formula for a classic album. Jay-Z’s Black Album, Yeezy’s College Dropout, Lil Wayne’s Carter III and The Game’s The Documentary are all classics, embodying the roots of Hip-Hop and leaving an impact on the game after their respective release. Moving forward the question remains which of the aforementioned summer releases has the quality and long-lasting impact on Hip-Hop to be considered a classic album? Who’s the true king of Hip-Hop?
Watch The Throne, the highly anticipated collaboration album from Jay-Z & Kanye West, led by the single “Otis” featuring an amazing Otis Redding sample was released August 12th. The album quickly became Jay-Z’s 12th chart-topping release. It surpassed the bar of expectation, incorporating legendary producer/rapper RZA, Swizz Beatz, and Pharrell among others to vividly paint the picture of the throne that many are now watching. A high octane track-list, including the titles, “Nigg*s in Paris,” “New Day,” and “Gotta Have It,” each of which show a small example of the lyrical ability of “The Throne.” Sampling Indiggo’s “La La La” is the track “Murder to Excellence,” which delivers brash verses with a powerful as well as emotional beat while speaking of the stereotypes and struggles of African-Americans throughout the songs entirety. Collectively Jay-Z and Kanye West put a halt on all of the music industry with this release, encouraging all “rappers” to take their music to another level.
West Coast savior Game has represented Los Angeles for the last six years. Beginning with The Documentary in 2005 Game has contributed brash and controversial bars since his lead single “How We Do.” After a small delay Game released the long awaited The R.E.D. Album, another long awaited album that’s had fans clamoring since 2010, when it was said to first be released. The album’s first single was “Red Nation” featuring Lil Wayne and produced by Cool and Dre. The entirety of The R.E.D. Album takes you on a once traveled path of Game’s intellectual ability mixed with talents that vividly paint the picture of West Coast Hip-Hop. A mixture of both street anthems such as “Heavy Artillery” featuring Rick Ross and Beanie Sigel, along with smooth R & B laced Hip-Hop tracks like “Pot of Gold” featuring Chris Brown as well as “Hello” featuring Lloyd. Although the album hit number one on the Billboard Charts when released August 22, the album wasn’t quite as commercially successful as Watch The Throne. Excluding the sales and Billboard charts The R.E.D. Album provides a classic Game album including new rhyming techniques and a mastered version of a west coast flow he’s perfected. The R.E.D. Album impacts Hip-Hop as a whole, setting an example of what a quality album should sound like.
New Orleans bred, self-proclaimed best rapper alive Lil’ Wayne released another chart topping album with his latest release, The Carter IV. From Drake to Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne has tons to focus on but never took his eyes off the number one spot. The Carter IV is led by singles “6 Foot, 7 Foot,” “John” and the most commercially successful of them all, “How to Love.” Through the album the concept takes many turns, unlike The Carter III Lil Wayne takes listeners on a world-wind of many different topics. From teaching women how to love to taking subliminal shots at Jay-Z on his track entitled “It’s Good” feat Drake and Jadakiss, Lil Wayne doesn’t select a direct lane for the album to fall into. Nonetheless there are bits of Carter IV that highlight Wayne’s lyrical ability such as: “Megaman,” “She Will” feat Young Money’s own Drake and “President Carter”. All in all commercially the album was the most successful of all the aforementioned albums, selling 964,000 copies in one week, leaving an impact on not only Hip-Hop’s livelihood but also the music industry itself.
Regardless of which of these albums will be hailed a classic in the years to come, collectively, Watch The Throne by Kanye West and Jay-Z, The Carter IV by Lil Wayne and The R.E.D. Album by Game have helped revive the state of Hip-Hop, even if just temporarily. In the summer of 2011 Hip-Hop has stepped on a new plateau, delivering three straight chart topping albums. All the releases have topped charts and touched Hip-Hop fans nationally, rendering it almost impossible to decipher which album is truly the best. As for the future of Hip-Hop the light shines bright as these four Hip-Hop heavyweights continue to breathe life into the state of Hip-Hop.
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