Complex's " 11 Great Rappers Who Never Had A Classic Album " List

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 5 years ago '04        #1
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Complex's " 11 Great Rappers Who Never Had A Classic Album " List
 

 

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Intro:

There may be a lot of classic rap albums, but there are even more rappers who have dope catalogs with no definitive classic. Remember when Robert De Niro's character in A Bronx Tale said, "The saddest thing in life is wasted talent"? Well, get that out of your head. That's not what we're saying at all. Every artist on this list has had a relatively great career, filled with many highlights. It's just that none of them have a cohesive, borderline perfect project that has absolutely stood the test of time.

If anything, this entire ordeal is just frustrating for the listeners. Every rapper on this list is probably fairly content with the status of their career. Between these artists, them are dozens of hits, plaques, and chart-topping singles. But even so, it's a bit disappointing that none of have been able to release that full-length masterpiece during their time in the game. Many of these MCs still have a chance to make it happen, but in the meantime, we're venting. Here are 11 great rappers who, surprisingly, never had a classic album.


List :



Busta Rhymes


Age: 40
Albums: The Coming (1996), When Disaster Strikes... (1997), E.L.E. (Extinction Level Event): The Final World Front (1998), Anarchy (2000), Genesis (2001), It Ain't Safe No More... (2002), The Big Bang (2006), Back On My B.S. (2009), Year Of The Dragon (2012)

Throughout the highs and lows of his career, Busta Rhymes always seems to find a way to be relevant, mostly because he’s one of the most idiosyncratic characters rap has ever seen. He’s a true original, not a novelty act. He’s spent the last 20 years making a ton of classic singles and memorable videos by filling tracks with his signature manic energy.

Unfortunately, even though a few of his albums are considered pretty good, none of them are classics because they often had with too much filler (five of his first six albums clock in at over an hour). Busta is still incredible on the mic, but we’ve basically seen his bag of tricks.


Fabolous


Age: 34
Albums: Ghetto Fabolous (2001), Street Dreams (2003), Real Talk (2004), From Nothin' To Somethin' (2007), Loso's Way (2009)

Fab is a streetwise rapper who can flow forever and he’s had legendary moments in the mixtape game, and he’s never struggled with scoring pop hits. In the last 10 years he’s had eight Top 40 hits, including the unforgettable Just Blaze produced classic, “Breathe.”

The problem for Fab isn’t that he lacks diversity, it’s that he’s always overestimated his diversity and would usually just spread himself too thin on albums. Worse yet, what the Brooklyn rhymer has always sorely lacked is emotional delivery.

Nearly all of Fab’s rhymes sound like they’re coming from a slick playboy, which is great sometimes but tiresome, too. And finally, few of Fab’s tracks (save for the aforementioned “Breathe”) have ever been mindblowing, even if they were great in the club. Fab might be known for his one of a kind punchlines, but he’s not known for his one of a kind albums.


Ludacris

Age: 35
Albums: Back For The First Time (2000), Word of Mouf (2001), Chicken-n-Beer (2003), The Red Light District (2004), Release Therapy (2006), Theater of the Mind (2008), Battle of the s3xes (2010)

Ludacris has had so many hits and classic anthems (we still get hyped when his “Move bi-ch” verse comes on) you would think that he has a classic in there somewhere. Even though his first three albums were highly entertaining, they did lack a certain maturity and nuance.

Maybe that’s why, since then, Luda’s cut his hair and got more serious, but as a result he’s somehow lost some of the edge and most of the humor that made him a star in the first place. The funny part is at this point, Luda’s has been a part of more Oscar-winning movies than classic rap albums. If someone would have told us that back when he was making songs that went, “Yous a hoe!” we would have never believed them.


Jadakiss

Age: 37
Albums: Kiss Tha Game Goodbye (2001), Kiss Of death (2004), The Last Kiss (2009)

Armed with a raspy voice, some of the hardest bars you’ll ever hear, and a countless number of great verses, Jadakiss was built to be a legendary rapper. Not only that, but he’s an influential rapper—at one point in the early Aughts it felt like every single rapper was riffing off his style.

He even famously quipped that he was, “Top 5, dead or alive, and that’s just off one LP.” But here’s the problem with that line and his catalog in general: That LP, his debut, Kiss Tha Game Goodbye, is his best album... but it’s not really that good.

The problem with all of Jada’s solo albums was that he always tried too hard to please every crowd. While he’s an undisputed king of street anthems, he simply wasn't apt at making quality commercial rap records, but he kept on trying to.

If he would have just stuck to doing what does best, he could have at least made a hardcore album that lived up to his potential (like his groupmate Styles P has done with his underrated solo albums). Instead, he’s frustrated his fan base with uneven efforts that chased the commercial fame he was never meant to have.


Lloyd Banks

Age: 30
Albums: The Hunger For More (2004), Rotten Apple (2006), H.F.M. 2 (Hunger For More 2) (2010)

For a brief period, Lloyd Banks was the sh-t. Back in the early days of 50 Cent’s career, when he was absolutely destroying the mixtape game along with his G-Unit cohorts, Banks was primed to be the next to blow after 50.

And why not? Back then the the Punchline King was earning his crown with every laugh out loud bar (“She can get me off like Cochran”) and occasionally outshining 50 (they didn’t call it “Banks Victory” for nothing).

Although Banks’ debut, The Hunger For More, was a success (he scored a hit single and a platinum plaque) his album wasn’t the full blown G-Unit classic it should have been (that was Game’s debut album) and it wasn’t even the best G-Unit album of that year (that was Young Buck’s debut).

Which is fine, he was a young rapper who’d have more shots. The problem was, his second album suffered from a sophomore slump and G-Unit’s stronghold on the game was coming to an end.

Banks would have faded into complete irrelevancy if it wasn’t for his Juelz Santana-assisted single, "Beamer, Benz, or Bentley," which renewed interest in the Queens-bred lyricist. His third album was a strong effort but it was too little, too late for him to fulfill his promise from nearly a decade ago.

Coupled with 50 recently calling him out for laziness, he’s left fans and critics alike saying, “Damn homie, in high school you was the man homie, the fu-k happened to you?”


Canibus

Age: 37
Albums: Can-I-Bus (1998), 2000 B.C. (Before Can-I-Bus) (2000), C True Hollywood Stories (2001), Mic Club: The Curriculum (2002), Rip the Jacker (2003), Mind Control (2005), Hip-Hop For Sale (2005), For Whom the Beat Tolls (2007), Melatonin Magik (2010), C of Tranquility (2010), Lyrical Law (2011)

It might hurt some of his Internet fanboys to hear this, but no rapper wasted their moment in the sun quite like Canibus did. When he first came out, Canibus was seen as a lyricist with a gruff voice and enough syllables to make your head spin. In other words, he was hardcore rap’s answer to the "jiggy" players of the day. To top it off, he got into a high profile beef with LL Cool J and unleashed one of the best hip-hop diss songs of all time.

But when he dropped his absolute fail of a debut album he squandered his best chance of making a classic and becoming a true star. He would later blame his shortcomings on producer Wyclef Jean, which was fine, but his subsequent albums weren’t any better and as time went on, the general public lost interest in hearing a guy rap like he was reciting the dictionary.

(Sidebar: Canibus also deserves to be taken to task for his series of absolutely bizarre decisions. We’re not just talking about him recently dissing J. Cole for no reason and then apologizing about it. Or the time he started dissing Eminem for no reason. But for doing things like showing up to the VMAs in silver body paint. Seriously, what the fu-k was that?)



Juelz Santana

Age: 29
Albums: From Me To U (2003), What The Game's Been Missing! (2005),

Juelz Santana had it all. He was down with Dipset, he was steadily improving as a rapper, he contributed to classic albums (Diplomatic Immunity, Purple Haze), was on hits (“Oh Boy,” "Hey Ma," "Run It"), and scored his own hits ("There It Go (The Whistle Song)"). He was young, fresh, had street cred, and the girls liked him.

So what if his first two albums weren’t perfect? By 2007, Juelz was poised to break out thanks in part to his excellent Just Blaze-produced single, “The Second Coming.” He was homeboys with the Best Rapper Alive, Lil Wayne (back when he really was the Best Rapper Alive), and they were going to do an album together, I Can’t Feel My Face.

What went wrong? Well, his album Born To Lose, Built To Win was endlessly delayed and has yet to be released. Ditto for his collaborative album with Wayne. Combine that with Dipset’s brief but poorly timed breakup and you’ll see why Santana missed his moment when he could have made a classic.

The saddest part about all this was when, in the midst of the group’s turmoil, Cam’ron called out Santana for being a drug addict. We can’t say that it’s certainly true, but it could explain Santana’s severe lack of productivity. Still, here’s to hoping he can come back like crushed up Adderall cooked crack.



Ras Kass

Age: 39
Albums: Soul On Ice (1996), Rasassination (1998), Institutionalized (2005), A.D.I.D.A.S. (All Day I Dream About Spittin) (2010)

Everyone can agree that Ras Kass is a great lyricist. He’s always had a c*cky attitude that made him seem convinced that he was the greatest rapper ever. Too bad he couldn’t find the greatest producers. His first two albums were marred by sh-tty production unworthy for a rapper of his talents.

Right when he seemed like he was on the verge of putting it all together on third album, Van Gogh (which featured production from DJ Premier and Dr. Dre), he ran into label troubles and later an unfortunate arrest for D.U.I. which landed him in jail. The double whammy k!lled his momentum and his career has never been the same since.



Big L

Age: 24 (at the time of his death)
Albums: Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous (1995), The Big Picture (2000), 139 & Lenox (2009), Return of the Devil's Son (2010), The Danger Zone (2011)

Big L was a fantastic rapper who was sadly only able to essentially make two albums. Although his debut, Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous, had many flashes of brilliance that showcased his wit and rhyme style, it suffered from poor production and felt more patched together than a thematically unified project.

His second album was released shortly after his death but it only cemented his legacy as someone who was about to blow but never did. And spare us the whole “But you don’t know about his underground classics!” because as the great Zadie Smith points out, all those “rare” freestyles are easily found on YouTube.

A number of posthumous Big L albums have been released in recent years, though they were largely ignored. In the end, when L’s name is brought up in both G.O.A.T. and underrated discussions, it’s all just a reminder that "dead rappers get better promotion."


Nicki Minaj


Age: 29
Albums: Pink Friday (2010), Pink Friday: Roman Reloaded (2012)

As one of the youngest people on this list, and the only one whose debut album dropped this decade, it might seem a bit unfair to group Nicki along with the other rappers on this list. After all, she hasn’t had as many opportunities to make a classic like everyone else has.

But here's the thing, Nicki Minaj is incredibly talented and a genuine superstar. We expect more from her than we do from the average rapper, so we expect her to make a classic. She’s positioned herself as the queen of rap, which is all good but she needs a jewel if she wants to wear the crown or else her throne is illegitimate.

Nicki has already dropped two ridiculously successful albums, but both failed to live up to criticial expectations. And if that still seems unfair, consider what her Young Money comrade Drake has done in the same time frame. Take Care has a much greater chance of being viewed as a classic in 10 years than Roman Reloaded does.


Royce Da 5'9"

Age: 35
Albums: Rock City (2002), death Is Certain (2004), Independent's Day (2005), Street Hop (2009), Success Is Certain (2011)

Royce Da 5'9" burst on the scene along with his Detroit pal Eminem in the late ‘90s. Royce seemed destined to take off after Em did, but it just didn’t happen for him. His debut album was strong but it was delayed and overhauled so much that by the time it was finally released it was subtitled 2.0.

After that he struggled with depression, alcoholism, and endless beef as he released a series of well regarded, but not quite there albums. He's since found success as one half of Bad Meets Evil and with his group Slaughterhouse, but his solo career still lacks that essential disc.



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 11 Great Rappers Who Never Had A Classic Album | Complex


Last edited by psylence2k; 02-06-2013 at 12:48 AM..

248 comments for "Complex's " 11 Great Rappers Who Never Had A Classic Album " List"

 5 years ago '08        #2
flix02 2055 heat pts2055
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One Of Those Names Do Not Belong...
 02-06-2013, 12:44 AM         #3
Ca$h Out 
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Lifestylez Ov Da Poor & Dangerous
The Coming

We're low key classics.


[video - click to view]

 5 years ago '04        #4
Capimp 
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 Surreality said:
I was kinda with them til they put up Nicki Minaj must be some YMCMB stans working there...

inb4BanksStans
first part of what u said was exactly the same i was gonna put.
 5 years ago '10        #5
TheMindOf 21 heat pts21
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 5 years ago '09        #6
JewsusChrist 211 heat pts211
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Whoaa big L??? He def has a classic and banks debut is classic

Royce death is certain could arguably be a 10/10 album
 02-06-2013, 12:49 AM         #7
Phillipmcd 
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death Is Certain is a classic
 5 years ago '10        #8
TheMindOf 21 heat pts21
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 JewsusChrist said:
Whoaa big L??? He def has a classic
 5 years ago '12        #9
OldBusiness 163 heat pts163
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I agree with this list 100%...only thing is I'd add Gucci Mane to it....Gucci has classic tapes but no classic albums...

And I agree with having Nicki Minaj on there.....before she went pop people were happy to see what she could offer...cause she could spit....people were expecting a female rapper whocould fill the void left open by Lauryn Hill, Lil Kim, and Foxy.....and she instead opted to go be a copycat of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga

death Is Certain is borderline.


I hope Fab reads this to....cause the way they broke down Fab is perfect....
 5 years ago '10        #10
Kno 1 
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I don't care what they named the article, I read that sh*t as "The 11 most overrated rappers ever"


I don't mean that literally but they couldn't at least put a n*gga like joe budden in the article over nicki fu*kin minaj?
 5 years ago '11        #11
KING JAYY 535 heat pts535
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fu*k this list
 5 years ago '05        #12
kriskross00 103 heat pts103
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^^^^^^^^^^^^




but back for the first time is a classic
 5 years ago '12        #13
Dee352 170 heat pts170
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Luda has a classic album
 02-06-2013, 01:44 AM         #14
Brolic757 
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Why isnt lil wayne on this list
 5 years ago '06        #15
RoBCaSh 
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A couple n*ggas shouldn't be on there
 5 years ago '05        #16
kriskross00 103 heat pts103
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 Brolic757 said:
Why isnt lil wayne on this list
cause it says great rappers
 5 years ago '07        #17
timdog 920 heat pts920
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 5 years ago '12        #18
OldBusiness 163 heat pts163
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 Kno 1 said:
I don't care what they named the article, I read that sh*t as "The 11 most overrated rappers ever"


I don't mean that literally but they couldn't at least put a n*gga like joe budden in the article over nicki fu*kin minaj?
As a Budden fan i dont care what anyone says...Mood Music 2 is a album and its a classic....He did Sell it at one point ya know

I really feel like they put Nicki in their because of where her career is HEADED. Shes gone into a territory where she can never drop a real rap album

Its a few Nicki Minaj interviews where she said she wanted to make a real Queens hip hop album....before she got famous when she was still fu*kin with Fendi....and DJ Premier once even said he thought she was dope and he would love to contribute...quite a few NY producers agreed with it....instead of possibly opting to do that she ran the way of Young Money and Pop...but go find some of her sh*t right before her Brick Squad days...she was doing freestyles to Biggie Beats like "Warning" an sh*t and they were hyping her up as the great female hype


I think thats the only reason shorty on the list...If that aint the reason...then I dunno . fu*k her tho....Im glad they put Busta, Big L, Fab, and Jada on the list...i'd add Gucci to it.....and I'd also add Lil Wayne to it as well.

Closest thing to a classic for Lil Wayne IMO is Carter 1....and its borderline cause of the genius that is Mannie Fresh....
 5 years ago '04        #19
Propel Water 20 heat pts20
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nicki minaj shouldnt even be a thought in this conversation... shes only really existed for a couple years now and has one albuM?

big L should also be taken out of the list since he was k!lled before his moment..

royce has death is certain, and personally i think theater of the mind will be luda's potential classic
 5 years ago '07        #20
J-Calli 
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This some bullsh*t

First and foremost how the fu*k you gonna say soul on ice is not a classic? Dude should get fired from his day job with that sh*t.

death is certain is also a classic
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