The following is a quick list of ten debut albums that cannot be denied as being some of the artists best work. Everyone has to start somewhere, and these individuals and groups started by dropping albums that shine to this day and still find their way onto playlists. Please note these are major label or studio debuts as there may have been prior releases by the artists listed below. Here we go, in no particular order:
- Cypress Hill – Cypress Hill. Ok they can’t even come up with a name for their album? Isn’t that a requirement to get everyone attention when launching a music career? This can’t be good. Aw wait Cypress doesn’t need a clever album title to sell albums; Cypress just needs you to hear their music. Give it a listen and if you don’t like it after the first 3 songs pass it on as it’s not for you. Hardcore, then and now.
- Young Jeezy – Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101. Growing up in Atlanta apparently there’s a good chance you either work for Coke or work selling coke. Then you either retire or rap about it. “Get Ya Mind Right” and “Trap Star” are classics but “Thug Motivation 101” captures the Jeezy sound best.
- Chamillionaire – The Sound of Revenge. And coming from Houston, Texas it sounds real good. Chamillionaire has plenty of guest appearances but there is never a question whose album it is. He was also smart enough to enlist the talent of top producers on tracks such as the Scott Storch produced “Turn It Up” and the Manny Fresh produced “Fly as the Sky”.
- Eminem – The Slim Shady LP. This one can still spin your world around 180. Now imagine when it was released when we all had no idea what Slim Shady was capable of. We weren’t ready, but we can’t claim we weren’t warned as Em was kind enough to provide us a “Public Service Announcement”. It gets even better after the heads up, good luck picking a favorite.
- DMX– It’s Dark and Hell is Hot. This is clearly the album to blast when crashing the gates of heaven in SUV’s and 4-wheelers like you are straight out of the “Ruff Ryders Anthem” video. And there’s more, including the song “Damien” which is the epitome of wicked storytelling. A debut album that hit #1, everyone saw the X man coming and he still blew us away. Not content with that accomplishment DMX followed it up with several more #1’s but it started with this one.
- Lost Boyz – Legal Drug Money. From the eerie opening sounds to the end of “1, 2, 3” Legal Drug Money creates another dimension ruled over by 4 rappers each with distinct voices and different styles of flow all that blend with the beats to create the unique Lost Boyz sound. Features a love song called “Renee” with such vibrant story telling you almost expect to get beeped with a code 2 before it is through.
- Nas – Illmatic. Nope sorry no. There has yet to be a rapper to top what Nas did when Illmatic was released in 1994. This one raised the bar for all of rap and it was his DEBUT, so realize it raised the bar for debuts too. Lyrics like
Speak with criminal slang, begin like a violin
End like Leviathan, its deep well let me try again
from “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”. Nas dropped that lyric on us at age 21. Think about that one for a minute, or maybe longer.
- Outkast – Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik. “HoOtie HOo”. If you only know Outkast from their critically acclaimed more recent work do yourself a favor and pick this one up and see where it all came from. It came from down deep and that deep is deep down south. The title track contains the essence of Outkast, just amazing.
- The Pharcyde – Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde. Bizarre ride is right. Crazy loops, lyrics and beats, never has an album cover captured an album as well as this one. “Passing Me By” gets the attention but make sure not to pass by gems such as “Oh Shit” and “Officer” when listening to it.
- Wu-Tang Clan – Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). What does rap have to do with old kung fu flicks? A lot more than you’d think. Art imitates martial arts in the case of this album. Timing, delivery, teamwork. The whole Wu foundation is built on this album and it hasn’t shown any signs of crumbling.
Thanks for reading; hopefully now you have the time to give some or all of these debut albums a listen either for the first time or the first time in a long time. Or it’s quite likely you are still listening to them.