Rap Music 95

Rap music 1995 reigned supreme, thanks to its heavy snares, cold concrete floors, and street-inspired content. This year produced many bangers that catapulted rappers into multi-millionaire status; Sprite and Reebok even took advantage of this phenomenon by running commercials featuring their music stars.

Group Home, founded by Guru and DJ Premier proteges, seamlessly bridge the gap between hardcore hip-hop and mainstream anthems with their debut single ‘Sugar Hill.’ A true sign of their versatility!

Mobb Deep – The Infamous

Mobb Deep stands out in an industry filled with acts who play it safe by offering one-trick pony shtick albums; rarely have we seen a group of artists step up their game from album to album like Mobb Deep did in Queensbridge with The Infamous from 1995, an album widely considered one of the most realistic gangsta albums ever released.

Havoc and Prodigy’s second record, The Infamous, features a much darker soundscape. Havoc and Prodigy explore Queensbridge’s 41st Side in great depth, providing hard-hitting rhymes that convey life on the streets at its rawest and unforgiving. Boasting haunting piano loops, distorted melodies, lo-fi synthesizers that mimic stove burner hi hats waking up, this album laid the groundwork for what would later become New York hardcore rap.

Loud Records executive Matt Life recognized their potential and awarded them with a full-length contract with Loud. Recording took place over an 18 month period with Q-Tip acting as The Abstract (who also helped create A Tribe Called Quest’s sound). Q-Tip served as an advisor, sounding board, and guide throughout this project reworking two tracks like “Temperature’s Rising” and contributing his signature sound to others like “Shook Ones, Pt. II”

As a result of his influence, The Infamous stands as Mobb Deep’s finest album to date and can stand alongside RZA-produced Wu Tang Clan albums released that same year (Raekwon’s Only Built 4 Cuban Linx, Ghostface Killah’s Liquid Swords and GZA’s The Big Doe Rehab). Loud Records gave Havoc and Prodigy complete creative control when producing The Infamous without worrying about selling units or singles; thus fulfilling their vision to create an essential gangsta classic!

Raekwon – Only Built 4 Cuban Linx

Hip-hop critics often use the term “classic” when discussing hip-hop albums, yet few albums in its history can rival Raekwon’s sole solo offering from Wu-Tang: Ghostface Killah is featured as Raekwon’s co-star while RZA serves as director. Together they form an audio experience that captures every facet of mafia drama with crime drama, revenge plotlines and family melodrama all rolled into one package.

The beats here are classic Wu, with string instruments pulsing alongside soul/kung fu samples from RZA [click to read]. Raekwon and Ghostface Killah both delivered fiery verses featuring internal rhymes and vivid imagery – Ghostface in particular displayed his unparalleled creative lyricism which many listeners could spend years trying to comprehend.

One of the key aspects of this album was its narrative. Wu-Tang were quickly realizing that to make their rap more realistic, including realistic details about criminal activity was key in creating an authentic experience for their listeners. Their tale follows two drug dealers as they plan one final score before turning straight and is filled with riveting, captivating details about its execution.

Raekwon showcased his narrative abilities by painting an accurate depiction of street hustler life. Though not physically fitting the part with his short, portly frame and mismatched teeth, Raekwon nonetheless displayed an intuitive rapping style which many rappers could only aspire to possessing.

“House of Flying Daggers,” another standout track, includes an outstanding verse by original Wu-Tang member Cappadonna. She recalls her Wu-Gambinos days when she used explicit language with Raekwon and Ghost before unleashing their usual braggadocio thuggery; Mef stands out though with some classic punchlines dating back to their Wu-Gambinos days on an incredible beat that features RZA’s strongest sample flip yet; taking Earl Klugh’s “A Time for Love” guitar strains into an explosive soundscape that will echo throughout summer 1995.

Dr. Dre – Keep Their Heads Ringin’

Dr. Dre’s single from the soundtrack for Friday, “Funk You Up,” samples The Sequence’s 1979 hit. Produced by J-Flexx who often assisted Suge Knight and Dre with writing duties at this time. In an interview with 2021 magazine he revealed that Dre and he engaged in oral sex during recording sessions; also discussed their songwriting process together where they’d record a reference track before creating new lyrics to it.

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2Pac – So Many Tears

Tupac Shakur remains one of the most influential MCs ever, even after his untimely death, and his catalog continues to expand long after. Both his music and activism continue to push Hip Hop in new directions. While his thug persona remains intact, 2Pac has demonstrated greater levels of maturity on later albums such as Me Against the World where the conflicting forces pulling at his psyche are explored more directly – yet still raps with an unprecedented level of anger and defiance that has become his signature style while exploring how life changed since his days as gangsta lifestyle had conflicted relationships that ultimately chase him for fortune despite everything that came his way.

Released while 2Pac was serving his sentence, the album became an instant classic, reaching number one on both Billboard 200 and Top R&B/Hip-Hop Album charts and making history by becoming his final studio release before being killed in a drive-by shooting seven months after it arrived in stores.

So Many Tears is a poignant track by Pac, featuring some of his most memorable lyrics and production. If you haven’t experienced it yet, give it a listen now and tell us your opinion; stream it below! For even more amazing rap albums check out our comprehensive list!