Rap (Recommendation) Throw Down?
August 7, 2011 10:39 PM   Subscribe

Introduce me to rap and hip hop?

So far I've listened to and mostly liked:

Drake's _Thank Me Later_ album (esp. Shut It Down and Up All Night)
Eminem's _Recovery_ album (esp. the over-played Love the Way You Lie with Rihanna, Almost Famous, and Cinderella Man)

I've tried listening to Eminem's earlier albums but didn't like them as well, because I like the almost reserved emotion, caged tiger if you will, of the Recovery album.

I've also been trying to find a female rapper of today (I'm 23), and while I know it's cool to start with classics, that doesn't hold as much interest for me unless I've no other option or you can sell me on it otherwise. I'm looking for a female rapper who does a lot of her own songs, doesn't need a male to back her up necessarily but still has some good such songs on an album, and one who can hold her own in the, excuse me, " 'bout to fuck you up" department, since I'm not as much of a fan of gentle songs.

Help a too-white girl to find music from a genre she definitely, and unfortunately, didn't grow up with?
posted by DisreputableDog to Media & Arts (31 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Nicki Minaj
posted by empath at 10:40 PM on August 7, 2011

Check out Jean Grae. She just released a mixtape called "Cookies or Comas", though I haven't listened to it. "The Bootleg of the Bootleg EP" is classic, partly because of the 45 minute hidden track after track 6 of the album. It is mostly her on top of other songs that (IIRC) she couldn't afford/get the rights for.
posted by paulus andronicus at 11:10 PM on August 7, 2011

I love Jean Grae anad Nicki Minaj, but I also strongly recommend checking out Lauryn Hill`s work. Yes, she`s a classic rap artist, but she truly helped pave the way for a lot of female rappers.

These artists fall into the male rap category, but you might be also be interested in The Roots, Theophilus London, Common, Consequence, and Kanye West.
posted by sincerely-s at 11:21 PM on August 7, 2011

If it's 'bout-to-fuck-you-up you're looking for may I suggest The Lady of Rage.
posted by alby at 11:29 PM on August 7, 2011

Oh, and Remy Ma.
posted by alby at 11:33 PM on August 7, 2011

Missy Elliott!!!!
posted by j03 at 11:43 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Bahamadia .... seriously, best female mc in the game.
posted by mannequito at 11:59 PM on August 7, 2011

Give yourself a little of the history, something safe and fairly mainstream: De La Soul (Three Feet High And Rising), Jurassic 5 (Power In Numbers) and Public Enemy (Fear Of A Black Planet.)

note: my intention here is not to claim anything significant about these three groups or releases; I'm merely seeking an accessible, non-gangster middle ground between The Beastie Boys and, say, Digable Planets (which would be the next step, if only for Ladybug Mecca's prowess.)
posted by davejay at 12:09 AM on August 8, 2011

Seconding De La Soul's "Three Feet High..." to a large degree, but I really think that Missy Elliott and Lauryn Hill need to be at the top of your list; they're two of the best MCs ever (female or otherwise).

And, honestly, I think that Kanye's "College Dropout" may just qualify to be a classic. Really worth checking out if you haven't yet done so. :)

For more recent stuff, I can't help but be amazed at Childish Gambino's (aka Donald Glover of Community and Derrick Comedy fame) output. It's funny. If you like Drake's stuff, you'd dig CG.

(paulus: That Jean Grae record is great.)

I have a ton of suggestions, but they're out of the scope of this particular question. I will hook you up, if you'd like.
posted by raihan_ at 12:36 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding Missy Elliott. So totally badass, so enormously talented. Get the following records, as soon as possible:

Under Construction
Da Real World
Supa Dupa Fly


This Is Not a Test

You may not love every track on every album, but, damn, there is just SO much good stuff, SO much going on. I never get tired of Missy, I can keep going back to her.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:15 AM on August 8, 2011

I like Dessa, Psalm One and Tokimonsta (not a rapper), among others. Throw Jean Grae and Georgia Anne Muldrow (barely a rapper) in there too, while you're at it. Old-timey folks: Mystic, Rah Digga, Bahamadia, MC Lyte.

I may revisit this part, but here's a ten-album introduction to hip-hop music (my bias is very much toward golden-age and East Coast stuff, lists like this always leave out a ton of stuff, this is all off the top of my head, assorted other disclaimers):

Run-DMC - Raising Hell (or, if you prefer, King of Rock, or LL Cool J's Radio or Bigger and Deffer)
Eric B and Rakim - Paid in Full (or, if you prefer, EPMD's Strictly Business or BDK's Long Live the Kane)
Public Enemy - It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (or, if you prefer, Fear of a Black Planet)
Main Source - Breaking Atoms (there are plenty of great DITC albums, but this might be my favorite)
A Tribe Called Quest - The Low End Theory (or, if you prefer, People's Instinctive Travels, or Midnight Marauders, or any of the first three De La Soul albums)
Nas - Illmatic (or, if you prefer, Biggie's Ready to Die)
Wu-Tang Clan - Enter the 36 Chambers (or, if you prefer, one of the first-wave Wu solo albums)
Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt (Jay's second-best album might be The Black Album)
Lauryn Hill - The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (or The Fugees' The Score, I guess)
Blackalicious - Blazing Arrow

This past question is probably worth looking at.
posted by box at 5:12 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]

Dominique Young Unique, if you're still looking for a lady rapper.

As others have mentioned, you can't go wrong with Public Enemy, and I'd also throw Dizzee Rascal into the arena.
posted by mean cheez at 5:44 AM on August 8, 2011

K Flay
posted by ndfine at 6:20 AM on August 8, 2011

You can't have any education in rap/hip-hop without Sugarhill Gang's Rapper's Delight.
posted by chrisfromthelc at 7:02 AM on August 8, 2011

So beyond the Big Names that you Just Have To Listen To it sort of depends on what it is you like about Eminem and Drake.

For instance: if you like Eminem because he fits rhymes together in complicated ways, you should add Outkast to the list of suggestions upthread. If what you like is the political content and the way he plays with shock value, you'll probably find Outkast sort of boring and honestly you should really just dig deeper into Public Enemy's old stuff instead. If you like the dark druggy atmosphere on some of his songs — okay, this may be an unpopular suggestion, but have you listened to any trip-hop beyond Portishead? Maybe start with Tricky. And so on.

Looking back on your post, these suggestions skew pretty hard towards the 90s, and it sounds like you want something more current. But I think the question of what you like about those guys is still relevant, if you can put your finger on it.
posted by nebulawindphone at 7:19 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Putting in another vote for Dessa!
posted by itsacover at 7:19 AM on August 8, 2011

Main Source - Breaking Atoms (there are plenty of great DITC albums, but this might be my favorite)

Great album; however, it is not a D.I.T.C. album.

For a good introduction to Diggin' In The Crates crew:

Lord Finesse - Funky Technician
Diamond D - Stunts, Blunts, and Hip Hop
Showbiz & A.G. - Runaway Slave
Fat Joe - Represent
O.C. - Word... Life
Big L - Lifestylez ov da Poor & Dangerous
Lord Finesse - The Awakening

And if you're headed this direction, you'd do well to also introduce yourself to the Juice Crew:

MC Shan - Down By Law
Big Daddy Kane - Long Live the Kane
Biz Markie - Goin' Off
Kool G Rap & DJ Polo - Road to the Riches
Marley Marl - In Control, Vol. 1
Masta Ace - Take a Look Around
Tragedy Khadafi - Intelligent Hoodlum

Just as important is Boogie Down Productions. And then there's Native Tongues posse. There is a wealth of solid golden era NYC Hip Hop out there. And we haven't even started talking about what was happening on the West Coast.

But I will say that what you have been listening to isn't really Hip Hop. Maybe you could label it Rap, but I would call it Urban Pop Music.
posted by doomtop at 7:27 AM on August 8, 2011

For some solid female emcees and/or their co-ed groups, check out:

Roxanne Shanté
Apani B Fly of Polyrhythm Addicts
Jean Grae of Natural Resources
Heroine of Juggaknots
Essence of Natural Elements
Anomalies (all female)
posted by doomtop at 7:34 AM on August 8, 2011

Who gives a shit what you call it or when it's from? You like more modern, poppy stuff and that's fine.

If you like Drake, try Kid Cudi, Lil B, Chiddy Bang, and Kanye.
If you like recent Eminem try Wax, Hoodie Allen, or if you don't mind VERY offensive material, Tyler the Creator (Slim Shady's spiritual descendant.)
If you're looking for a current female rapper, try Kreayshawn for fun party rhymes and Macromantics for serious lyricism.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:43 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I will say that what you have been listening to isn't really Hip Hop.

Seconding this.

I've also been trying to find a female rapper of today

You might like uffie. I often recommend macro but you have to get past the accent plus she's on some other shit right now. She's also like doom - hit or miss.
Sonja Blade is one of the illest, but her catalog is so thin. Get her, Rah Digga and Eve on Do the Ladies Run This?.
Another ladies posse cut is Seven Deadly Sins.

I see I'm not the only macro person around
posted by cashman at 7:45 AM on August 8, 2011

Someone upthread already mentioned Bahamadia, and she guested on Mr. Lif's last album, and I freaking love him, so I really think you should check him out. Can you sense my enthusiasm?
posted by missmobtown at 8:07 AM on August 8, 2011

More poppy recent stuff you might enjoy: J Cole, B.O.B., K'naan, SHAD, Jay Electronica, K-os, and the youtube sensation Karmin.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:17 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I asked my wife for some more suggestions as she recently went on the female MC hunt. She suggested:

Rocky Rivera
M.I.A (how did I forget her?)
Lola Monroe

But I will say that what you have been listening to isn't really Hip Hop. Maybe you could label it Rap, but I would call it Urban Pop Music.

Ugh. This false distinction between "rap" and "hip hop" is so irritating, especially since you'll never, ever find a legitimate MC that makes the distinction. Eminem and Drake are hip hop just as much as the "golden era" everyone talks about. I don't recall "urban popularity" being one of the definition of what is or isn't hip hop.
posted by ndfine at 8:18 AM on August 8, 2011

Some underground stuff - Zane One

Ugh. This false distinction

I think its a real distinction, but rappers are smart enough not to make it because it would just cause division and problems, both from a community standpoint and from a cash flow standpoint. A lot of rappers just couch it in wack vs dope, but essentially it's the point they are making. Others have their moments where they made statements about it, but now accept it all (KRS, Phonte, Jin, even Cube).

Anyway, good call on M.I.A. - Rye Rye is somewhat rappy, but more dancy. RAtheMC started off good, but she has kind of fizzled. Azealia Banks is new, but raunchy as hell. Adrift Da Belle has some decent cuts thanks to good beats - Breathe, Can U Feel It. Also check out Hopie Spitshard. I can't think of the name of her best song, but see what you think.
posted by cashman at 8:35 AM on August 8, 2011

posted by humboldt32 at 10:39 AM on August 8, 2011

Jedi Mind Tricks come to mind (source album). Quick rhymes, kind of intense presentation.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:59 AM on August 8, 2011

For classic female rappers, you can't go wrong with MC Lyte, especially Paper Thin.
posted by jasondigitized at 4:24 AM on August 9, 2011

Several thoughts for you:

First: A lot of people have mentioned Jean Grae. I would nth that: (1) she's a real good rapper, though her production and beats are inconsistent, (2) if you ever get the chance to see her perform, she's one of the only good rap performers going, (3) she just keeps putting shit out. She's current.

Second: I like Minaj, even though folks would say she's not a rap artist in some sort of "true school" sense.

Third: Missy is really underrated by rap heads. Her mainstream popularity comes for a reason, and her rap bonafides are legit if you listen to any of her records.

Fourth and finally: You've suggested a reluctance to delve. I get that. Rap is old as fuck (three decades in or more, more or less where rock was when Depeche Mode or Van Halen or Minor Threat started messing around with it). There's a lot there and it's overwhelming. But ignore the advice of anyone who says that any decade or coast or crew is better than the rest. That's not the point.

HOWEVER: I can't emphasize enough that the more you know about rap music circa 1980s to 2000s, the more you will appreciate it going forward. It's a music that is essentially an internal dialogue that builds on itself over decades.

Also: RAP MUSIC CAN'T BE DENIED. Take 10 raps songs, popular or independent, and there's way more there to like than a similar proportion of popular or independent songs in another genre. It's why rap took over the world in the 90s.

So in that spirit, I'd suggest this entire thread, which came from a post of mine. I like the final list that we came up with, and I can send you the songs if you mail me about it.

You'll see several people that have already been mentioned here: Lyte, Jean Grae, De La, Missy, RUN DMC, Nas, and so forth.
posted by kensington314 at 12:25 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

"But I will say that what you have been listening to isn't really Hip Hop. Maybe you could label it Rap, but I would call it Urban Pop Music."

Ugh. This false distinction between "rap" and "hip hop" is so irritating, especially since you'll never, ever find a legitimate MC that makes the distinction. Eminem and Drake are hip hop just as much as the "golden era" everyone talks about. I don't recall "urban popularity" being one of the definition of what is or isn't hip hop.

Ding ding ding!!! It's not only a false distinction, it's a pointless exercise that will leave you having such a myopic interest in the music that you will abandon it eventually because, frankly, the Roots get boring after awhile.
posted by kensington314 at 12:33 AM on August 10, 2011

Nth'ing Dessa. She's great. The whole Doomtree crew is awesome. Some nice, introspective and interesting stuff there.

Also if you're into hip-hop or want to get into hip-hop, I keep forgetting how insanely good Z-Trip's Shifting Gears is. His MC selection on that disc is just great: tons of stuff mentioned from upthread, such as Chuck D's thunderous rap on "Shock and Awe", Busdriver's weird, speedy turn over a Jethro Tull sample on "Take Two Copies" or (MY FAVORITE!) Murs and Supernatural rapping about cereal and cartoons on "Breakfast Club".

Ahh... I forgot how good that record is. It's definitely on my "essential listening" list, even if I haven't dusted off my copy in a while.
posted by raihan_ at 5:38 AM on August 16, 2011

« Older Old cat and new kitten strategy   |   Burma Shave Redux! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.