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1. N.W.A - Efil4zaggin (Ruthless, 1991)
Roc Marciano: I was into this immediately. I was already a fan from Straight Outta Compton so I checked this out as soon as I could. I was still real young then and it was the first album that I remember getting excited to get to the end. It was like an action movie to me. It taught me that you need to entertain throughout the entire duration of an album. “Alwayz Into Somethin” is one of my favorite Dre instrumentals ever. It’s ridiculous. And the video of them in the Benz and everything? Wow, it’s one of the most smoothest beats but it’s also so hard at the same time. The production and the topics it all covered went together so smoothly. It was the first time I really started looking up to Dr. Dre and all the little things he puts into his releases.
2. GZA - Liquid Swords (Geffen, 1995)
Roc Marciano: It’s one of my favorite albums and the beats here are some of my favorite ever in all of music – not just rap. It’s really is just dope beats and rhymes. I already respected RZA because all those early Wu albums are just genius. And GZA just shows that he took time and studied rapping and just personifies what an emcee is. He didn’t just smoke a blunt and write this in an hour. I smoke a lot of blunts so I don’t remember exactly where I was or how old I was [when I first heard it], but I know it left an impression on me early on. To me, [Raekwon’s] Only Built 4 Cuban Linx is neck-and-neck with this, but at the end of the day, I feel Liquid Swords for whatever reason doesn’t get mentioned as much. And how GZA starts off “Duel Of The Iron Mic” is just so visual. It grips you and never lets you go.
3. D'Angelo - Voodoo (Virgin, 2000)
Roc Marciano: [D’Angelo]’s someone I kind of pattern my rap career after. He’s a brave artist to me and stands out amongst the crowd. He made R&B that didn’t sound like any R&B out at the time. He made stuff that had moments that sounded like it was from my mom’s record collection, not from a modern singer. Even though I dig a lot of the tracks, “The Root” is what stands out to me on this one. Cats already sample D’Angelo but I think younger cats will be sampling this album more and more as time goes on for sure.
4. Main Source - Breaking Atoms (Wild Pitch, 1991)
Roc Marciano: There are so many good fucking songs on here. I always really loved “Just a Friendly Game of Baseball” and Large Professor was like a mad scientist. That’s why I love it so much, especially how it flows from beginning to end. Large Pro just makes everything come together perfectly and his beats are just so gripping. Hearing Nas on there for the first time [“Live At the Barbeque”] is something I think most listeners would never forget – I mean, I never did. This album introduced so many legendary things to hip-hop but at the time you as the listener didn’t know it. That just makes it better to me. It’s just truly legendary.
5. The Notorious B.I.G. - Life After Death (Bad Boy, 1997)
Roc Marciano: Man, Biggie had the writing ability of a genius. He could make you feel like death is in the room, like the grim reaper is right next to you. “Long Kiss Goodnight” was produced by RZA too. I mean, Wu-Tang already had the entire East believing in them. They were all over the place and Big just matched the beat so damn great. RZA is a genius beatmaker and talk about rising to the occasion. Big’s rhymes on here are ridiculous. What can I say man? Biggie Smalls, the illest!