In an age where very few things are built to last and a 12-hour news cycle means it’s on to the next thing almost immediately after it happens, it’s good to know that there are hard-working MCs left like Torae , who still take pride in their expertly tuned craftsmanship. It’s all about quality with Torae, who hails from Coney Island and who has paid mad dues both solo and as one half of the Barrel Brothers with Skyzoo . Having released his praise-worthy second album album, Entitled earlier this year, here he takes a moment to reflect back on some of the music that has left an impression on not just his art but himself as a person.
Slick Rick — The Great Adventures of Slick Rick (Def Jam, 1988).
Torae : This record set such a tone for me no pun intended. The story telling ability of “Indian Girl,” how “Mona Lisa” moved the dance floor, the realness of “Hey Young World,” it all was just so perfectly worded and weaved. I’ve taken a lot of cues from this album in my own creative process, but most importantly, it’s a record I can’t live without. I own it on vinyl, cassette, CD & digitally in my phone. No matter the format available, I’m ready to go. Shouts to MC Ricky D.
Nas — Illmatic (Columbia, 1994).
Torae : What Rakim did for the generation before, Nas did for mine with Illmatic . I remember being in school and my homie having the tape weeks before the release date. I didn’t go to class the whole day. We just sat in the locker bay and listened, intensely. Top to bottom this is a perfect record and it’s my “If you could only have one album” album.
Mary J. Blige — My Life (Uptown, 1994).
Torae : Mary J. might be every females favorite to sing about pain and heartbreak, but live fellas respect it. I didn’t think anything could top What’s The 411? , but Mary’s sophomore release lived up to and surpassed expectations. This album marks a certain point of maturity in my life.
Michael Jackson — Off The Wall (Epic, 1979).
Torae : This album is one that I got to later in life, I was too young when it dropped to understand the importance of the music. This album could double as a greatest hits or essential album. It has jam after jam, after jam! Rest in peace to the true King of Pop.
Torae — For the Record (Internal Affairs, 2011).
Torae : Can’t talk about albums that changed my life and omit this one. My debut album was definitely life changing for me. The culmination of a lot of hard work, effort, dreams and perseverance. Thank you to every contributor that helped make this dream a reality.