Slept On: 10 Overlooked Hip Hop Albums That Deserve Another Listen

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Hindsight will always have a life in music simply because some works take longer to digest than others. Sometimes, audiences are too busy paying attention to what’s hot at the moment, while other times fans have to mature in years to understand what an artist was trying to express fully. Here are 10 albums that were outside of their time—they were either dismissed or never received the level of admiration and praise they deserved. 

  • Bas – Too High to Riot (2016)

It’s an eerie feeling to derive joy from an album where the artist expresses their struggles with drug addiction. But Bas delivers brutal honesty on the title track, bares his soul on “Matches”, and sings an open letter on “Black Owned Business”—all while making transparency cool.

  • Trina – Da Baddest Bitch (2000)

Now, Hip Hop is international, but in the past bi-coastal biases existed and artists were dismissed merely because they were below the Mason-Dixon line. But criticism meant nothing to Trina, whose title track gave a manicured middle finger to any hater—no matter where they were from. “Pull Over” was the last of the Freaknik anthems, while “B*** I Don’t Need Ya” became the response club track for ladies who grew tired of being disrespected on countless songs from male rappers.

  • Joey Badass – 1999 (2012)

During the rise of the SoundCloud-rapper era, there was a young Brooklyn MC named Joey Bada$$ whose old soul essence on the mic gave off a 90s rapper feeling. The maturity in his voice heard on “Hardknock” and “Waves”, matched by the wordplay on “Righteous Minds”, proved that Joey was an honor student of Hip Hop’s golden era.

  • Rapsody – Laila’s Wisdom (2017)

Laila’s Wisdom is a strong introduction by then underground veteran Rapsody. The North Carolina MC showed her lyrical worth. She could match with the likes of Kendrick Lamar on “Power”, brought diversity in her flow on “Sassy”, and showed a controlled vulnerability on “A Rollercoaster Jam Called Love.”

  • Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)

Coming off the highly praised premiere of Good Kid Mad City, Kendrick’s second round with To Pimp A Butterfly (TPAB) originally was hard to digest for some. But years later, in the current climate, songs like “Alright” that provide a black-fist anthem, the bass two-step vibe of “These Walls”, and the emotionally introspective “How Much A Dollar Cost”, makes TPAB a slow-burn masterpiece.

  • Lil Kim – La Bella Mafia (2003)

Queen Bee Kim cemented her throne five seconds into the band-driven “Jump Off” with a bounce flow to match. On “Come Back for You” she spits no-nonsense rhymes while still displaying sexual power on “Magic Stick.” La Bella Mafia is a seasoned Lil Kim completely in charge of her legend and legacy.  

  • Missy Elliot – So Addictive (2001)

Missy is an underrated legend whose artistry is in full swing with So Addictive. “Get Ur Freak” was an almost corny catchphrase that she transformed into a hot dance record. “One Minute Man” was irresistible—even for those men who felt a specific type of way, and “Lick Shots” is a dope rhyme/ beat combo that still holds up.

  • Nipsey Hussle – Victory Lap (2018)

Long-time Nipsey Hussle fans expected nothing less from the official premiere of the LA king. Victory Lap represented the long road and hard work that underground/west coast fans had been waiting for years to hear. “Rap N****s” and “Last Time That I Checc’d” rang loud in the eardrum with Nipsey letting new fans know he wasn’t the average internet rapper. “Status Symbol 3” was a smooth connection to his past mixtapes bringing the album’s theme full circle.

  • 50 Cent – The Massacre (2005)

In his defense, any album 50 Cent dropped coming off his debut Get Rich or Die Trying was going to fall short. However, once one takes a closer listen to The Massacre in hindsight, they might feel different. 50’s flow sounds more polished on “In My Hood” and “Ryder Music” and supremely confident on “Ski Mask Way”, cementing his place in Hip Hop statehood.

  • Freddie Gibbs & Alchemist – Alfredo (2020)

The Grammy loss didn’t deter the greatness of Alfredo. Both Freddie Gibbs and Alchemist created the most masterful one MC/one producer album in decades. “Scottie Beam” is a smooth lyrical car ride at sunset, “God Is Perfect” is a rhyme lover’s dream, and “Babies & Fools” is caviar for the eardrums.

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