Since their signing to Strange Music last year, Ubiquitous and Godemis have quickly built a reputation as a dream duo for hip hop heads. With their upcoming album Constant Energy Struggles, the KC tandem looks to take that reputation worldwide.
Their focus on intricate lyrics, diverse flow patterns and insightful content have already started to draw comparisons to other super lyrical duos like Outkast and Blackstar, two comparisons that CES Cru doesn’t take lightly.
It seems to be the general consensus among hip hop fans that there seems to be a lack of focus on lyricism in hip hop today, and groups like CES Cru, The Pro Era collective, and Black Hippy are helping to change that.
Strange Music has always been lyrically focused, and CES Cru is no different. So in celebration of the best Cru’s upcoming album and as an homage to some of our favorite lyricists, we thought we’d take a look at what we feel to be five of the most lyrical albums ever, in no particular order.
Blackstar – Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Blackstar
The first (and only…so far) collaborative album from New York emcees Talib Kweli and Mos Def as Black Star is widely regarded by hip hop heads as one of the best of our generation, if not ever.
Featuring production from Hi-Tek, Da Beatminerz, and J. Rawls, Mos and Talib were given the perfect 13 track canvas on which to paint their lyrical portraits.
The Slick Rick – nod “Children’s Story” cleverly details the story of mid 90s hip hop artists achieving fame on the backs of lazily sampled soul and R&B tracks, while “Thieves In The Night” poetically calls out both the oppressive state of America and the victim’s mentality perpetuated by weak-minded individuals.
Aesop Rock – Float
While not quite as known as Mos Def or Talib Kweli, Aesop Rock (not to be confused with A$AP Rocky) holds a special place in the hearts of lyricism lovers everywhere.
Aesop’s stream-of-consciousness rhymes and unorthodox delivery combine with production from Blockhead and Aesop himself on Float to create a collage of tracks that keep you thinking, even if you have no idea what the hell Rock’s talking about.
Standout track “Attention Span” finds Aesop trading bars with Cannibal Ox member Vast Aire in a frenzy of fluidity and simultaneously provocative and nonsensical rhymes.
Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP
Regardless of how you feel about Eminem, anyone with a decent knowledge of hip hop would be hard pressed to say that he didn’t change things forever.
On The Marshal Mathers LP, we find Eminem at arguably his lyrical prime, and also the prime of his complete disregard for the status quo.
Slim Shady took his ability to rhyme entire sentences with each other and body slammed it on top of production Dr. Dre, Mel-Man, Bass Brothers and himself.
You could put a million monkeys in a room with a million typewriters…you’re still not going to come out with that first verse on “Amityville”.
Nas – Illmatic
If there was an actual hip hop rule book, the first rule would probably be “You cannot talk about lyricism without mentioning Illmatic”.
Nasty Nas’ debut album was arguably his best, and an example that every other rap album since has been held up against, justly or not. Very few emcees since have been able to tell a story and paint a picture with words like Nas did on Illmatic.
DJ Premier, Q-Tip, and Large Professor all lent their hands to what is widely considered one of the best hip hop albums of all time. Probably the most popular track from Illmatic, “N.Y. State Of Mind” has found countless emcees trying to replicate it’s feel and results (often even using the same beat) but to no avail.
Street life has never been described so poetically, succinctly and skillfully as it was in this album, and “N.Y. State Of Mind” happens to be the perfect example of that.
Tech N9ne – Anghellic
Y’all almost thought we weren’t gonna send a tip of the hat to the Strange General didn’t ya?
While none of us here can even begin to pick a favorite Tech N9ne album, Anghellic is widely regarded as his most lyrical album.
With the help of production from Don Juan, IcyRoc, and others, Tech N9ne was allowed to explore the depths of his dualistic mind state on Anghellic in a way that no one in hip hop had done before.
Tracks like “Sinister Tech” and “Tormented” perfectly display Tech’s unmatched delivery and lyrical abilities, while fan favorites like “This Ring” and “Real Killer” delve into the mind of a man battling his evil brain with an angel heart
It’s only right that Strange Music’s master lyricist be the one to scout out and sign CES Cru, the next generation of Kansas City lyricism.
As we await the release of Constant Energy Struggles, anticipation grows and we’re left to wonder if someday CES Cru will be mentioned in a list like this one. We’re pretty confident they will.
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