Interview and Written By: Keith Nelson Jr (@JusAire)
Time is relative and "classics" are some the best examples of this immutable fact. Jay Z's best album ever originally got Four out of Five mics from The Source back when those mic ratings held more than authority, they were gospel. The magazine eventually changed the rating to a classic five mic rating later. Actually, Dr. Dre's The Chronic, Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle, Wu-Tang Clan's Enter The Wu Tang: 36 Chambers, Eric B & Rakim's Paid In Full, NWA's Straight Outta Compton among other albums that would later appear on the magazine's 1998 list of the 100 Best Rap Albums Of All Time, were all not initially rated below a 5-mic classic. It's hard to judge what will stand the test of time with five, ten, even 20 listens. HipHopDX's Editor In Chief Justin Hunte even admits HipHopDX's original 4.5 out of 5 rating for Kendrick Lamar's good kid, mAAd city was too low in hindsight.
Conventional Hip Hop wisdom says that the 90's was the greatest decade with the most classic albums and contains the last Golden Era of Hip Hop. But between 2009-2011, record sales were at historic lows and blogs opened the floodgates for independent rap releases to gain an appeal. From this unofficial Golden Era of Blog Rap (title still pending) Drake, Big Sean, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and a few others either released career defining mixtapes on blogs or streaming services such as DatPiff or Livemixtapes. Since 2011, each of those five rappers have had #1 albums on Billboard and have either been nominated for or won a Grammy. Hunte believes 2009-2011 was a time "when you had multinational corporations willing to invest millions of dollars into an artist that has an online fanbase and allowin them the opportunity to turn that into physical sales as best as they could."
While Hunte firmly believes a classic album "changes the culture" he does lay out a minimum benchmark of quality that an album has to reach in order to even be considered a classic: "If you have 10 tracks and nine of them are awesome that's a really great ratio. If you have 12 tracks and eight of them are awesome, now were at 75%. That's not really that good in middle school, so how great is that in an album standpoint."
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