Three must-own albums from Rock the Bells

Acts like Snoop Dogg and Wu-Tang Clan are performing off their classic debuts

August 26, 2010|By Evan Haga, Special to the Baltimore Sun

This year's Rock the Bells tour arrives at Merriweather with a twist. In addition to the show's usual multigenerational mix of hip-hop, this year's headlining acts are performing their most acclaimed albums in their entirety. It's a concept more familiar to fans of rock and roll, but, hey, hip-hop has its classics too. Here are three must-own rap records — all released in November of 1993 — you'll hear Sunday.

"Doggystyle"

He was Snoop Doggy Dogg when this, his solo debut, was released and further defined the West Coast G-funk style. A lanky kid from Long Beach with a supreme height advantage, Snoop made his presence known in '92 on Dr. Dre's "The Chronic," offering up his trademarked liquid flow on instant classics like "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang." The hit parade continued into "Doggystyle," with cuts like "Gin and Juice" and "Who Am I (What's My Name)?" staking a permanent claim on block-party and dorm-room playlists.

"Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)"

Laced with samples from vintage kung-fu movies and produced with hard-hitting East Coast simplicity, Wu-Tang Clan's epic debut seemed as artful and singular as it was hard-core. Some 17 years later, after so many classic solo albums, ludicrous name changes and extensive merchandising, "36 Chambers" is still the essential Wu document: just check the lyrical fire of cuts like "C.R.E.A.M." and "Protect Ya Neck."

"Midnight Marauders"

Many hip-hop fans would agree that "The Low End Theory" is A Tribe Called Quest's finest moment, making this Rock the Bells' most controversial album pick. But this fuller-sounding release was another smart, stylishly grooving effort from this trio that traded hip-hop thuggery for fun, sharp, buoyant rhymes. In so many words, everything that crunk represented, Tribe was and is not.

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