We are having some real fun today as we look for the best sounding hip hop vinyl! I started listening to rap music in the early 90s during my high-school days so that and 80s stuff is what I am really into. We had a lot of people enjoy our The Best Pre Amps For Rap Vocals Article that we did a while back, so we thought that adding some more hip hop content would be cool. Again, please note that I am more into my old school stuff when it comes to hip hop so that is mainly what we will be looking at today, but I may also have a few surprises in store for you.
Your Setup Your Way
I know that the title of today’s article is the best sounding hip hop vinyl, but it is not as black and white as that. At the end of the day, a lot of this will depend on your setup. As cool as this Gemini Sound TT-900 Series Stereo Belt Drive Turntable looks at the end of the day this is under 150 bucks! You cannot expect it to have the same kind of sound as say this Pro-Ject T1 BT Turntable when used with these Klipsch RP-600M Speakers! You have to be realistic with what you have and at the end of the day, if it sounds good to you that is all that matters.
The 10 Best Sounding Hip Hop Vinyl for 2021
I can hand on heart say that every album I am recommending to you guys is in my collection. My hip hop collection is one of my favorites and it is awesome that they have re-released so many of the albums I had as a kid. The thing is, back then I would never in a million years have wanted the record, it was CD all the way in the 90s! My, how things have changed!
1. Doggystyle: Snoop Doggy Dog
I thought I would start with my all time favorite rap album and one that had to by law be on this best sounding hip hop vinyl list and that is Doggystyle by Snoop Dogg, although he was called Snoop Doggy Dogg back then. I remember seeing the video for Who Am I on MTV and I was hooked:
Snoop Dogg is timeless, absolutely timeless and I think that he is as good today as he was back then. His vocal flow and voice in general is truly unique.
This is a record that simply must be in everyone’s collection. As much as I loved his other work, I do not think that he ever topped this. There is a three track set on this album with Murder Was The Case, Serial Killer, and then Who Am I that is just amazing, I have thrown their record on a million times and skipped straight to this!
2. The Chronic: Dr. Dre
There are a few releases of The Chronic on vinyl, but this is the one that I have and I am more than happy with it. Dr. Dre is one of the all-time greats, his work with the NWA, his solo stuff, and even the producing work that he has done is incredible, but man, this album is something very special. It is one of those albums that has its hits such as the iconic Nuthin But A G Thang which is arguably the most famous rap song of all time! It was through this song that I discovered Snoop Dogg!
Anyway, while that is the stand out track on the album. This is an album that I will always listen to from start to end. During my teenage years, I was forever getting shouted at by my mother to turn this down, of course, back then I was listening to this on CD. Anyway, this is a truly incredible album and this version of it sounds fantastic.
3. Greatest Hits: 2Pac
Ok, so full disclosure here, most other best sounding hip hop vinyl guides will probably suggest the two album set of The Best Of 2Pac: Thug and The Best Of 2Pac: Life which are the most recent 2Pac compilation albums and from a “collectors” point of view, they are well worth having in your collection. However, this Greatest Hits: 2Pac is the best of all the 2Pac compilations if you ask me. I had this on CD back in the 90s and it was a firm favorite on my Sony Discman that I rocked all through my final years of high school and college.
This is just such a great album that features all of the hits from his albums before his horrible murder. The album gave us the new song Changes which was a huge hit all over the world, but this album is just stacked!
A few of my personal favorites are Brenda’s Got A Baby, Me Against The World, Life Goes On, California Love, To Live and Die in LA, and actually, I have probably rattled off half the tracks. 2Pac was a true artist in every sense of the word.
4. Life After Death: Notorious B.I.G
I will admit that I am not the biggest Biggie Smalls fan in the world. Hey, put down the pitchforks, but growing up I took the side of 2Pac! Anyway, you cannot have a best sounding hip hop vinyl list and not have Biggie Smalls on it. This is an absolute classic and over the years I have come to respect him more and more. My son who as I write this is 14, is a huge Notorious B.I.G fan. Life After Death Is a great album and one you need in your collection.
There are two tracks on here in particular that made me go for this album over his others. Hypnotize is just a really haunting song that back when it was first released was a huge hit at a high-school dance I might add.
The other track I love is another dancefloor filler and that is Mo Money, Mo Problems which is just a fun song.
Back in the 90s, I was sure that Mase was going to be a huge deal. He had some good songs, but his career never quite blew up the way I thought it would.
5. King of Rock: Run D.M.C
Ok, so I hope that I am wrong here, but I do not think that there is a RUN-D.M.C greatest hits album on vinyl! I have The Best of RUN-D.M.C on CD and I cannot believe that it has not been released on vinyl! I really wanted to have these guys on here as this is one of the few rap groups that my dad liked back in the day. My favorite RUN-D.M.C song is King of Rock which is featured on this album so that is why King of Rock: Run D.M.C was the album I suggested for this list.
This is just an absolute banging album with many songs mixing hip hop and rock and these guys were the masters at that. While I have you here, I do also want to suggest you go and listen to The Kings which was a son RUN-D.M.C did for WWF/E wrestling group DX.
This song is awesome and one of my favorites from RUN-D.M.C, but it is a song that hardly gets any love when people talk about these guys.
6. 2001: Dr. Dre
I was not going to feature an artist on here more than once, but I had to make an exception for 2001 by Dr. Dre. I got this album the day it was released, I was in my first year of college, I picked up the album (on CD, of course, it was 1999) and went straight to my car so I could listen to some of it before class. This is Dr. Dre at his finest and just like The Chronic, 2001 is an album that you need to listen to from start to end. He has an all-star cast of the best of the best of that time with him on this album.
There are some great tracks on here my favorite of the singles is The Next Episode which is a song that is impossible not to sing along to.
Overall, my favorite song on the whole album is What’s The Difference which features Dr. Dre with Xzibit (who I freaking loved in the early 00s) and Eminem.
This is another album that I felt had to be on this best sounding hip hop vinyl list!
7. Country Grammar: Nelly
Ok, some raised eyebrows over the fact that I have put Country Grammar on here I am sure. I remember back in the summer of 2001; a good friend of mine and I were playing some WWF No Mercy on the Nintendo 64 and we were discussing what we felt the best rap albums of all time were. N.W.A, LL Cool J, Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, and a who’s who of who you would expect were brought up. However, I was really high on this album and was sure Nelly was going to be a superstar. My friend got legit mad as hell that I would have the nerve to say that this was one of the best albums of all time.
Well, I truly did think that back then and even now, this is an album that is on regular rotation! I will admit that his work after this never really did anything for me, but as an album, this is fantastic. It is packed with some great singles and Ride Wit Me was the anthem for the whole of my summer in 2001!
I know some people are probably mind blown over my love for this album, but I stand by it and think that this is an incredible album and deserves far more respect than it gets.
8. Greatest Hits: Eminem
When My Name Is came out the whole world went nuts for Eminem. He is one of those guys that has a ton of great albums to his name so I decided to take the easy way out and chose his Greatest Hits Album which is a ton of fun. I remember there were some people that felt like he was going to retire after this. Of course, that is laughable to think of now, but when you listen to this now, you realize just how much talent he had. Each album was full of great songs and this is an excellent collection.
It is hard to pick just one Eminem song, but my favorite has always been Like Toy Soldiers.
I feel that songs like this, Stan and The Way I Am really showcase his ability to make you visualize what it is he is rapping about.
I have all of his albums that are available on vinyl in my collection, but if you have to just get one, I highly recommend his greatest hits.
9. Mama Said Knock You Out [Marvel Reissue]: LL Cool J
Who doesn’t love them some LL Cool J? I am a massive fan of him as a rapper and an actor. During my high school days, I loved In The House the sitcom that he starred in. My favorite album of his has always been Mamma Said Knock You Out, it is a damn masterpiece, but as you are reading this best sounding hip hop vinyl article I assume you have to have a bit of an interest in collecting vinyl and this particular version I am suggesting is the same Mama Said Knock You Out you know and love, but it has a special Punisher cover that was done as part of a series that featured Marvel characters on classic albums. Liquid Swords by GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan has an awesome Iron Man inspired release.
As far as the best song goes, I have to give it to the title track, Mama Said Knock You Out which sounds just as good now as it did when I first heard it as a kid.
What is amazing about this album is that you have songs like that, but you also have his more mellow and lady loving side with songs like Around The Way Girl.
10. Vol 2: The Hard Knock Life: Jay-Z
You cannot go wrong with a bit of Jay-Z. No doubt he has had a ton of albums, but my favorite has always been Vol 2: The Hard Knock Life. This was the album that made me take notice of him and it also features my two favorite Jay-Z songs of all time. This is just a very, very well-made album and while Jay-Z would go on from strength to strength and his later albums may be the favorite of some of you guys, but this was the only Jay-Z album that I knew had to be on my list of the best sounding hip hop vinyl.
The funny thing about this song is that the title song Hard Knock Life does nothing for me at all. I remember when it came out and I would go as far as to say that I hated it! What won me over was the song Can I Get A which is one of my favorite rap songs to this day and it also introduced me to Ja Rule and Major Coins too.
This song was featured on the Rush Hour soundtrack and was a big hit. The other song I love is called Money Ain’t A Thang and features Jermaine Dupree who was a pretty big deal for a while.