From Illmatic to Madvillainy, To Pimp a Butterfly to Aquemini, Tha Carter II to De La Soul Is Dead, we look at the best hip hop albums of all time, year by year.

New York was on the comeback trail in 1994. After a few years of West Coast domination, thanks largely to Dr. Dre’s The Chronic dropping in 1992 and Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle in 1993, the East Coast was fighting hard for the spotlight.

1994 saw the debuts of two of the greatest New York rappers of all time – Nas with Illmatic and The Notorious B.I.G.’s Ready to Die – while the South were making their claim with the rise of acts like OutKast and UGK, as well as Scarface, one of the best Texas rappers ever, dropping his magnum opus.

That’s not to say the West still didn’t have the spotlight. With the release of Doggystyle at the end of 1993, Snoop Dogg spent the majority of 1994 on the charts with massive hit singles like “Gin and Juice” and “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?)” as well as the Murder Was the Case soundtrack.

From Jeru the Damaja’s The Sun Rises in the East to Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik and Ready to Die, here are the top 25 best hip hop albums of 1994.

25. Death Row Records – Murder Was the Case

Released: October 18, 1994

Label: Death Row, Interscope

Singles: “One More Day/What Would You Do?”, “Natural Born Killaz”, “U Better Recognize”

Features: DJ Quik, Slip Capone, CPO, B-Rezell, Young Soldierz

24. Thug Life – Thug Life: Volume 1

Released: September 26, 1994

Label: Interscope, Jive, Out da Gutta

Singles: “Pour Out a Little Liquor”, “Cradle to the Grave”

Features: Natasha Walker, Y.N.V., Nate Dogg

23. Spice 1 – AmeriKKKa’s Nightmare

Released: November 22, 1994

Label: Jive

Singles: “Strap on the Side”

Features: E-40, 2Pac, Method Man, G-Nut

22. Craig Mack – Project Funk da World

Released: September 20, 1994

Label: Bad Boy, Arista

Singles: “Flava in Ya Ear”, “Get Down”, “Making Moves with Puff”

Features: Puff Daddy

21. Method Man – Tical 

Released: November 15, 1994

Label: Def Jam

Singles: “Bring the Pain”, “Release Yo’ Delf”, “I’ll Be There for You / You’re All I Need to Get By”

Features: RZA, Inspectah Deck, Streetlife, Carlton Fisk, Blue Raspberry, Raekwon

20. Bone Thugs-n-Harmony – Creepin on ah Come Up

Released: June 21, 1994

Label: Ruthless, Relativity

Singles: “Thuggish Ruggish Bone”, “Foe tha Love of $”

Features: Eazy-E & Jewell

19. Da Brat – Funkdafied

Released: June 28, 1994

Label: So So Def, Columbia Records, Sony Music

Singles: “Funkdafied”, “Fa All Y’all”, “Give It 2 You”

Features: Kandi, Jermaine Dupri, LaTocha Scott, Y-Tee, Mac Daddy

18. Warren G – Regulate… G Funk Era

Released: June 7, 1994

Label: Violator, Def Jam

Singles: “Regulate”, “This D.J.”, “Do You See”

Features: Nate Dogg, B-Tip, Ricky Harris, The Twinz, Jay Skills, Wayniac, Lady Levi, The Dove Shack, Mr. Malik

17. Keith Murray – The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World

Released: September 20, 1994

Label: Jive

Singles: “The Most Beautifullest Thing in This World”, “Get Lifted”

Features: Erick Sermon, Redman, Hurricane Gee, Jamal and Paul Hightower.

16. The Coup – Genocide & Juice

Released: October 13, 1994

Label: Wild Pitch

Singles: “Fat Cats, Bigga Fish”, “Takin’ These”

Features: E-40, Spice 1, E-Roc

15. Gravediggaz – 6 Feet Deep

Released: August 9, 1994

Label: Gee Street, Island, Polygram

Singles: “Diary of a Madman”, “Nowhere to Run, Nowhere to Hide”, “1-800 Suicide”

Features: Shabazz the Disciple, Killah Priest, Dreddy Kruger, Scientific Shabazz

14. MC Eiht – We Come Strapped

Released: July 19, 1994

Label: Epic Street

Singles: “All for the Money”, “Geez Make the Hood Go Round”

Features: Spice 1, Redman, Carla Evans

13. O.C. – Word…Life

Released: October 18, 1994

Label: Wild Pitch

Singles: “Born 2 Live”, “Time’s Up”

Features: Pharoahe Monch

12. Common – Resurrection

Released: October 4, 1994

Label: Relativity

Singles: “I Used to Love H.E.R.”, “Resurrection”

Features: No I.D., Mohammed Ali, The Twilite Tone, Lonnie “Pops” Lynn

11. Pete Rock & CL Smooth – The Main Ingredient

Released: November 8, 1994

Label: Elektra

Singles: “I Got a Love”, “Take You There”, “Searching”

Features: Rob-O, Crystal Johnson, Vinia Mojica, Deda, Grap Luva

10. Organized Konfusion – Stress: The Extinction Agenda

Released: August 16, 1994

Label: Hollywood BASIC / Elektra Records

Singles: “Stress”

Features: O.C. and Q-Tip

9. Redman – Dare Iz a Darkside

Released: November 22, 1994

Label: Def Jam

Singles: “Rockafella”, “Can’t Wait”

Features: Erick Sermon, Keith Murray, Hurricane G

8. UGK – Super Tight

Released: August 30, 1994

Label: Jive

Singles: “It’s Supposed to Bubble”, “Front, Back, Side to Side”

Features: Smoke D, 3-2

7. Beastie Boys – Ill Communication

Released: May 31, 1994

Label: Capital, Grand Royal

Singles: “Sabotage”, “Get It Together”, “Sure Shot”, “Root Down”

Features: Q-Tip, Biz Markie

6. Gang Starr – Hard to Earn

Released: March 8, 1994

Label: Chrysalis/EMI Records

Singles: “DWYCK”, “Mass Appeal”, “Code of the Streets”, “Suckas Need Bodyguards”

Features: Lil Dap, Jeru the Damaja, Nice & Smooth, Melachi the Nutcracker, Big Shug

5. Jeru the Damaja – The Sun Rises in the East

Released: May 24, 1994

Label: Payday/FFRR/PolyGram

Singles: “Come Clean”, “D. Original”, “You Can’t Stop the Prophet”

Features: Afu-Ra

4. Scarface – The Diary

Released: October 18, 1994

Label: Rap-A-Lot, Noo Trybe

Singles: “I Seen a Man Die”, “Hand of the Dead Body”

Features: Ice Cube and Devin the Dude

3. OutKast – Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik

Released: April 26, 1994

Label: LaFace, Arista

Singles: “Player’s Ball”, “Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik”, “Git Up, Git Out”

Features: Goodie Mob

2. The Notorious B.I.G. – Ready to Die

Released: September 13, 1994

Label: Bad Boy, Arista

Singles: “Juicy”, “Big Poppa / Warning”, “One More Chance”

Features: Method Man

1. Nas – Illmatic

Released: April 19, 1994

Label: Columbia

Singles: “Halftime”, “It Ain’t Hard to Tell”, “Life’s a Bitch”, “The World Is Yours”, “One Love”

Features: AZ

Related Posts