Dark Light

By 2004 the Southern takeover was in full swing. What started out as a trickle in the early ’90s with OutKast and the Geto Boys transformed into a tidal wave with artists like Mike Jones, Z-Ro, and Lil Jon. It was a sign of what was to come.

In other news, underground legend MF DOOM had a banner year in 2004 with a couple of drops that would live forever as classics. Cam’ron continued his outstanding run at Roc-A-Fella with the release of Purple Haze, and speaking of the Roc, a young Chicago rapper-producer by the name of Kanye West also dropped his debut this year and go on to become one of the most influential rappers of the 2000s.

From Masta Ace’s A Long Hot Summer to Kanye West’s The College Dropout and Madvillain’s Madvillainy, here are the top 25 best hip hop albums of 2004.

25. Z-Ro – The Life of Joseph W. McVey

Released: February 24, 2004

Label: Rap-A-Lot 4 Life, J. Prince Entertainment, Asylum

Singles: “I Hate U Bitch”

Features: Trae tha Truth, Scarface and Tanya Herron

24. Royce da 5’9″ – Death Is Certain

Released: February 24, 2004

Label: Koch

Singles: “Hip Hop”, “Death Is Certain Pt. 2 (It Hurts)”

Features: Ingrid Smalls, 6 July, Cha Cha and Cutty Mack

23. MF DOOM & MF Grimm – Special Herbs + Spices Volume 1

Released: May 11, 2004

Label: Day By Day Entertainment

Singles: N/A

Features: Kurious, Bashton the Invizabul Mang and Lord Smog

22. Young Buck – Straight Outta Cashville

Released: August 24, 2004

Label: G-Unit, Interscope

Singles: “Let Me In”, “Shorty Wanna Ride”

Features: 50 Cent, The Game, Ludacris, Lil’ Flip, David Banner, D-Tay, Stat Quo, Tony Yayo, Stat Quo

21. Lil Jon & the East Side Boyz – Crunk Juice

Released: November 16, 2004

Label: BME Recordings, TVT Records

Singles: “What U Gon’ Do”, “Lovers & Friends”, “Real Nigga Roll Call”

Features: R. Kelly, Ludacris, Ice Cube, Usher, Bun B from UGK, Jadakiss, Nas, T.I., the Ying Yang Twins and Pharrell

20. Nas – Street’s Disciple

Released: November 30, 2004

Label: Columbia

Singles: “Thief’s Theme”, “Bridging the Gap”, “Just a Moment”

Features: Kelis, Scarlett, Quan, Emily, Busta Rhymes, Olu Dara, Doug E. Fresh, Ludacris, Maxwell

19. Jadakiss – Kiss of Death

Released: June 22, 2004

Label: Ruff Ryders, Interscope

Singles: “Time’s Up”, “Why?”, “U Make Me Wanna”

Features: Snoop Dogg, DJ Quik, Nate Dogg, Anthony Hamilton, Mariah Carey, Pharrell, Sheek Louch, Styles P, Kanye West, Eminem, Nesha

18. Lloyd Banks – The Hunger for More

Released: June 29, 2004

Label: Interscope, G-Unit

Singles: “On Fire”, “I’m So Fly”, “Karma”

Features: Tony Yayo, DJ Whoo Kid, Snoop Dogg, Young Buck, The Game, Eminem, 50 Cent and Nate Dogg

17. The Roots – The Tipping Point

Released: July 13, 2004

Label: Geffen

Singles: “Don’t Say Nuthin'”, “I Don’t Care”, “Stay Cool”

Features: Wadud Ahmad, Aaron Livingston, Martin Luther, Dice Raw, Devin The Dude, Jean Grae & Mack Dub

16. Talib Kweli – The Beautiful Struggle

Released: September 28, 2004

Label: Rawkus, Geffen

Singles: “I Try”, “Around My Way”

Features: Jean Grae, Common, Faith Evans, Anthony Hamilton, Mary J. Blige and John Legend

15. Snoop Dogg – R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece

Released: November 16, 2004

Label: Doggystyle, Star Trak, Geffen

Singles: “Drop It Like It’s Hot”, “Let’s Get Blown”, “Signs”, “Ups & Downs”

Features: Pharrell, Bootsy Collins, Bee Gees, Lil Jon, Trina, Charlie Wilson, 50 Cent, Soopafly, Justin Timberlake, Nelly

14. Proof – I Miss the Hip Hop Shop

Released: June 15, 2004

Label: Iron Fist Records

Singles: N/A

Features: Journalist, MU, T-Flame, Fatt Father, 1st Born, Famous, Killa Khann, Dogmatic

13. Masta Killa – No Said Date

Released: June 1, 2004

Label: Nature Sounds, Fontana

Singles: “No Said Date”, “Digi Warfare”, “D.T.D.”, “Queen”

Features: Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Streetlife, Prodigal Sunn, Killah Priest, Method Man, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Allah Real, Inspectah Deck, U-God, and GZA

12. Viktor Vaughn – VV:2

Released: August 3, 2004

Label: Insomniac, Inc.

Singles: N/A

Features: Manchild (MARS ILL), Iz-Real, Carl Kavorkian, Kool Keith, Poison Pen

11. Handsome Boy Modeling School – White People

Released: November 9, 2004

Label: Elektra

Singles: “The World’s Gone Mad”

Features: Linkin Park, Del tha Funky Homosapien, The Mars Volta, De La Soul, Jack Johnson, Cat Power, Lord Finesse, Pharrell Williams, John Oates, RZA, Julee Cruise, El-P, Mike Patton, Tim Meadows and Father Guido Sarducci

10. Blockhead – Music by Cavelight

Released: March 23, 2004

Label: Ninja Tune

Singles: “Insomniac Olympics”, “Sunday Seance”

Features: N/A

9. Beastie Boys – To the 5 Boroughs

Released: June 15, 2004

Label: Capitol

Singles: “Ch-Check It Out”, “Triple Trouble”, “Right Right Now Now”, “An Open Letter to NYC”

Features: N/A

8. Murs & 9th Wonder – Murs 3:16: The 9th Edition

Released: March 23, 2004

Label: Definitive Jux

Singles: “Bad Man!” / “3:16”, “H-U-S-T-L-E” / “H-U-S-T-L-E (Remix)”

Features: Phonte

7. Ghostface Killah – The Pretty Toney Album

Released: April 20, 2004

Label: Def Jam

Singles: “Tush”, “Run”

Features: Sheek Louch, Styles P, Trife da God, Missy Elliott, Allan Real, Jacki-O, Jadakiss, Musiq Soulchild and K. Fox

6. Masta Ace – A Long Hot Summer

Released: August 3, 2004

Label: M3 Macmil Music

Singles: “Good Ol’ Love”, “Beautiful”, “Da Grind”, “Do It Man”

Features: Mr. Lee G, Leschea, Wordsworth, Punchline

5. De La Soul – The Grind Date

Released: October 5, 2004

Label: A.O.I., Sanctuary Urban

Singles: “Shoomp/Much More”, “Shopping Bags (She Got From You)”, “Rock Co.Kane Flow”

Features: Yummy Bingham, DJ Premier, Daniel Wallace, Bönz Malone, Spike Lee, Carl Thomas, Ghostface Killah, Common, Flava Flav, MF DOOM

4. Cam’ron – Purple Haze

Released: December 7, 2004

Label: Diplomat, Roc-A-Fella, Island Def Jam

Singles: “Get Em Girls”, “Lord You Know”, “Shake”, “Hey Lady”, “Girls”, “Down and Out”

Features: Kanye West, Syleena Johnson, Juelz Santana, Mona Lisa, Jaheim, Jim Jones, Nicole Wray, Twista, Psycho Drama, Freekey Zekey, J.R. Writer, Un Kasa

3. MF DOOM – Mm..Food

Released: November 16, 2004

Label: Rhymesayers

Singles: “One Beer”, “Hoe Cakes”

Features: Count Bass D, Angelika, 4ize, Mr. Fantastik

2. Kanye West – The College Dropout

Released: February 10, 2004

Label: Roc-A-Fella, Def Jam

Singles: “Through the Wire”, “Slow Jamz”, “All Falls Down”, “Jesus Walks”, “The New Workout Plan”

Features: Jay-Z, Mos Def, Jamie Foxx, Syleena Johnson, Ludacris, GLC, Consequence, J. Ivy, Talib Kweli, Common, Twista, Freeway

1. Madvillain – Madvillainy

Released: March 23, 2004

Label: Stones Throw

Singles: “Money Folder”, “All Caps”

Features: Quasimoto, Wildchild, Viktor Vaughn

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