Dark Light

Creating a great album is hard, but there have been countless rappers in history who have dropped great albums. Building up a body of work is the difficult part in the life of a hip hop artist.

The most successful artists are the ones who keep putting in the work, no matter how acclaimed or how successful their previous project was. To maintain a great 3-album run isn’t just hard, it’s damn near impossible.

On this list, we counted 50 rap acts who managed to go on a spectacular run of great albums back-to-back. Side note: we didn’t include collaboration albums, mixtapes or EPs. Solo albums only!

From OutKast to EPMD, Mobb Deep to Kanye West, here are the 60 greatest three-album runs in hip hop history, in chronological order.

1. Run-D.M.C.

  • Run-D.M.C. (1984)
  • King of Rock (1985)
  • Raising Hell (1986)

2. Beastie Boys

  • Licensed to Ill (1986)
  • Paul’s Boutique (1989)
  • Check Your Head (1992)

3. Public Enemy

  1. Yo! Bum Rush the Show (1987)
  2. It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (1988)
  3. Fear of a Black Planet (1990)

4. Eric B. & Rakim

  1. Paid in Full (1987)
  2. Follow the Leader (1988)
  3. Let the Rhythm Hit ‘Em (1990)

5. EPMD

  1. Strictly Business (1988)
  2. Unfinished Business (1989)
  3. Business as Usual (1990)

6. Geto Boys

  • Making Trouble (1988)
  • Grip It! On That Other Level (1989)
  • We Can’t Be Stopped (1991)

7. Ice-T

  • Power (1988)
  • The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech…Just Watch What You Say (1989)
  • O.G. Original Gangster (1991)

8. Kool G Rap & DJ Polo

  1. Road to the Riches (1989)
  2. Wanted: Dead or Alive (1990)
  3. Live and Let Die (1992)

9. De La Soul

  • 3 Feet High and Rising (1989)
  • De La Soul Is Dead (1991)
  • Buhloone Mindstate (1993)

10. Ice Cube

  1. AmeriKKKa’s Most Wanted (1990)
  2. Death Certificate (1991)
  3. The Predator (1992)

11. A Tribe Called Quest

  1. People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm (1990)
  2. The Low End Theory (1991)
  3. Midnight Marauders (1993)

12. Gang Starr

  1. Step in the Arena (1991)
  2. Daily Operation (1992)
  3. Hard to Earn (1994)

13. DJ Quik

  • Quik Is the Name (1991)
  • Way 2 Fonky (1992)
  • Safe + Sound (1995)

14. Naughty by Nature

  1. Naughty by Nature (1991)
  2. 19 Naughty III (1993)
  3. Poverty’s Paradise (1995)

15. Cypress Hill

  • Cypress Hill (1991)
  • Black Sunday (1993)
  • III: Temples of Boom (1995)

16. Organized Konfusion

  • Organized Konfusion (1991)
  • Stress: The Extinction Agenda (1994)
  • The Equinox (1997)

17. Redman

  1. Whut? Thee Album (1992)
  2. Dare Iz a Darkside (1994)
  3. Muddy Waters (1996)

18. Dr. Dre

  • The Chronic (1992)
  • 2001 (1999)
  • Compton (2015)

19. KRS-One

  1. Return of the Boom Bap (1993)
  2. KRS-One (1995)
  3. I Got Next (1997)

20. Snoop Dogg

  • Doggystyle (1993)
  • Tha Doggfather (1996)
  • Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told (1998)

21. Scarface

  • The Diary (1994)
  • The Untouchable (1997)
  • My Homies (1998)

22. Nas

  1. Illmatic (1994)
  2. It Was Written (1996)
  3. I Am… (1999)

23. OutKast

  1. Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik (1994)
  2. ATLiens (1996)
  3. Aquemini (1998)

24. Common

  1. Resurrection (1994)
  2. One Day It’ll All Make Sense (1997)
  3. Like Water for Chocolate (2000)

25. Kurupt

  • Dogg Food (with Tha Dogg Pound) (1995)
  • Kuruption! (1998)
  • Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha (1999)

26. The Roots

  1. Do You Want More?!!!??! (1995)
  2. Illadelph Halflife (1996)
  3. Things Fall Apart (1999)

27. 2Pac

  1. Me Against the World (1995)
  2. All Eyez on Me (1996)
  3. The Don Killuminati: The 7 Day Theory (1996) (as Makaveli)

28. Mobb Deep

  1. The Infamous (1995)
  2. Hell on Earth (1996)
  3. Murda Muzik (1999)

29. JAY Z

  1. Reasonable Doubt (1996)
  2. In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 (1997)
  3. Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life (1998)

30. Ghostface Killah

  1. Ironman (1996)
  2. Supreme Clientele (2000)
  3. Bulletproof Wallets (2001)

31. DMX

  1. It’s Dark and Hell Is Hot (1998)
  2. Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood (1998)
  3. … And Then There Was X (1999)

32. Eminem

  1. The Slim Shady LP (1999)
  2. The Marshall Mathers LP (2000)
  3. The Eminem Show (2002)

33. Cam’ron

  1. S.D.E. (2000)
  2. Come Home with Me (2002)
  3. Purple Haze (2004)

34. Aesop Rock

  • Labor Days (2001)
  • Bazooka Tooth (2003)
  • None Shall Pass (2007)

35. Ludacris

  • Word of Mouf (2001)
  • Chicken-n-Beer (2003)
  • The Red Light District (2004)

36. T.I.

  1. Trap Muzik (2003)
  2. Urban Legend (2004)
  3. King (2006)

37. Lil Wayne

  1. Tha Carter (2004)
  2. Tha Carter II (2005)
  3. Tha Carter III (2008)

38. El-P

  • High Water (2004)
  • I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead (2007)
  • Cancer 4 Cure (2012)

39. MF Doom

  • Madvillainy (as Madvillain) (2004)
  • VV:2 (as Viktor Vaughn) (2004)
  • Mm..Food (2004)

40. Young Jeezy

  1. Let’s Get It: Thug Motivation 101 (2005)
  2. The Inspiration: Thug Motivation 102 (2006)
  3. The Recession (2008)

41. Kanye West

  1. 808s & Heartbreak (2008)
  2. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
  3. Yeezus (2013)

42. Rick Ross

  1. Deeper Than Rap (2009)
  2. Teflon Don (2010)
  3. God Forgives, I Don’t (2012)

43. Roc Marciano

  • Marcberg (2010)
  • Reloaded (2012)
  • Marci Beaucoup (2013)

44. Drake

  1. Thank Me Later (2010)
  2. Take Care (2011)
  3. Nothing Was the Same (2013)

45. Danny Brown

  • XXX (2011)
  • Old (2013)
  • Atrocity Exhibition (2016)

46. Rapsody

  • The Idea of Beautiful (2012)
  • Laila’s Wisdom (2017)
  • Eve (2019)

47. Schoolboy Q

  • Habits & Contradictions (2012)
  • Oxymoron (2014)
  • Blank Face LP (2016)

48. Kendrick Lamar

  1. good kid, m.A.A.d city (2012)
  2. To Pimp a Butterfly (2015)
  3. DAMN. (2017)

49. Big K.R.I.T.

  • Live from the Underground (2012)
  • Cadillactica (2014)
  • 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time (2017)

50. Run the Jewels

  1. Run the Jewels (2013)
  2. Run the Jewels 2 (2014)
  3. Run the Jewels 3 (2016)

51. ASAP Rocky

  • Long. Live. ASAP (2013)
  • At. Long. Last. ASAP (2015)
  • Testing (2018)

52. Pusha T

  1. My Name Is My Name (2013)
  2. King Push – Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude (2015)
  3. Daytona (2018)

53. Isaiah Rashad

  • Cilvia Demo (2014)
  • The Sun’s Tirade (2016)
  • The House Is Burning (2021)

54. J. Cole

  • 2014 Forest Hills Drive (2014)
  • 4 Your Eyez Only (2016)
  • KOD (2018)

55. Future

  1. DS2 (2015)
  2. Evol (2016)
  3. Future (2017)

56. Travis Scott

  • Rodeo (2015)
  • Birds in the Trap Sing McKnight (2016)
  • Astroworld (2018)

57. Westside Gunn

  1. Flygod (2016)
  2. Supreme Blientele (2018)
  3. Pray for Paris (2020)

58. Vince Staples

  • Big Fish Theory (2017)
  • FM! (2018)
  • Vince Staples (2021)

59. Tyler, the Creator

  • Flower Boy (2017)
  • Igor (2019)
  • Call Me If You Get Lost (2021)

60. Freddie Gibbs

  1. Freddie (2018)
  2. Bandana (2019)
  3. Alfredo (2020)
2 comments
  1. 808s, dark twisted, yeezus……..? GTFOH with that bullshit, you tryin to get reactions with that shit. Kanye’s initial three albums are only approached by Nas’ first three. ATCQ Beats, Low End and Marauders is deserving of being amongst the best. Outkast can see them from where they at too. You start at 808s???!? That shit makes me sick. You just said the Earth is flat. I can’t stop smh.

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