I think there’s a distinction that has to be made when comparing “favourite album of all time” to “best album of all time”. Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP is one of my all-time favourites, and while it’s close, I don’t think it’s flawless. I have other favourites too but for each of those albums, there are a few songs I skip. When we’re talking about the best album of all time, in my opinion, it has to be something that is timeless and something you can listen to over and over again without skipping a song.
I’ve been asked to pick one of these but I just can’t, so I’m giving you my top three.
NAS – Illmatic
Illmatic is without a doubt in my mind, the best hip-hop album of all time. It’s just a straight-up masterpiece of art. The Mona Lisa of hip-hop. Flawless from front to back and will be listenable for eternity. The pioneers of producers alone on this give it the makings of a five-star album (Large Professor, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, MC Serch, Q-Tip) but Nas took it to a whole other level of classic. For me, Illmatic defines the golden era sound, and with only 10 songs.
Kanye West – 808s & Heartbreak
808s & Heartbreak is an album I was extremely iffy about when I first heard it. I liked some songs but disliked others. I loved the fact Kanye West did it in the first place as it takes some serious balls to be in the position he was and release such a polarising experimental album that alienated so many fans of his. I believe that was a career-defining moment for him. Releasing that album was a huge risk, but something that proves Kanye West is an artist of integrity. He could’ve stuck to a more similar sound and continued to rake in the coin but he followed his heart and I think a lot of people forget that.
About 4 years after it was released I started listening to it again and again, and again.. and I quickly fell in love with every song and realised that that album was probably the most ahead of its time album I’ve ever heard. The more I play it the better it gets, still to this day. Artists should look to Kanye for inspiration when you’re having a moment of doubt, like, “I love this sound but I dunno if I’ll lose fans and certain people’s respect” – get ya self a wristband that says WWKD. What Would Kanye Do? That’s a question I’m constantly asking myself.
Lauryn Hill – The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill
As far as Lauryn Hill’s The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill goes, I feel I don’t even need to talk about why it’s one of the best albums of all time. If you haven’t yet, simply listen to it and you’ll soon agree. It ticks every box a GOAT album should tick. I don’t think there’s been a better singer/rapper combination album since. Whilst there’s some talented singers/rappers out thee, none have dropped an album as timeless and impeccable as this.