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Wednesday, September 26, 2012 Ten Favorite Hip Hop Groups Ten Favorite Hip Hop Groups

Instead of wasting an entire post going in on how rap today just isn’t the same – if you really want to read about that, will post that in weeks to come so be ready . Let me share the top ten favorite hip hop groups of all time. It may be an ambitious , controversial as always but that’s what sets aside from others - with all of the ‘Top Rappers’ and ‘Top Producers‘ posts out there, I figured I had to share these legendary groups some love. Here you go in no particular order. Ten Favorite Hip Hop Group

Three 6 Mafia

Three 6 Mafia are an Academy Award-winning rap group originally from Memphis, Tennessee. Formed in 1991 as 666 Mafia, by DJ Paul, Juicy J and later Lord Infamous, but the group at its most featured six members including; Crunchy Black, Gangsta Boo and Koopsta Knicca (who were all added shortly before the release of their debut album Mystic Stylez). The group has also collaborated with many rappers on their own label; Hypnotize Minds, where they have kick started the careers for many Memphis rappers, such as; Frayser Boy, Gangsta Blac, Lil Wyte and Indo G. The group frequently collaborates with Project Pat (Juicy J's older brother). Their 2005 song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" won Best Original Song at the 78th Academy Awards.The group released their debut underground album Mystic Stylez in 1995 through Prophet Entertainment, a record label they created but have since relinquished control of. Their musical style—which initially featured dark, menacing beats with equally gritty lyrics—has since moved to a more mainstream sound. 

The group has also had numerous lineup changes, and now consists of original members Juicy J and DJ Paul. Nonetheless, they have cultivated a sizable and diverse cult following that has only increased since their Oscar win. They have released two RIAA rated platinum albums; When the Smoke Clears: Sixty 6, Sixty 1 and Most Known Unknown, the latter featured their well-known single Stay Fly, which is said to be the cause of their rise to fame and the mainstream. The group's worldwide album sales stand at 5.5 million.  They have since gone on to collaborate with many well-known singers and rappers such as UGK, Hot Boys, Lil Wayne, 2 Chainz, Lil Flip, Tech N9ne, Insane Clown Posse, 8Ball & MJG, Paul Wall, Rick Ross, T.I., Gucci Mane, Ludacris, Waka Flocka Flame, Lil Jon, Bow Wow, Young Jeezy, Wiz Khalifa, David Banner, Frenchie, French Montana, Chamillionaire, Young Buck, Lord Infamous and Project Pat. Their latest album entitled Laws of Power is set to be released late 2012.

You Need to Peep:  Mystic Stylez, Live by Yo Rep (EP), Chapter 1: The End, Chapter 2: World Domination, When the Smoke Clears,Sixty 6, Sixty 1, Choices: The Album, Da Unbreakables, Choices II: The Setup,Most Known Unknown, Last 2 Walk, Laws of Power

The Hot Boys

The members of the group were rappers, Lil Wayne, B.G., Juvenile, Bulletproof and Turk. Bulletproof left the group soon after the formation to pursue a solo career, though he was still featured on many of the group's earliest songs. The Hot Boys made their first official appearance together on B.G.'s third studio album, It's All on U, Vol. 1. They soon released their debut album entitled, Get It How U Live!, which sold over 300,000 copies primarily in New Orleans. The album charted nationally as well at 37 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Albums Chart.In 1998, Cash Money Records agreed to a $30 million pressing and distribution contract with Universal Records. This led to releases such as 400 Degreez by Juvenile, which was certified 4x Platinum by the RIAA. The Hot Boys made numerous appearances on many of the albums' tracks such as, "Back That Azz Up" featuring Lil Wayne and Mannie Fresh, and "Ha", where the Hot Boys were featured in the music video. The album also contained a remix of "Ha" featuring the Hot Boys. The Hot Boys appeared on both Lil Wayne and B.G.'s albums in 1999, Tha Block Is Hot, by Lil Wayne, and, Chopper City In The Ghetto, by B.G.. Both albums were certified Platinum. The group also released singles such as, "Bling Bling" and "Cash Money Is An Army" by B.G., "Tha Block Is Hot" and "Respect Us" by Lil Wayne, and "U Understand" and "I Got That Fire" by Juvenile.

On July 27, 1999, The Hot Boys released their second studio album entitled, Guerrilla Warfare,  which reached #1 on the Billboard magazine Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart and #5 on the Billboard 200. It featured two charting singles, "We On Fire" and "I Need A Hot Girl". "I Need a Hot Girl" peaked at #65 on the Billboard Hot 100. Guerrilla Warfare went platinum just within a few months. The album also had contributions from the Big Tymers, Baby and Mannie Fresh. Just like the group's previous album, Mannie Fresh produced every track.By 2003 Turk, B.G., and Juvenile had all departed from Cash Money Records for various reasons leaving Lil Wayne the group's only member still with the label. 

Cash Money still manage to release the group's final album together Let 'Em Burn composed of songs the group recorded between 1998 and 2000. The Hot Boys went on to have solo recording careers with varying degrees of success. Lil Wayne became the most prolific Hot Boy with all of his albums going at least gold and amassing a large fan base which grew with the development of his boutique label Young Money Entertainment. Turk was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in 2006. B.G. and Juvenile initially showed resentment to Cash Money Records but over time settled their disputes and disagreements with the label and it's representatives.The first time that the Hot Boys met after breaking up in 2001 was when Lil Wayne brought out Juvenile and B.G. at one of his shows on the I Am Music Tour in New Orleans in 2009.
 Lil Wayne tried to spearhead a Hot Boys reunion beginning in 2008 and the other group members were reportedly on board. However, by 2012 only two songs featuring Lil Wayne, Juvenile, and B.G. materialized: "Ya Heard Me" from B.G.'s 2009 album Too Hood 2 Be Hollywood and the exclusive "If I Ain't a Hot Boy". Talks of a reunion were also quelled when B.G. was arrested for weapons possession in 2009 and subsequently sentenced to 14 years in federal prison for gun possession and witness tampering in 2012 
You Need to Peep: Get It How U Live, Guerrilla Warfare, Let 'Em Burn, Baller Blockin'

8Ball & MJG

Ball & MJG first appeared on the rap scene with UncleSam. In 1993, they released Comin' Out Hard on Suave House Records, the album was successful commercially as well as critically and established the group as a prominent act in the then emerging Southern Rap scene. Their subsequent albums in the 1990s including 1994's On the Outside Looking In and 1995's On Top of the World further established their status among the South's rappers. On Top of the World was particularly successful, peaking at #8 on the Billboard Hot 200 and being certified Gold. It includes the song "Space Age Pimpin'", 8Ball & MJG's first single to chart, reaching #58 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles and Tracks chart and #22 on the Hot Rap Singles chart.
Subsequently, 8Ball & MJG released solo albums: MJG's No More Glory in 1997 and 8Ball's Lost in 1998. They reunited in 1999 to release their fourth album as a group, In Our Lifetime, Vol. 1. One year later they released their fifth group album, Space Age 4 Eva.

In 1996, they appeared on the Red Hot Organization's compilation CD America is Dying Slowly alongside Biz Markie, Wu-Tang Clan, and Fat Joe, among many other prominent hip hop artists. The CD, meant to raise awareness of the AIDS epidemic among African American men, was heralded as "a masterpiece" by The Source magazine.In the early 2000s, the duo signed with Sean Combs' Bad Boy Records. They already had some experience with the label, being featured on the song "The Player Way" from Bad Boy rapper Mase's 1997 album Harlem World. Their first album for Bad Boy, Living Legends, was released in 2004 and certified Gold. Their second Bad Boy album Ridin High was released in March 2007.

Commercially one of the high points of 8Ball & MJG's career was their being featured on Three 6 Mafia's hit song "Stay Fly" in 2005 which peaked at #13 on the Billboard Hot 100. It is Three 6 Mafia's biggest hit. The song was a collaboration between two of Tennessee's most successful rap grond MJG also head their own record labels. 8Ball heads 8 Ways Entertainment (distributed by Koch Entertainment). MJG heads MJG Muzik which features another Memphis duo, Da Volunteers, known for their 2006 single, "What's Yo Favorite Color?", which glorifies their neighborhood of Orange Mound.

In September 2007, 8Ball & MJG signed deals in Sacramento, California with Real Talk Entertainment. On April 1, 2008, 8Ball released Doin' It Big with E.D.I. of the Outlawz. MJG released a solo album, Pimp Tight, on April 29, 2008.In June 2008, the duo announced that they officially signed onto T.I.'s record label Grand Hustle. Their eighth album as a group and their first on Grand Hustle, Ten Toes Down, was released in May 2010.

You Need to Peep:   Listen To The Lyrics, Comin' Out Hard, On The Outside Looking In, On Top Of The World, In Our Lifetime, Vol. 1, Space Age 4 Eva, Living Legends, Ridin' High, Ten Toes Down, From the Bottom 2 the Top

TRU (The Real Untouchables)

TRU (The Real Untouchables) was an American hip hop group from Richmond to New Orleans, which originally consisted of Master P, C-Murder, Silkk the Shocker, King George, Big Ed, Cali G, Sonya C, Chilee Powdah and Milkman, before being shortened to just Master P, C-Murder and Silkk the Shocker. The group's first two releases, 1993's Who's Da Killer? and 1994's Understanding the Criminal Mind, were released independently through In-a-minute Records. In 1995, the group was shortened to include just the three Miller brothers and the trio released their third album True on No Limit Records, which was just getting started. It was followed by Tru 2 da Game in 1997 and Da Crime Family in 1999. However by 2003 No Limit had fell on hard times and was shut down. TRU returned in 2004 on Koch Records, released their sixth and final album, The Truth.

You Need to Peep:  Understanding the Criminal Mind, Who's da Killer?, True Tru 2 da Game, Da Crime Family, The Truth 

Bone Thugs N Harmony

Offering probably the most unique sound hip hop has ever heard, Bone Thugs N Harmony’s two-decade career has been filled with enough twists, turns, makeovers, and comebacks to signify it also as one-of-a-kind. While the 5-member group is pictured in full above, the majority of BTNH’s music has been released without members Flesh-N-Bone – who went to prison for 11 years for criminal possession of a firearm – and Bizzy Bone – who was “expelled” from the group around 1998. 

Perhaps this is only appropriate for a group who’s rugged style yet harmonious teamwork resembles a hockey team fighting a power play. Signed initially by Eazy-E while they were homeless, the Cleveland-based group navigated a steep uphill climb to stardom with hardcore releases like ‘Thuggish Ruggish Bone‘, yet reached their summit with more tame, melodic tracks like ‘1st of the Month‘ and the ubiquitous ‘Tha Crossroads‘, both from their landmark album E.1999 Eternal. 

Their unique sing-rap style – I really have no better way to put it – is innately appealing, acting as an additional instrument to DJ Uneek’s arsenal gluing the sound together. On the opposite hand, their lyrics – well, the 25% that are actually decipherable – can be at times suspect, but this fact is easily forgiven by their consistent, powerful message that melds drug dealing – and using – with life and faith struggles with nearly unmatched expertise. Whether its due to their talent or unique appeal, BTHN hold honors that would make most hip hop artists jealous; a Grammy for ‘Crossroads’, rap artists of the year in 2007, and being the only act to perform with 2Pac and Biggie – not to mention Eazy E – while they were still alive.

You Need to Peep:  ‘Thuggish Ruggish Bone‘  -  ’1st of the Month‘  -  ’Wind Blow‘  -  ‘Money, Money‘  -  ’Ecstacy‘


The group synonymous with gangsta rap and shock value doesn’t get the credit they deserve for setting the archetype for the mainstream appealing hip hop group. Unlike the contemporary hip hop groups of the late 80s which consisted of groups of friends, N.W.A. broke the mold by combining locally renowned artists with larger than life personas to create an entity powerful enough to provoke action from the United States Congress.

 Whether you’re an avid fan of hip hop, a light browser, or just have a friend who listens on occasion, there’s no avoiding the emotionally evoking, surprisingly clever, and revolutionarily edgy tracks from these West Coast innovators like ‘Straight Outta Compton‘ and ‘Fuck the Police’. Perhaps more than any other hip hop artist, listening to N.W.A. is a hogging experience that brings you back to your first listen – for me, sneaking into a room at a friend’s house and playing ‘Gangsta Gangsta‘ at extremely low volume – and guarantees to be playing in your head the rest of the day. The most common misconception that comes with a controversial group like N.W.A. is that their perceived talent – and fame – is largely due to this “stickiness” factor. Conversely, breaking down N.W.A. ground breaking music reveals a mastery of  Funk-era samples from Dr. Dre, never-before-heard hardcore lyricism from Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and MC Ren, and criminally violent themes that set the cornerstone of gangsta rap. Its crucial to note that, while these elements have been too liberally used by a plethora of unfitting candidates and essentially worn out of style, before these five Compton-based rappers, such a genre didn’t even exist. Come to think of it, West Coast hip hop didn’t exist either.

You Need to Peep:   ‘Straight Outta Compton‘  -  ’Gangsta Gangsta‘  -  ’Express Yourself‘  -  ‘Boyz In Tha Hood’  -  ’Fuck the Police‘

 A Tribe Called Quest

Epitomizing the classic idea of a hip hop group, the name A Tribe Called Quest garners a one-of-a-kind admiration from fans of all music backgrounds who seem to perceive some sort of mystical aura surrounding this Queens-based trio. While the three high school friends turned bandmates were far from magicians, their crafted style and image – now known as the subgenre of alternative hip hop – was pure genius. Entering the cacophonous, break-beat heavy hip hop game of the late 1980′s, Tribe introduced an experimental, Jazz-influenced sound that flipped the genre on its head and helped usher in the Golden Age of hip hop.

 Along with aforementioned De La Soul and others, Q-Tip, Phife Dawg and Ali Shaheed Muhammed pioneered the idea that hip hop can be about and sound like anything, as long as it is accompanied by a bassline and lyrics. Examples include , ‘I Left My Wallet in El Segundo’, a track about, well, you read the title, or the legendary ‘Can I Kick It?‘ which samples, of all things, Lou Reed’s ‘A Walk on The Wild Side‘. Entering the hip hop world in 1990 with People’s Instinctive Travels and Paths of Rhythm - the first of three consecutively fantastic albums – Tribe quickly skyrocketed to fame as the figurative antithesis of N.W.A. Fittingly, the two polarized groups competed both for sales and chart position in a show off that elevated the entire genre. The group broke up in 1998, much to the disappointment of millions of fans, but A Tribe Called Quest’s influence lives on in the scores of alternative artists like Slum Village, Blackalicious, and People Under The Stairs who continue to produce abstract music with free-minded themes. While these groups certainly don’t lack talent, they have so far failed to resurrect the mainstream status Tribe brought to alternative hip hop.

You Need to Peep:   ‘Can I Kick It?‘  -  ‘Check the Rhime‘  -  ‘Electric Relaxation‘  -  ’Sucka Nigga‘  -  ’Bonita Applebum‘

 Wu Tang Clan

Meth & Rae & Ghost & RZA & GZA & Inspectah Deck & Ol’ Dirty & U-God & Masta Killa

If the goal of any group is to rise above the sum of its parts, then the Wu Tang Clan loom highest above the hip hop world. The eclectically cohesive nonet from Staten Island is one of just a few groups to represent something more than just their track library, staking claim to a whole clothing line, an unmistakable hand signal, and their huge pocket of dedicated fans who cherish the group’s rugged raw raps and trippy samples above all else. 

The unadulterated genius of the Wu, first realized with their seminal debut album Enter The Wu Tang Clan: 36 Chambers, lies in their undying allegiance to both each other and the universal themes – like Kung Fu, chess, and street crime – that have defied the natural evolution of music. While some members haul more influence in Wu Tang’s music – like RZA, co-founder and main producer, or Method Man, rap/tv star – no member is ever absent or played down in their countlessly consistent albums, mixtapes, or singles. 

This is likely the reason they paradoxically represent both the envy of any underground artists trying to reach the surface and the polar opposite of what is actually popular nowadays – I mean, how can you floss your whip when your splitting cash nine ways – and occupy a wholly unique niche within the hip hop genre. The Wu Tang Clan’s umbrella influence on hip hop both underground and above has in many regards overshadowed the supreme success of the majority of its members as solo artists and other career paths with a simple assumption; anything they touch has got to be worth touching. Try as you might, but you’re stellar production value, cutting edge lyrics and themes, and group cohesiveness will never earn your universal respect like this:

You Need to Peep:   ‘C.R.E.A.M.’,‘Reunited’,‘Gravel Pit’,‘Evil Deeds’,‘Protect Ya Neck’


The hip hop group responsible for the most greatest music in the game: Outkast. Andre 3000 and Big Boi are nearly universally respected as incredible emcees, bright composers of albums, and innovators of style, but even with all of this I still feel like I have to defend Outkast’s position as the greatest hip hop group of all time.   

No matter how you approach it, the Atlanta-based duo rivals the best; their 25 million records sold trails only Eminem, Jay-Z, and Tupac, their 6 Grammy’s – along with Best New Artist from The Source for their debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik - are enviable by most past and present, and their works like ATLiens, Aquemini, and Stankonia are perennials on “best ever” lists. Critics may point to their “selling out” on Speakerboxxx/The Love Below or their mediocre movie/album effort with Idlewild, but I boldly believe that even with only their first four albums considered, Outkast – along with acclaimed production group Organized Noize – have produced some of the most groundbreaking, meaningful, and just plain dope tracks ever. 

Southernplayalistic melds funk with hungry lyrics from a noticeably younger Dre and Daddy Fat Sax. ATLiens presents the group at their purest, spitting classic raps over complex yet cohesive productions. Aquemini - their best album by the slightest of margins – offers an explosion of styles and scatterebrained topics, each one mastered in its own right. Stankonia extends the eccentricity and flamboyancy of Aquemini, but adds a touch of pop and electric influence to create their most potent record. Of course, the mega-successes of ‘Hey Ya’ and ‘I Like The Way You Move’, their status as Southern Rap leaders, and a 2012 album in the works doesn’t hurt Outkast’s legacy either. In the end, if I were to be stranded on an island with only 20 or so songs on me, Outkast would undoubtedly be responsible for over half the tracks.

You Need to Peep:   ’Southernplayalisticaddilacmuzik’  -  ’ATLiens‘  -  ‘Spottieottiedopalicious’  -  ’The Whole World’  -  ‘Return of the G’


In 1992, UGK was signed to Jive Records under a five-album contract, releasing their major-label debut album Too Hard to Swallow.  While it featured several new recordings, it also featured several songs that had been culled from The Southern Way.  However, several songs that had been intended to be included on the album were excised at the last minute, apparently due to their overly explicit content. Five of these songs would surface two months before the release of Too Hard to Swallow, on an EP distributed by Bigtyme Recordz; appropriately enough, the EP was titled Banned. A popular song from the album "Pocket Full of Stones" was also included on the Menace II Society soundtrack in 1993.

Their second album, Super Tight, was released two years later, on August 30. Unlike their previous album, Super Tight managed to break into the Billboard Hot 200 and ultimately peaked at #95; their third album, Ridin' Dirty, peaked at #15. Ridin' Dirty would also be UGK's last album for the time being, as they went on a five-year hiatus not long afterward.

The year 2000 became a breakthrough year for the group. UGK made a high-profile guest appearance on Jay-Z's smash hit "Big Pimpin'" and also appeared on Three 6 Mafia's hit "Sippin' on Some Syrup". Both of these collaborations greatly increased their reputation, and helped fuel anticipation for their next project Jive Records failed to capitalize on this new-found interest in the duo, as their fourth album, 2001's Dirty Money, came and went with little fanfare.

Further problems arose when Pimp C was incarcerated for an aggravated gun assault charge in 2002. Throughout the time of his incarceration, Bun B carried on the UGK name by making numerous guest appearances on songs by other artists, with every appearance either mentioning Pimp C or featuring a "Free Pimp C!" or "Free the Pimp" chant. Many of UGK's peers did the same, and mentioned Pimp C in their own songs with or without Bun B. During this period, Jive Records released a Best of UGK album, as well as a Chopped & Screwed remix album.  As a result of Pimp C's incarceration, both members of UGK began solo careers out of necessity.

Rap-A-Lot Records released Pimp C's solo debut, Sweet James Jones Stories, on March 1, 2005. Bun B later released his own solo foray, Trill, on October 18, 2005. It opened at #6 on the Billboard Hot 200, and also peaked at #1 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-hop Album chart.
On December 30, 2005, Pimp C was released from prison and was to be on parole until December 2009,. He released his first post-incarceration album, titled Pimpalation, on July 25, 2006.
On August 7, 2007 the group released their fifth studio album, the self-titled Underground Kingz. It was a double album, containing 26 tracks and spanning two discs. Featured guests included Talib Kweli, Too Short, Rick Ross, Z-RO, Three 6 Mafia, Slim Thug, OutKast, as well as hip-hop legends Kool G Rap and Big Daddy Kane on a Marley Marl-produced track titled "Next Up". The album also featured British rapper Dizzee Rascal on the track "Two Types of Bitches", following UGK's guest appearance in Rascal's own album Maths + English for the track "Where's Da G's". The album featured production by DJ Paul & Juicy J, Jazze Pha, Swizz Beatz, The Runners, Lil' Jon, fellow Texas legend Scarface, and Pimp C. DJ Paul and Juicy J produced the second single, "International Player's Anthem (I Choose You)". They had used a similar beat on Project Pat's album titled Layin' Da Smack Down in 2002.   

The album got a positive reception both commercially and critically. It received a 4-star rating from Allmusic, and reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 200 album charts. "International Player's Anthem (I Choose You)" became the group's only single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 pop charts, where it peaked at #70.

You Need to Peep:   The Southern Way (EP), Banned, Too Hard to Swallow, Super Tight, Ridin’ Dirty, Dirty Money, Side Hustles, Underground Kingz, UGK 4 Life

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